November 29, 2002

Our Secret

It's increasingly rare for me to purchase new vinyl, so I don't get to do this little trick very often, but I will now share with you the correct method of opening a record. Yes, that's right -- there is in fact a specific procedure for opening a sealed vinyl LP of which you should all be aware.

I was first shown how to properly open a record back when I worked at the used record store in high school, by a co-worker who spotted me trying to slice open my new copy of the Perfect Sound Forever 10" with a pair of scissors. He pulled the record from my hands and demonstrated this method, which opened the sealed record in a few brief seconds without using potentially harmful blades or other implements, all while keeping the shrinkwrap on the cover intact, sleeve unharmed.

First, a few important tips:

  • Please only attempt this while wearing jeans or pants made from a similarly sturdy material, something which will be able to withstand a record sleeve edge acting as a saw against your leg.
  • While pants are ideal for this maneuver, we ladies can also do this while wearing a skirt, as long the garment is sturdy and fitted. The material should be relatively taut against your leg to provide the necessary friction, otherwise the motion of the record will simply move the fabric around.
  • Do not try this with records in those thin 12" import sleeves or with ones that are sealed in that slightly baggy, crackly plastic. The former will not be able to withstand the force of this action and will bend and buckle in either or hands or against your leg. The latter have been too loosely sealed for this method to effectively work, so any attempts to create an opening this way will likely be fruitless.
  • The act of sawing the record against your leg, while somewhat violent in appearance, should be painless. If not, either your pants or too thin or your leg is too bony. Or perhaps you are sawing it across your knee, which I'd imagine would hurt.

So assuming you are properly clothed and hold in your hand an excellent candidate record, shrinkwrapped and housed in a proper cardboard sleeve, we're ready to proceed. (I have illustrated each step myself using the new, sealed "Bizarre Love Triangle" 12" I purchased at Princeton Record Exchange a couple of days ago.)

Step 1: Find the edge.
1. Locate the edge of the sleeve with the (now-sealed) opening. Make sure you are sitting down before continuing to the next step. (Advanced practitioners may remain standing, propping one leg up against a handy coffee table or chair to attain the desired bent leg angle.)

Step 2: Position the record.
2. Place record, opening edge down, on your leg just above the knee. Sleeve should be roughly parallel to your body and edge should be perpendicular to your leg. Grip record securely, one hand on each side.

Step 3: Rub the record across your leg.
3. Begin rubbing sleeve edge back and forth against your pant leg, as fast as you can, for about five seconds. Concentrate on just the center portion of the edge -- moving the record too far in either direction may result in your bumping and bending the corner. Rub, rub, rub!

Step 4: Widen the opening.
4. Lift record and check edge. You should have at least a small opening in the center which you can now pry apart (slowly, gently) with your fingers until the entire opening is clear. If the plastic is still completely sealed, just repeat Step 3.

Step 5: Remove record from sleeve.
5. Sleeve is now still completely covered in shrinkwrap with a slit for the opening. Remove record from sleeve.

Step 6: Play record.
6. Place on turntable, drop the needle and enjoy!

Posted by nstop at November 29, 2002 10:37 PM


I've always used the thumbnail method. It gives me the benefit of being able to open a record while naked.

Posted by: martin on December 2, 2002 07:10 PM

yes, i usually go for the thumbnail also. i just tried this way and it worked like a charm!

Posted by: ron on December 2, 2002 11:32 PM

You guys must have razor-sharp thumbnails. Mine make poor record-opening implements, as I seem to always end up ripping the plastic wrap or bending the edge.

Oh, and my method is compatible with nakedness. Just use the arm of your couch instead your leg. I do this anyway since I'm usually wearing dresses or skirts, often vintage, the fragile fabric of which would rrrrrrip in no time if I tried this.

Posted by: nstop on December 3, 2002 02:17 PM

yes, but my method is compatible with nakedness in an unfurnished apartment.

Posted by: martin on December 3, 2002 10:11 PM

I've used this method for years! It works on CD-singles too, if that matters. I rarely need to open a record when I'm naked. Hell, I rarely need to open a record anymore, I buy mostly used.

Posted by: Timmy on December 6, 2002 03:15 PM

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