Picture of Vinyl LP Butterfly
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.
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Step 1: Tools for Cutting

Picture of 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.
davemirl2 months ago

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


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.

davemirl dmarie2118 hours ago
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.
pudtiny (author)  davemirlyesterday

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.


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

pudtiny (author)  dmarie21yesterday

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.

Kristos866 months ago

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!

pudtiny (author)  Kristos865 months ago
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.

karalalala2 years ago
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 !
Don't melt Phil!
pudtiny (author)  karalalala2 years ago
Reading that has made my Monday start well :)
poignancy1 year ago
Hot knife is a great idea! In case you're still interested in Paul Villinski's technique, here's a youtube link that explains some of it (basically band saw, scroll saw, dremel sander):
pudtiny (author)  poignancy1 year ago
Thanks it does still interest me and I don't know how I missed finding that!

Great idea! i didn't know vinyl could be cut that easily; that said I will never be able to bring myself to it ( tracks are the only thing I like cut into vinyl).
pudtiny (author)  Retro Correct2 years ago
The records used in this instructable were not contributing to the world of music anything worth listening too
M3G2 years ago
Great idea!
pudtiny (author) 2 years ago
Thanks, I'm sure you can think of something great to make
scoochmaroo2 years ago
Fun project! This is definitely a new reuse idea to me!