I've just built this magic floating record wall on the cheap.
I think it looks great during video calls.
Here's how I did it:
Step One - Stalk eBay
With lockdown, I couldn't exactly go to my local record store. And I didn't fancy rummaging through bins of second hand items trying to find exactly what I wanted. So I decided to buy a job-lot of records from eBay.
Beatles collections are regularly sold. Some are designed for people who want pristine records, and some who want original pressings. Prices can go absolutely wild. I managed to find someone selling a collection of Beatles (and solo) records which had attracted no bids. While other sets went for £400, I snapped up 33 records for £165 including delivery.
A fiver per LP!
While it might have been nice to have factory-fresh covers, I kinda like the worn æsthetic.
OK, it didn't include every record that I wanted. And had a few that I didn't really want on my wall (sorry Michael Jackson fans!) so the real cost was about a tenner per record.
Step Two - Hang 'em High!
Sticking things to walls is fun! But I didn't want to damage the record sleeves, and I wasn't overly keen on drilling a hundreds of holes in the wall. I considered lots of solutions (see later) but ended up using...
These strong magnets come with 3M glue pads to stick them to non-magnetic surfaces.
These particular ones were £9 for 10 magnets. A cost of £1.80 per album
Step 3 Test
I stuck one of the magnets to the wall.
The glue held it tight, so I tested whether two magnets could hold up a the weight of the cover and the record. They couldn't. I could have bought some more powerful magnets, but I decided just to ditch the vinyl.
I didn't want to damage the record sleeve, so I stuck the magnet to a bit of cardboard which was small enough to fit inside the sleeve.
Moment of truth...
Step 3 - Stabilise
Getting the interior magnet in exactly in the right place was a bit annoying. Especially as my grid wasn't exactly perfect.
The strip of cardboard was just what I needed. I could snap the magnets together, and then move the album sleeve vertically and horizontally - keeping the magnet in place.
Some albums aren't just sleeves, they open up gatefold style. I didn't want them flapping about, so needed a non-destructive way to keep them shut.
I used paperclips. They're small, discreet, and cheap.
Sorry that I didn't use some 3D printed, biosonic, weak-nuclear-force, mechanised doo-dahs. Sometimes simple is best!
Step 4 - More Music
I had 10 magnets, so I stuck five albums up - one by each Beatle, and Sgt Pepper.
Step 5 - More Magnets
I had proved that the set-up worked. So I bought a butt-load more magnets. They're cheaper in bulk. And you can always find a use for a spare magnet.
£ 1.69per pair of magnets
£12.00per stuck up sleeve. Not bad!
I also have a bunch of records to sell, or swap, and four pairs of magnets for other projects.
Other options I considered
Buy pre-framed records.
Some enterprising folk sell pre-framed Beatles record covers for £20 each.
Didn't include the vinyl. But ready to go.
If I just wanted 12x12 frames, the cheapest I found was around £9 each.
Print your own
There are loads of high resolution scans of album covers. Printing a ready-to-hang canvas box frame would cost about £15 each.
Minor risk of copyright infringement. Lack of authenticity. A bit sterile?
I found these hangers with built in record sleeves for £15
The plastic might be too glossy. The reviews mention the sleeves tearing easily. There's also no sense of mystique that you get with floating magnetics.
But, £1.88 per record is a good price, and they're a lot easier to hang - just bash a nail into the wall!
3D printed shelves
I found a bunch of 3D printed mini-shelves on Etsy
They were about £2 - £4 each. They looked nice - but I was worried they'd be too fragile. And, they're really only suitable for holding records. With my magnets, I can swap to anything light enough.
I don't care if I'm going through a mid-life high-fidelity crisis. I've turned a plain, boring wall into something that brings me joy. If my tastes change, I can quickly and easily shuffle the record sleeves around.
And there's no way I'm buying a record player!