Crating Furniture for Shipment

The voice of experience on how to ship custom furniture. June 8, 2008

Hi folks, I have a question regarding shipping. I’ve had many requests over the years to do so; however it never seems to happen. I’m wondering if you guys do your own creating or farm that out. I once had a piece shipped back to me for repair - UPS in bubble wrap and cardboard. My concern is the added price to the client.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor G:
That's where the "plus shipping and handling" kicks in.

From contributor P:
You didn't say what size objects you're shipping but if it's anything large, go on and use a company that only does high-value freight. At any rate, stick with a company that does high-value exclusively. They're used to handling extremely valuable and oftentimes fragile items. A company like this is used to coming to your door, blanket-wrapping or crating objects and transporting these sorts of things. A regular LtL or general freight truck isn't going to have all the stuff on the trailer to accommodate this sort of freight and the drivers probably won't have the experience in hauling delicate items that can be scratched easily.

Just as an example, I hauled multi-million dollar museum and private furniture collections, paintings worth millions, irreplaceable antiques and all sorts of other stuff. You can even request temperature controlled if need be. This sort of freight is a bit more pricey than general, general LtL or your UPS type of freight.

From contributor J:
I've shipped several pieces of furniture, none extremely large, via FedEx and truck. One was a small wine cabinet that went to France. I built fitted crates from 3/8" CDX and furring strips, lined with insulation foam, and with scrap cotton fabric between the foam and furniture to prevent scratching or sticking. Every door, drawer and shelf has been immobilized somehow. I have yet to have a problem.

From contributor W:
I ship probably 80% of my benches, stools and chairs. I worked with a local box company to design the three boxes that cover 95% of the work I do. The first box is designed for UPS type shipping of light benches and disassembled (designed that way) chairs weighing less than 45 lbs. Second is a variation for larger benches up to 60 lbs.

The third is for LTL freight shipping of pairs of dinning room chairs, rockers, etc. weighing up to 125 lbs. It is all corrugated but with quadruple walls, inch thick blocks top and bottom and internal bracing. The internal bracing allows for almost 500 lbs to set on top. The idea being that there are no places on the outside to be grabbed or snagged and when it is shipped it is put on a palette by the freight company (I use Overnight Express which is owned by UPS now).

Internally, I wrap all pieces with shrink wrap and then make my own packing 'bags' by strip shredding all our junk mail and stuffing in plastic grocery bags tied closed. The box sizes are such that there is about 2 to 4 inches between the piece and box walls - that being the UPS/DHL/FedEx rules.

No problems ever over the 9 years of this approach. I also pay for the extra insurance (part of the Shipping/Handling cost to the customer). Within a 400 mile radius I will deliver charging the going mileage rates paid to contract over-the-road drivers. I have even done that for a customer that required a 3000 mile round trip.

From contributor M:
I spent 14 years in the moving business. Customers used to ask me questions about how to pack things all the time. The answer is to pack it so that whatever dummy handles it can't wreck it. I've shipped thousands of items USPS and the only time I've ever had a problem was one time when a mailman ran over a carton.

I ship everything surrounded by Styrofoam peanuts. They cost me about $13 for a 5' tall bag, but they save postage because your carton will be lighter. Another thing, if you pack a carton, crate or whatever, and it looks like it's been packed with care, the customer is less likely to start looking for problems.