Prison Break: An Easy Step-By-Step Guide To Crack Cards Out Of Their Plastic Cases (BGS, PSA, ITG Slabs, etc)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to escape from prison? I sure haven't, but some of my hockey cards have.
Luckily for those cards of yours, I get to help them out today with an easy step-by-step blog post on how to crack your cards out of these hard plastic cases. I've used this method on multiple types of card casings, so wether it's a BGS / PSA grading slab, or an In The Game (ITG) slab that was used in the making of this post, you'll be able to free your cards in no time at all.
So lets dive in and get started!
I've always wanted to make a blog post containing step-by-step instructions on how to crack open a slab to free the card of your dreams. I have missed the boat a few times to write that post, as I've broken just about every slabbed card out of it's plastic case, but this week I was reminded once again why I crack open my slabs.
The other day, I found myself going through some card boxes, and as I was flipping through the very few graded cards I own, I stumbled upon this sweet 10-11 In The Game BTP He Shoots He Saves Triple Memorabilia card (Numbered 5/20) featuring Ryan Miller, Patrick Lalime and Jhonas Enroth.
This card was a 2010-11 ITG He Shoots He Saves Program redemption prize card (Collectors could collect 200 Redemption Points and redeem it for very limited memorabilia cards not circulated in packs) that was successfully redeemed many years ago and eventually found it's way into my collection after I acquired it from a fellow Enroth collector a while back. I absolutely adore this card, and while I knew I had always owned it, I haven't actually given it a good look for a long time, as it's been stashed away inside a shoe box all this time.
Now I'm going to briefly explain why I like breaking slabs in the first place.
A lot of collectors swear by them, and while I agree that if card protection is your number one priority, or you're planning to resell the card later, keeping the card in its original slab is the way to go. When you go to resell it, the card will have a better chance at obtaining a high resale value, due to the card being with the original packaging (in this case, the slab) that accompanies the card, and it also puts collectors at ease when talking about authenticity, especially if it's a high-dollar card you're looking into selling or receiving for your personal collection.
For cards in my own personal collection, I know 100% that these cards aren't going anywhere. They are here to stay. Since I'm the sole owner of these cards, I would like to display them how I choose. In my recent post about How I Store My Card Collection, you can probably see why I prefer to break open these card slabs. I have over 90% of my collection in 9-pocket binder pages. It might seen crazy to some, but this system works very well for me.
In short, I am able to easily access most of my cards in one go and I can view them very easily. That's a win-win in my books.
The Card: 2010-2011 ITG Between The Pipes: He Shoots - He Saves (ITG HSHS Program Redemption Exclusive) Miller, Lalime, Enroth 5/20
The Mission: To Free This Card From Its Plastic Prison
Step 1: Gather the correct supplies
Supplies are super important for slab cracking. Here's what you'll need:
Step 2: Shimmy, Shimmy, Shimmy
Using your flatehead screwdriver, carefully drive the screwdriver into the bottom of the case. I like using the corner of the screwdriver's head, as I feel the sharp edge is perfect for penetrating between the plastic edges of the case.
You can usually see where the case splits at the bottom, so that is where you'll aim for. After getting the screwdriver into the case, shimmy the screwdriver back and forth along the bottom of the case. You'll probably need to do this a few times.
Slow and steady wins the race here.
Step 3: Continue to carefully split apart the bottom of the case
After following the step above a few times, you should notice the bottom of the case starting to split apart. If you aren't maybe try applying a little more force so you can get the screwdriver into the bottom of the case a little more to make a greater impact.
You also might see tiny pieces of plastic fall off from scraping the screwdriver along the bottom a few times. This is why we have the paper there to catch any small plastic bits that may flake or crack off during this process. This slab cracked open nicely, so I didn't have any mess to clean up this time around.
Step 4: Pick a corner, any corner
Once you've cracked open the case along the bottom, pick a bottom corner and carefully push down on the screwdriver's handle so the flathead can drive upwards and crack the case up and open it even more.
I recommend using a corner to do this so if you accidently apply too much pressure, the force will be directly into a corner, not straight up the middle and potentially scraping your card. After applying a little force, the case should be split open wide enough to give yourself an opening to remove the card from the case.
Just breath and go slow. You've got this.
Step 5: Remove the card... CAREFULLY!
Now comes the most important part of your mission: Once you've cracked open the slab wide enough... carefully remove the card.
I cannot stress the careful part enough. Although I cracked open the case wide enough, and I wouldn't think the case could ever clamp down with enough force to damage a card, the risk is always there at this step, even dropping the card can happen. So be careful.
Also, have that penny sleeve ready to go once the card is completely out.
Step 6: Admire your handy work
Congratulations! You've successfully removed your card from it's plastic prison! Now take the time to admire your "new" card in all it's glory... you've earned it! It wasn't THAT scary, was it?
For those wondering, yes, the case is unharmed during this process. In fact, if I wanted to, I can insert the card back into it's case and snap it shut again. It may not be 100% secure like it was before, but it's still an option in case I decide to display these cards in the future in a display case or something, which is why I (usually) keep the slabs I crack open, and will do the same with this 10-11 ITG Between The Pipes He Shoots - He Saves card slab.
Finally out of it's plastic prison cell!
Home at last!
...And finally, here's a scan of the card up close & personal:
Pretty awesome, right?
I've now went back into my site and swapped out the old scan for this new and improved image(you can check it out on this page) . As an added bonus, having your cards free from any plastic casing can make for some great card images when showcasing your own collection online - which is something I love to do with my collection!
Do you have any tips for cracking cards out of their prisons? Or do you prefer to leave them encased? Why or why not?
Author - Aaron
I've been collecting Hockey cards since the late 90's. Mainly the goalies since 2005. I also Co-Host a Hockey Card Podcast.
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