I buy your granddad's tapes...where'd he used to store them?
February 21, 2015 3:21 PM   Subscribe

I have many of my own cassettes from the 80s and 90s and I enjoy thrifting for them, too. How should I store them?

My only option seems to be boxes ( that I'd have to keep sorted, and open/sift through to find what I want to hear) or a huge wooden wall rack. DIY sites show more things to make (lamps, ipod cases) by gutting the poor things than storage solutions. Back in the day I had only ~50 tapes which I kept inelegantly in shoeboxes and small crates. Now I have a hundred or so, and I am disheartened by the lack of accessible and attractive options.
posted by juniper to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
There used to be cases for them -- either little briefcase-like things that could hold maybe 20-ish or (usually three-drawer) stackable boxes that could hold maybe 50 or so. If you do a search for "cassette cabinet" onGoogle, you will get some images. I occasionally see both in thrift stores; I kind of doubt anyone is making them anymore.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:33 PM on February 21, 2015

Case Logic used to make them, looks like a few are on ebay, you'd have to hunt for what you want. Etsy has some options too.
posted by Wretch729 at 3:35 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding GenjiandProust, I'm most familiar with the 100-casette storage racks that look something like this, if you're interested in displaying them. Otherwise, the drawer/cabinet based ones are likely a good idea.
posted by thegears at 3:36 PM on February 21, 2015

Tape deteriorates. I hate to say it, but digitize it (pot, kettle, black) and save it that way.

Tape is so fragile, and often it's been chewed up pretty badly if the cassette has been played often.

That said, I have quite a few in Case Logic bags.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:51 PM on February 21, 2015

Tape is so fragile, and often it's been chewed up pretty badly if the cassette has been played often.

Compact Casette isn't a terrible format for longevity, but it's easily destroyed by bad environmental conditions or poorly-maintained or -adjusted players. Library of Congress guide on preservation.
posted by thegears at 6:14 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I guess it sort of depends on how you want to store them. On shelves, like books? In that case, one route is to take normal-height bookshelves and divide each shelf in half vertically into two shorter sub-shelves so you can put double as many cassettes on them. (The quick and dirty way to do this is with some 2x4 chunks for the verticals and some 1/4" ply for the horizontal shelf.) Or, for a nicer look, you could just get a bookshelf that has repositionable shelves via holes drilled into the verticals, and then go out and buy some extra boards and shelf pins and install more shelves. Putting a piece of wood along the back of the shelf so that cassettes can't get pushed back behind the others is generally a good idea.

There used to be big plastic freestanding tape racks, though they're a rare bird now. I'm not sure who made them, but there were both horizontally-oriented ones (I think they were 19" wide, made to sit under your tape deck in your HiFi setup perhaps) and vertically-oriented ones. You sometimes see people repurposing the horizontal ones made in the 70s for other purposes, because sometimes they were quite well-made. Some even had fold-down or roll-down doors to cover the tapes. In the 80s and 90s they tended to be plastic (like like this, although that exact item is actually for MiniDV) and although you might find one in a thrift store, I can't imagine where else.

The best cassette tape storage system I ever saw was in a studio, and it was a slightly DIY-looking arrangement consisting of wooden verticals (maybe 1x6" or so? probably ripped ply or MDF) and round dowels going between them which created horizontal 'shelves'... but what I remember was clever about it is that each boxed cassette only sat on two dowels. One supported the bottom, and another supported the back, and the cassette sat at a slightly leaned-back angle and somewhat miraculously didn't fall because gravity. (I thought at the time and for a while after that I'd build some for myself, but never did, and the same design doesn't work as well for CDs.) You could knock together a bunch of those for a few dollars worth of materials from Home Depot and have a lot of storage space. Basically something like this, but cassette-sized, and with two horizontal dowels per shelf.

Incidentally, the absolute enemy of polyester tapes (which includes most cassette tapes) is humidity. Heat is also bad, as is sunlight. But keeping the environment cool and dry will substantially extend their lifespan.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:18 PM on February 21, 2015

My dad's 80s-vintage stereo cabinet had long drawers shaped specifically to hold about 25 tapes each.
posted by town of cats at 12:37 PM on February 22, 2015

The kind I found most convenient was the long drawer type. Typically they can be alphabetised this way and the front of the drawer marked with the letter array inside the drawer.
posted by urbanlenny at 11:18 AM on February 23, 2015

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