Cutting Records Out of CDs

3D Printed Record Lathe

Lovers of records rejoice! Did you know you can cut your own vinyl using something called a record lathe? [Beau Walker] just put the finishing touches on his 3D printed record lathe, and the results speak for themselves!

A Recording Lathe was once used for cutting records, and previously, wax cylinders – if you want to get really old school. [Beau], being an analog lover, decided he had to try making his own. He designed the whole thing in FreeCAD and got 3D printing. A single stepper motor drives the lead screw which moves the writing head back and forth as the record spins in place. As to not waste materials, he’s reusing old CD’s for his newly created vinyls. Two 25W speakers cause vibrations in the needle to cut into the disc, via a clever little mechanism.

The system works pretty well, but he wants to replace the turntable with another stepper motor for finer control of the recording — sometimes the turntable slows down during recording under load which messes up the sound. There’s a video of it in action on his site that we can’t embed here, so you should definitely go check it out!

Of course you could skip the middleman and go straight to 3D printing your records…

35 thoughts on “Cutting Records Out of CDs

  1. Ahhh!!! HaD flood! Maybe HaD can contact the author and ask that the video be posted to YouTube? That should relieve some of the stress on the home server.

  2. I Tried to to this a ways back, but had the same problem, I couldn’t get enough weight to cut good enough groves without loading the little motor.

    The stepper is a good Idea, I tried before I had any arduinos. I may try making a mini table using a stepper, arduino, and wood, that is custom made to fit CDs. Then make a cutting rig that plugs into a port on the back to interface with the arduino or something.

  3. I have a few computers here that are capable of recording on CDs. I think they do it a bit differently than what is being presented here though.

    1. This does seem to be a lower data density than the standard format, but I’d wager significantly less prone to “laser rot”.

        1. Back in the day everyone got used to the clicks, and pops on their records. It got so you knew when some scratches were coming up. I hate to say today that it was all part of it, but it was.

    2. You are correct! The CD recorder in your computer uses a rapidly pulsing laser moving at a constant angular velocity which heats and deforms a polymer ….. lol, I can’t do it.

      Just “having a laugh” at those that don’t seem to understand when someone is ‘having a laugh.” Actually, it kind of creeps me out in person, though.

  4. Wouldn’t a controlled DC motor be better than a stepper in the turn table? Steppers have “detents” unless you use true sine wave driving which are likely to show up in the recording.

  5. Using a decent turntable with enough torque should solve some problems… use a Technics 1210! There even is (or was) a commercial dubplate-cutting addon available that used the Tech12, called the Kingston.
    Nonetheless, VERY interesting! I can feel a winter project coming up…

  6. Good job, I am working myself on a similar project since a while. but not with stepper motors since they cause some vibrations… but this guy (and probably some others) did it before my …SH*T !!!!! :-)

    1. The label in a CD is where the data is, just a tiny fractional-millimetre under it. The clear side can take a certain amount of damage. There’s error correction, quite generous by modern standards, in there too.

      The issue is whether the cutting of a groove (again, quite wide compared to CD’s grooves) would interfere too much with the laser trying to pick up the pits on the CD. I’d guess yes, massively! Shame really cos it’s a great idea.

      Perhaps a hybrid. CDs are read from the centre, out. Vinyl from the outside in. So you could put both on a disk as long as they’re not overlapping too much.

      Also the minimum diameter, that is, how close the needle can get to the centre of the disk, is important, probably not enough to get to the centre.

      1. ^This^

        It has been done by Twig Harper and Carly Ptak of Nautical Almanac. Center of CD is digital recording, outer ring is lathe cut.

        1. Actually that’s inspired my next great thought on this… make an acetate record, and glue it to the top of a CD. Then don’t tell anybody, massive hidden track potential!

  7. I’m getting deja-vu more and more these days (or AM I?!?). But it makes it worse when HaD run the same article twice within a couple of months. Haven’t we done this just a little before? Or is it just me? I’m gonna have to start buying lottery tickets cos otherwise it means I can see into the future.

    Perhaps with so many new writers, who haven’t been reading the site so long, the site’s index system could do with an update, as well as proper training for the writers. Before you write an article, check you haven’t already got one from a couple of months ago!

    1. Even “worse”, the 2012 article embeds a youtube video uploaded in 2009. So this hack is already old enough for preschool.

  8. He needs to heat the cutting needle. That’s how lacquer masters were cut before they went to direct metal mastering.

    Google vinyl cd hybrid disc. There have been a few CDs made with one analog track for turntables on the label side. IIRC Spankox released one of their Elvis remix discs that way.

    Not to be confused with the faux record look discs, some have been pressed and Verbatim and at least one other company have CD-Rs with a ribbed black top coating. They don’t look right because the grooves are concentric instead of a spiral. Verbatim’s have all evenly spaced grooves. One of the other brands has it made to look like multiple tracks of various duration.

  9. Suggestion: Mixmasters (kitchen appliances) had a speed governor made from a weight that would swing out from the motor shaft in operation. When the mixer was under load, the motor would slow and the weight would start to drop.

    They hooked the weight to the throttle and presto: self regulating speed without the chunkyness of a stepper motor. Or, well…. hook the stepper up to some planetary gears to make the steps too small to be noticed. Either one.

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