Dremel + cracked cymbals = splashes/bells?

nmosko

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Had a friend on facebook messenger say that. Using a dremel tool, I could cut my old cracked cymbals down into splash cymbals or effects bells. Anybody ever do this? If so, how exactly would it be done and is it worth it?
 

DaveCollingwood

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If you've never done it before, obviously be sure to consider your safety over all else. With that said, yes this is perfectly possible. It depends where you cut and whether you plan to get into hammering / lathing, you can always cut big and if it doesn't work, cut smaller until you're happy. Bells usually work out just fine. With a dremel, the thing to be careful about is heat build-up, go slow and don't work on one spot too long, you'll damage the metal and invite problems further down the line. You'll need to deburr and smooth the edge once you're done too.

Wear goggles, dust mask, gloves and ear protection!

Hopefully not too self-promotion, but check out the 4 videos currently up on my site at http://www.collingwoodcymbals.com/for-sale ... All those are cut from damaged cymbals, a couple hammered from flat discs, and some cut from the main body of damaged cymbals then a bell hammered in, profile altered and lathed to finish.

Again - be careful! Happy to answer any questions, I've done lots of this kind of work.
 

cin

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An angle grinder + cutoff wheel would make much easier work of this. Faster cut, less heat.
If you plan on doing more than one cymbal I'd say it's a sound investment. (snare bd crash lol)

I've cut a lot of cymbals (but less than Dave) and I wouldn't like to have to do one with a dremel. Never tried mind you, I only use my dremel for small radius or detailed cuts.
 

DaveCollingwood

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cin said:
An angle grinder + cutoff wheel would make much easier work of this. Faster cut, less heat.
If you plan on doing more than one cymbal I'd say it's a sound investment. (snare bd crash lol)

I've cut a lot of cymbals (but less than Dave) and I wouldn't like to have to do one with a dremel. Never tried mind you, I only use my dremel for small radius or detailed cuts.
Yes, that's a good point. I actually don't use either as I'm lucky enough to be able to take care of it on the lathe with a sharp cutting tool. If I'm cutting discs from off-centre portions of a cymbal then I'll chomp out the basic shape with an angle grinder, get my profile pretty much hammered in then drill the mounting hole and back to the lathe to chop the ragged edge off.

I seriously would stick with a Dremel for this work though, it's much more controlled and once you've made the initial accurate cut you've got a channel to follow as you go back over it, so the work speeds up nicely. I find when using an angle grinder you need to go back over anyway to tidy up a mess of straight edges and angles, and if you're cutting tightly (i.e. a small bell)you can't just whizz through, and heat does creep in as an issue! The Dremel approach does seem more labour-intensive but I think it's worth the slow start for what you gain later on. Patience = virtue and all that. You can change where you hold the Dremel depending on the size of disc you're cutting and get a nice, smooth arc going easily as you feed the cutting disc around.

Ultimately though, it's just a bit of metal being cut from another bit of metal, so whatever works! It'll still make a noise once it's done. That's all just my fiddy cents.
 

DaveCollingwood

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JazzDrumGuy said:
Dave, what Dremel tips/heads do you use?
I actually don't use them for this kind of work as I can do it on the lathe with carbide tipped cutting tools, which keeps things tidy and accurate. I use Dremels for crack repair, and to be honest any cutting disc will get through B20, obviously some will wear out faster than others though. It's just a case of keeping the disc moving and carving out an initial "channel" which you go over several times until you're through. A good tip is to look at the reverse of the cymbal after a few cuts, if you see a dark brown line where you've been cutting, you've got heat! can't avoid it altogether, but easy enough to overcome with a little practice.

Any dedicated metal cutting disc will be fine, Dremel do plenty. General purpose ones work ok too, but it's worth spending a bit extra to avoid continually having to replace them.

So for crack repair, once I've cut out the affected area I use a combination of grinding bits to deburr and smooth things out, then onto the sandpaper to finish (by hand, although there are sanding bits available for Dremel too). I find files are generally unnecessary, but good to call on if required. Dremel do plenty of different grades of grinding wheels, some more suited to B20 than others. A set like this gives you more than enough to get started:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Apollo-Accessory-Universal-Sharpening-Polishing/dp/B014KWGXWC/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?s=diy&ie=UTF8&qid=1529381621&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=dremel&psc=1
 

cin

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I've tried this, but I've found that if you go right through you get a spinning disc of sharp bronze flying around. And if you stop right before going through the edge is sharp and angled and requires just as much rounding as an angle grinder cut.

Plus, I did so many with the angle grinder that I've gotten pretty accurate. 3 or 4 long curved cuts.

As a funny aside, I made a jig a while back to hold my angle grinder on the lathe... Trying to get it done in a single round cut. The plan was to cut it while spinning the back plate BY HAND (not quite dumb enough to power the lathe). Dumb idea anyway though. Did not pan out. hahaha

DaveCollingwood said:
on the lathe with a sharp cutting tool.
 

DaveCollingwood

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Haha, yeah. I've got a nice scar on my finger thanks to dumb ideas, where would we be without them!?

Each to their own, I suppose, but you're right, never go all the way through on the lathe or you'll lose an arm as a giant spinning razor sharp disc flies around. I do the partway thing and snap it out, but then I mount the disc / bell with the underneath facing me, supported with a slightly smaller bell and a rubber disc, that way you can skim the edge off with a straight edge from the same cutting tool. At that point I do use a file to round off, and hold ever finer grades of sandpaper to the edge as it spins. Fast & clean, works like a charm. Just have to be careful of chatter, but again practice will eliminate that.
 

cin

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Supported by a smaller bell and a rubber disc.

A RUBBER DISC! genius.

One by one, I'm extracting all your secrets through casual banter, Dave. MOUHAHAHAHAHA

I think part of the problem may be that I don't have the best cutting bit. I may have rounded it off for another purpose because I wasn't using it to cut... That could explain the angled edge..
 

bodinski

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Im not equipped to cut cymbals down, but ive made lots of repairs with a dremel, drill, hole saws, step bit & a few files.
 

AustinFitz

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I've not cut any cymbals down and made splashes, but I did try my hand at the "biopsy" method a few weeks ago on these 2 cracked cymbals I had laying around. I wasn't expecting much, but both the 16" Paper Thin Crash, and the 12" Splash sound GREAT now! I'm not sure how long they'll hold up, but I've been using them regularly for the past few weeks without any more cracking. I think the splash might even sound better than it did before it was cracked! Did this with a combination of a small grinder, a dremel, and some files. Not bad for my first attempt in my opinion.





 


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