Mailing 7" records?
April 17, 2006 7:29 AM   Subscribe

I am selling several rare 7" records on ebay. Since a few of them look like they will sell for $30-$80, I am am now concerned about how to best protect them when I mail them out. Can I cut out cardboard and use bubble wrap or should I purchase boxes specifically made for 45s? Any tips would be appreciated...
posted by toddst to Grab Bag (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my experience, the best way to mail out a 45rpm record is to wrap it in bubble wrap and stick it in a small, sturdy pizza takeout box.
posted by The White Hat at 7:53 AM on April 17, 2006

Use boxes. I used to work at a Mailboxes Etc (now UPS Store). UPS rules for breakable items are 2" of padding on each side of the item. So if you have a 7" disk that is flat, you need a 11 x 11 x 4 box to be up to snuff. Use a 200-lb test box, and pack it firmly so that if you stand on it, it doesn't significantly deform.

A package that isn't packed according to these rules may well be denied a claim if the contents break. Not sure of USPS rules, but I suspect they're about the same. Realistically speaking, you could get away with less obsessive packing 95% of the time, but it's that 5% you've got to worry about. I still would use boxes rather than flexible mailers + cardboard backers no matter what.

If you ship multiple records in one box, I'd recommend binding them together (with butcher paper and tape or something) before putting them in the box.
posted by adamrice at 7:56 AM on April 17, 2006

adamrice-Thanks for the info. I was leaning towards simply using cardboard before I posted this so I am glad that I asked. white hat - That is a great tip. There is a restaurant supply shop near my house so I will pick up a few pizza take out boxes--so much more convenient and cheaper than ordering the boxes that are made for records.
posted by toddst at 8:01 AM on April 17, 2006

Tape it to a piece of wood. Light hardboard (masonite or whatever it is called in the US) is cheap and inflexible. Wrap the record in tissue or in a throwaway protective sleeve, then carefully tape it direct onto a similarly sized piece of wood, then wrap in strong paper or put it in a box. The tape won't touch the record sleeve. I've sent plenty this way, slightly more expensive, but almost impossible to break. A pizza box will just crumble under pressure and bubble wrap does nothing to keep a flat, fragile object intact. Depends on how rare and valuable the record though.
posted by fire&wings at 8:17 AM on April 17, 2006

I used to buy and sell vinyl back in the day. Four pieces of thick corrugated[*] cardboard (two for each side), slightly bigger than the record, then duct-taped to form a solid brick, worked just fine for me. If I had bubble wrap, I'd wrap the cardboard brick with that too (more duct tape), and stick it in a padded mailing envelope. Or wrap with a brown grocery bag.

[*] Ask at a grocery store. Sometimes the produce department had really good thick boxes they'd let me have.

(If your auctions last much longer, you may be shipping during warmer weather. During the summer, ship overnight if possible so the record doesn't sit in some hot truck or warehouse for days on end.)

Also, some old vinyl is significantly thicker than "modern" vinyl, and holds up surprisingly well during shipping or, say, dropping a whole box down the stairs when moving...:-/
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:11 AM on April 17, 2006

Vinyl records are not that fragile, really. When I ship lp's, I'm more concerned that the cover won't get bumped or bent. Record mailers like these with the pads are really all you need. Pack with the pad's corrugation at a right angle to the corrugation of the box. This is what most record dealers use, including retailers who deal with rarities. The cost might easily be worth it, since you'll have the supplies you need at hand and won't have to go scrounging. I you've got something you want to me really careful with (like a 78), wrap the mailer in bubble wrap and put it in another box.

I make my mailers--I've got access to tools and cardboard at work. I've shipped over a hundred records, and never had a problem.

Oh, and don't ship with the record inside the original sleeve and cover, since a little slipping could result in splits. If the sleeve matters, use a new one and put everything in a poly sleeve. And write "Fragile--Do Not Bend" on the outside.

Here's an ebay forum thread about shipping records. They have recommened retailers besides Bags Unlimited, which apparently can be a little expensive.
posted by hydrophonic at 9:34 AM on April 17, 2006

In the UK amazon still sell new vinyl, they ship in cardboard sleeves designed for the job, but the post office still manage to bend them. I would go with the box/bubble wrap.
posted by Lanark at 10:40 AM on April 17, 2006

I've received records mailed in the folder-style mailers that hydrophonic linked that have had dented corners, so beware if you choose that method.
posted by mikeh at 10:51 AM on April 17, 2006

These tips are good, eventhough there are no perfect methods. FedEx boxes seem really strong so I think that I am going to blend the methods and break down some Fed Ex Boxes and put 2 layers on each side of the record, wrap that in bubble wrap, and then cut down a free Priority Mail box, and put the records in there, making sure that it is tightly packed.
posted by toddst at 11:39 AM on April 17, 2006

The USPS offers Priority Mail boxes for "free" because the cost is included in the price of the shipping. Using them for other purposes is tantamount to theft, in their eyes. Same goes for FedEx.

Are you shipping media mail? Be aware that media mail is sometimes inspected, and the post office won't take too kindly to someone misappropriating their boxes. Plus, this will peeve off some of your buyers, as they might be old hands at ebay and will care about the rules. Of course, if you're shipping priority mail, USPS won't care.
posted by hydrophonic at 12:34 PM on April 17, 2006

hydrophonic--your point is good. Honesty always gets the better of me... I actually found a ton of old binders at my work that were about to be thrown away. I am going to take them apart and use those to secure the records and then I will send them via Priority Mail using USPS boxes.
posted by toddst at 1:32 PM on April 17, 2006

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