How to Cast Your Own Vinyl Records

 

Editor’s note: This project is meant for reproducing your own work or work in the public domain. It is not meant to be used for illegal duplication. Support your favorite artists by buying their records! And if you’re in the UK, you can catch Jess on tour.


A run of records. Photos by Jess Morgan

Setting the needle and hearing your song play out over the hi-fi speakers is usually a thrill reserved for only those with a few quid to spend on a factory pressing of their latest release on vinyl. I spent a year experimenting with colorful “mock vinyl” and picture-disks that I made at home in my spare room and wrote a blog post about my experiences over on my website. Here’s a video of one of my homemade records in action:

silicone needs 24 hours to dry. Make sure it dries somewhere completely level. Use a spirit level to make double (and triple) sure everything is level. If you have a few small air bubbles once the silicone is poured in, these will disappear as the mould sets. Pop any very large bubbles with your mixing stick.

After a day to dry, carefully peel away your hardened silicone from the mould. This can be a bit tricky. Take your time and do not tear your mould. Give the bottom of the mould a little scratch with your fingernail. You should feel some very fine grooves in there.

5. Casting with Resin

Wherever you work, it needs to be level. Get that spirit level out again and make sure. Protect hands and eyes and work somewhere ventilated. A basic Polyurethane Casting Resin comes in two parts, part A and part B. In most cases you need to mix these by weight — so a set of digital scales is vital.

A kitchen scale is useful for measuring proper ratios

Check your instructions from the supplier. To avoid over-pouring mistakes, I poured out part A and then part B into individual paper cups, and then mixed them together. While part A and part B are separate, you can relax. You have time. Once they are mixed, you have got to be fast.

If you want to add color, add to one of the parts while they are separate and mix that in well. Buy special resin pigment from your supplier if you can. A little goes a long way with this stuff. Although, using a blob of color will buy you a little more time once the two parts come together, it is still a good idea to work quickly.

Mix parts A and B of the resin together really well and pour the mixture straight into your mould. You can mix up several batches (different colors for example), and add them one at a time once the previous layer has dried. If you are spot on with your measuring each time, the joins should be seamless.

Clear and colored resin

Most opaque resins will need an hour to dry if you are layering. Adding color slows the drying time a little. Always wait at least a couple of hours before removing anything from the mold. You want it to be as hard as possible. If the resin has not completely cured then your record will warp and it will sound a bit funny on the turntable.

Clear polyurethane resins are a little trickier to work with, but they can be used in layers alongside opaque resin. Allow much longer drying times if working with clear resin. If you want to make picture-disks, you can use clear resin to trap images, photos, ink, or pretty much anything you want inside the record.

Take care not to introduce moisture to the clear resin. Mix with a plastic utensil in a plastic cup, and do not touch it too much with your fingers when it is curing — even when you think it’s dry! There are plenty of tutorials which give advice on working with the different types of resin.

You will need to experiment with measurements, but unless the label tells you otherwise, you will need to mix equal amounts of parts A and B — and measure by weight. You can get hold of casting resin kits fairly easily — though if you get hooked, you are going to want a lot more than what you get in the starter kit.

6. Separate the Mold

After half a day or so, you can separate the mold from the record. You might need to use an electric drill to re-make the hole through the centre.

Conclusion

All that is left to do is to pop the record on your turntable and listen to it play!

 

…and if you do lose your rag with the records, you can use your silicone and resin for other things. I made this cool scratch plate for my Tele:

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