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Sometimes you get a card back from grading that you’re just not happy with…
Perhaps it’s an inexplicably low grade.
Perhaps it’s an annoying 8.5 grade.
Or perhaps you’re a savvy buyer and picked up a slab you think will regrade higher.
Whatever your motive, sometimes as collectors we have to get a bit industrious and crack open slabs!
Which is exactly what I’m going to teach you to do.
In this step-by-step guide I’ll show you real examples from PSA, Beckett and CGC of me cracking slabs – and how I recovered the cards safely for regrading.
Let’s get into it!
Equipment You’ll Need to Crack Your Slabs
- Heavy Duty Straight Cut Snips
- Flat Headed Screwdriver
- Protective Goggles
- A Plastic Bag
- Penny Sleeves & Semi-Rigid Card Holders At The Ready
- Your Graded Cards You Want To Crack!
How to Crack Open a Graded Card Slab
Step 1 – Preparation
Before we start cutting, get your eye protection on.
Put your graded card inside the plastic bag – this is to catch all the little pieces of plastic, and to stop them shooting off.
Step 2 – Start At The Top Corner
Take your heavy duty snips and carefully apply some force to cut away a corner.
Once you’ve made your first cut, you’ll get a feel for exactly how much pressure is needed to cut through the plastic.
FYI – we’re purposely cutting the top of the slab, to keep away from the card itself.
Step 3 – Keep Cutting Across The Top of The Slab
Continue cutting the slab making your way across the top. This will weaken the seal of the entire slab.
Step 4 – Cut The Other Corner
Cut away the other corner, so the whole top of the slab is now open and exposed. This is what we’re going to use for leverage.
Step 5 – Insert Your Screwdriver
Next put your flat headed screwdriver inside the slab. Try to keep it away from the actual card as much as possible.
Now turn the screwdriver to force the front and back of the slab to come apart.
You may find that the label comes out at this point. Just put it to the side.
Step 6 – Separate The Slab
The slab may come apart from the screwdriver twist alone, or you may need to use your fingers to pull it apart.
Be careful of any sharp edges.
Step 7 – Collect Your Card
Once apart, you should be able to carefully lift your card out.
Step 8 – Sleeve Up Your Card Quickly
This step is crucial.
Get your card into a penny sleeve and semi rigid as fast as possible.
There’s going to be lots of pieces of sharp plastic about that could damage it and compromise this whole process.
Step 9 – Breathe a Sigh of Relief
You’re done – great job!
Step 10 – Send Your Label Back
It’s always best practice to send your label back to the grading company. This means they can update their population reports and keep them accurate for everybody. Lower populations benefit you, so please make sure you do this step.
Advice for Cracking Open Beckett Slabs
In this example below you’ll see this Topps Charizard got an annoying 8.5 grade.
I think by resubmitting to PSA it’s capable of getting a 9.
But, Beckett slabs are notoriously thick, so I was a bit concerned about how easy it would be to open.
Although I had to put in a bit more force (compared to the PSA slab), the same technique that I detail above worked.
Interestingly though, once out of the slab, the card itself was encapsulated in another piece of plastic – thicker than a penny sleeve, and sealed on each side.
I very carefully cut open one of the edges.
Keeping a cool head and steady hand was vital here!!
I was then able to slide the card out, and Charizard was free.
Advice for Cracking Open CGC Slabs
In my opinion, CGC have the best designed slab in the business.
The rounded edges and crystal clear plastics mean they are visually very impressive.
But, their .5 sub-grades can be really frustrating!
I’m in the process of collecting the 1997 Japanese Team Rocket Holos – all in a PSA 10 – which is why I wanted to break this card out of its slab.
It think it’s got a great chance of grading a 10 with PSA.
Anyway, as soon as I started to cut into the corner, I could tell this would be tricky.
Although the Beckett slab feels thicker, it was actually the CGC one that was hardest to break out.
With even more force that the previous two slabs, I worked away at the top, breaking through the borders.
It took a little more time, but eventually the card was out. But just be prepared to go at CGC slabs with plenty of force!
A Word of Warning
I’ll update this post when these cards have been through the grading process at PSA, but I wanted to finish with a few final words of warning before you start cracking slabs willy-nilly!
Most of the time, great care goes into card grading by these companies.
I’m not saying they don’t make mistakes – believe me, I’ve seen plenty over the years!
But, they are the professionals, not us.
It of course costs money every time you grade and then regrade, which can sometimes even negate any value added by scoring higher second time round.
I can definitely see the potential in crossing over slabs between companies – especially when you get half grades like 8.5 which can devalue the potential of the card.
But when resubmitting to the same company, you better be darn sure they’ve made a mistake not you!
For example, the 1st Edition Shadowless Machamp that got a PSA 6. I’ve inspected this card thoroughly and I just can’t see how it isn’t at least a 9! So I’m going for it.
Anyway, best of luck with your breakouts, and remember, take huge card not to damage your cards!
Disclaimer: This article is purely for informational purposes only! This is not advice. You are responsible for what you do with your cards!