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Cutting Vinyl Record Artwork

A lot of people have asked me how I go about cutting vinyl LP records to make wall hanging art, similar to the ones on the right.  If  you've had experience cutting wood signs on a scrollsaw, you will not find these too difficult to cut once you get some practice in.  On one of them I left the original label, on the other I made a label from a picture and cut it to size, using an adhesive to attach it to the record.

To get started let me give you a list of some things you will need.  An LP record.  These generally measure about 12" diameter and were very common before the advent of the CD.  Lots of people have them lying around and want to get rid of them, so tag sales and garage sales are a good source for disks like these.  You will want to also keep the cardboard covers from them, since these make good backing when cutting.  It doesn't matter what kind LP you use, since you will be covering the label in the end anyway.  Here's an example of a old album I used for one of my projects.

You will also want to get some masking tape.  I use the green FrogTape you can find at most hardware stores.  There is also the blue painter's tape.  You should get the widest one available.  I use a 2" size.  Masking the disk with this tape is really essential.  It makes cutting easier, it is a good base to attach your patterns to, and it helps greatly with clean-up -- preventing a lot of the fuzzies from staying on the areas you cut.  I found that you should mask both the front and back of the disk for maximum efficiency.  I've also found that cutting two disks at the same time is better than cutting one (giving the project more rigidity) and also producing two disks of the same kind.  

You should also finally tape the disk down to a cardboard backing (album cover) to hold it in place while you are doing the cutting.  The thickness helps when you try to grab the disk and move it around on the scrollsaw.

Make sure the disk(s) are taped down firmly to the cardboard backing and flatly taped on the back, so that the tape does not stick to the saw table.  You should tape all the areas on the front of the disk that are going hold the patterns.  You will want to make sure your patterns are going to fit, test them even before you tape up the disks.

Whey you are certain everything is going to fit, use an adhesive to spray the back of the pattern and then attach it to the appropriate spot on the disk




One of the problems I had when I started disk cutting was moving the disk around on the table of the scrollsaw.  It easy with a blank of wood, since it is thick enough to grasp, but the LP is a different story.  It is generally thin and hard to grasp when you have to make an intricate cut.  So, I decided to make some little handles to attach to the corners of the cardboard backing.  I found I could easily grab these and move my disk around easily.  You can cut these handles from any scrap wood.  I used some 3/4" pine.  Each was cut to size 1" x 2" and I rounded over the edges so I wouldn't get slivers.  I then took a hot glue gun and attached the four handles to the corners of the backing.  When you have completed cutting the handles peel right off and you can use them again on your next project.

I've prepared a short video you can look at to see how the handles are attached and how they are quite helpful in cutting. You can see the video by clicking here.

Once everything is taped up and ready to go.  Drill some entrance holes in the sections that have to be cut out.  I use a #5 reverse blade and it seems to work well, especially when cutting two disks at a time.  I turn my speed down to practically nothing on the scrollsaw.  Take your time and move slowly along the pattern lines.  The scrollsaw blower isn't going to be much help here, since the vinyl particles tend to hold onto the tape, so you will have to pause every so often to remove debris.  It helps to have a soft paint brush to brush away the clinging pieces.
When you are done cutting it's time for clean up.  The quickest way to remove the disks from the backing is to use a box cutter to go around the edges of the disk and then pop it off.  The real job starts now.  You will have to carefully peel the tape away from both sides of the record (if you did both).  This is tedious, but if you didn't tape up your disk you will probably have a bigger mess.
After you remove all of the tape you will find that some of the fuzzies still cling to the cut areas -- they are persistent little devils.  Here are some methods I've used to remove them: run your fingers over each of the cuts brushing off the particles, use a small paint brush to get into tight areas, attach a brush to a dremel and move in to the cut areas carefully, use a narrow small file to brush the edges of the cuts, blow them off with an air blower.  All of these help, but you still have to do a lot of clean up.  In the process try not to scratch the record, as well.

When I finish brushing down the disk I usually take it to a sink and run a stream of tepid water over the whole disk and then gently blot it with a paper towel to dry it off.  This takes all of the dirt, smudges, and dust off of the record surface, leaving a nice clean record.


When you have completed the record you can leave it as is, if you like, but I like to make a label that corresponds to the record theme.  It should be cut to about 4.25" diameter to fit properly.  Have Fun!!

 

If you have any questions, you can contact me at abaggetta@comcast.net

 



The Rifleman Western Sign (10/25/16)

Cut and finish a blank from cherry wood. Design an print the pattern so that it fits the board.  In this case it was to be about 12" long and 3" Tall.
Cover the blank with packing tape.  The coating on the tape acts as a lubricant so that the blade cuts smoother and there is no burning of the wood.  Cherry is a very sensitive wood so this precaution has to be taken. Glue the pattern to the blank with an adhesive.  After the cut is completed the tape and pattern are lifted from the cut.
Blade entry holes have to be cut through the internal section of the pattern so that these pieces can be removed. Blade is inserted through the entry holes.  I'm using a #9 reverse blade to make the cuts.
The saw does the cutting as I guide the blank through the process. Pieces are removed as I cut them out.  It is important to cut very slowly otherwise the final product will have a distorted look to it.
Took about an hour to cut this out.  The finished piece is removed from the scrap sections, with the pattern still attached. The pattern is carefully peeled from the wood.  This is a critical job because the piece could easily break at jointures if too much pressure is applied.
The piece has to be gently sanded to remove any fuzzy pieces along the edges and on the front and back. The finished piece has to be sealed with a clear coating.  It then dries for 24 hours and is ready to go.




Librarian Desktop Sign (8/17/2013)

Step 1: Make a pattern and fit it to the size of the wood. Step 2: Cut a blank for the pattern and resaw down to thickness size.  I'm using cherry for this project.
Step 3:  Add a layer of packing tape to the top of the blank.  This helps with smoother cutting and no burning of the wood. Step 4: Spray the back of the pattern with adhesive and place on the blank.
Step 5: Drill small holes so that the blade can be inserted for interior cuts on the letters and image. Step 6:  Set up the scroll saw with the proper blade for cutting.  For this 1/2" blank I'm using a #3R blade.
Step 7: Insert the blade through the drill holes and begin cuts on the book bindings first. Step 8: Be sure to wear a protective mask and glasses when cutting and have your blower removing dust as it builds.
Step 9:  All the internal cuts should be done first to allow enough real estate to move the blank around safely. Step 10:  After cutting the exterior carefully remove it from the blank waste.
Step 11: Carefully peal the pattern off of the sign.  Be sure to get all of the tape, not just the pattern. Step 12: Lay the sign on the belt sander and sand both the front and back for smoothness.
Step 13: Run the finished sign over the sanding mop to remove any fuzzies made from cutting and round out the edges. Step 14:  I used a walnut blank for the base.  Cut as a rectangle and a little longer than the sign itself.
Step 15:  I lower the table saw blade to about a 16" of an inch and cut a grove along the blank edges for effect. Step 16: Run the top edges with a round over bit on the router to make a round edge to the base.
Step 17:  Again use the sanding mop to sand all sides of the base to make a nice smooth finish. Step 18:  Add a bead of wood glue to the bottom of the sign.  Smooth out with your finger.
Step 19: Clamp the sign to the base and let it sit for a couple of hours until dry. Step 20: You now have the basic sign and base construction finished.
Step 21: Dip the entire sign in a bath of mineral oil to deepen the colors and bring out the grain. Step 22: Lay the sign on paper towels to drain off the oil and let it absorb and dry for 24 - 48 hours.
Step 23: Final step is to coat the entire project with a clear spray to give it a slight gloss and help preserve the finish.  



John's Guitar Pick Box (11/2012)

Step 1
The pattern is created on a computer and cut to size.  The pick box consists of two excellent hard woods: Walnut -- the dark body, and Birch -- the top and bottom
Step 2 
The wood is too thick in rough form for the top and bottom so they are resawn to proper thickness
Step 3
The pieces are then sanded to a nice smoothness.
Step 4
The pattern is affixed to the top piece and holes are drilled in the letters and enhancement for cutting.
Step 5
Hole is drilled in the body wood to cut out the internal portion of the box.
Step 6
The interior of the body is cut with a scroll saw.
Step 7
The internal section of the body is removed and disgarded.

 

Step 8
The scroll saw is also used to cut out the letters and the enhancement on the top of the box.
Step 9
The bottom piece of birch is glued to the bottom of the body blank.
Step 10
The bottom of the pick box is glued to the body and clamped for drying.

 

Step 11
While the bottom is drying the top pick cover is cut from the blank.
Step 12
After the bottom has dried, the body is cut from its blank.

 

Step 13
The top of the pick box is taped to the body and the hinge hole is drilled through the cover into the body.
Step 14
The hinge dowel is glued into the cover of the pick box.
Step 15
The box is then passed over the router to round out the edges of the pick box body and cover.
Step 16
The box is then passed over the sanding mob to smooth out the entire project.
Step 17
The box parts are then given a mineral oil bath to bring out the grain in the wood.
Step 18
The box is then placed on the drying rack for 24 hours to let the oil absorb.  It is then sprayed with a sealer.
Step 19
The finished box is then ready for shipping.
 

Sherlock Burns Utopia Sign Project

Project pattern is constructed on the computer and then printed as a pattern.  The font here is called Regulator and gives a nice effect for this project. A nice piece of cherry is selected for this project.  It is about 1"thick and needs to be resawn to about 1/2" thick.  A 1" piece will also be cut from this to make a custom base for the final sign.
The wood is resaw to 1/2" and cut to size so the pattern will fit on it.  The wood burns will be sanded off to return the nice finish of the wood. The pattern is applied to the cherry using a temporary adhesive.  Holes are cut to allow the saw blade entry to the internal cuts.  Cutting begins with the internal cuts first, on the scroll saw.
When the internal cuts are finished the exterior of the sign is cut from the patterned blank using the scroll saw. The rough cut is removed from the blank and using heat the pattern is removed from the sign.
The lettered sign is smoothed and buffed on the belt sander and the sanding mop, making sure that all of the "fuzzies" are removed and the edges have a slight roundness to them. A base is cut from the original cherry and rounded over on the router and then firmly attached to the bottom of the sign, using wood glue.
The finished sign is then put in a bath of mineral oil which makes the wood grain really pop out and also darkens the wood a small amount. After the sign has had its "bath" it is placed on the drying rack for about 2 days to complete the drying process.
When the sign is completely dry and has absorbed the mineral oil, it is wiped and air blown dry and a think coat of clear glossy sealer is applied.  After this dries your sign is packaged up and shipped off to you.
   
MAKING 3D HOLDERS: A TUTORIAL IN PICTURES  
These 3D holders can be used in many ways.  I originally thought of them as gift card holders, but they can be used as note holders, picture holders, or simply as holders of a sheet of paper while you are typing or reading, for example.  If they are used as gift card holders, the owner can then display them as a trophy after the gift card is long gone.  If you use your imagination, I'm sure you can find other uses for these unique pieces.  Here I offer a simple tutorial to make the construction of these pieces easy.  My methods are by no means the only way, and if you can find short cuts that are safe, by all mean go ahead and use them.  My system requires the use of the table saw and this should be used with extreme caution.  If you don't feel comfortable using this tool, perhaps you should pass on this project or use the alternate method explained in Step #9 below.

The first thing you will want to do is to purchase the patterns I have already designed for this work.  You can design your own, of course, but starting with some that already work is a good start.  I've included one pattern for free to get you started. 
Types of wood:  I use very inexpensive wood for my holders.  I cut them from 2 x 4" pine.  These can be found at any lumber yard.

Let's get started.    Free Pattern Set #3 Download Here


 
STEP 1
I purchase my 2x 4's in 8 foot lengths and then cut them down to size.  First cut a section from the 2 x 4 that is 8" long.  I mark off the length and then use my chop saw to cut these blanks out.  You will be able to get two holders out of each section, so cut as many of these as you think you will need.

 
STEP 2
Now you want to square up each of the sections you cut.  I do this by slicing off each face side of the blank that I cut.  I only have a 10" blade so I have to cut through about half of the blank, flip it over and then go back and slice off the rest of the face. 

Be sure to use safety glasses and a push stick when cutting.  Always protect yourself.

 
STEP 3
After you have sliced off both faces from the blank you should have a nicely squared piece of wood.  You can discard the faces you sliced off, or save them for another project.

 
STEP 4
To make sure the blank is squared off I run it over my jointer a couple of times on each side.

 
STEP 5
After I square up the blanks I take them to the chop saw and cut them in half, making two small blanks for my patterns.

 
STEP 6
Each blank should be about 4" x 3 1/2" and about 1" thick.  You can make them a little larger, if you like, but to be sure that my patterns fit, stay close to this size.
STEP 7
You now have to cut a deep groove in the center of the blank.  The blank should be placed with the height (4") vertical and centered on the blade.  Only raise the blade an inch or so up to make your first pass.

Be sure to use a ZERO TOLERANCE insert on your table saw when doing this cut, so that the piece does not slip down into the blade well.

 
STEP 8
Each time you make a pass over the blank, raise the blade a bit more.  I usually cut until I have about an inch at the top of the blank (as in the photo here). 

Be extremely careful holding the block steady against the fence to make sure it doesn't come firing back at you.  As I said before if you don't feel comfortable with this DON'T DO IT.

 
STEP 9
When you have finished cutting your blank you should have about an inch of solid blank left at the top of the cut (actually the bottom of the blank for the pattern).

ALTERNATE METHOD
You can also make a similar blank without doing this kurf cut.  Simply make two blanks same size as explained above along with a small piece of 1/8" to 1/4"  wood 3" long and about 1" wide.  Glue the 1" piece between the two larger blanks at the lower end to form a "sandwich" type blank similar to the one pictured here.

 


 
STEP 10
Lay the cut blank with the solid wood at the bottom and the opening of the slit at the top.  Cover the top surface of your cutting area with packing tape to make cutting easier.

 
STEP 11
Use an adhesive on the back of the pattern you are going to apply to the front of the blank and flatten it smoothly down.

 
STEP 12
Notice how the pattern is applied.  This is the wine bottle with two glasses pattern attached to the blank.

 
STEP 13
Drill the holes in the block where the internal cuts are to be made.

 
STEP 14
Cut out the internal parts first and then cut out around the outline of the pattern.

 
STEP 15
After you cut out the entire pattern from the blank, bring it to the mop sander to smooth out all of the edges.
 

 
STEP 16
The finished project is now ready for painting, staining, or simply just sealing.

 
FINISHED PROJECT

I made up some fake gift cards to illustrate how the final product looks.  These can be lots of fun to make.  Just work slowly and be careful.