Introduction: Vinyl Record Cutouts

Vinyl records are wonderful, but only few of us still use them when actually listening to music. I'm sure that anyone reading this has seen clocks, bowls, and bookends made from old LPs, but I wanted to do something that wasn't constrained to a circle. The "proper" way of doing this would be purchasing hot wire cutter, and there is much to be said about using the right tool for the right job. But there is also something to be said for using what you have on hand if it'll get the job done. I chose the latter, and used a dremel tool.

Step 1: Supplies

-Vinyl record to cut
Safety Goggles
-Dremel tool 
-Small grinding attachment
-Wire wheel attachment
-Sand paper (or sponge)

Not puictured: Image editor (ie: Photoshop, pencil)

SAFETY NOTE: We're going to be using a Dremel tool at higher speeds, and small bits of vinyl will fly everywhere. I thought my normal glasses would be fine for this task, but the high speed debris hitting my eye proved me wrong. Play it safe and use something with full coverage.

Step 2: Create the Stencil

I opted for a 45 adapter. It didn't have many sharp angles and people would easily recognize it.

Measure the diameter of your record. Not all 12 inch LPs are created equal. Mine happened to be 29.65 cm

Find a picture and copy it into Photoshop (or some other image editor). Get rid of everything you don't want, and resize it to fit your specific record. Print it out, cut it out, and tape everything together.

My stencil is covered in packing tape on both sides. I'll probably reuse it, so having something laminated (so to speak) will be reusable.
Attach it to the record (I used more packing tape) to keep it in place.

Step 3: Trace the Stencil Onto the Record

Tape the stencil to the record, and grab your trusty pencil. Pencils work best perpendicular to the grooves, so some short back-and-forth strokes will do the trick.  Once everything is traced out, cut the tape and remove the stencil.

You can easily smudge the graffite, so take care when your handling the record. Once you're done, any left over marks can be wiped wiped off. I'd bet a silver sharpie would work well, but it'd be more difficult to clean up afterwords. 

Step 4: Start to Cut

PUT ON YOUR SAFETY GLASSES! I can't stress that enough here.

Fire up your dremel with the grinding bit attached. You can only subtract here, so take care not to cut out more than you intend to. We'll do some cleaning up with the wire brush later, so don't worry about making everything perfect. At least not yet.

One thing you will quickly notice is melted vinyl forming burrs on one side of the cut as you move the tool. If you can, orient the tool such that the burrs collect on the scrap side of the cut. 

Step 5: Grinding and Sanding

Swap out the grinding bit for a wire wheel. Go around the record, cleaning up any burrs left and touching up wobbly edges. It'll leave marks of you nick the surface of the record, so try not to touch the side you'll have facing out. 

After you're satisfied with the wire wheel, go around the edge with some sandpaper. I used a 180 grit sponge. It was what I had on hand, but it also kept the surface from getting too scratched up.

Step 6: Mount and Enjoy

If you don't want to put a nail in the wall, or your design isn't centered on the record, some sticky tack or some masking tape should hold the record to the wall. If it'll work for your design, there's a convenient hole in the middle of records that you can use to hang the record on a nail.

Now step back and appreciate your work. Lather, Rinse, Repeat as desired.

Step 7: Inspiration!

Cutting shapes out of old LPs and 45s isn't new, and like I said before, they make tools for such a task. If you're going to do a lot of this, or even a lot of crafting with plastic, it's worth considering buying a hot knife. But if you're not doing involved and elaborate designed, a dremel seems to get the job done.

I've seen small adapters made from vinyl used in jewelry before, and that's where I got the idea. Here are some more pictures to give you some ideas. And if you haven't seen the other instructables that teach you how to make clocks , bookends , or bowls from records, take a look. Think of what you could make if you combine the methods!