Thursday, December 24, 2009

How to fix broken drum sticks

There is nothing more frustrating to a drummer than to have a brand new stick split after playing just a few bars of a song. Usually when a drummer whacks the bell of the cymbal, the impact can, if the conditions are right, cause the stick to split down the grain of the wood. Sticks are made of money, or wood; ... same thing. It's expensive and it sucks, especially bad, when they're brand new.

Years ago, I discovered that I could fix drum sticks when they split for pennies.

It's a simple process and it works. The sticks lasted as long as sticks that had never been broken.

1) A bottle of Elmer's Wood Glue.  WOOD glue or Carpenters Glue there's a difference it works much better than the white stuff.

2) Large Hypodermic Needle or Syringe
Glue is thick so the larger ones work better. The larger ones in the middle of this picture work great.
Where to find them? Depends where you live. If you live in the country you can find great ones at COOPS very cheaply. Drugstores usually carry them

3) Very small C Clamps Depending upon how many you need to fix at any given time, you will need a 1 or more C Clamps for each repair. Back before I learned a lot of technique I used to have a pretty heavy hand and would split sticks regularly. This was also when stick manufacturing was not as good as it is today.

4) Several Large (Optional) Rubber Bands. Depending on the repair I have either used these by themselves or with the C Clamps.

5) Paper towels, or old cloth and a small bowl of warm water.


Spread the stick where the split is, being careful NOT to use too much force so that you don't actually separate the stick into to pieces. DON'T panic if that is what has happened. You can fix these just as easily. When working with two separate pieces it is a little more tricky to keep it aligned when you're adding pressure so, when possible, I like to keep them intact.

You want to open the stick up so that you can apply glue along the entire length of the split.
Sometimes, you can't separate the stick very far. This is why the needle is very handy in all cases.

Apply a generous amount of glue to the exposed areas. The needle helps you get into tight spots. You could also do this without a needle if you wanted to. Simply apply the glue into the area and then on a firm surface, floor or work bench with the stick pointing straight up hit the butt of the stick. The force of the sudden stop will drive the glue into the crack.

After the glue is applied place you C clamp(s) evenly over the split and squeeze the split closed. Not too tightly this time. You want to do it hard but enough to squeeze out most of the excess glue.

Wet the cloth or paper towel and wipe the excess glue away.

Relax the C Clamp(s). Now retighten them slowly carefully keeping the split area aligned. Once you have good pressure crank them a little harder than before. You should see some more excess glue appear, a smaller amount, just wipe it away.

I found that in many cases using rubber bands, I was able to get a uniform pressure that held splits or breaks that were wiggly in place better.

I used to keep the sticks clamped for 3 days. Less if the humidity is low.

Squeeze any remaining glue back into the bottle if there's a lot left and rinse the needle and plunger in warm water so it will be ready for the next time.
Put a pencil eraser or some other protective thing on the needle tip.

That's it.

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