Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, kitchen, garden, and out fishing. Many of his DIY projects are featured in his yard.
Display Your Favorite Album Cover Art
Classic albums aren't only about the music: Some of the most memorable records feature awesome album cover art to go along with great music. Abbey Road, Led Zeppelin, Who's Next, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Born to Run, Nevermind and Dark Side of the Moon are just a few of my favorite album covers. I spent hours reading through the lyrics and liner notes. Back in the days of vinyl LP records, the artists and record companies had a 12" x 12" palette for creative imagery to compliment the music—or in some instances, to shock their audience. Many album covers became iconic symbols of the musicians and the music business.
Sadly, for many of us, our prized collection of albums are relegated to the back of our closets. I decided to breathe new life into some of my favorite pieces of lost album cover art by displaying them in simple album cover frames. Making these frames is a quick and easy DIY project. And the frame opens easily to remove the record from the frame for putting onto the turntable. Hang the cover art on the wall, yet still listen to the music.
Here's how to make a simple album cover frame in about an hour.
How to Make an Album Cover Frame
The Cutting List
- Sides: 1-½" x ¾" straight grained wood (Qty = 4)
- Plexiglas: 13" x 13"
- Backer panel: 13" x 13"
The album frames can be made from any straight-grained wood that is free of knots. I choose poplar because is inexpensive, knot free, inexpensive and takes paint well. The local home center stocks pieces of poplar that are 1-½" wide x ¾" thick. A 5-foot length of poplar is enough wood to make an album cover frame and costs about $5.
Step 1: Rough cut the 1-½ x ¾" stock into 15-inch lengths. Each frame needs four pieces.
Step 2: Mill the rabbet.
The plexiglass panel fits into a groove that's cut into each of the side of the album cover frame. Known as a rabbet, this groove is cut easily using a table saw. Position the fence ½" from the blade. Then raise the blade 1" above the surface of the table. Using a push stick, position a piece on wood on its narrow edge and then run it through the saw. This will create a narrow, 1-inch deep slot.
Run all four pieces through the saw, making sure each section is run through on its narrow edge.
Step 3: Adjust the fence to ½" from the blade. Next, lower the blade to just ¼" above the table. Lay the stock flat on its wide edge, with the previously cut slot facing down on the table and positioned closest to the fence. Running the piece through the blade cuts away the waste piece, leaving a rabbet or groove. When assembled, the album cover and the plexiglass panel will fit into rabbet.
Step 4: Cut a 45-degree miter on one end of each piece, positioning the stock on its narrow edge. Carefully measure to make the second miter cut on the opposite end. The finished piece measures 13-1/16" long on the short side. Cut correctly, all four pieces will fit together to make a perfect square.
Time to Assemble
Step 5: Use glue and brads or small finishing nails to tack each of the corners together. Repeat on all four corners to complete the frame.
Step 6: Cut a backer board from a thin piece of plywood, Masonite or heavy cardboard. Trim the back section to fit snugly inside the frame. Cut a matching piece of clear Plexiglas.
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Step 7: Fill in the small nail holes with wood putty and lightly sand the frame smooth. Be sure to ease all of the corners with light passes of fine sandpaper. Spray several light coats of paint, allowing the final coat to dry thoroughly overnight.
Step 8: Mount the album cover into frame by placing the frame on its face and inserting the clear Plexiglas panel. Position the album cover against the Plexiglas, and then insert the backer board. Use small strips of wood as "stops" to hold the album cover in place, tacking the filler strips to the frame. The new album cover frame is ready for display.
To play the album, simply remove the small wooden stop blocks and remove the album from its frame.
Album Cover Frame Plans
"Then one day you find, ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun."
— Pink Floyd, Time
Before iTunes and CDs made vinyl records obsolete, music buffs had large collections of LP albums. Did you keep your album collection?
Album Cover Frame for 45 RPM Records
Just like the larger LP albums, the record companies packaged 45 RPM records in decorative sleeves featuring artwork and photos to promote sales. Today, many of these record sleeves are very valuable and highly collectible—and they just look great! Get these picture sleeves out of the closets and hang them on the wall along with your favorite album covers.
To make a display frame for 45 RPM records, cut your stock to the dimensions listed in the following 'Things You Need' section. Then, go back up to the 'Make an Album Cover Frame' section of this article and follow the instructions to make the album frame.
Things You Need:
- 1 ½ x ¾ inch straight-grained wood
- 8 x 8 inch piece of 1/8 inch Plexiglas
Use a clear, straight-grained wood such as maple, pine or poplar to construct the frames. Each side of the frame uses a piece 1½ inch wide x ¾ inch thick stock. Cut the 1 ½ x ¾ inch stock into 8 5/16 inch lengths.
45 RPM Record Display Frame Plans
"We learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school."
— Bruce Springsteen, No Surrender
Sometimes, you can judge the music by its cover!
Top 10 Iconic Rock Album Covers
"I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth."
— The Who, Substitute
How Much Are Your Old Albums Worth?
A Few Facts About Vinyl Records
Many believed that digital music would be the death of vinyl records but in spite of MP3 technology and streaming services, albums still enjoy a loyal following. Here are a few fun facts about records:
- Not all vinyl records are black. Records are pressed out different colored vinyl. More expensive and often harder to find, some audiophiles claim that records pressed from colored vinyl have a higher distortion and lower sound quality than traditional black vinyl.
- The first 12" vinyl record ever produced was a recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony
- Two records were launched into space in 1977 aboard Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. The discs were pressed in gold and protected by an aluminum sleeve. The recordings include songs by birds, whales and Chuck Berry.
- Store your albums vertically. Stacking albums are their sides can cause warping, and can damage the grooves in the albums at the bottom of the pile.
- One of the most expensive album ever sold: An early version of a Velvet Underground album sold for $25,000. Only one copy of this rare recording is known to exist.
- Vinyl is back. After falling to record low sales in 1993, vinyl album sales are back on the rise and continue to increase every year.
"Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, life goes on."
— The Beatles, Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da
Top 10 Greatest Best-Selling Albums of All Time
This short video features the music of the top 10 best-selling albums of all time, as compiled by WatchMojo.com. While you may not agree that these are the best albums of all time, the commentary adds interesting bits of information and the video clips are cool.
The list of the top 10 best-selling albums also brings back some great memories, and this might just be enough to inspire you to rescue some of those old LPs from the bottom of the closest, get a few album cover frames, and put the art work up on the wall. You'll be glad that you did.
Top 10 Greatest Best-Selling Albums of All Time
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Anthony Altorenna
Do you have a favorite album cover?
Mack on April 30, 2017:
Bob Seger - Against the Wind
Carol Houle from Montreal on February 28, 2014:
Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones. That nasty zipper on the cover has scarred other albums and even damaged the rear of it's own sleeve. Most memorable? The first time I saw the cow on the cover of a Pink Floyd album. I wondered 'A floyd is a cow? What's pink about it?' Ah to be so innocent.
anonymous on August 16, 2013:
MY BEST FRIENDS DAD, WHO OFTEN REFEREED TO ME AS 'COOL', PASSED ON..... AND I ACQUIRED 23 OF HIS 'MILES DAVIS' ALBUMS.... HOW COOL IS THAT...
Dancing Cowgirl Design from Texas on April 25, 2013:
This is a really neat idea for showing off old albums and 45's. It is also interesting to see what some of the old Beetle stuff is selling for on EBay. This is good stuff!
Shadrosky on January 16, 2013:
Almost anything by Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd were great...and fantastic lens idea!
gamecheathub on November 24, 2011:
Anything by Pink Floyd or Alan Parsons Project, original U2 pressings and the new Flaming Lips / Heady Nugs vinyl box is choice.
gamecheathub on November 24, 2011:
Vinyl has never really died and the punk/ska kids embraced the format and have been releasing really interesting music. One of the bands I work with is releasing a 10" ep on record store day, tomorrow. We are putting it out on purple vinyl. I dig colored vs. black, but 180 gram virgin is the best sounding, imo. Great lens + Cool ideas.
DianaPrice LM on September 29, 2011:
Stevie Nicks, Bella Donna. Oh how I love that witchy woman...hey, I need to make a lens about her!
JoshK47 on September 29, 2011:
Probably Sgt. Pepper or Rattle & Hum
anonymous on July 24, 2011:
I've always loved the Rod Stewart - Atlantic Crossing album cover.