how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

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how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby COL66 » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:20 pm

guys, so i want to sand down my LP Classics and re finish them. I know there are a lot of posts regarding how to do this, so before people start telling me to "use the search function," i want to clarify why i think my situation is different... ive been told that to get a nice lacquer finish, it is necessary to use an air compressor. i dont have access to a compressor. so, are there any good products out there (with a little bit of a stain, because the pale LP wood color bores me) that do not require an air compressor to use?

it is true that a new lacquer may harm the sound of the drum?

also, there are a bunch of dings and dents on my congas. should i sand those away? or is using filler better? which filler should i use? thanks!



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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby Mike » Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:40 pm

COL66 wrote:it is true that a new lacquer may harm the sound of the drum?


No, the idea is ridiculous and absurd.

Regarding your refinishing plan:
I hope you know that you need some elbow grease to get rid of that polyurethane lacquer.
Personally I am against chemical strippers and the like, so I would take a very sharp knife
- which is a "minimal tool" - and try to scratch the PU lacquer off carefully.
I did so with a set of older LP Garfield congas and refinished them with matte lacquer.
LP 1980s  restored with L&H mule skins.JPG


Well, good luck anyway with your project!
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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby Derbeno » Tue Sep 25, 2012 12:06 am

There is lot of excellent material from a few years back on this topic. Search and you will find them all.
Here is an extract



buckoh » Sun Sep 16, 2007 4:38 pm

Derbeno, use a good stripper with methelyne chloride in it. Do it OUTSIDE to avoid fumes. Sanding should always be the last resort for stripping. If you do sand, use a random orbit sander with a vacuum hose connected to the vacuum cleaner/dust collector. Otherwise you'll get small spirals that will show up when you put the finish on. Use grit around 200-220 and final hand sand with 220 going with the grain always. One responder mentioned an oil finish. I assume he meant a danish oil finish. It is easy to touch up. Just add some of the oil and hand sand with the grain with 200-240 wet or dry sandpaper. Some of the sanding sponges work well. They are about 5X5 inches and 2 sided. The sanding will work up a mix of oil & sawdust. Follow the directions and this will allow the mix to go into the scratches and build it a little. It really is foolproof. You get a nice soft looking satin that is easy to touch up. You're going for ease of mantainence, not durability. You can also coat with many other types of finishes later if you want depth and build. Watco Danish Oil finish is a good one. Also, Geo. Maloof, a famous chair builder, sells his own mix. I haven't used it, so I can't offer an opinion. Also, Waterlox makes a nice wipe on oil that is beautiful . A friend of mine who has been in Fine Woodworking 3 times, with 5 pages the last time, uses it on pieces that go for 10,000.00 and more. Its basically the same as the others. Remember to never pile the used rags up. They will spontaneously combust and burn your shop down! Good luck. Buck
buckoh

Although you have prepared already, he has more stuff on how to prep and finish. Search for 'buckoh"
Echale candela, p'afinar los cueros
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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby jorge » Tue Sep 25, 2012 1:13 am

Mike wrote:
COL66 wrote:it is true that a new lacquer may harm the sound of the drum?


No, the idea is ridiculous and absurd.


The idea is ridiculous and absurd IF you put the lacquer on the outside. The idea is true if you put the lacquer on the inside.
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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby Joseph » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:40 pm

There is a way to test if the old finish you have on your drums is laquer.
Get a can of Lacquer Thinner. Put some on a rag and wipe it onto the surface.
If it dissolves quickly into a thin substance, and you can quickly wipe down to bare wood, most probably your finish is lacquer.

A lacquer finish can easily and quickly be stripped off with JUST lacquer thinner.
It's a bit messy, and requires lots ventilation, rubber gloves, steel wool (to apply lacquer thinner), and lots of rags (to soak up and absorb softened lacquer).
It may sound like a daunting mess, but actually quick and easy: scrub on laquer thinner with steel wool in small areas, then quickly wipe off dissolved lacquer.
I once stripped a 6 coated lacquer finish conga in about 30 min, and I mean stripped down to bare wood, ready for hand sanding.

An air compressor is NOT required to apply lacquer, there are many "brushable" lacquer products on the market.

Brushing on lacquer is different than brushing on varnish or polyurethane products.
Varnish & Poly are "flowed' on, i.e. you can go back and rebrush to smooth out wet surface.

Lacquer has a "highly volatile solvent" content, which means the solvent(lacquer thinner) evaporates VERY quickly.
You only get a couple of brush strokes with lacquer and it starts to feel dry.
Do a google search of "applying lacquer with a brush". There is plenty if info out there.

The fact that lacquer dries so quickly means you can put multiple coats on in one day.

A BIG difference between lacquer and varnish, or poly:
Varnish and poly are applied in "layers": you put on one coat, let it cure, possibly sand, then put on another coat, building successive layers of finish.

Lacquer has a totally different quality: each coat of lacquer applied over existing coats softens (actually partially dissolves) the previously applied coat, so that the eventual buildup of lacquer from multiple applications is actually 1 thick coat of lacquer.

Satin lacquer buffed with carnuba wax has turned out to be my favorite finishing product for congas.

Brushable lacquer products will advertise "no sanding between coats", that is because when the new coat softens the existing finish, it tends to smooth out any imperfections or irregularities as the coating thickens.
Lacquer thinner (the highly volatile solvent in lacquer) is what makes this possible.

And to end where I started, lacquer thinner is what makes it very easy (though a bit messy) to strip off a lacquer finish.
No actual tools required!
Attachments
P5160282.JPG
5 coats satin lacquer applied in one day over oil based stain
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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby Mike » Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:09 pm

jorge wrote:
Mike wrote:
COL66 wrote:it is true that a new lacquer may harm the sound of the drum?


No, the idea is ridiculous and absurd.


The idea is ridiculous and absurd IF you put the lacquer on the outside. The idea is true if you put the lacquer on the inside.
OF COURSE, you´re right, I forgot to mention that.
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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby COL66 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:43 pm

thanks so much for your help. here goes maybe another stupid question. is it possible to stain the LP Classic wood to look like the wood on the giovanni congas? i really love that contrast. or can that look only be achieved with the wood they use on the gios. thanks. i'm just bored with the pale look of my lp classics 8)
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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby Joseph » Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:44 pm

The wood on Classics is "Siam Oak", actually the wood of a Rubberwood Tree, a tropical tree.
The wood on Giovanni's is Ash. A Northern Tree.

Ash is a "ring porous wood". So called 'Siam Oak" is "ring diffuse".
Some hardwoods have a larger concentration of pores in the springwood — these are known as ring-porous woods. Hardwoods in which the pores are distributed evenly throughout the springwood and summerwood are ring-diffuse. The arrangement of pores has an enormous effect on the grain. Ring-porous hardwoods have a pronounced or strong grain pattern, while the grain pattern of ring-diffuse stock is much less distinct.
The Nature of Wood


So the answer is no.

You can stain the wood the same color as Giovanni's, but due to the nature of the grain pattern being less distinct than Ash, the finished stain job will be of a more consistent color tone.

Your results would be kinda like the pic I posted...that's red mahogany stain over Luan wood (AKA Philippine Mahogany) another "ring diffuse" wood.
So you can make them any color you want but grain pattern will NOT be a prominent feature showing through the stain.
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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby COL66 » Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 pm

ok guys, i'm putting in the work. thats me after sanding down the tumba. since it had some deeper dings, i went 40grit, 60, 100, 150. tomorrow i will do the 220 and then the conga. is 220 good enough ? or should i do something finer?

also, any idea why those 'lines' are showing up? thanks much!!


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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby Mike » Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:08 am

COL66 wrote:also, any idea why those 'lines' are showing up? thanks much!!


It is a kind of impregnation which has to be removed completely, otherwise stains will remain
after you have treated/relacquered the shell.
As I said, elbow grease... Don´t switch to the five grain too fast.
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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby RitmoBoricua » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:58 am

That's some sort of sealer they use before they apply the finish. Hopefully you wore a dust mask or something and did not breathe all that nasty dust from the finish. Way easier to use stripper to get rid-off the old finish save you lots of un-necessary work, let the stripper do most the work for you. Also when you use a power tool like a sander with a really coarse sand-paper to strip you may end-up with high and low spots on your drum if you are not real careful because you may sand away more from one spot than others; where you go through the finish and dig deep into the wood and you do not want that. That’s one reason why is highly recommended that you always use a stripper and keep sanding to a minimum when you want to remove old finish. Almost forgot sand by hand, that way your hand can feel the contour of the drum shell and follow it and that way you minimize the chances of having high and low spots on your drum shell.
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Re: how to refinish a conga? ... with minimal tools

Postby COL66 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:18 am

guys, so those stain impregnation from the pictures are really deep in the wood. the 60 grit was not doing much, so i switched over to the 40 grit. to get rid of those stains, i'm having to sand away a lot of wood. I have 3 last questions.

Keeping in mind that this is an LP drum...

- has anyone used chemical strippers with LP drums without damaging the glue? what brands do you recommend.
- once i get rid of these stains and get down to the bare wood, do i have to put any wood protector or wood sealer before applying the stain i want to use?
- if I want maximum shine, after staining the wood, should I use lacquer? or varnish? or poly? any particular brands recommended?

thanks!
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