How to package LPs/vinyl and singles securely & safely

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Worried about how to package vinyl LPs and singles so that they arrive in one piece?

I've had my fair share of items arrive with inadequate packaging, including a couple of 7" singles worth around £100.00 each, both sent in Jiffy bags with no added protection... one miraculously survived, the other was cracked in half.

Many opt for bespoke record mailers, but I avoid these for two reasons. Firstly they always seem too flimsy, and secondly a good eBayer knows how to procure much stronger packing material, and at no cost.

Bespoke record mailers often consist of a fairly thin card envelope with a thicker card inner strengthener, but I have received LPs sent in these envelopes, and they invariably have bent corners, even if the actual vinyl is in one piece.

Making your own record mailers is a little time consuming, but once you work out a few basics it becomes quicker and easier.

Firstly, dig out some strong card boxes. Supermarkets and other places that get large boxed deliveries in are a good source. Many have holding areas for cardboard, and generously flat pack it too (tip #1... ALWAYS neatly flatpack cardboard boxes BEFORE trying to take them away!!!)

The bigger the cardboard box the better for packing LPs, as there will be less stress points and folds.

So... you have some big sheets of card. Find a big flat working space and lay the card down. Place an LP on the card and trace a square round it. This square should be a little bit larger than the LP, but not excessively so.

Now put the LP aside and use the card square as a template. Lay this on a large piece of card, and with a ruler and a pen create four flaps around the square that when cut out and folded will create a secure box shape. Two of the opposing flaps should be just long enough to meet up when folded into place, the other two opposing flaps need only be an inch long or so.

Now the important part, which provides the all round strength that the mailer needs. Around the template of the original square, SCORE a groove with a pair of scissors along the pen line using a ruler for accuracy. Next, score another line about half a centimetre outside of this line. This means that you are creating a small box shape, rather than just a single fold in the card, and adds the all important rigidity to the finished package which prevents corner creasing. You only really need to score these lines where they run against the grain of the card, the flaps which bend along the grain are much easier to manipulate.

Now you're ready to assemble the mailer. The LP should be kept in its inner liner, but removed from the main outer sleeve, and placed on top. (This seems to be the preferred method by many sellers and buyers, the theory being that post is subject to a fair amount of rapid movement which can cause a loosely packed LP to start cutting through the outer sleeve). The LP should be packed in either a clear plastic sleeve or any other waterproof wrapping. Anything will do, as long as it is watertight and holds the LP as tight as possible to prevent movement. I often just use supermarket carrier bags, they do the job well and offer a little extra cushioning. They are also free and plentiful!

The wrapped LP should then be laid in the mailer, and the strengthening square placed on top. My method is to just use the one strengthening square, and make sure it is placed on the vinyl side rather than the sleeve side, although an extra strengthening square can be used on the other side for added protection. The mailer can then be folded into place and secured with parcel tape. Pay close attention to corners and ensure that there are no gaps in the package to keep the LP free from the elements.

If you have a load of vinyl to post, this isn't as long winded as it sounds. The trick is to make an initial mailer and strengthener, and then retain these to use as templates. Keep them aside, and just trace round them next time you get some fresh cardboard.

The same system can be applied for smaller 10" LPs, 7" singles etc, and is in fact much easier, as more usable pieces of cardboard are available this size. When you've wrapped the LP, give the package a good bend. Don't be frightened, it will be treated twice as badly once it gets into the postal system! If you're not happy to fling the parcel across the room, then it's not wrapped well enough.

I don't usually write "Fragile" all over a parcel, as I don't think it really makes any difference. Best to put more effort into making sure the parcel really is wrapped securely. I don't use bubblewrap for posting vinyl either. Strong card seems to work well enough for me. Bubblewrap should never be used as an alternative to strong card, which it so often is.

The only exception to this rule is packaging 78"s, which is a topic all of its own!

The Arcane Arcade

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