Shipping Success Stories and Horror Stories

Sometimes, when you ship your products, they get broken. Sometimes they don't. June 13, 2011

I need to ship a shoe bench from CA to NYC. Its weight is 73 lb, dimensions are 42" W x 19" D x 17" H. We ship ready-to-assemble furniture via UPS/FedEx. I've started searching for shipping companies who are specialized in shipping high value, small furniture in small volumes.

Also, I'd like to know about the packing methods by these shipping companies. Would crating work better than blanket wrapping in minimizing possible damage?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor J:
I've shipped delicate furniture from California to Ohio, and from Ohio to France, via UPS and FedEx. Each time I built a box from 3/8" CDX plywood with furring strip stiffeners/corners on the outside of the box. Furring strips were secured with short drywall screws driven through the plywood, out into the stiffeners. I then hot-glued strips of pink or blue insulation foam to the insides of the box at key points to support the furniture pieces. Everything was immobilized inside the box - doors and drawers held shut, etc.; the boxes were sized for a snug fit. I also used a layer of cotton fabric (typically old sheets and pillowcases) to protect the furniture from the foam, lest it stick or abrade. It might be overkill, but it has worked well for me.

From contributor H:
There is a company called Craters and Freighters that does a good job. Also, Plycon Van Lines is a blanket wrap service that is very good. Don't send anything valuable FedEx Freight, ever.

From contributor A:
I had a lovely little cabinet that I shipped from FL to CA. I built a custom shipping box for it, really carefully padded it, insured it and then shipped it FedEx. Using the tracking number, I wondered why it got stuck at the depot in CA. I called and found out they had dropped, run over, and basically completely destroyed the piece... It was unbelievable. The crate was like Ft. Knox. They then tried to deny the insurance claim. Maybe I'm naive, but I was shocked, horrified and very upset that I had to tell my client that the piece they had waited patiently for was firewood.

I made another and used Craters and Freighters. I'm very thankful that I insured the piece and they finally paid. Craters and Freighters were awesome.

From contributor H:
Wow, that's too bad about your cabinet. I'm not surprised though. I shipped a machine, a nearly 100 year old letter press printer, with them. It didn't even make it onto the truck because the guy left it on the pallet jack on the lift gate, and guess what? It rolled right off. None of the cast iron broke, so the buyer still wanted it. She found a shop that could do the repairs. It got out halfway across country, changed trucks to go to its new home, and the driver didn't bother strapping it in, and it fell over and broke into many pieces. They didn't fight that insurance claim.

From the original questioner:
Thank you so much for sharing these tips and horrible stories. We, too, had one piece of furniture completely destroyed by UPS. They blamed us initially, but at the end they paid for it. I believe either my box was dropped or was crashed into by a heavier box at a UPS facility.

Because of the experience, I was looking into different avenues. But the more I think about it, Id use UPS again. Blanket wrapping and crating may not protect the lower portion of the furniture. And UPS disappointed me only once so far.

This time Id fortify it with more cushions, taking suggestions from you and a local furniture maker. Instead of one, I'd use two boxes, both lined with 1 Styrofoam on all of the six sides. The smaller box will be placed in the larger box, which is just big enough for Styrofoam on all sides. Wed place the piece wrapped with a soft cloth in the smaller box, and fill any space in the box with more Styrofoam and bubble wrap. Even with this packing improvement, the piece will not survive harsh movement, but neither blanket wrapping/crating will.

From contributor H:
I was told once by Plycon, when shipping blanket wrapped from Chicago to New York, that a cup of coffee would not spill in the back of their air ride equipped trucks.

From contributor C:
Aside from the packaging aspects, buy a cheap digital camera. Take a couple pics of the product being packaged, then again once it is loaded on the truck.

From contributor G:
Clark Reid is quite good. They even assemble.