Refinishing wood in colors on a drum

I am trying to refinish a set of drums. Right now, the shell is covered with plastic/vinyl. Drums sound better when the natural wood is showing, plus the old covering is full of dents and scratches. The drums belong to a youth group that has a very limited budget, so refinishing seems like a good idea.
I want to remove this covering (it's glued on), exposing the underlying shell, clean the shell and apply stain to the drums.
The wood underneath is birch.
I'd like to apply blue stain or dye to the drums so the color is a medium deep blue, like an ocean blue, or lighter navy. I also want to be able to see the wood grain.
I'd like to finish off with a glossy protective coat.
I am confused whether a stain or dye is appropriate, and which kind (i.e water or alcohol based), or brand recommendations if you feel like it.
I am confused whether shellac, or polyurethane is appropriate, or something I may not have thought of.
I could use hints on best way to remove the shell, which is glued on.
Any help you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Taking the coverings off of the shells should not affect the sound of the drums. The sound only resonates from the inside of the shell. Birch shells are not as common anymore. Is this an older kit? I have had a few. Sound is affected by the shape of the shell overall, warping, movement, etc. If you do refinish, make sure not to finish the insides of the shells at all. This will affect the sound resonance from the drum. As for the type of finish, I wish I could be more help. Considering that Birch, and not composite, they might be affected by moisture and I would probably not use shellac.
John V

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You'll benefit from my stupidity...
I tried it and it doesn't work. You'd think they would skimp on the adhesive used to apply the covering, but they don't. If you try to peel the covering off, you'll end up pulling some of the wood with it. And forget about patching, staining, etc.
I say recover with a new cool color. This is what I did. It's easy and relatively inexpensive.
If you're deat set: Try wrapping it with peel and stick birch veneer. Spray a thinned down blue alcohol aniline dye. Spray 3-4 coats of lacquer, wet sand in between each coat, work up to 2000 grit, then buff and wax after final coat. This is probably what Pearl did to my brother's set. It's probably exactly what you're after: beautiful looking blue w/green tinge with evident wood grain. He shelled out for it though...
Look here for way too much info about this topic: http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&group=rec.music.makers.percussion
BTW, don't even lift a finger unless there are cases for the drums :O
SS - '66 Ludwigs in Silver Sparkle
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See http://www.drumrap.com/ for heaps of good advice.
Cheers, Brian.
I am trying to refinish a set of drums. Right now, the shell is covered with plastic/vinyl. Drums sound better when the natural wood is showing, plus the old covering is full of dents and scratches. The drums belong to a youth group that has a very limited budget, so refinishing seems like a good idea.
I want to remove this covering (it's glued on), exposing the underlying shell, clean the shell and apply stain to the drums.
The wood underneath is birch.
I'd like to apply blue stain or dye to the drums so the color is a medium deep blue, like an ocean blue, or lighter navy. I also want to be able to see the wood grain.
I'd like to finish off with a glossy protective coat.
I am confused whether a stain or dye is appropriate, and which kind (i.e water or alcohol based), or brand recommendations if you feel like it.
I am confused whether shellac, or polyurethane is appropriate, or something I may not have thought of.
I could use hints on best way to remove the shell, which is glued on.
Any help you can provide would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Another thing to consider too is that the grain on the outer ply of a finished drum is typically not as good as a drum that is intended to be finished from the manufacturer. Since it's covered, there are more imperfections and you'll run into a serious challenge sanding that much surface material while trying to maintain the uniformity of the drum shell thickness.
I have an old 26" Gretch marching bass that the blue sparkle covering was falling off of that I now use for a very portable concert bass with Fiberskyn heads. From a distance, it looks like a crappy brown stain and is not too bad, but up close, you can see where there is a lot of glue on the shell. For my purposes, it's not an issue and the drum works great.
Depending on the age and condition of the shells, bearing edges, and hoops, you may not notice much of a difference between covered and uncovered. New heads will make a huge difference...
My opinion is simply to recover the shells with another color after removing the original. mild heat may loosen the existing glue and assist with the removal.
Let me know what you decide to do, I am interested in the results.
BTW, what brand of drums are they?
Good Luck!

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I can't see the original post, due to a lousy ISP, so I'll reply against Scott's post.
It's hard to say what will remove the shell. Some glues degrade with water and heat , so you might try gently ironing the shell (at a joint) with a warm clothes iron and a damp cloth to generate steam. You need to be careful, since this might also attack the wooden shell of the drum if it's laminated, so go easy at first and check often to see if it's loosening. If this doesn't work, then you may have to resort to chipping it off piece by piece, or a combination of both.
As for refinishing, you can scrape the remaining gunk off and sand with the grain. Broken window glass makes an effective scraper if you don't have a cabinet scraper. Fine sand with the grain. If the drums are to be used indoors, then you can pick virtually any finish that takes your fancy. One of the easiest to apply is oil-based PU varnish cut 50-50 with white spirit (turps substitute) Wipe it on thinly with a lint-free cloth, leave overnight, rub down gently with 0000 steel wool. Repeat 4-5 times. Shellac and nitro lacquer are both good quick-drying finishes traditionally used on instruents and take a very high shine, but they tend to chip easily when knocked, which may well happen to a drum kit belonging to a youth club!
Read here to find out how a guy stained his bass blue and finished it using nitro
http://larenzo.home.mindspring.com/bass9.html
HTH
Frank
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