Manufacturing Veneered Cylinders

Fabricating veneered drum-shaped cylinders is a specialty with many jealously guarded trade secrets. April 29, 2013

We are interested in making veneered drum shells. It is our intent to have the outside be a decorative veneer. I am having trouble finding someone knowledgeable about the equipment and process necessary to manufacture these. I am interested in making these in a production environment. This will not be a onesy-twosy situation.

I assume there is a mould required and an interior air bladder to apply pressure. But I really want to discuss this with someone that is intimate with the process and machines for a production line. Any help?

Forum Responses
(Veneer Forum)
From contributor J:
Are we talking actual drums, as in musical instruments - or just drum shaped objects? How many different diameters are you thinking about? There are several sources for plywood tubes that you can veneer yourself.

From the original questioner:
I am interested in making veneer cylinders - they won't be drums. I think I would like them in 4 different diameters and I am also thinking they could be in various shapes.

I realize others are making the cylinders. But I want to make my own and I want to make different shapes. I assume if I obtain the correct equipment, the different shapes would just be a different mold. My regular equipment dealers are not familiar with drum making processes.

From contributor O:

I don't want to be a downer, but here comes the rain: you will not likely find anyone who can talk to you about dedicated equipment for this process because to my knowledge there is none - it's all custom-built. You could count the domestic manufacturers of continuous veneer core cylinders (i.e., drums) on one hand and still have a few fingers left over (depending, of course, on how many fingers you started with).

The tooling for this type of production is super-duper expensive, and the know-how is quite jealously guarded. I have worked with one of these manufacturers and they won't even allow me into their plant! Production methods are not the same as for custom and small batches.

That said, you should be able to reverse-engineer a lot of it. But mind your business plan if you're thinking about production because startup is really going to cost you. These comments are intended to be helpful. Long story short: start engineering.

From contributor C:
I'd be happy to chat with you about this. I don't do veneers very much, mostly thick solids. I agree with the above post about your startup hurdles. Until you work that out, check out the Keller line of shells. They figured this out long ago, and have the cost quite reasonable if you are into volume. If no volume, try their resellers, and it is still pretty reasonable, with lots of size options.