For all the time you spend collecting vinyls, it’s important to know how to keep them in good condition. Don’t go throwing out vinyl that’s cracked or warped before following this guide in which I’ll cover how to repair cracked records, remove vinyl stickers and dewarp your vinyls to keep them looking and sounding great.
The Vinyl Material
As many vinyl copies are made from styrene, it’s vital you handle them with care. Sadly, styrene is quite brittle and isn’t built with strength in mind. Even just slightly bending the styrene record can cause it to crack or snap.
On the flip side, an original vinyl record is robust and its strongly built properties mean it has less chance of being bent and broken. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it one hundred percent unbreakable.
Tip 1: Repairing A Cracked Vinyl
If you’re unlucky enough to own a cracked vinyl, don’t turn to throwing it away just yet. There are multiple ways to repair a broken vinyl and stop cracks from getting worse. How you use your vinyl can affect the way you choose to repair it. Many people who don’t care for the B side or the run-in, may choose to glue the vinyl either from the back or from the front, depending which side of the vinyl they want to play, glue on the run in can damage the stylus if they meet each other.
Our Recommended Method of Use
A preferred method is to put a drop of superglue on a clean piece of paper. Where the crack is, roll this part of the vinyl into the super glue at a vertical angle, like below.
Good To Know: Make sure you are extremely gentle when rolling the record in the glue and take extra care not to get the glue in the groves. This will make the record useless, as glue is practically impossible to remove from the grooves your record will be damaged forever.
By holding it here for a few seconds, the superglue will have a capillary effect, merge its way up the crack, not touching the grooves this will strengthen the crack whilst sticking it together. Although this will have saved your record, it’s important to remember that it is still very fragile.
Why This Works?
Repairing your cracked vinyl in this way means that there is limited damage to the face of the record, it’s still playable and now fixed back to its original position with minimal mess.
The Vinyl Label
Let’s now look at the vinyl labels or stickers as some prefer to call them. Through careful inspection, you can clearly identify whether a label has been moulded into the vinyl or simply been stuck on top. This will affect the look of the vinyl, allowing collectors to quickly judge the type of vinyl it is and the condition it’s in.
A vinyl record will have the label moulded onto it. The moulding occurs around the edges of the label. By using your fingernail or similar, you’ll find that running your nail over the edge of the label won’t cause your finger to stop. You may feel a slight bump underneath your finger, however, the label is securely sealed and won’t allow for it to be peeled back.
Styrene records you will find their labels are placed flat onto the vinyl without being pressed and sealed at the edges. This makes it easier for someone to pick the label and peel it away.
Tip 2: Removing Waster-Based Paper Stickers
Let’s take a look at how we can remove a paper sticker that’s placed on the label. As ludicrous as it may sound, one of the best ways for removing a vinyl sticker is to lather it in human saliva!
Our Recommended Method of Use
Human saliva is one of the best ways for removing stick-on labels that use water-based glues. By getting some saliva on your finger or cotton bud, you can rub at the sticker to soak it slightly. Leave this for 5 minutes or more to allow the saliva to start reacting with the glue, which will cause the sticker to lose its grip and ready to peel off gently, using your fingernail as a scraper, being careful to not scrap the label it’s. If you feel resistance, STOP soak again wait 5 minutes and the next attempt will see the label slide away.
Good To Know: If you feel the sticker has lots of resistance, use some more saliva to help ease it off without damaging the original label underneath.
For stickers that have been glued on with a more gooey consistency, you’ll be glad to know you must remove the sticker using an alternative method to human saliva.
Tip 3: Removing Non-Water-Based Vinyl Stickers
The finish on non-water-based stickers will be hard to penetrate with human saliva and secondly, the glue won’t react with it. Alternatively, using lighter fluid, you squeeze a blob onto the sticker and leave it for a short while. Then, using your fingernail or similar, you can start to urge the sticker to move backwards.
As the sticker begins to peel back, you’ll create a “lip” to which you can continue adding some more liquid fluid. This will make the sticker less resistant and with your patient fingernail continually trying to urge the sticker from the label, resulting in its removal.
Tip 4: Dewarping A Vinyl
A warped record is one that is bent slightly and therefore is no longer its original, flat self. In order to dewarp a vinyl, you must treat it with the two things that changed its state in the first place: pressure and heat.
Our Recommended Method of Use
PLEASE NOTE: The below method does not come without risks of damaging the vinyl. It has taken multiple attempts to find the optimum temperature and weight that’ll dewarp a vinyl. To make it more complicated, as they’re all different to one another each must be treated with different levels of heat and pressure to successfully dewarp them. Hence, we reiterate this method should not be trialled at home.
It has taken years of adjustments to perfect this method and we have not discussed the finer points of how our dewarper exactly works, as it was especially engineered for us from my own design. But it gives you an idea that D.I.Y. dewarpers can easily be designed and perfected with a little time and experimental patience.
Using a kitchen hob to create heat, you can place the vinyl on top of a thick weight creating a barrier between the heat and the vinyl. It’s then important to turn the hob off to avoid cooking the record.
You can then layer the vinyl with a pan of hot water, adding cold to it to obtain the optimal heat and then more weights.
By adding more water to the hot silver pan, sitting underneath the weights, you are inevitably creating more pressure on top of the record. You don’t want to add too much pressure to the record in case it ends up damaging it even further.
Good To Know: The vinyl must be left in the above state for around 3 hours. You’ll need to add both hot and cold water as required to keep it hot enough for dewarping, without cooking the record.
Why Dewarp A Vinyl?
A warped vinyl will end up throwing the needle off when listening to it and of course, this will drastically alter how it sounds and of course, warps devalue collectable records. Getting your record near to its previous shape and sound will help revert it back to the original condition, which if you were to pass it on to a new owner, will help you make a worthy sale.
You now know some of the best (and rather odd) ways to repair cracked records, remove unwanted stickers from your vinyl label and dewarp a misshapen vinyl. May that be using human saliva or heading to the hob to heat your record, remember to always take extra care when using our recommended methods!