Friday, January 15, 2010

Vinyl Record Bookends

I have been trying to get our tiny house organized lately, adding shelves, and trying to find new ways to to use space creatively. Per put up some very utilitarian bookshelves a couple of weeks ago, which have been a fantastic addition to our little dining area. They even make the ceiling look higher.

The only problem with using this kind of shelf for books is that you need bookends. Bookends can be really expensive. Sure, I bought a simple metal set at IKEA for a couple of bucks, but IKEA is too far to go for a couple of cheap bookends. Besides, I was hoping for some bookends with a little more style. I have been trying to think of creative ways to make them, but in the end I found myself searching online for other peoples ideas.

That's when I came across a tutorial that shows you how to turn old vinyl records into super cool bookends with very personal touch. I happened to have a few crappy records, along with a couple of duplicates of some favorites, so I jumped at the chance. The person who wrote this tutorial says they originally found the idea as someone else's tutorial and then decided to post their own with some improvements. I'm going to do the same thing.

I fumbled around with my first record, bending this way and that, coming up with weird unwanted curves where I didn't want them and a misshapen curve where I needed a good crease. There were a couple of problems with this method: Getting the whole record wet is unnecessary and creates a lot of extra work, and unless your sink is 100% flat and not curved (which is highly unlikely), then you shouldn't do this in the sink either.

After a quick brainstorming session, I decided to try something completely different. Within two minutes I had mastered it and was turning out perfectly shaped bookends in under a minute. This is the quick and easy way I recommend doing it for anyone who'd like to try:


-Flat rectangular cake pan (wide enough to hold the width of the vinyl record)
-Boiling water in a kettle or saucepan for easy pouring.
-Flat, sturdy tool (this will vary a bit, but I found the PERFECT tool in a little 8"x8" bamboo cutting board. you want your tool to be wide enough to flatten the bottom of your bookend out and sturdy enough to apply some weight.)

1. Choose a record you don't mind never listening to again- actually you'll need two if you are making a set. For this tutorial I'll be using Sting: Dream of the Blue Turtles. Do not use a Sting album unless you have a duplicate (as I did), or unless it is scratched beyond playing. I just can't condone that kind of irresponsible wastefulness. I love Sting, what.
2. Decide which side of the record label you'd like to display on the outside of your bookend (favorite songs, cool artwork, etc)
3. Set the cake pan on a flat, sturdy surface like the kitchen counter or a dining table, and leave some room to one side to use as a clean work space.
4. Hold the record upright in the cake pan. Make sure the side of the record you want to be on the outside of the bookend is facing away from your tool. *If you are going to hold the record in your left hand while working with a tool in the right hand, the label should be to your left- facing away from the tool. Also, check to make sure the words or picture on the label are at the correct angle- Just because the label you're looking at on the front side of the record is right-side up, doesn't mean that's the case with the label on the other side!

5. While holding the record upright, slowly begin pouring boiling water over the bottom half of the record, filling the pan an inch or so. (Make sure the water is boiling.)

6. The record should begin to soften almost immediately. Gently press the record downward into the pan until the point where you'd like the crease to be- usually just below the label is enough. This way you have plenty underneath for holding books, but your whole label can show on the outside of the bookend.

7. When the bottom (wet side) of the record is very soft and floppy, immediately place it on your counter workspace, still holding the top part upright with the bottom part bent at a right angle on the table. Use your tool like a squeegee to flatten and smooth the bottom of the record and the crease to a good right angle with a flat surface. Work quickly, as the record will begin to harden again as soon as it's out of the boiling water.

8. Once the record has cooled, towel dry it completely and test it out with some books. If the angle or flatness needs correcting, repeat the process.


  1. This is a really awesome tutorial! For those who wonder, it really takes only a couple of minutes per bookend. Rachael did these FAST.

  2. That is the most AWESOME thing EVER!

  3. I made it too :)