How a cymbal is made

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I find it amazing, that the same company that supplied the army of the Ottoman Empire when it besieged Vienna in 1683 is not only still around, but a significant factor to modern day music.


The best factor, if you’re a drummer!

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I really loved the twist ending, where you thought they were making cymbals, but they end up being Toyota hubcaps!


Ooh, neat. This is exactly the kind of cool and unusual stuff that BB can never have too much of. :slight_smile:


How you destroy one…


It sounds like a very noisy factory. Amd what’s with the machine stamping out CUSTOM?

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Warning- long but detailed.

Machinist here, with a wide experience set in protoyping and metalurgy.

Lots of special stuff going on here, unlike most manufacturing videos, a lot of what you are seeing in this one does not directly explain simply what you see at the end. The devil is in the details.

Ill start with your question about the “custom” stamper.

That is called many things in different industries, but it is essentially a gel form transfer die stamp. In watchmaking, these are called tampon printers, and are used for a lot of the cheaper printed dials on watches that have inked indices. The squishy part here basically acts as a 3D stamp, that is shaped to deform to the surface it touches, and it picks up ink from the transfer die with the company name text, and then deforms the exact same amount to the curved surface of the cymbal, and transfers the logo to its surface.

Like I said, the deformation factor is controlled for, so you get a perfect copy of whatever text your transfer die (a very precise ink stencil, essentially- the text in them is often hand engraved only a few 0.001" thick, I know this because I own one for a watch dial) touches.

Now the rest (for the curious)-

The blanks are put into those ovens in successive stages between flattening them down because the alloy they are made from is very brittle and work hardens and would snap if not fully annealed (fully softening) between rolling them. Rolling a very hard alloy like this makes the grain structure very compressed and much tougher against impact, like drumming.

The rotary hammering tool, that thing that was putting the dimples all the way around the cymbal, does the same thing, and simultaneously shrinks and hardens the cymbal all the way around, further tightening its grain structure, and probably helps to distribute the vibrations from hitting equally around the entire symbol mass.

The really interesting part for me was when the guy was using a special lathe to turn the cymbals to shape.
He is using a special kind of lathe that would normally never be used, its a custom metal spinner’s lathe.

Normally you cut metal with a screw controlled tool bolted to a slide on a machine. People who make cookware, pots mainly, and any large metal object with a thin wall, like copper kettles, etc- use spinner lathes.

Metal spinning uses special tools that burnish thin metal sheets, and rather than cutting the metal, it smooths it and forms it to a shape, like clay on a potter’s wheel. For more industrial items like cookware, this is done with special tools bolted to a machine, and computer controlled. Here, this is done with handheld tools, the old school way, by a guy who is extremely skilled in doing this. He is using a combination of burnishing tools to form and shape the cymbal, and cutting gravers on poles to skim cut the surfaces of it after spinning to shape, doing this completely free hand, with the aid of indexable cams as tool rests for step by step guides to different parts of the cymbal shaping operation.

This is similar to some woodworking skills on a lathe with hand gravers, but the pressures are much higher and this guy is ungodly skilled to be able to do that that quickly and specifically what he is doing. That is an extremely specialized and extremely skilled craftsman, and he is not a normal worker.

That’s most of the good stuff, sorry for the lengthy reply, but I saw a lot of very unique stuff in this video I have not seen anywhere else. A lot to confuse a normal person, so I thought I would give a detailed explanation for people who were curious.

That guy with the lathe burnishers is godlike. Really impressed that’s how Ziljdan does this- totally handmade for real.

Last thing- a peeve- making something on a metal cutting lathe is properly called “turning”, NEVER “lathing” (milling something in a milling machine, is called milling, so people who don’t know better try to transfer this taxonomy) Making something on a metal spinner’s lathe that doesn’t cut but forms is called “spinning” or “forming”.



Just saw what was left of The Who, Daltry and Townsend, a few months ago, touring with a live orchestra.

They were both three days older than God and the show was good, but I would have traded anything to have seen them live with all the original members in their Prime like that vid. Totally different vibe there, delightfully nuts!


I saw them in 1974, 10 June, Madison Square Garden, yes I remember, like a white hot iron scorched my little brain.


If that video had been 95:10 instead of 9:51, I’m pretty sure I would’ve still watched every minute.

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Not at all. Thanks for sharing your insights. Well worth the read. :slightly_smiling_face:


does anyone have any information on how they made cymbals when they started the company? or has someone already put it upthread and i missed it?

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Wikipedia might enlighten you.


That guy in the pic looks like Elon Musk’s younger brother.


Actually the K. Zildjian factory in Istanbul closed in the late '70s. The A. Zildjian factory is located in Norwell MA then bought the rights to K. Zildjian line.

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