Cleaning Miles
November 7, 2014 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Cleaning a vinyl record with wood glue. "This trick works because the glue and record are somewhat chemically similar, so the glue only sticks to stuff that's not supposed to be there."
posted by quin (78 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ive used this trick to clean some textured metal or plastic surfaces, but haven't had the guts to try it on one of my beloved records yet.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:30 AM on November 7, 2014


My spouse does this. I haven't looked at the video, but when he does it, it peels off in one big sheet that's a reverse of the record. So cool.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:32 AM on November 7, 2014


If you put the glue disc back on the turntable, can you play it like it's a record? What does it sound like?
posted by Greg Nog at 11:36 AM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


never thought about doing this... but it sort of makes sense. As long as the dried glue 'disc' comes 100% off, not leaving any of itself behind.


If you put the glue disc back on the turntable, can you play it like it's a record? What does it sound like?


It would probably sound worse because the peaks of the record groove are now the valley that the needle is in. Also, you're playing all the crap you hopefully just lifted from the record.
posted by Artful Codger at 11:39 AM on November 7, 2014


But if you poured glue onto THAT glue CAN YOU MAKE A DIRTY COPY??

Also that peel looked like the most satisfying thing to do.
posted by SharkParty at 11:40 AM on November 7, 2014 [20 favorites]


If you put the glue disc back on the turntable, can you play it like it's a record?

I think you could if it was a perfect sheet, I mean there were records on thin sheets of plastic they could put as a free bonus in magazines. The problem would be that the grooves on the reverse-record would be comparatively really wide and I'm not sure what the needle would pick up
posted by Hoopo at 11:42 AM on November 7, 2014


you might summon the anti-Miles and he will play his anti-Horn that cracks the world.
posted by SharkParty at 11:43 AM on November 7, 2014 [60 favorites]


If you put the glue disc back on the turntable, can you play it like it's a record? What does it sound like?

It would probably sound worse because the peaks of the record groove are now the valley that the needle is in. Also, you're playing all the crap you hopefully just lifted from the record.


If this worked, you'd also be able to hear the future of the track from one revolution ahead out of one channel... but it also appears the space in-between grooves is wider enough than the groove itself that the needle would just flop around.
posted by mustardayonnaise at 11:44 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Anti-Miles will also face you when he plays his Anti-Horn from his Reverse Record.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:44 AM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


The bass is muddy and there's no clarity and sparkle at the high end (don't get me started about the crappy imaging). He should have used de-ionized wood glue from a polycarbonate (NOT polypropylene) bottle, and spread it in the direction of rotation with a hand-polished cedar shake. Amateur.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:45 AM on November 7, 2014 [67 favorites]


one slip while you are spreading that glue though and you've got one hell of a mess on your turntable. still, the peeling looks very satisfying
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:45 AM on November 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


I do this. Titebond II works well. I tried some other glues and they were too brittle when dried. The hard part is starting the peel-off. I try to leave a big glob near the edge to give a knife tip something to grab on to. And I have a spare, crappy turntable to spread the glue on.

If you put the glue disc back on the turntable, can you play it like it's a record? What does it sound like?

I'd really be worried that you'd melt the glue.
posted by hydrophonic at 11:46 AM on November 7, 2014


Is this really a thing?

My advise: invest in wood glue futures. I have at least 40 linear shelf feet of vinyl in various states of unclean and this trick is foreign to me. Just the other night I was lamenting that my Hartman/Coltrane Impulse reissue was getting more hiss and pop than I'd like. I was beginning to question the recently replaced needle on the tone arm of my Rek-O-Kut but this seems worth a try.
posted by Fezboy! at 11:48 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


> haven't had the guts to try it on one of my beloved records yet.

If I had a vinyl disk that was dirty, and I knew was in good shape under the dirt, and that I didn't care much about, to use as a guinea pig. But I don't have any like that so I guess I'll just stick to the (more labor-intensive) routine that I've been using for decades, without any dreadful disasters yet.

= wash disk (very gently) with a clean piece of velvet and mild liquid dish soap under running tap water. Fake velvet works fine.
= rinse disk thoroughly with more running tap water
= rinse tap water off with squirt bottle full of distilled water. (When the disk is dry, if you can see water spots on the shiny, ungrooved parts, you didn't do this step enough
= set to dry in dish rack so that nothing is touching except the edge and the label
= if your kitchen is dusty you can finish up with a canned-air pass.
= PUT IT BACK IN ITS PLASTIC-LINED SLEEVE, and put that back in its cardboard jacket.

If you're in the same habit as I am and play your favorite disks only very rarely (to record them for everyday play--I started with reel-to-reel, now straight to FLAC) right after washing is the best time to do that. How many hours do you have on that needle?

Worst that's ever happened to me is finding a couple of disks whose labels weren't water-safe.
posted by jfuller at 11:48 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


I want a resurrection of the Doom Patrol, fighting the Anti-Miles. NOW NOW NOWNOWNOW.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:50 AM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think I'll stick with my Spin Clean.
posted by Dr-Baa at 11:51 AM on November 7, 2014


This reminds me that I need to buy some new sleeves and plastic covers for my vinyl. I also need to straight up get rid of about half of it or more because it's just not playable and I should let it go already.
posted by ODiV at 11:58 AM on November 7, 2014


The hard part is starting the peel-off. I try to leave a big glob near the edge to give a knife tip something to grab on to.

There is probably way to glue something to the back of the glue that you could use to get it started. The safest thing I can think of off the top of my head would be to wait for the glue to dry and glue a popsicle stick or something to the dry glue.
posted by VTX at 12:00 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I clean my 45s with denatured alcohol and cotton swabs. Works great!
posted by stenseng at 12:01 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've actually tried this, and it works like a champ. It's saved a couple of thrift store finds that I would have otherwise set aside in the Peach Crate of Shame. It's labor intensive enough that I would only bother doing it on records that are dirty (but not too dirty) and don't show signs of serious underlying scratching, but when it works it's like getting a brand new vinyl.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:01 PM on November 7, 2014


Wait so you can't just put them in the dishwasher in the plate rack? Oh shi
posted by EndsOfInvention at 12:01 PM on November 7, 2014 [10 favorites]


Worst that's ever happened to me is finding a couple of disks whose labels weren't water-safe.

This is what would put me off. Even if water beads on the label surface I'd be expecting it to be absorbed at the label edge and give you a wavy water stain all around.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:02 PM on November 7, 2014


Bitches, glue.
posted by davebush at 12:07 PM on November 7, 2014 [10 favorites]


Here ya go
posted by exogenous at 12:09 PM on November 7, 2014




If you put the glue disc back on the turntable, can you play it like it's a record? What does it sound like?

It says I bury Paul.
posted by JanetLand at 12:12 PM on November 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


I had to explain vinyl to someone the other day. They understood it, conceptually—"It's like a CD but you use a needle, or something? And it's not digital, it's like a cassette with hiss and stuff"—but the idea that each time you play the record, it wears it down a little, so that each record only has so many 'plays' before its worn out... seemed horrifying to them on a sort of fundamental level.

In another generation the idea of physically cleaning a piece of recording media is going to seem just as bizarre, I suspect.

Anyway, very neat trick. I've been meaning to set up my turntable again to dub a bunch of vinyl over to digital files, and this might be worth a try on a few of them. I think I'll do a safety copy of them as-is first, before attempting it, but on a few that are particularly messed up and not especially unique recordings... worth a shot. (And I guess I could always go down to Goodwill and get a few practice records to start with.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:13 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]



This is what would put me off. Even if water beads on the label surface I'd be expecting it to be absorbed at the label edge and give you a wavy water stain all around.

Has never, ever happened in years of getting labels wet. Sure, don't soak them, but I've never had a single lingering effect from water beading up on label. Not even once.

I've done wood glue a few times, but because its such a pain in the ass I only use it on the absolute sorriest cases whose problem wasn't really dirt to begin with, so its never 'rescued' a record for me. Can't believe people have the patience to do this just on any old record.
posted by anazgnos at 12:14 PM on November 7, 2014


yeah but it left the jazz on there
posted by mullacc at 12:16 PM on November 7, 2014 [41 favorites]


I was kind of expecting that when he put back the cleaned record, it suddenly sounded like the Melvins.
posted by gwint at 12:18 PM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


The most satisfying part was how shiny and black the vinyl surface was after he peeled away the layer of epoxy. That was, like, Darth Vader levels of black.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:19 PM on November 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


I was kinda hoping this was a gag video and when he plays it again after cleaning it's Yakety Sax.
posted by Runes at 12:20 PM on November 7, 2014 [20 favorites]


"Hey, dammit -- all my records are John Cage albums now!"
posted by wenestvedt at 12:25 PM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


after he peeled away the layer of epoxy

Heh. Don't do this with epoxy.
posted by ryanrs at 12:26 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


R. Crumb and John Heneghan talked about this "trick" on John's Old Time Radio Show. They pretty much thought it was the dumbest most obnoxious thing ever.
posted by batfish at 12:29 PM on November 7, 2014


Forgive my ignorance here, but I have a lot of dirty LPs and 45s that went through a fire/water situation and have mold etc on the paper parts.

I basically just threw away the covers (blerg), wiped them off well, and put them into plain white sleeves.

They sound fine. Am I missing something? I am guessing we are talking of the "high fidelity" crowd here?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:29 PM on November 7, 2014


Am I missing something? I am guessing we are talking of the "high fidelity" crowd here?

There's an A/B comparison at the end of the video, you can listen for yourself. I thought the cleaned version sounded significantly less noisy.

Of course, how this cleaning method compares to more traditional, less involved / less risky ones is the real question.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:33 PM on November 7, 2014


Kadin2048 : but the idea that each time you play the record, it wears it down a little, so that each record only has so many 'plays' before its worn out... seemed horrifying to them on a sort of fundamental level.

In this way, I find vinyl to be a fairly good metaphor for life, actually.
posted by quin at 12:33 PM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've done this. It works better than any other cleaning method I've used (including my Spin Clean). It takes a couple of days to clean a record and the amount of static you get after peeling is insane, especially in the winter. I have to hit every record with my Zerostat after doing this. This is really best done in batches to make the time and effort worth it.

That said, don't do this on 45s unless you know they're vinyl. A lot of 45s are polystyrene and will be forever destroyed by this process.

I only use this method for my most soiled LPs. The Spin Clean is acceptable for most records.
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:35 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's a thread on AudioKarma about this technique that goes into fine detail about the methods and results.

I've done this on some throwaway thriftstore 45s, and it works quite well.
posted by t3h933k at 12:35 PM on November 7, 2014


Needs more radiation.

I always thought my grandmother's StaticMaster brush she used to clean records was cool--integrated polonium strip and all.
posted by sevenless at 12:35 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


That was, like, Darth Vader levels of black.


It's like how much more black could this be? And the answer is none...none more black.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:08 PM on November 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


Why does this need to be done on a turntable?
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:21 PM on November 7, 2014


Using a turntable makes it really easy to spread the glue into an even disc. You let the record spin and spread the glue with a credit card. It's easy to control where the glue goes without making a mess.

Trying to do this on a stationary disc would take much longer and probably yield inferior results.
posted by TrialByMedia at 1:23 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does the glue need to be even?
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:26 PM on November 7, 2014


If you put the glue disc back on the turntable, can you play it like it's a record? What does it sound like?

Good question.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:26 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, you don't want thin spots or the glue might tear when you're peeling it.
posted by TrialByMedia at 1:27 PM on November 7, 2014


Just by the way, if you want to improve your chances of getting a good recording and you have a record that's not too warped, you can try covering the record with water while it's turning. A drop of dish soap will help the water from forming droplets as it dries. Lower tech than the white glue method, but less messy than covering your record with vegetable oil (which I've also heard of). I've tried using water and it worked, although it's a hassle too.

Lately I've become so lazy that I'll just go download the mp3s, because hey, I have the LP in my hand.
posted by sneebler at 1:33 PM on November 7, 2014


I've done this.
It works.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:43 PM on November 7, 2014


The hard part is starting the peel-off. I try to leave a big glob near the edge to give a knife tip something to grab on to.

I've found that about 90% of the time, if I put a piece of duct tape on the dried glue, it sticks well enough to get the peel started.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:49 PM on November 7, 2014


I've done the wash with diluted dish detergent, even made my own label protector with two plastic discs covered in rubber, and a 1/4 bolt to hold the rubber & discs against the label. Works good for records bought from Goodwill and flea markets - sometimes I'd wash those even before the first play. I don't hesitate to do it to records I've bought new that have gathered some dust & particulates.
posted by King Sky Prawn at 1:49 PM on November 7, 2014


How to play the glue record

First, make a second glue record from your cleaned original record. Now you have a glue record that doesn't incorporate all the schmutz particles that were lifted from your original disc.

Second, remember that your glue record has ridges, not grooves. That's why you need a bifurcated stylus that rides the ridges. Sound archives use these styli for playing negative metal parts. (In the five-step process that has been standard since about 1902, the wax or lacquer that's cut at the recording session [positive] produces a metal master [negative] which can produce multiple mothers [positive] each of which can produce multiple stampers [negative] used to press finished records [positive]. If a metal part for a historical recording survives in good condition, it can yield much better sound than a shellac pressing.)

Now back to the glue record: you've got to run it counter-clockwise. The simple way, on a standard turntable, is to play it back clockwise starting at the end, and reverse the recording in the digital domain. Some turntables support counter-clockwise rotation, but you should at least mount the cartridge backwards in the headshell, which is a little tricky to do while still maintaining the proper tracking angle. The really elegant solution is a tonearm that's a mirror-image of the conventional offset arm. If you're doing this at the Library of Congress you're all set; they have amazing (and staggeringly expensive) Simon Yorke gear that's set up to do just this sort of thing (and play conventional records too!)
posted by in278s at 1:50 PM on November 7, 2014 [16 favorites]


I've played the glue negative before with a crappy old stylus and cart that I wasn't going to use again anyways. It's backwards, plays a different part of the track in each channel and noisier than the original. Might be pretty cool to sample for something. Or you could use the glue negatives to make glue positives and make many shoddy copies of a record to play all at once - take that, Zaireeka!
posted by jason_steakums at 2:35 PM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]



I've found that about 90% of the time, if I put a piece of duct tape on the dried glue, it sticks well enough to get the peel started.


I put a tiny piece of scotch tape at the extreme edge of the record before I start and spread the glue over it.
posted by anazgnos at 3:05 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd be too concerned this would damage my records. I'll just stick with my current cleaning technique: steel wool and elbow grease
posted by aubilenon at 3:21 PM on November 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


Interestingly enough, cleaning your pets with wood glue doesn't work as evenly.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:37 PM on November 7, 2014


Yes but my cats love it.
posted by evilDoug at 3:42 PM on November 7, 2014




Could do that in less than a minute with a Nitty Gritty. Mind you they cost like 500 to 600 bucks XD
posted by ReeMonster at 4:14 PM on November 7, 2014


I got a sexual feeling when they pulled the glue off the record. I might have issues.
posted by Annika Cicada at 4:21 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


That said, don't do this on 45s unless you know they're vinyl. A lot of 45s are polystyrene and will be forever destroyed by this process.

Ditto 73s, and acetate/lacquer discs, which are shellac, not PV.
posted by eriko at 6:26 PM on November 7, 2014


"Second, remember that your glue record has ridges, not grooves. That's why you need a bifurcated stylus that rides the ridges. Sound archives use these styli for playing negative metal parts."

Huh. I had no idea about bifurcated styluses. When I got a chance to check out the Country Music Hall of Fame about a decade ago, they had a huge platter with a laser that read the grooves so that there wouldn't be any damage to the material. I wonder if you could set the laser to read the ridges instead.
posted by klangklangston at 6:43 PM on November 7, 2014


Peeling the dried glue off looks very satisfying, like when you've had a bad sunburn for about two days & it starts to peel, and you finally get ahold of a really big slab of skin, & it makes that kinda sick but releiving tearing sound as it peels up & it feels so much better once you've got that slab of dead skin off of there, & there's soft, fresh, new skin underneath... Ahhh.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:20 PM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I got a sexual feeling when they pulled the glue off the record. I might have issues.


Peeling the dried glue off looks very satisfying, like when you've had a bad sunburn for about two days & it starts to peel

Funny these things are mentioned. One of the (non-record) things I've used glue to clean were some fine rusty dusty debris from some old metal files. Peeling off the glue reminded me of way back when my sister used to use those nose strip things to pull blackheads out of her face. She definitely had issues about that.

BTW, I would drop a small piece of cotton cloth on the wet glue to provide a means of lifting up an edge when dried. Seemed to work ok.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:59 PM on November 7, 2014


Man I am gonna totally try this on a hard drive i have, it should help clean up the old scratchy photos I have stored on it.
posted by boilermonster at 11:36 PM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


regarding the cast-mold records thing, my long-ago acquaintance Jesse Paul Miller does exactly what you describe, although I don't know what role wood glue plays, if any, in his process.
posted by mwhybark at 11:44 PM on November 7, 2014


You know, if you want the satisfaction of both the record-clean peel and the sunburn peel, just get your school-size elmer's out and spread it all over your hand and let it dry. Best in places without hair.

I learned something in third grade that has stuck, putting to shame the teacher who had the nerve to say on my report cards "doesn't pay attention in class."
posted by maxwelton at 12:39 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Reading the discussion of everyday/less-drastic methods of cleaning records made me wonder if Discwashers were still around, and apparently they are. When I used to use one back in the day, it seemed to do a decent job of getting routine amounts of dust, etc. out of the grooves without hurting the record. Anyone here still have/use one?
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 2:58 AM on November 8, 2014


This is the first Metafilter post that I felt I should snort glue to understand.

I don't know how the regular commentators do this, snorting glue all the time.

Me, I don't like the way it makes my nostrils stick together.

Maybe I'm snorting glue the wrong way.

But I probably won't keep snorting glue.


Sorry Metafilter.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:49 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I had to explain vinyl to someone the other day. They understood it, conceptually

I remember my daughter watching Everything is Everything on MTV when she was little, and having absolutely no idea what that big thing in the video was supposed to be. That was 16 years ago.

My son, who's a bit younger, considers CDs archaic, like some thing dad used when he was a kid because his parents couldn't afford anything fancier, or something.
posted by effbot at 8:41 AM on November 8, 2014


Reading the discussion of everyday/less-drastic methods of cleaning records made me wonder if Discwashers were still around, and apparently they are. When I used to use one back in the day, it seemed to do a decent job of getting routine amounts of dust, etc. out of the grooves without hurting the record. Anyone here still have/use one?

Discwashers are still around, but the new production ones are garbage. I have a 1970s Discwasher D3 and a new Discwasher D4. The D3 is a great handheld brush that tracks in the grooves and leaves a nice clean surface for playing. The new D4 is just a piece of felt that's glued to a wooden handle. All it does is wipe the dirt into a line.
posted by TrialByMedia at 9:28 AM on November 8, 2014


If you watch very carefully for used Nitty Gritty machines, you can pick one up for $200-300, which may sound like a lot, but honestly if you start collecting in any quantity, there is no way you could use the glue method for all the albums without going broke and nuts. I heart my Nitty Gritty. What's funny is that with all the new surge in vinyl, nobody is making a less expensive version. It's just a weak vac in a box.
posted by Muddler at 11:52 AM on November 8, 2014


When I got a chance to check out the Country Music Hall of Fame about a decade ago, they had a huge platter with a laser that read the grooves so that there wouldn't be any damage to the material.

For a mere sixteen thousand dollars, you too can own a laser turntable. Perfect sound forever.

I found that a few years back when a couple of friends and I were thinking about trying to build a laser turntable from an old Laserdisc player, and discovered that somebody had already done it. (The price, while high, is not that far from what it'd cost to DIY it, putting any reasonable value on your time. Getting it to track the groove properly is fairly challenging. Although maybe less so now, in the Age of Cheap Microcontrollers, than 15 years ago.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:16 PM on November 8, 2014


I wonder if you could use a second laser for tracking if you angled it and had it run ahead of the "stylus" laser.

The one at the CMHoF looked nothing like that; it was a huge (like, six feet across) metal platter about six inches thick with a robot arm on X-Y axes. The explanation for the giant turntable was that by having that much mass, there was next to zero wobble. They made digital archives there of all sorts of weird country stuff — one of the most annoying things was that they had the rights to a shit-ton of crazy obscure country albums (they'd inherited the rights from a handful of songwriters, labels, performers, etc.) but the digital archive they made available for purchase was fucking terrible and disappointing (and wildly expensive). It was like, "You can buy a mid-'90s Tim McGraw mp3 for $5 from our special kiosk!" I kinda hope that a decade or so of digital music popularity will have expanded their catalog and lowered their price, but their website doesn't seem to sell any so I wonder if they never figured out a way to make it work.
posted by klangklangston at 2:52 PM on November 8, 2014


For a mere sixteen thousand dollars, you too can own a laser turntable. Perfect sound forever.

I love how this thing costs that much, but looks like a sears-brand combo stereo from the 70s that would be $5.99 at the local thrift store.

Seriously, what the hell? Styled by the guy who designed the original JVC VHS player.
posted by emptythought at 4:50 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seriously, what the hell?

Looks like it's basically one guy, producing around 200 units per year, and probably selling them at cost plus a modest salary. I doubt he has the budget for a fancy design team, and I suspect his customers don't really care either.
posted by effbot at 4:13 AM on November 9, 2014


Yes but my cats love it.

Only when it's done to the dog.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 3:42 PM on November 9, 2014


I heart my Nitty Gritty. What's funny is that with all the new surge in vinyl, nobody is making a less expensive version. It's just a weak vac in a box.

Actually the Record Doctor V is a sort of cheapo version of the nitty gritty, at $200. It appears to be pretty wobbly and unsteady in the operation though.
posted by anazgnos at 12:45 AM on November 16, 2014


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