Paste Wax Finish on drums...

D. B. Cooper

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I'm working out how I want to finish my Slingerlands now that the edges have been recut. (Thanks to Chris Mattoon, who is a member here and a drum builder in Grand Rapids, MI. [Special thanks to Member Saladdaze for the recommendation!] Chris did awesome work and was super knowledgeable and easy to work with. Great experience!)

I have a bit of woodworking and finishing know-how and have been doing some research, but am in no way an expert on the subjects.
Is there a reason that I shouldn't paste wax a drum shell other than it's penchant for scratching?

Chris mentioned in a conversation that he has a few tricks up his sleeve for drum finishing as well and that got me exploring the matter. So... Thanks again!
 

robbie

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I'm working out how I want to finish my Slingerlands now that the edges have been recut. (Thanks to Chris Mattoon, who is a member here and a drum builder in Grand Rapids, MI. [Special thanks to Member Saladdaze for the recommendation!] Chris did awesome work and was super knowledgeable and easy to work with. Great experience!)

I have a bit of woodworking and finishing know-how and have been doing some research, but am in no way an expert on the subjects.
Is there a reason that I shouldn't paste wax a drum shell other than it's penchant for scratching?

Chris mentioned in a conversation that he has a few tricks up his sleeve for drum finishing as well and that got me exploring the matter. So... Thanks again!
You don't mention the finish on the drums, if any. My personal experience on a set of Slingerland maple drums with a polyurethane topcoat, was that after putting on a final coat of paste wax (I used high quality carnuba), the wax dulled the finish and picked up dirt.
When I finally removed the wax (not an easy task, mind you) the drums looked much better; particularly under lights.
Best regards
 

D. B. Cooper

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You don't mention the finish on the drums, if any. My personal experience on a set of Slingerland maple drums with a polyurethane topcoat, was that after putting on a final coat of paste wax (I used high quality carnuba), the wax dulled the finish and picked up dirt.
When I finally removed the wax (not an easy task, mind you) the drums looked much better; particularly under lights.
Best regards
Awesome, man. That's exactly the info I was seeking. Appreciate it!
 

nylontip

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To luster up the finish, you'll need a random orbital polisher. I've done Ludwig wraps from the 70's and lacquer finishes from the 90's and all came out fantastic. Of course you will need the correct pads and compounds, but this is the way to buff out light scratches and polish your shells to the next level.
I bought mine from Griots Garage, and compounds from Stewart Macdonald.
If you try this, make sure you secure your shell or it will go flying! Also practice on an old shell to get the hang of it.
 

Drumbumcrumb

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Hey DB! I’m doing a little experiment/project that may help you a bit... I figured you probably don’t have a test piece that you can try finishes on so I’ve done 2 different finishes that you can see (I also saved a piece of the unfinished wood, so you can see what I started with. I imagine it’s pretty close to what you’re working with)

So - I have a piece of mahogany that I’ve Danish oiled and polyed, no wax. And I’ve got a piece that I Danish oiled, NO poly, and waxed. (Instead of paste wax, I’m trying a new-to-me product called Mahoneys oil wax finish. It’s an all-natural blend of walnut oil, beeswax, and carnub

So if you wait a day or two, I’ll have the finished results to show you... One oil, poly, no wax. One just oil and wax. If there’s some other combination that peaks your interest, let me know and I can try.
 

D. B. Cooper

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Hey DB! I’m doing a little experiment/project that may help you a bit... I figured you probably don’t have a test piece that you can try finishes on so I’ve done 2 different finishes that you can see (I also saved a piece of the unfinished wood, so you can see what I started with. I imagine it’s pretty close to what you’re working with)

So - I have a piece of mahogany that I’ve Danish oiled and polyed, no wax. And I’ve got a piece that I Danish oiled, NO poly, and waxed. (Instead of paste wax, I’m trying a new-to-me product called Mahoneys oil wax finish. It’s an all-natural blend of walnut oil, beeswax, and carnub

So if you wait a day or two, I’ll have the finished results to show you... One oil, poly, no wax. One just oil and wax. If there’s some other combination that peaks your interest, let me know and I can try.

Wow. Really? That's really awesome of you.
I can totally wait a bit, I've got to finish a tabletop that I'm working on in my shop before I can start a big sanding project anyways (small shop).

I watched this a couple of days ago and it's really got me thinking:


I like that distressed one at the end of the video, with the 3 coats of red stain, sealer and dark grain filler.
I think that depth that he gets from that process in that video could make them look a lot more professional and less like a DIY job.
But I have no idea, honestly. I've never really finished mahogany with anything but Danish oil.
Thanks for the good will and I'm excited to see those results!
 

Drumbumcrumb

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Alright, here’s what I’ve got - a small piece of “raw”, unfinished mahogany, a larger block with one side JUST Mahoneys oil wax finish, the other side JUST satin wipe-on poly, a small block with Danish oil and satin w-o poly, and a bass drum beater with Danish oil and Mahoneys (the bass drum beater is mahogany with a leather strip in the middle on a titanium shaft!)

The 2 surprises for me were the poly only finish and the Mahoneys only finish. I thought the poly would just sit on top, but it penetrated enough to show the grain while leaving a very light color and of course a glass smooth finish. The Mahoneys was new to me, it’s loved by lathe turners, for bowls and cutting boards and also butcher blocks. Unlike some waxes, this dries to a nice hard finish that’s not at all gummy - you can’t really leave a fingerprint on the stuff. It’s walnut oil, beeswax, and carnuba, and they got the mix right! The oil penetrates really well, and leaves a nice protective top coat of dry to the touch wax.

Danish oil and poly came out perfect, nice color and glassy finish. Danish oil and Mahoneys was nice too - very good color and a nice feel. Kind of finish you just want to keep touching.

On to the results -

Here’s the pieces (raw, just Mahoneys, Danish and poly, Danish and Mahoneys)
41AED721-EF45-4445-93FF-3CDCAFBD54AD.jpeg

The second from L piece is now flipped to show the ‘just poly’ side:
042B1937-DDDB-42C8-A80A-B643916FF327.jpeg

Just poly-
F5B5560B-9C2F-4582-862C-11D59E124FB7.jpeg

Danish oil and Mahoneys-
721FE82E-1C22-470B-BB18-F1AB1DA80651.jpeg

Danish oil and satin poly -
8E574488-9DCC-4B0A-8A17-24A3A3B43E3A.jpeg

Just Mahoneys -
CDB08B39-50CE-455A-B669-BA56A2F68624.jpeg
 

D. B. Cooper

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Alright, here’s what I’ve got - a small piece of “raw”, unfinished mahogany, a larger block with one side JUST Mahoneys oil wax finish, the other side JUST satin wipe-on poly, a small block with Danish oil and satin w-o poly, and a bass drum beater with Danish oil and Mahoneys (the bass drum beater is mahogany with a leather strip in the middle on a titanium shaft!)

The 2 surprises for me were the poly only finish and the Mahoneys only finish. I thought the poly would just sit on top, but it penetrated enough to show the grain while leaving a very light color and of course a glass smooth finish. The Mahoneys was new to me, it’s loved by lathe turners, for bowls and cutting boards and also butcher blocks. Unlike some waxes, this dries to a nice hard finish that’s not at all gummy - you can’t really leave a fingerprint on the stuff. It’s walnut oil, beeswax, and carnuba, and they got the mix right! The oil penetrates really well, and leaves a nice protective top coat of dry to the touch wax.

Danish oil and poly came out perfect, nice color and glassy finish. Danish oil and Mahoneys was nice too - very good color and a nice feel. Kind of finish you just want to keep touching.

On to the results -

Here’s the pieces (raw, just Mahoneys, Danish and poly, Danish and Mahoneys)
View attachment 447059
The second from L piece is now flipped to show the ‘just poly’ side: View attachment 447060
Just poly- View attachment 447061
Danish oil and Mahoneys- View attachment 447062
Danish oil and satin poly - View attachment 447063
Just Mahoneys - View attachment 447064

Cool. Very cool. Thank you for doing that.

Which do you like best? I think I prefer the poly. That glassy surface just looks so good.
I was going to buy some wipe on poly but I couldn't find any water-borne wipe on.
I guess I don't necessarily need water-based, but I had super good results on a table that I just finished.

Have you ever buffed oil based poly with those 3m finishing pads? It worked so well with the water based, best finish I've ever done, easily. Wipe-on sounds like such an easier option, I would love to use it.
 

Drumbumcrumb

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Cool. Very cool. Thank you for doing that.

Which do you like best? I think I prefer the poly. That glassy surface just looks so good.
I was going to buy some wipe on poly but I couldn't find any water-borne wipe on.
I guess I don't necessarily need water-based, but I had super good results on a table that I just finished.

Have you ever buffed oil based poly with those 3m finishing pads? It worked so well with the water based, best finish I've ever done, easily. Wipe-on sounds like such an easier option, I would love to use it.
You’re most welcome, it was easy and I learned some too. (I have used the 3m finishing pads with great results... there’s no substitute for good finishing ‘stuff’, when you get that perfect finish it’s all worth it!) One of the things I like most about the wipe on is there’s a LOT less of that fine tuning - unless you have a serious pro setup, traditional poly requires some ‘fixing’ between coats and after final coat. Wipe on poly eliminates most of that. It’s easier to achieve that flawless, glass-like result (imho). With a porous wood like mahogany, and nice weather, you can easily apply several coats in one day. So you may have to do more coats with wipe on, but that’s cancelled out by the short wait times. The only complaint about wipe on seems to be “I can put down twice as much poly with a brush”... More thin coats has always been a recipe for a good finish anyways, so I don’t really get that criticism.

I agree that for a drum finish, poly has a leg up on the other finishes. It really is a very professional, flawless look. I’d probably poly the entire shell, so you don’t get any weird twisting/cupping. Just like if you only poly the top of a table, it can cup pretty badly, I imagine it holds true for any 3D object. I don’t know how that would play out on a drum shell, but I wouldn’t want to find out!

Mahogany will look good in its natural light brown color, or in the darker coffee color it takes on when oiled, so that comes down to preference. The character of the
outer ply/wrap might affect the choice there too - if you had a gorgeous ribbon mahogany then you’d certainly want to enhance it and show it off - but if you peeled off a wrap and have kinda meh mahogany beneath, you might want to NOT oil it so as not to highlight its imperfections.

With the water based wipe on, you can certainly get it, but it IS a little different. You may have to find it at a real paint store, woodworking store, or even order it. The thing to remember about water based poly is it doesn’t ‘enrich’ the color of the wood like an oil based poly. You know how you get that ambery darkening all through the grain with oil based... but not with water based. That’s perfect if you have a wood that looks just right in its natural state and you basically want to keep it as is but protect it. Or if you’re gonna oil it first and then poly, you don’t need the poly to do any coloring because you’ve already got the oil in the wood. Just something to keep in mind about water based poly - if used alone it won’t change the look of the wood much.

So a dark, rich, wet look - oil first, then poly

A natural, light, kinda primitive look - just water based poly

Slightly coloring, but still natural - just oil based poly

I know a lot of what I’m saying is going to be obvious to you, but someone may stumble on this post while trying to finish something for the first time, so I try to touch on the finer points for whoever may benefit. If I sound didactic, please excuse! You never know who might read something someday.
 

D. B. Cooper

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I agree that for a drum finish, poly has a leg up on the other finishes. It really is a very professional, flawless look. I’d probably poly the entire shell, so you don’t get any weird twisting/cupping. Just like if you only poly the top of a table, it can cup pretty badly, I imagine it holds true for any 3D object. I don’t know how that would play out on a drum shell, but I wouldn’t want to find out!
You mean like applying poly to the bearing edges and interior?
 

D. B. Cooper

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You’re most welcome, it was easy and I learned some too. (I have used the 3m finishing pads with great results... there’s no substitute for good finishing ‘stuff’, when you get that perfect finish it’s all worth it!) One of the things I like most about the wipe on is there’s a LOT less of that fine tuning - unless you have a serious pro setup, traditional poly requires some ‘fixing’ between coats and after final coat. Wipe on poly eliminates most of that. It’s easier to achieve that flawless, glass-like result (imho). With a porous wood like mahogany, and nice weather, you can easily apply several coats in one day. So you may have to do more coats with wipe on, but that’s cancelled out by the short wait times. The only complaint about wipe on seems to be “I can put down twice as much poly with a brush”... More thin coats has always been a recipe for a good finish anyways, so I don’t really get that criticism.

I agree that for a drum finish, poly has a leg up on the other finishes. It really is a very professional, flawless look. I’d probably poly the entire shell, so you don’t get any weird twisting/cupping. Just like if you only poly the top of a table, it can cup pretty badly, I imagine it holds true for any 3D object. I don’t know how that would play out on a drum shell, but I wouldn’t want to find out!

Mahogany will look good in its natural light brown color, or in the darker coffee color it takes on when oiled, so that comes down to preference. The character of the
outer ply/wrap might affect the choice there too - if you had a gorgeous ribbon mahogany then you’d certainly want to enhance it and show it off - but if you peeled off a wrap and have kinda meh mahogany beneath, you might want to NOT oil it so as not to highlight its imperfections.

With the water based wipe on, you can certainly get it, but it IS a little different. You may have to find it at a real paint store, woodworking store, or even order it. The thing to remember about water based poly is it doesn’t ‘enrich’ the color of the wood like an oil based poly. You know how you get that ambery darkening all through the grain with oil based... but not with water based. That’s perfect if you have a wood that looks just right in its natural state and you basically want to keep it as is but protect it. Or if you’re gonna oil it first and then poly, you don’t need the poly to do any coloring because you’ve already got the oil in the wood. Just something to keep in mind about water based poly - if used alone it won’t change the look of the wood much.

So a dark, rich, wet look - oil first, then poly

A natural, light, kinda primitive look - just water based poly

Slightly coloring, but still natural - just oil based poly

I know a lot of what I’m saying is going to be obvious to you, but someone may stumble on this post while trying to finish something for the first time, so I try to touch on the finer points for whoever may benefit. If I sound didactic, please excuse! You never know who might read something someday.
Yeah man. My 12" has that lighter, more than tone to the outer ply. The other two have that deep, chocolate brown.
To remedy this and attempt to make them match I'm trying the method used in the video I posted above. I have some deep red mahogany aniline dye on order. I think I can use more coats on the lighter wood and less on the darker to try and match the color. We'll see. My fingers are crossed.
If all goes wrong, I'm going to go black, I think.
 

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