Vinyl LP Butterfly





Introduction: Vinyl LP Butterfly

About: I am a senior laboratory technician in a analytical facility by day and by night I make and fix things. I prefer to work with wood but will give anything a go. I also enjoy gardening and an kept busy by my ...

After a lot of web searching I could not find satisfactory instruction on cutting vinyl records for art. They are various suggestion scroll saw, band saw. dremel etc. but these l felt all left a rough or melted edge. I tried contacting Paul Villinski ( as he produces some great art but after several weeks he never replied. I finally found the solution and this instructable shows it.

Step 1: Tools for Cutting

The tool I discovered that works is call a hot knife normally used for cutting foam and leather according to the packet. It was a happy accident that lead to this discovery, I have been wanting to try pyrography for a while so picked up this kit  and included was a hot knife so I gave it a go. It is by no means a fast processes but it does cut the vinyl leaving a smooth edge. I found you could either cut  with several light passes or one slow deep pass. An alternative with works for big pieces was to cut part way through and then snap along the line. You do need to be aware that there is a chemical smell given off when cutting but this was no were near as bad as I expected and working in a well ventilated area seemed to dissipate it quickly. The kit also had other burning tips which could be used to add texture and detail to the design.

Step 2: Marking and Cutting

I then sourced a butterfly picture to scale and make a template out off.  I used coral draw for this as that is what I had installed. You only need the body and one wing. It can then be printed and draw around on to your record with pencil, I then flipped it to draw the other wing. (I have no idea if butterflies are truly symmetrical but mine is). The hot knife takes around five minutes to get hot enough to cut, then work in sections to cut out your design. 

Different parts of the knife blade seem to get hotter than others, as this hot knife has a standard craft knife size chuck some experimentation with other blades is need, I think the shorter the better may be the way forward.

Step 3: Bending and Shaping

Once you have your cut out its time to give it some shape. To bend and shape vinyl you need to warm it shape it and then hold it while it cools, there seemed to be a reasonable amount of spring in it so it needs holding or weighting. I used a hot air gun and slowly moved along the line of the body until it was soft enough to bend then held it in place until cool.  Try not to get to close or apply too much heat or the vinyl will start to ripple and blister.

Step 4: Antenna

To finish off my butterfly I added antenna made of wire with a bead on the end. I found it tricky to get good looking antenna just cutting the vinyl. I cut about 1.25" of wire thin enough to go though the beads and bent a hook in the end. The wire hook was then dipped into super glue and the bead slid into place. Then using a pin vice with a small drill bit I drilled two holes into the side of the butterfly. I then dipped the non beaded end of the antenna into the glue and stuck them into the holes.

Step 5: Finished



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    I finished my Vinyl Album Butterfly Wall Art... THANKS for all the help - I had a challenging time figuring out how to get the Butterflies all the way to the top corner of the 17' wall, but I figured it out eventually - you can see all photos on my facebook page: Donna Marie living in Ohio. :)

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    1 reply

    looks great

    Hello again, Chromium is used to press the album, one of the places (there are others) is:

    I got the exact tool you use and I do it for hours on end - I don't have a comfortable place to work except in my home with chair and table. I protected it and used a piece of wood to stabilize my piece - but cut ONLY the vinyl over the edge of the wood (~2" high) off table. I am only inches away from the project due to the fact that I have to wear glasses to "read" and see clearly - there is only a short span of "clarity" that I can be from the project - also since I do so much at a time I cannot be hunched over or work outside or in garage... Even if I just did an hour or two in a bad position - I would not want to be uncomfortable. I have made 18 out of 22 for this particular project. I would like to be able to do this more and the cutting with heat gun is easy, of course I use the knife for this.

    I purchased a new router for sanding and realized that there are cutters in this unit! I will try this as soon as my respirator arrives (I ordered one online - but it is NOT - NOR are ANY safe for the fumes from heating or melting these LP's.) I originally was using my Nail "Router" and apparently wore out the springs that are sealed inside - hoping I can get it open to replace, in the meantime I went out and bought a higher speed and more heavy-duty router. My router is from Radio Shack item # 6400244

    I've had good luck cutting records with a scroll saw. I would be worried about the PVC fumes you are exposing yourself to with the hot knife, so please be careful! Take a look at what I do at

    6 replies

    Very Nice, I found that there were no fumes coming off when cutting, it is possibly more hazardous generating the dust on the scroll saw.

    I used the wood burning tool for cutting these because you mentioned no fumes - although you may have a much better work area than I have, but I had LOTS of fumes and after hours of breathing this in (trying not to) I looked in mirror and my eyes were blood red! I have contacted many respirator and O2 dealers and am going to try OSHA, EPA, and CDC - because what am learning is this: They made albums out of Vinyl Chloride and Chromium (I don't know what type of chromium but do you remember Erin Brokovich? I am a SUPER healthy person - I eat healthier than anyone I know and I never get sick - I sure don't want some strange form of cancer after all this! But, more importantly, I wanted to let everyone out there know, especially you pudtiny because you have been so kind and helpful, that even if you don't realize the fumes - the respirator companies told me directly that there are NO respirators they can recommend for this type of fumes DUE TO LIABILITY and that I should seek a separate air source. (This was 3M) Also, when I tried the O2 people they REQUIRE a medical Order "by law" they said - so I guess there is a gap here.... I guess the government wants everyone to get sick before allowing us to protect ourselves. SEEMS TO BE A GAP HERE?! So perhaps scuba tanks and tight fitting mask with eye fume protection too??? I will let you know if I find out anything else and I hope you will do the same. :) In The spirit of health and happiness for all of us! ART must CONTINUE!

    I would be interested to see the information on the use of chromium on the production of LPs as I can't find any information on the web when I have searched.

    Are you using the same hot knife as I did or are you using something different. PVC only really degrades at about 200C so I am concerned if you are getting a lot of fumes from it, In that case I would suggest a face masked rated for VOC and some form of extraction to simply pull any fumes away something like

    I also advocate working always in a well ventilated area, the red eye you have suffered I would attribute probably to Carbon Monoxide. I only cut on butterfly and was only working on that for less than an hour so maybe I was just lucky.

    Having a background in science I would never recommend a process that I felt was hazardous to anyone on here with out putting some very evident warning.

    Maybe you should switch to using a coping or jewellers saw instead of the hot technique, it may take longer but your personal health is a priority over speed.

    Hope you are now feeling back to your normal self

    That's very cool - well I already went out and bought the heated cutting tool for smooth vinyl - I could return at this point - I have a skill saw and have done good things with wood - what blades do you use and any particulars you can mention for my success - I am quite steady but want smooth edges of course. These are great! Do you need any frames? I have a whole lot of wooden ones I am getting ready to list - various sizes all together lot price. Thanks for your info.

    Glad to hear you're not dealing with fumes, pudtiny. Be sure to share your experience and results! I'm good on frames, dmarie21, but thanks. I have a full blown wood shop and build my own in bulk. For blades, I pretty much use the finest (thinnest) ones I can find. Don't really have any "secrets" to what I'm doing, just hundreds of hours of practice. The better your scroll saw, the easier it will go.

    Hi davemirl I could not use my jigsaw I realized that yours must be a table type mine in hand held - it vibrates the album and just breaks it all up, no way to keep flat and cut this way! I am using the heated tool but the fumes are something I realize are very dangerous - I just wrote about it for the other readers... below... I wish I had your shop = maybe one day!:)

    Pudtiny please tell me the best way to hang these - everyone shows them on the walls, but no one discloses this information readily. I have a 2-story entry wall I am planning to make a LOT of butterflies for and have purchased the heat gun and the hot knife tools - have read all your comments, and others' - but how are you hanging them for the best - least obvious look? They will be visible from 2nd story look-over and from below as well as the entire stairway... Thanks

    3 replies

    My one has a pipe clip fixed underneath and clips to a radiator pipe. If i was mounting them on a wall I would probably use double sided sticky pads ( Have fun making them and post a picture of them finished.

    Pudtiny, Pipe clips and radiator pipe? What are you mounting this to? I was thinking that there may be a way of mounting so they moved more - MOVING WALL ART - like on a somewhat thicker wire? Do you think if i could make a tiny loop at the wall side and mount with perhaps a finishing nail - even recessing it and covering hole to appear like wire is coming from wall directly would work? Want as thin as possible and not very long but enough to move with the wind when front door is opened.... mine will be in my 2-story entryway. The question I have is how to affix the best way to a finished vinyl butterfly. I suppose I would need to find the best balance point on each butterfly and drill or push a tiny hole there and loop wire again? What is your expert opinion? I have not made yet but purchased some records I liked from my favorite Thrift Store for $ .09 - $ .29 cents each with additional 25% off! :)

    I am going to make quite a few stencils - wish I had a table jigsaw but I am going to try my hand jigsaw - although I purchased a heated knife - but am not going to use it if the jigsaw works - not into the "gunking up" of the vinyl - although edges must be relatively smooth for me to like.

    Thanks for your help - I will post when I get some done! :)

    Mine is mounted on the pipe that feeds the water to my radiator (see picture). Wire I think would work and I would probably hot glue the wire to the butterfly. You may get away with just drilling a small hole in your wall and pushing the wire into it with a little bit of hot glue.

    You could mount your hand jigsaw upside down in a workmate and then use like a table saw (see picture). There are some more elegant looking solutions too.

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    Hey there! I just tried doing this today following your guide. I've got to ask you though, how on earth did you get it to cut so clean around the edges? With my hot knife I ended up with plenty of melted "debris" sticking to the edges as I cut them. Yours seems perfect though, which I find incredible given melted vinyl gets all over the place. Please help!! And thanks for posting this guide!

    2 replies

    hi the picture makes the edges look smoother than they are. the debris seems to build up if you try and drag the knife to far when cutting, try sort of plunging the knife in then taking it out and plunging again. the cleanest edge is from the score and snap technique. you can always sand the edges when finished to smooth them. keeping your blade clean helps to as gunk tries to build up on it. best of luck

    Oh and PS. I had contacted Paul Valinski as well about a year ago. His studio manager basically turned me away, telling me his process was a trade secret. Understandable I guess, but he must have a different process to be able to mass produce these. Doing each and every butterfly by hand would take an eternity.

    Ahhhh neat! My sister has one of these to draw on leather, I should tell her she can cut up my Dad's Genesis records and decorate the living room with Phil Collins butterflies !

    2 replies

    Reading that has made my Monday start well :)