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Picture of rekordSLEEVE
rekordSLEEVE - the musically oriented phone case that's not just for hipsters and DJs anymore.

I love my phone.  It carries the music that I listen to every day.  Music that's evolved so much over the last couple of decades.  Though today the iPod may be the universal symbol of music, the days when we all used to listen to vinyl records wasn't too far back.  The sentimental value these records hold is enough to keep them around long after the medium has been realistically dead, and yet we hesitate to throw them away even though we never get much use out of them.

Well now there's a way to change that.  The vintage appeal of vinyl record fuses with the style and everyday functionality of the iPhone to create the RekordSleeve - a vinyl based phone sleeve that's an easy DIY project, perfect for any and all music lovers.

We all have records sitting around, why not turn one into a phone case?  It doesn't have to be in great condition (in fact I'd be fairly upset if you destroyed something of value), but old worn albums or wax records that are warped are great candidates for this quick and easy how to.

Difficulty: Low (as long as you follow safety)
Duration: <1 day
 
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Step 1: DISCLAIMER

Vinyl records, when burned, create a dangerous gas that is harmful to humans.  As such, there is an inherent danger when working with shaping vinyl records.  This guide uses heat to warm up the material to a point where it is just barely flexible enough to bend and cut, but not much more.  Always use a heat gun on a low setting and work in small passes.  Work in a well-ventilated area and wear proper protective equipment!  If the record ever ignites or starts smoking, do NOT inhale the fumes- follow emergency procedures immediately.  

FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THIS PROJECT AT YOUR OWN RISK.  IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE OR DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING, DON'T DO IT!!

Step 2: What you'll NEED

Picture of what you'll NEED
A phone
A record
A pair of scissors
A sharpie
OPTIONAL: a cloth sunglasses case or similar, with a sewing case, and a hot glue gun

NOT OPTIONAL: A low powered heat gun - I used this Wagner one available at Lowes for 25 bucks.  Usually you'll find lower powered ones in the paint section.  On its low setting, it outputs heat at 750 degrees F... do NOT use the high setting!


Step 3: Plan it OUT

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Get a record you like and wouldn't mind seeing on your phone every day.  I happened to grab some random Christmas music album that I didn't really care about, but that's because this was my first shot at this and I didn't want to mess up a good record if I screwed up.  The sleeve will fold between the front and the back across the bottom (leaving the top open), so try to visualize that placement on the record itself and mark it out with a permanent marker.

Again, make sure you're in a well-ventilated area.  Make sure you're wearing gloves.  Use short passes on the low setting.  You're WARMING IT UP, NOT MELTING IT.  If anything starts smoking, you're in trouble.

Personally, I like my little incase cover (pictured here), but it doesn't cover the front of the phone.  I set up all my measurements so that I could fit the iPhone and the case into the sleeve as well.  You may want to do the same, or have some other wacky requirements, so feel free to make it your own!

Step 4: Cut and MOLD



It's helpful to first have a model version of your phone.  Grab a cardboard box and cut out a few pieces to roughly resemble your phone's shape.  You don't need to stick these together, really, since you'll be holding it all in your hands anyway.

Cutting it out is a lot of using your hands and playing around with it.  Use short, small passes of the heat gun on its lowest setting to WARM the record (NOT MELT!!!), and then cut along your traced line with the scissors.  When it cools, make sure you frequently compare your product to either your phone or your phone model.  Needless to say, do NOT heat your phone.

I started by cutting out the shape I traced roughly, then molding it into shape, and finally making finishing adjustments.  Molding the shape definitely required the use of the cardboard model since a flat bottom is paramount.  Make sure you use your work surface as a planar reference.  

As you can see from the video, the finishing touches took the longest.  If you would like to make it even more precise, you can sand down the rough parts a bit, but beware using a powered tool here as they can cause incineration as well!

Step 5: Cloth INSERT (optional)

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As a nice little added touch, you can use a piece of cloth to soften the interface between your phone and the vinyl.  I had an old sunglasses case sitting around that I never used, so I measured out the phone size and had it stitched up* inside out.  Note: make sure you leave extra room on the outside of your trace to account for the area on the two sides.  Give yourself about an inch of clearance in all directions.  Once the pouch is created, hot glue works as reasonable bonding agent to secure this piece to the inside of the case.

* Thanks to Randi T for her help in sewing!  (Instructables username: rmt212)

Step 6: Go ENJOY

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Remember to wash your hands.

Decorate it with stickers.  Show it to all your friends.  Express your love of music.  Bring out your inner hipster, DJ, nostalgist, whatever.  And most importantly, keep on making!

Thanks to the Lehigh University Technical Entrepreneurship Class of 2013 and Professors.  Twitter #LUTE13