Some vinyl records are round but not flat. Some are flat but not round. Some are neither flat nor round. I recently got hold of some of the more common, round but not flat variety.
The records in question were:
1. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott – Bull Durham Sacks And Railroad Tracks (a white label promo no less)
2. Walter Carlos – Switched-On Bach
3. Black Sabbath – Master Of Reality
Honestly, I had no idea there was a problem with these records when I bought them… I just slid them out of their sleeves and looked for obvious damage. I never thought to look at a cross section for plumb and true.
So, what to do… I asked the Google Machine and several remedies were presented. Some involved record flattening systems, suction cups, clamps and the like, but I didn’t feel like spending $100 to try and flatten $0.75 worth of vinyl. Others promised success by applying heat and pressure using various household items… an oven, plate glass and the like.
I went with option #2.
You can find variations of these same instructions on the interwebs but basically:
1. you clean the records well
2. you place the records in-between some stout, flat, thermal medium (I used 12×12 granite tile)
3. you put them into a 150-200 degree (F) oven (temps vary by instructor)
4. you leave them in the hot oven for some amount of time then leave them to cool under pressure from weights added to the top of the stack
1. and 2. were pretty straight forward, the variables in 3. and 4. were where the experimentation began.
First I tried 150 degrees F for 30 minutes and pressed them for an hour. The records came out flat but warped shortly after being taken off of the pressure.
Next I tried 170 degrees F for an hour and pressed them overnight. The records came out flat but warped shortly after being taken off of the pressure.
Finally I tried heating them up to 190 for the initial heat, then turning the heat down to 170 for almost two hours. I then left the things under pressure for three days. The records came out flat but warped shortly after being taken off of the pressure.
So, I give up. Try as I might I can’t make warped records flat. I guess I’ll just have to figure out a way to ship my cooked, warped, ruined records to culturecraving. She is making some beautiful art pieces by intentionally warping them into unique and interesting configurations. Check out her blog at: https://tableturningblog.wordpress.com/