2012 Lawton Drum Company

Remove finish one to another

Q: Is it possible to remove drum finish from one vintage drum, and reuse it on another?

A:Yes, it is possible, in some cases. There are several factors and risks to consider before undertaking this type of project. First, you should determine if there is enough usable material from the "donor drum"to do the job.You would think there should be more than enough material from one bass drum to wrap a snare drum, but usually, there's not. Before you attempt to remove any finish, measure the distance between the rear lug holes. On a 1970's Ludwig bass drum, that distance is about 6 inches. Then, measure the distance from the first seam to the second seam.You'll need at least 45 inches to go around a 14"snare (which allows for one inch overlap). Next, make sure there are no holes in that section, such as tom holder mounts or shell mount cymbal holders. You usually don't have as good of luck with 1960's Ludwig, Rogers, Gretsch, or Slingerland bass drums, as the lugs are closer together, ranging from only 3.5" to 5.25". For finishes from that era, a better choice would be a 16"x 16"floor tom.You generally have 6.5"between the rear hole of the top lug and the top hole of the leg brackets and over 50"in length. The next step is to remove the finish without wrecking it! Easier said-than-done. If you're real lucky, the finish will come off with no problem.. .if not, you may have to resort to using lacquer thinner, but be careful not to let the lacquer thinner mar the outside of the finish. During this operation, you may end up removing some (or most) of the outer ply of the shell, so, be prepared to sacrifice the shell if necessary. Once the finish has been removed, carefully remove any glue residue and/or wood from the back side of the wrap. Now you're ready to trim the material to size and apply it to the other shell. One thing to remember before starting a project like this, there's always a chance you could ruin the donor drum and it's finish, so be careful!