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David - Machinist in wood
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I'll hit a few of them -

Are the drums lacquered now or is it a catalyzed finish? If it's lacquer you can strip it off rather than sand it off. If you sand it off there's a very good chance you'll damage the wood and sand through the top layer of veneer (aren't most drums built in layers of veneer/thin wood rather than bent of a single solid piece?).

Water based stains will raise the grain so you'll have to work with that. It's not a problem, though. I've been using water based aniline dyes for over 30 years, you just have to be aware of the grain raising. Because I use water based dyes I do sand between coats but usually just enough to level the grain again.

Using black stain is like using a filler for an open pore wood and does fill/darken the grain. One point, though. You aren't looking to bring out the grain, rather the grain produces a pattern called 'figure' and that's what you want to bring out.

99% of what I do is lacquer - no poly at all so can't help you much there. I'd be in the group who says 'don't use poly' but no reason why, sorry.
 

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David - Machinist in wood
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6,450 Posts
If you're going to use an oil based stain I wouldn't use any water before that application. You'd just have to wait a while to make sure it's truly dry and it sounds like you want to get started right away.
 
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