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Refinishing drums in silver sparkle

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  • Refinishing drums in silver sparkle

    A few months ago, I finally completed the enormous project of refinishing a set of drums in a sparkle finish. I'd like to share my process with you, in case anyone is thinking about doing this themselves, or (hopefully) just for an interesting read. Before this project, I had only ever refinished one drum, and had never done a glitter finish. I make no claims that this is the best way to do this; it’s just what made sense to me.

    I bought this kit for a really good price from a drummer who had toured with it. The bearing edges and insides of the drums were in great shape, but the surfaces of every drum were completely scratched beyond repair. The only reason I had the courage to attempt this was that I planned on wrapping the drums if my finishing job didn’t turn out.

    This whole project was done at home without any specialty equipment, spray booths, buffing wheels, etc. All materials were bought at a regular hardware store, except for the 1000 – 2000 grit sandpaper, which I ordered online. If you have access to professional equipment, that’s a huge bonus, and you’ll probably have even better results than I did.

    1. I started out by sanding off the lacquer from the previous finish. The lacquer comes off as a white powder, and I sanded down until some of the finish color started coming off with the lacquer. I kept the surface pretty rough, so my base coat would adhere better.

    2. Tape up all bearing edges and lug holes. I used packing tape for this. I found that it bonded well and came off cleanly. Whatever you do, DO NOT use masking tape. I ran out of packing tape and used masking on one drum. It took me hours to peel the tape off and clean the excess adhesive.

    3. Spray on primer, let dry, and then your base coat, let dry. I just used a regular can of spray paint.

    4. Brush on lacquer. While still wet, (with your fingers) sprinkle glitter evenly around the surface. Hold your hand a few feet above the drum, and let the glitter fall onto the surface. (Like you're sprinkling salt on something.) As much as you can, limit the amount of glitter you put down within a quarter inch of each bearing edge, so the heads fit on easier. Let dry.

    5. Repeat step 4 as often as necessary, to achieve the level of coating you're looking for. (I probably did about 3 layers of glitter.)

    6. Next, brush on multiple layers of lacquer to fill in the low spots on the surface. Allow a few days for drying between applications. Let your final layer of lacquer dry for about a week.

    7. Now the fun begins: sanding. The challenge of a glitter finish is how rough the surface gets. It takes an incredible amount of lacquer to fill in the low spots, and an incredible amount of sanding to get rid of the peaks. I started out with 100 grit and then moved to 220.

    When sanding, make sure the excess lacquer turns powdery. If it turns gummy - stop! The surface hasn't cured long enough - wait a few days and try again. When finished sanding, brush on another coat and repeat the process (many times!)

    8. When your surface starts to get reasonably smooth, you can switch to spray on lacquer, and wet sanding. If I remember correctly, I started with 400 grit, then 600, 1000, 1200, 1500, and 2000. Again, allow to dry for a few days between each coat. Repeat until your surface is as smooth as glass.

    9. Remove tape carefully. I took a razor blade, and (again, I’m going to use the word ‘CAREFULLY’) cut around the outer bearing edge, where the tape ends, and the surface of the shell begins. All the built up lacquer in the lug holes came out nicely with a drill bit. It wasn't attached to a drill; I just used my hands to screw it in. ‘Drill’ from the outside, in – not from the inside, out – or you risk cracking the lacquer.

    10. Then the hardest step of all: Have the patience to wait a week or two for the surface to cure before waxing. I used a hand-held electric buffer, and started with a scratch removing compound, then wax, and then a polishing compound.

    There is information out there on how to do this, but you have to dig for it. Most of what I found came in bits and pieces from multiple sites, so I can’t really point you to one place in particular. Try googling ‘finishing lacquer’ ‘buffing lacquer’ etc. Of course, the most useful information I learned was through trial and error…lots of error!

    It will probably take more cans and spray cans of lacquer to do this than you think. I lost track of the total amount I bought.

    Put a few drops of dish soap into your water when wet sanding.

    If your surface seems smooth, hold it up to the light at an angle, it might not be as smooth as you think!

    If you’re doing an entire kit, try to keep the drums at different stages of completion, so you always have something to do. Otherwise it’s a lot of work, a lot of waiting, a lot of work, a lot of waiting.

    If this is your first time refinishing, the most important thing I can say is: ‘HAVE PATIENCE.’ If you make a mistake (and you probably will make several – I know I did) don’t get frustrated. Just keep at it, and hopefully it works out for you.
    Attached Files
    My Kit

    My Refinishing Thread

  • #2
    A few more...
    Attached Files
    My Kit

    My Refinishing Thread


    • #3
      Last one:
      Attached Files
      My Kit

      My Refinishing Thread


      • #4
        nice work!!!
        Gretsch Catalina Birch Drums | Zildjian "A" Cymbals | Pearl/Gibraltar Hardware | Pro-Mark Drum Sticks | Evans Drum Heads


        • #5
          Wow those look incredible!
          Nice job dude. Rep.
          Go! Go! Bronco


          • #6
            I think it looks fantastic. I would love to try that but I'm Scared.
            My Pacific CX


            • #7
              That is a 500% improvement in the kit! I am completely sick of black kits and black hardware.

              That kit is brilliant to look at, and totally destroys the previous finish!

              If I ever painted my kit, it would be that finish!

              Great job!

              And an excellent, educational post for those that feel trapped into the kits they have.


              • #8
                Wow. My kit's a refinished silver sparkle but it's a wrap. This owns that.
                sigpicStill Way Too Much Crap


                • #9
                  once again. sparkle beast.


                  • #10
                    That is
                    My Kit
                    my {FORMER} band (the brothers highhorse)


                    • #11
                      That is fantastic. You turned her into a real beauty.
                      Mapex Saturn: 8 , 10 , 12, 14, 16, 22 B 14 & 13 S
                      Mapex Saturn V: 10, 12, 16, 22 B
                      Drumcraft Series 8 Maple: 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 20, B, & 14, 13, 12, & 10 S
                      Drumcraft Series 7 Birch: 8, 10, 12, 14,16, (2) 22 B, & 14 S
                      Yamaha Stage Custom: 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 22 B


                      • #12
                        I made a gong bass this past summer with a holographic sparkle, but quit before doing the lacquer. If I have time/money this summer, I might refinish my export as you have done. It looks awesome! Rep!
                        My self-built bebop kit, natural finish.

                        I am trying to rid from my life all that I can do without, including drum gear.
                        I am selling:
                        Sabian 17" AA Metal-X Crash
                        Sabian 18" AA Heavy Ride
                        Sabian 14" B8Pro Medium Hihats
                        Zildjian 18" Oriental China Trash

                        Please PM if interested.


                        • #13
                          That look sick dude. Amazing job.
                          Check out:
                          BIB Drums
                          Silverfox Drumsticks


                          • #14
                            damnn dude. Very, very nice.
                            Vintage Tama Superstar


                            • #15
                              rep all the way. sticky?
                              Current kit - Pearl VBX Ruby Fade Outdoors
                              All my previous kits - Here