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Drilling center holes

Esotericdrums

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I’d love to hear from anyone experienced drilling the center hole of old cymbals to fit modern stands. I understand there can be some risk to cracking the cymbal or overheating the bronze.

can I use a step drill bit to widen the center holes of old hi hats?

what is the “safest”, best method?
 

Ron_M

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IMO, the best approach is to use a 1/2" reamer, and finish off with a deburring tool. I've done this to many old Zildjians. It's an easy, foolproof method, and the results are excellent. Install the reamer to the cymbal's center hole and slowly but forcefully turn until the reamer eventually breaks through. Finish the edges with the deburring tool, from both the top and bottom. Now you have a smooth 1/2" hole that looks factory.

1/2" Reamer and deburring tool
 

mathale

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Wait! There are options for playing cymbals with the old school 7/16" center hole without having to widen the hole! You don't have to mutilate these finite beauties just so that they'll fit on modern stands. Actually, opening up the center holes will affect the sound, however slightly (loss of high frequencies), and will also decrease the value somewhat (there are folks who'll pay more for unmolested cymbals).

The Canopus flat based cymbal stand is specifically designed to accommodate the old sizes and is available in two versions (Jeff Hamilton model and the original model). Also, any number of vintage cymbal stands that are available from oniline sites are an option.

For hi-hats, there is a certain Yamaha stand (I'll have to dig up that info), and there are the vintage hi-hat stands. I picked up an old Ludwig HH stand that works just fine. Cheap too!
 
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Ron_M

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It's true, there are other options. I bought some inexpensive lightweight off-brand cymbal stands with a 6mm post, but have a mix of 6 and 8. I also don't want cymbals that require a 6mm stand, for practical reason (house kit hardware).

For me, the practicality of enlarging the center hole outweighs the desire to keep the cymbal 'as original'. Really, that what it comes down to, in the end: Which do you value more? I also don't object to re-edging a vintage drum that needs it (keep the original profile, though). See? We all have our bars. Totally valid viewpoint to keep your vintage cymbal (or drums) original.
 

Tama CW

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You can often use the 8 mm stands as well.....such as later Yamaha's. You'll just have to file down the plastic sleeve a bit....OR.....remove the current sleeves and put on your own home made ones made of rubber vacuum hose.
All the Tama 80's stands work fine on those 7/16" (11 mm) holes. The exceptions I've found are the tiny 8 mm and 10 mm bell holes found on some 30's A's, and some of the mid 50's and earlier old K's. Some of those will require a 60's WFL/Ludwig stand
or something similar....like Slingerland, Rogers, W&A, etc.

Once you get used to looking at old K's or old A's with tiny bell holes (pre-1958).....they just look "odd" with an enlarged 1/2" bell hole.
 

Shovel&Pale

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I guess it is possible to learn something new every day. Having no experience with vintage cymbals, I never even gave it a thought that center holes used to be smaller.

My oldest cymbal is my first real one (unless you count a brass hi-hat top from JC Penney that I "hand hammered" myself) a mid 90's Sabian AA thin crash. Of course you'll see those listed various places as "vintage".
 

drummer5359

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I have an Istanbul K that I absolutely love. I don't use it much these days because of the small hole and having to use vintage stands with it. The hole is perfect, no keyhole, no cracks. I'd be afraid to mess with it.
 
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Franklin Nigel Stein

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While I won’t drill out collectors grade cymbals, I have drilled out a few users. And the ONLY thing I’d use is a 1/2 inch countersink. Mine is a U.S. made General Tool. Don’t be cheap, buy American or German on this tool. Make a slight impression on the top of the bell to counteract most of the sharpness of the finished hole and then finish it by drilling through from the bottom.

Sand with 200 grit to smooth the hole and you’re good to go. Cymbal illustration is my 1952ish Trans Stamp 16in 1520g Zildjian Ride, countersink in the hole. Its not a terribly valuable cymbal and the 7/16 hole was out of round before enlarging.

This public service announcement has been brought to you by:

Frank N Stein

And always remember . . . FIRE BAD!!!


7569F1CC-8C70-437E-AF33-7BAAEC822980.jpeg



IMG_8015.jpeg
 
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Franklin Nigel Stein

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I’d love to hear from anyone experienced drilling the center hole of old cymbals to fit modern stands. I understand there can be some risk to cracking the cymbal or overheating the bronze.

can I use a step drill bit to widen the center holes of old hi hats?

what is the “safest”, best method?
In case you decide not to drill one out, I’ll dig up my 1 current collector grade cymbal and it’s grommet and throw up a pic. Sized to the 7/16 hole and cymbal stand. Works really well though I rarely use it.

Frank N Stein

edit 1 - totally forgot that one of my stands was a 70s Premier. I forget what year they changed it, but as they had a lot of Jazz players, they continued to make stands that would accept a 7/16 hole. Somewhere around here I also have a 1/2 inch one that I milled down for my stick bag just in case. The one on the right is the Premier.
 

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Franklin Nigel Stein

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wow. finally got your name..
Nigel reminded of Spinal Tap

LOVE Spinal Tap - though I’m trying hard not to be one of “those” drummers. I’ve thrown the name around in online gaming since at least 2010 as a joke and went to it out of frustration after my first 4 or 5 preferences were already taken here.

Well, gotta get back to my job terrorizing villagers.

FIRE BAD
 
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JDA

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LOVE Spinal Tap - though I’m trying hard not to be one of “those” drummers. I’ve thrown the name around in online gaming since at least 2010 as a joke and went to it out of frustration after my first 4 or 5 preferences were already taken here.

Well, gotta get back to my job terrorizing villagers.

FIRE BAD
I would ask mods to Shorten the Nigel down to N
if I was you (which I ain't : )
 

Franklin Nigel Stein

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I would ask mods to Shorten the Nigel down to N
if I was you (which I ain't : )

Dunno. I value the reaction I see in my mind’s eye when someone finally “gets” it.

My next choice might have been Glomdor the Destroyer, sooooo.
 

Franklin Nigel Stein

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I couldn’t find my own grommets but you’re looking for a 7/16 inch x 1/4. Put it in the cymbal and slide it directly onto the stand threads. No plastic sleeve or felts needed.

And on the reamer and drill bit issues, the reamer tends to stress the metal with friction heat and drill bits are notorious for grabbing and even tearing cymbals. Counter sinks eliminate both those possibilities. If it’s a thick cymbal, take the material out in three or four steps, pausing to let it cool.

(Back in the day I worked 10 years in a blue collar field that included a lot of metal fabrication)
 

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Franklin Nigel Stein

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Only took me a month but I finally found one of my cymbal grommets for 7/16 mounting holes.

If the cymbal is more valuable undrilled, it's a good idea to leave it untouched and throw one of these in. You don't even need a plastic sleeve. It just slides down over the threaded end of your cymbal stand and away you go.

And I admit it, there are two early cymbals shown here. One of my trans stamp 16s just has cooler work on the bottom, so it's the first pic. The grommet is installed on a 1930s 14.
 

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mattr

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Step drill to 1/2” is the ONLY recommended method. Plus these drill types can provide a nice chamfering from each side if applied lightly.

Thin metal brass and bronze has a tendency to “grab” cutters, and multi-fluted twist drills or a countersinks don’t follow the original hole well and can get suck in and dragged through the hole in an instant (potentially inadvertently cracking the area… and hurting your wrist!), especially with todays torque-y hand drills.
 

Franklin Nigel Stein

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Step drill to 1/2” is the ONLY recommended method. Plus these drill types can provide a nice chamfering from each side if applied lightly.

Thin metal brass and bronze has a tendency to “grab” cutters, and multi-fluted twist drills or a countersinks don’t follow the original hole well and can get suck in and dragged through the hole in an instant (potentially inadvertently cracking the area… and hurting your wrist!), especially with todays torque-y hand drills.

I’ve never experienced any issues drilling out a keyholed 7/16 (or 3/8!) vintage cymbal. They sound way more “bad worker” than bad tool.

I’ve used and own a wide selection of cutting tools used in metal work. There are other tools that will do it fine. I just consider this the best method the average drummer can pull off easily.

If I were super crazy and super rich, I’d invest in an assembly line finishing hole cutter.
 


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