Sunday, January 25, 2015

How to build a crate for shipping artwork

I have been asked by many artists why we build our own crates. "Isn't that hard?" they ask. Not really and building them yourself saves big on shipping costs and clients appreciate that.
 This post will show you every step involved in building a large wood crate for shipping. Its picture heavy and long, so grab a cup of coffee and take notes.

We buy the sheets of plywood at a big box store and have them cut it there. Be sure to know your measurements when you go. This crate is for a 36 x 36 canvas so the crate must be 40 x 40.

We also buy the side pieces (whiteboard) in the desired depth. This crate was for two canvases so its deeper than most.
It is super important to sand all of the edges. Splinters are no fun and you don't want your clients  with a big fat hunk of wood in their hands.

The tools aren't fancy, in fact, our saw horses are employed elsewhere so a large, sturdy box stands in.

We use two drills. One to drill a pilot hole for wood screws and one to screw in the screws but its fine to use just one. Pistols grip clamps are a must too.

These are the simple screws to buy.

Lets get started.

Use the miter box and saw to cut the side pieces. Important: Cut two pieces the full length of a side and two pieces smaller by the thickness of the board times 2. This will make the shorter pieces fit inside of the two longer ones. See photo below.

Remember to sand the edges.
Once the boards are cut place them flush with the edge of the first piece of plywood and clamp them in place.

Next you will need to drill two pilot holes so that you don't split the sides when you screw them together.

 Be sure to place the hole farther down than the length of the screw because you will be using another screw vertically later and they should not bump in to each other.

When you are finished it should look like this.  Now you are ready to attach the bottom board to the sides.Remember,  The plywood on the bottom is not attached to anything you are just using it to steady the sides.

Make sure the sides line up!

Clamp all of the pieces together and and drill pilot holes and screws about 12 inches apart.

We like to steer slightly to the side of the other screws just in case.
 You should have one flat side attached to the four side pieces. Flip it over and remove the clamps that held the other flat piece in place.Now you can pack the art.

Start with a single layer of peanuts.

 Add the wrapped artwork. You can see that there is little room around the edges. This allows a tight pack that keeps the work from moving around the the crate.

We pack the space very tightly with paper.

Then we add peanuts until the crate is very full. Important: The goal when packing anything for shipment is to keep it from rattling around during transit. Never skimp on packing material!

Now you are ready to close her up just like you did with the bottom piece.
Update from a question: I ship with UPS or Fedex. There is sometimes an extra fee for the crate as opposed to a cardboard box so it is helpful to call ahead and get a quote for the cost of shipping. Something this size usually costs less than $200 to ship. I often put my company label and an address on the crate but it is not necessary.

As you can see, some simple tools and a few screws are all you need to build a sturdy crate that will protect your artwork.

Read about shipping smaller pieces in cardboard HERE


Kristen @ Pursuing Vintage said...

That is SO involved! And I thought shipping porcelain was a pain... now it's all in perspective!

Donna Thibodeau said...

With the weight of the box shipping must be very expensive?

Breezy Pointe said...

I would love to know more about the next steps for shipment...what is your preferred method of shipment and what are the requirements for addressing and labeling, etc.

Karena Albert said...

Great tutorial Kerry. Much less expensive than hiring someone to crate your art for shipment. For anyone interested that would probably be another 150-200 or so plus the shipping fee.

New Feature Frederique Chemin

Segreto Finishes said...

Such a useful tutorial! Thanks so much for sharing!!
xo. Leslie
Segreto Finishes

bryan flake said...

I bet it is great that the store will cut the wood for you at the store. It seems like it would be ten times the work, to buy all the wood and have to cut and assemble it, just to be able to store your stuff in the crate. When a company knows that burden your process will bear and they help you a little extra, that is awesome.