Looking for advice on repairing a small cymbal crack

Old Drummer

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The other day when the light hit a 15" K Custom Dark crash I recently acquired in a trade from a certain angle I noticed what appeared to be a crack in the cymbal. After examining the cymbal more carefully, yes, it does appear to be starting to crack. About midway between the center and the edge there is a line along the lathing about two inches long that looks like a crack. When I turn the cymbal over, there is the same line in the same place, although on the underside the line is only about half as long. This line sure looks like the beginning of a crack, although it's only detectable by sight, not by ear. The cymbal still sounds fine. My diagnosis is that the cymbal hasn't yet cracked to the point where there's a split that would cause a rattle, but it's only a matter of time before that happens.

Well, I'm miffed at the fellow who traded the cymbal to me, and miffed at myself for doing the trade in a dimly lit bar. However, there's nothing I can do about my trading error, and I'm not even sure I can fault the fellow who traded it to me. The crack is so small that he may have been unaware of it, and in fairness it's possible that I cracked the cymbal after I got it. OK, I don't think I did this. I haven't played the cymbal much and have never before cracked one by playing it, but anything is possible. My point is that regardless of whether or not I was cheated, the cymbal is now mine to deal with. My further point is that now that I'm aware of the crack forming, it would be unethical of me to sell or trade the cymbal without disclosing that information, although the disclosure would lower the value of the cymbal considerably. Again I therefore conclude that the cymbal is mine to deal with, like it or not.

Well, how to deal with a barely cracked cymbal? Some people advise doing nothing, claiming that it might take a long time for the cymbal to completely crack, and in the meantime you can just play them. I don't know whether or not this is true, but I'm inclined to doubt it for a thin crash cymbal. Certainly walloping a crash cymbal is going to encourage any crack to expand in no time. I also reason, sort of like my dentist does when she encourages me to have small problems fixed before they become big problems, that it's wiser to address the beginnings of a small crack before it becomes a big crack.

My thinking is therefore to drill two holes in the cymbal on both ends of the crack, about a half inch farther than the crack appears to extend in order to prevent the crack from enlarging (eventually around the entire circumference of the cymbal). Although I would think that this would be enough to contain the damage, I'm also thinking that it wouldn't hurt to put a little epoxy along the crack too. This might help prevent it from fully splitting with surely no more effect on the sound than a small piece of tape. If the epoxy doesn't hold and the crack turns into a full split that causes an annoying rattle, I can later cut out the entire area and turn it into one of those oblong holes that are the solution to serious cracks. However, it seems to me that it's best to start with the least invasive repairs first, even as it's probably best to undertake them before the crack gets large enough to need more invasive attention.

What do those of you who have repaired cracked cymbals recommend? Google gives me conflicting opinions, and every example I've seen is of more serious cracks than I'm dealing with. In fact, there's no point in my posting a photo because I doubt it would show the crack. I've just never tried to fix a cracked cymbal before.
 

1up2dn

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2 holes...I have used 3/32 bits...I have also used black water based ink and a magnifying lense to find the ends of the crack...
 

1up2dn

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i forgot to say also drill at the ends of the crack...not too much further
 

rock roll

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I agree with the above opinions.
Make sure you get the very ends and drill from the inside (underneath) of the cymbal with wood underneath so you don't dent or increase the crack.
I also like to think that if I leave it out in the sun to get warm , it conditions the metal to be a little more plyable . But I believe mr.bettis has corrected me on that. He is an expert.
 

Tama CW

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I had a 16" K thin crash do that to me last year. No idea what caused it. But it has dulled the sound somewhat. I only crash it moderately and always on the opposite side of the crack. It hasn't gotten worse the past 6 months. It was drilled out at each end. 3" crack right in the center.
 

Old Drummer

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I agree with the above opinions.
Make sure you get the very ends and drill from the inside (underneath) of the cymbal with wood underneath so you don't dent or increase the crack.
I also like to think that if I leave it out in the sun to get warm , it conditions the metal to be a little more plyable . But I believe mr.bettis has corrected me on that. He is an expert.
How important is it to drill from underneath? In this case, the crack is longer on the top than it is on the bottom and I'm not sure I could get the hole placement right if I start from the bottom.
 

REF

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I would go with the longer appearance of the crack. In purchasing cracked cymbals to mess around with, I use a rat tail file. Drill your holes, end to end, an 1/8" past what you see as the visible crack (use magnifying glass). Then take your file and carefully take out the crack. Takes a little while but, you'll get there. Use some rolled up emery cloth to smooth the ends and down along the crack. You shouldn't notice any loss of tone, at all.
 

rock roll

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How important is it to drill from underneath? In this case, the crack is longer on the top than it is on the bottom and I'm not sure I could get the hole placement right if I start from the bottom.
It's harder to drill from the top , not that you can't , but just because of the bend in the cymbal.
The opposite side from where your drilling has to be supported or you run the chance of while pushing down to drill you make the crack larger.
The cymbal is bowl shaped...if you put it on a table , with the top facing you ,and push down , you can dent it.
If you turn it over with the bottom facing you a portion of the cymbal is backed by the table and you if you push down , you can't make a dent.
This is why I like to drill from the bottom.
If you can figure a way to support the opposite side , drilling from the top , do it that way.
And let me know how you supported it, I would be interested.
Good luck.
 

rock roll

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I would go with the longer appearance of the crack. In purchasing cracked cymbals to mess around with, I use a rat tail file. Drill your holes, end to end, an 1/8" past what you see as the visible crack (use magnifying glass). Then take your file and carefully take out the crack. Takes a little while but, you'll get there. Use some rolled up emery cloth to smooth the ends and down along the crack. You shouldn't notice any loss of tone, at all.
Rat tail files are very handy tools for working on cymbals.
You can also use them for filing down the burs from rivet holes if you want to make a sizzle cymbal .
 

Old Drummer

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UPDATE ON "REPAIRED" CYMBAL:

I actually "repaired" this cymbal a couple weeks ago but wanted to wait until I had a chance to play it in a live performance setting (last night) to render a verdict.

My verdict is that the cymbal is so-so. From playing it at home I immediately thought that my repairs dampened the crash a tad, and from playing it live I have to suspect that's accurate. However, gosh, it's only a 15" and wasn't very loud to begin with, plus I wasn't very familiar with it before I fixed it. I can't say for sure that the cymbal is any less after the "repair" than it was before it, though it seems a tad less. I don't though hear a quality difference.

My "repair" was not done expertly. I used a slightly larger bit than recommended, but figured that bigger would be better in case I missed the fault line. Neither I nor the buddy from whom I borrowed a drill had a magnifying glass, so I just overshot where it looked like the fault line ended. My buddy happened to have some sandpaper for metal, which is probably a no-no for cymbals, but I used it just a little to make sure that there weren't any finger-cutting jagged edges around the holes. I then did the seemingly not recommended thing of putting a little epoxy on the fissure. This made a dark line of a couple inches on the top and maybe an inch on the bottom, and probably accounts for the slight dampening I think I hear. However, I figured that it wouldn't hurt much and may help, so I used a little.

The real test, of course, will come down the line when I know how well my "repair" holds up. Then again, if it does hold, I won't know that the "repair" saved the cymbal. Upon looking at the cymbal, my buddy asked, "How long do you expect to live?" His theory was that with no more of crack than the cymbal had I could play it for the rest of my life as it was. He may have been right about this, but we'll never know because I "repaired" it anyway.

Oh, yes, I drilled from the top and didn't have any problem. We just put the cymbal on top of a 2 x 6 and my buddy helped hold it steady. I also put a small piece of tape on top of where I wanted to drill the holes. I read that this helps steady the drill, but I don't know whether or not this is true. I just did it and it worked for me.
 

rock roll

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That's great. Congratulations.
You could add 2 sizzles where the holes are if you want. You can always take the sizzles back out if you don't like it.
Get a rat tail file for this . You use the tip to bend the bottom of the sizzle end. Stick the file's tip into the inside of the bottom of the sizzle and Working it slowly around as you bend the ends outward. Very easy to do.
 

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