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Thread: Repairing damaged Bass Drum finish

  1. #1

    Question Repairing damaged Bass Drum finish

    I am repairing a bass drum that had significant spider web cracking in a diameter of about 5 inches. Originally I tried to scrape out the cracks and hoped that the lacquer that I was applying would meld with the existing lacquer and fill the damage. It seems that the two lacquers did not join and I continued to scrape the finish down to reduce the thickness of the lacquer. I got it down to almost the original wood finish but did not want to go any further as I was concerned with damaging the wood surface. I then rubbed the surface with thinner to try to rub out the cracks but you can still see the cracks and I think that the wood surface was damaged by whatever caused the damage in the first place. The cracks are very faint and I don't think they will be visible once I recoat the surface. I am concerned that I will have a difficult time matching the existing lacquer finish with the new layers I will be adding. Where one of the cracks was in the same direction of the grain, it appears that area of that crack was damaged as I removed the layers of lacquer, but only in that crack, nothing I can do about that without redoing the entire drum. Compared to the original condition of the damage, the cracks will be almost invisible except to someone really looking hard at the repair. (with the exception of the one scar from the one crack parallel to the grain)
    Any suggestions in applying the lacquer layers, thinners, retarders etc.? I have attempted to layer two layers on and it seems that the second layer mixes with the first and gets thick and uneven. I will be using wet dry sandpaper up to 4000 grit as needed to finish the job as needed.

    Thanks in advance,

    Ken
    Last edited by Kenneth Hall; 05-18-2017 at 10:50 PM. Reason: add a detail

  2. #2
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    Is anything you have used dissolving the existing finish? Did the star cracks show up as looking white? What colour are you matching? Cheers

  3. #3
    Sorry, somehow I missed the reply and would have responded much sooner than this.

    Not completely, did tend to soften the finish a little. The cracks did not show up white even after attempting to repair them. The surface is a maple, slightly warm in color. (probably tinted)
    I finally sanded down to the wood surface, which lightened the finish somewhat in a few places, it seems that the cracks appearance will not totally go away, I can only assume that the surface of the maple veneer was damaged to some degree. I was concerned to cut into the veneer and opted to not sand any deeper. I was using 400 and up grit to do my best to protect the drum appearance. The biggest crack which went with the grain of the wood actually damaged the veneer enough that it will remain a scar on the drum. I assume that whatever damaged the drum was something perhaps the shape of the round head of a ball hammer, but small perhaps a half inch in diameter. I could barely feel the indent on the inside of the drum's surface, so whatever caused the damage hit pretty hard. I was told the finish was nitrocellulose but it may have been catalyzed to harden it and thus my attempts to work without sanding were less than successful. I originally attempted to just widen the cracks and apply lacquer + thinner to hopefully cause the melding of the cracks with the additional lacquer, but that had no effect. A website that helps with instrument repairs suggested the expanding the cracks and applying a lacquer fill to dissolve the edges into the newly applied lacquer. 90%, with the exception of the one crack along the grain, are almost invisible except when viewed from just the right angle. I have applied approximately 8-10 thin coats of lacquer, have sanded to 2500 grit. Need to get it to a gloss finish now.

    This is the first time I have ever so patiently worked on something that needed a good repair that hopefully would be near invisible, right now it is close, but no cigar. I have learned a lot, mostly that there is so much to know that I do not know. I am sure that I should have attacked this from a different direction, but at that time I did not know any better.

    Ken

  4. #4
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    Ken, the only thing I can suggest to try to hide the appearance of any residual visual defect is to apply colour to recreate the required appearance. However, from your description I am not recommending it as I think you have already done an excellent job. At this stage you are seeing minute detail that others won't. Also it is worth remembering that any high quality item acquires a character of its own. A good repair is part of the record of life. Cheers

  5. #5
    Thank you. Any suggestions on achieving the final gloss to match rest of the drum surface? I appreciate your comments and input.
    Start.jpg.Start of work, just opened up the cracks some.
    End.jpgJust before sanding with wet 2500 grit paper.
    Sorry, I should have included some pictures earlier.

  6. #6
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    Fine cut buffing compound. Cheers

  7. #7
    Thanks, I decided to put one more coat on it. I will be gone for awhile so I will not get to buffing for 3-4 weeks. This will give it a chance to harden more.
    I read that Steinway Pianos waits 6 months after the final coat of lacquer before finishing. Longer than I want to wait, but they get the big bucks and their work shows. Again Thank You Wayne

  8. #8
    The project is finished. I am pleased with the results, unfortunately, the customer only thought my efforts were worth the cost of materials, I realized that in our discussions that he really never intended to pay the small fee of $100 plus materials, which although I had a lot to learn, I spent many hours working on his drum that had to be "just right". The experience and knowledge were worth my time so I just gave him the drum and he left me some cash for supplies and a six-pack of Pepsi. I learned a lot, will use Lacquer more in the future.

    I want to thank Wayne Lomman for all his input and support.

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