UPDATE 3! Refinishing My 2004 Tama SuperStars

Drummertist

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Old adage: You deal with what life has given you.

...and then you peel the wrap off, sand it like crazy, stain it and make it better. I've had this set of Tama SuperStars since I first started playing in 2004. These were a gift from my parents for Christmas (when I was 21. So I started a bit late...what?) and they've been just sitting around like a sad puppy I just don't want to sell. I'm going to use this thread to chronicle my refinishing efforts. I want to make these into the drums I always wanted.

The bad thing is I'm a bit late.

I already took the wrap off and sanded without taking any photos. But I'll just include a photo here of where I'm starting from so we can see the before, somewhat in the middle, and then the after. Once finished, these will be going in my living room, so I'm going for a bit of the a low-key style that also doesn't take up much space.

2004 Tama Superstars
Birch/Basswood Shell originally in Black Wrap

Sizes to be refinished:
22 x 18 Bass Drum (This will be cut down to a 12x22)
8x10, 9x12, and 14x11 Toms (Hanging floor tom will be converted to floor tom w/ legs)
(NOTE: I usually play this as a 4 Pc. I would love to finish all the toms so I can go between a 10 or 12 rack depending on what I want to play.)

Refinish products:
Transtint black dye w/ Minway Satin Poly

Final Color:
Satin Black w/ Satin Natural Hoops
(PSA: I know, I know... but I like satin black kits and it will be in my living room. I need something understated)

Refinish Lugs:
Tube Lugs
(PSA: (a) I know they're everywhere, but they're classic and I like them. (b) Expensive, I know. But remember the sad puppy comment and think of those Sarah McLachlan commercials. This puppy needs our help.)

Thanks for reading! Any and all comments are welcome. Except for you, Michael Vick, except for you...

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

THE STARTING POINT: Taken approx. 8 years ago when I was at my drumming low.

IMG_4081.jpeg


- - - - - - - - - - - - -

More photos coming later today.
 
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Drummertist

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First, I started working off the wrap. I used a heat gun on the end and slowly peeled it away from the shell to make sure no wood came with it. Tama always over-engineers everything, so the whole wrap was attached to the shell (not just the ends). Looks like they used a gooey adhesive on the ends and contact cement on the main "body" of the wrap.

Once the wrap came off I must say, I was impressed. Tama hid some pretty shells underneath that wrap. Beautiful, figured birch wood veneer on the outside.

Grain-Bass-Compressed.jpg


Grain-Tom-Compressed.jpg


I used CitriStrip to remove the gooey adhesive. It was easy. Used painters tape to mask off the areas I didn't want the CitriStrip on, put it on for 15 mins with a foam bush, scraped it off with a plastic scraper and rinse/repeat this 3 or 4 times.

The contact cement Tama used left horizontal stripes on all the shells. Sandpaper took care of it, but it was tough to get rid of these. I started with 80 grit (only on some parts, like bass drum, to make it easier), then 120, then 220, then 400 to finish. At the end, there was dust all over me.

Sanded-Compressed.jpeg


The 22x18 bass drum was modified into a 22x12 by a local drum maker in Raleigh, NC. He cut, drilled, refinished the bearing edges for a great price. Such nice and knowledgeable guy. Check out Brownie Drums.

Did a few finish tests on the bass drum cut-offs. 2 coats of Transtint and only 3 coats of Satin Poly (will do 5 coats on final drums). It turned out well, and I ended up with a great natural black color. It has a great sheen and layered effect in direct light. After this, I tested how strong the finish was by gouging it with my fingernails, actual nails, keys, etc. and dropped a few drumsticks on it for good measure. It was actually pretty solid.

Finish-Compressed.jpeg


Now. I have to start the actual shells. I'm just a bit nervous. Need to do a damp sand on the shells to get off any fibers that will rise when wet.

Look for more photos coming within the next couple days regarding the snare I will be pairing with this kit.
 
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Drummertist

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I've been wanting a particular snare for a very long time and with the help of a member of this forum, I was able to get my Unicorn...

Ludwig-1-Compressed.jpeg


Ludwig-2-compressed.jpg


Ludwig-3-compressed.jpg


6.5 x 14 Ludwig Black Galaxy Acrolite :headbang:

Now, once I finish the bass and toms, I'm going to work on this snare. I'll strip the black galaxy finish off, sand and hammer the shell and grind down the lugs.







Really?

You think I'm serious.

Come on. Like...wow? Moving on...

I ordered a sample of the tube lugs for my bass and toms to make sure everything worked well together and everything....FIT! I was extremely happy about this. Luckily the toms already have 1.5" spacing on the holes.

Lugs-compressed.jpg


So that's it for today. Thanks for the likes so far. You're really spurring me along. Another post will be up soon.
 

Drummertist

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The finishing process begins. Here's what the raw shells looked like.

Striped-Shell.jpg


I then sanded the shells smooth, starting from 80 grit sandpaper (for bad areas), then 120, 220 and then 400 grit sandpaper.

Grain Bass.jpeg


However, since I was using a TransTint dye in a water base, I needed to wet sand them to get rid of any grain that would respond to the water. When I say wet, what I really mean is lightly damp. I used a damp paper towel to moisten a section of the shell at a time (sections = usually between lug holes). Within seconds the grain would stand up and then I would use 400 grit sandpaper to gently remove any proud fibers that may cause a problem during the polyurethane application process.

The shell would dry in less than a minute and I would move to the next section. If you do this, don't soak the shell. It may cause the shell to warp. Afterwards, I would sand one more time with 400 grit sandpaper and then 0000 Steel Wool to get an incredibly glassy sheen.

Here's what the process looked like, along with a before-and-after wet sanding the wood.

Wet-Sanding.jpg


Before-After.jpg


With the sanding complete, and once everything was dry, I used a wet paper towel and wiped down the inside and outside of the shell to remove all dust.

Wiping.jpg


I then put the shells aside and began testing different variations of the TransTint dye to make sure I would apply it correctly the first time and not ruin my shells.

Testing.jpg


Testing applications w/ sanding, w/o sanding, 1 coats, 2 coats, 3 coats, etc.

Testing-2.jpg


A test in sunlight w/ satin poly on it that's still wet. Makes me think of doing gloss (sigh). Just maybe. But I'm only focusing on dyeing the shells today. I'll focus on the poly at a later date. One thing at a time.

(NOTE: Watch YouTube videos of how to use a foam brush properly. I was using them completely wrong up to this point when I thought "Hey, maybe I should look up a YouTube video on how to use a foam brush properly." Thank goodness I did. It saved this project.)

So I decided to do 2 coats of TransTint dye to get the rich black I was looking for without covering up the grain. Much of this deals with how I mixed the Transtint, but I couldn't tell you the exact ratio. I just kind of winged it up to this point. Little squirt here, little squirt there, until I was happy with how dark the mixture was.

So I was now ready to do a real life application on one of my shells. At this point I'm sweaty, shaking and about to crap my pants. But onward we must go. I began by taping any holes closed from the inside of the shell with painters tape. This would keep any splashes or drips from getting on the inside of the shell.

For something to hold the shell while applying, I used a board, attached with clamps at one end, wrapped with a towel to hold the shell horizontally. This way, I could use my left hand to rotate the shell as I put dye on. For drying, I used a made a drying station that was basically a saw horse with a piece of wood sticking out, with old towels wrapped around it.

Dry-Station-1.jpg


I used a foam brush and starting on the right-most side near the bearing edge (but not ON the bearing edge), and then rotated the shell with my left hand while spiraling toward the other side. BTW at this point, I didn't know what I was doing. I was panicking because of all the streaks.

Dyeing-Shell.jpg


So I kept going. I had no choice. I spiraled to the left side, and then spiraled back to the right again. And then, back to the left for good measure. The three spirals were like the 3 mystery seashells from Demolition Man. They smoothed the dye finish, AND made the finish as dark as it would be with two coats, AND also made the grain stick out better than if I had done 2 solid coats. And I still don't what they were for.

Holy crap. What's the point in testing? Happy accidents...




(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Sorry, I can only attach 10 files. Check out he next post.
 
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Drummertist

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Where was I? Oh yeah...


(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Final-1.jpg


I was blown away. Looked better than any test I had done up to then.

After my first application, I was much more confident. But now I had to make sure I did the other ones the exact same way. One shell, two shell, three shell, four. Within 40 mins I had all of them completed and drying on my drying station. They looked...brown. And wet. But mostly, brown. I contemplated a second coat.

Drying-Station-2.jpg


Then, after 3 hours, they dried into a beautiful black. All matching perfectly. Once again, a happy accident.

Finished-Shells-1.jpg


I now have to start testing for the satin poly finish. I'll be back soon with another post detailing that crazy process. Wish me luck and hopefully, I'll get it right the first time. Thanks for reading!
 

jccabinets

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I think your doing a great job, no doubt the drums will look spectacular when your finished. And great tutorial on the project!
 

TRJR

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Just came upon your project and your shells look great! Wish I had seen sooner as I have a suggestion to submit for your consideration. I have a fender bass guitar from the 80’s or 90’s. It was a product of a time when fender either wasn’t so great and were competing with the age of custom luthiers who were taking their ideas and concepts to the next level. In short fender produced a small batch of custom styled instruments to test the public interest followed by signature models that ushered the production years later of the custom shop guitars and basses. It’s an exquisite American made instrument with a walnut, mahogany, and maple body, brass fittings, soapbar pickups and wonderfully feeling rock maple bolt on neck. I love the looks, feel, and electronics of this bass. Truly the feel of a custom shop guitar at a time when fender was struggling and pulled out all the stops. The only issue I had was that after all this extraordinary well thought out of the box product the neck had this polystyrene finish common to all their other necks. I understand the need for protection, as opposed to drums a guitar is a very tactile instrument. But felt in this area it fell short if the point was to compete with the smaller boutique makers of fine instruments. It was years later when browsing an online bass channel. He had a teaser of how he modified every bass he ever owned to make them easier, faster while still protecting them. I knew he was referring to the neck and intrigued I was hooked. In short what he suggested removing the finish carefully with 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper after taping off areas not needing to be affected. Carefully upon reaching the natural maple and using a tack cloth he applied teak oil to the neck with a soft cotton clothe wearing protective gloves to apply and protect it. Recommended drying time was short, he suggested 15 mins. although I allowed at least 45mins to overnight initially, then sanding for any standing fibers and reapplying with soft cotton rag and repeating process. Upon satisfaction with the feel I continued process and reused rags by suspending them in a container suspended within a container filled with water to avoid spontaneous combustion. When finished with rags disposed of them encased in metal can with metal lid. In short the teak oil dried to not only a fast pleasing natural feel without buildup or tinting to protect neck from perspiration issues and from dings from handling. Purportedly, the teak oil as it’s absorbed by the wood will serve to harden it as well. Of course can be reapplied as needed and can achieve the sheen or gloss one desires according to how many applications rendered. Of course admittedly there is a buildup of the finish depending of number of coats, but feel and richness of appearance is remarkable. Have replicated to same effect in wood projects around the house with plans to finish some beautiful high end sliding doors that will install when weather permits. Just a suggestion to try on your test pieces to compare. Can find teak oil online or neighborhood household box store or paint suppliers I believe as well as lidded cans for disposal of rags. Hope all goes well regardless of finish you employ and please continue to document your progress. Can’t wait for a review of your new 22x12” bass drum. I’m sure they’ll all sound killer. Thanx for including us.
 

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Now I need to seal the shells with some polyurethane.

I was planning to use brush-on poly to finish the shells but after asking you guys (the experts) I decided to use wipe-on polyurethane. I got back from the hardware store and here is the final list of products used...

  • MinWax Wipe On Poly Clear Gloss
  • MinWax Wipe On Poly Clear Satin
  • Small foam brush to apply (so I won't disturb the wood dye)
  • cotton rags to wipe excess / remove bubbles
  • 3M Between Coats sanding pads
  • 3M Finish Coat Buffing Pads
  • Painters Tape
  • Lack of shenanigans, tomfoolery and ballyhoo
  • Adult Diapers
  • Awesome 80's style montage

poly.jpg


The plan:
8 Coats of gloss followed by 1 coat of satin to finish it up.

------------------

I started by taping up the bearing edges and the holes on all the shells to keep poly from making a mess. This is the final (flawed, more on that later) result.

taped.jpg


Then, I cleaned the shells with a damp cloth to get any lingering dust. After waiting 5 mins for them to completely dry, I started my first coat.

I used a small (high-quality) foam roller to apply the Clear Gloss poly liberally across the drum.

rolling.jpg


I then used a paper towel to rub off the excess and remove bubbles. And boy, were there bubbles.

Bubbles.jpg


I used a paper towel and gently—with no pressure—wiped. This got rid of 99.9% of the bubbles and any excess the would have otherwise caused drips to form.

Paper-Towl.jpg


I liked the roller and paper towel method so much, that I continued using it for all coats.

The 2nd coat went on 30 mins later. The 3rd coat went on 2 hours after the 2nd.

First-Coat.jpg


I waited overnight before continuing with the 4th coat. The first, second, and third coat completely soaked into the wood and I couldn't even see any poly. I sanded the shells with a 3M between coats sanding pad to smooth out any dust or bubbles that got embedded into the poly.

Coat 4 went on smoothly and suddenly I could finally see some gloss build. From here on, I would wait 4 hours and sand between coats.

Coat 5, 6 and 7 really built a wonderful gloss with Coat 8 finishing it. The gloss looked great going on, but my lack of a dust-free garage showed horribly after each coat would dry. Still, pretty.

Gloss.jpg


WARNING! WARNING! IRRITATING "YOU SHOULDA LEFT IT GLOSS, MEH" COMMENT FORMING IN YOUR MIND!
Finish did NOT look (or feel) as good as it does in this picture. It was rough and bumpy from dust and debris. I tried to get picture that shows it, but I just couldn't.

Time for coat 9. The satin coat.

Rolled it on.

Wiped it off.

Waited.

Looked cloudy.

Oh crap.

A run right on top of the bass drum from rotating (not time for pics)

I grab a foam brush

I run satin poly across the shell again to remove the run.

Oh God no.

The runny coat is gooey.

Go around once and then again.

Mineral spirits in the wipe on poly end up un-goo-ing the original layer.

phew...

Looks normal-ish

Drying.

Looks unclear.

Looks cloudy.

*pacing, then leaves for the night*


--------------

1 Day Later...

It don't look right. It's a bit muddy.


--------------


2 Days Later...




...



...




(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Final-2.jpg


Final-3.jpg
 

Drummertist

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HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

It seems my tape did not hold around the bearing edges. And now I have polyurethane kinda, sorta on/near the bearing edges on all the shells.

Bearing-Edge-Oops.jpg


I started by scraping off the any excess poly with a sharp metal scraper. Since the poly had built up thick, it was fairly easy to remove.

bearing-edge-scrape.jpg


I then taped and sanded the edges of the shell (without touching the bearing edges)

Bearing-edge-sand.jpg


This was mainly to knock down and smooth out the poly so it wouldn't affect the heads. It was effective and everything was smooth as a baby's bottom.

Final.jpg


Everything turned out great! It takes a while for poly to cure and show its true colors. Patience is key. The final color is so beautiful. If I had to call it anything it would be Amber Black. Can I breathe now??? ***PHEW***

Hope you guys (and gals) enjoyed these updates. I'll be back once I order my lugs and heads and start piecing it back together. May take a week or more so be patient. Thanks!
 

jccabinets

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Fun thread here! Why is it bad to get finish on the edges? I like to finish mine when I do these projects, I think it makes the wood smoother and therefore a better surface for the drum head to stretch over, am I wrong?
 


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