Shipping Woodshop Products

Woodshop business owners discuss the ins and outs of packing, shipping, and damage claims. October 13, 2005

I have just shipped an end table to the other coast, a commission. It arrived in rather more pieces than when it left my hands. I built a crate of a type that I have used before with success - strong, firm, etc. I will make a claim on the insurance I specified from the shipper and we will see what happens with that. I got a quote via email from Craters & Freighters of $317.

The cost was $100 for the crate (my charge) and about $50 to the shipper. What would everyone else do? Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor L:
Depending on the size, I usually use old trunks from the second hand/recycle store. The cost is generally less expensive than materials and you may need to add new handles.

From contributor S:
I have only shipped things a few times, but I have always built my own crates out of 3/4" CDX with 2x4 skids on the bottom. Most things I've shipped have been small so I make a five sided box with a top that screws on. I assemble the box with a finish gun and 1 1/2" nails and glue.

Then I go back and screw it every 4-6" with 1 1/4" quick screws. After assembly I caulk the joints on the inside of the crate and put a bead of caulking on the top and screw the top on. The caulking may not be necessary, but it doesn't take long to do.

When packing the items I wrap the piece in bubble wrap first, then shrink wrap it. If more padding is needed I use packing peanuts or blankets (usually just peanuts will do.) When I shipped chairs I screwed a cross support on the inside of the crate so the chair had a support on each side of the back. I shipped six chairs to Tokyo from San Francisco using the above method a couple of years ago and they arrived in perfect condition.

From contributor T:
I'm in the Midwest and have shipped pieces to both coasts using a blanket wrapped carrier (Nationwide). It's more expensive than a common carrier, but shipping is charged to the customer over and above the cost of the piece. I also don't have any labor in crating and the customer gets the piece delivered into their home unwrapped and ready to go.

From contributor B:
There is a critical thing you can do to ensure your product arrives in one piece. Write on the bill of lading DO NOT STACK, TOP LOAD ONLY. The BOL is your contract; the driver signs it agreeing not to stack on the crate. Do not stack stickers from the carrier. Put them all over the crate. If you can't get stickers use the trusty Sharpie.

Your strong crate is a tempting target to load on. If you don't tell them not to stack they will. We ship every day all over the country in a crate made from cardboard and 2x4's and have a very low damage rate. We also get paid when one is crushed. We use cardboard pyramids that say do not stack. You have to crush the pyramid to stack on our crates.

From contributor G:
I ship product nationwide, and I don't care what you put on the skid - they don't care. Trucking companies make their money by filling up the truck. If they can put a skid or pallet on top they will.

I have waited four months for my claim and I was told that they are only liable for $.50 a pound. Do not get rid of the damaged skid/pieces. They expect you or your customer to hold on to the pieces till they are ready to look at them. And by all means – do not pay the invoice on damaged freight from the shipping company. I totally agree with Contributor T - I also started using a moving company. That’s the only way to move cabinets and furniture.

From contributor B:
To contributor G: I ship thousands of delicate products in large crates every year and have a very small damage rate. I can ship a 96 x 48 x 30 crate anywhere in the country for less then $150. If it gets wrecked they pay. How much is the furniture service?

From contributor C:
To contributor B: LTL and just about every other way bases charges on weight, not size. 96 x 48 x 30 is a big crate, and I can see how you could make it weigh a lot. I don't ship out but have to pay collect on incoming on crates of cabinet doors from 1,100 miles away. A crate that size filled up would cost me $500.

From contributor B:
To contributor C: You are correct. Our products are light, and we are 110-180#'s, freight class 100.

From contributor D:
We ship some pieces of furniture, small side tables, consoles, entertainment centers etc. At first the freight companies were beating the pieces to death. We now have nearly a 100% safe arrival rate. We purchase all our packaging supplies from

Here's what we do:
1st: Wrap the piece with 1/8" thick foam from 36" or 48" rolls.
2nd: Add corner and edge protectors, throw scrap cardboard on top.
3rd: Stretch wrap with 18" stretch plastic.
3rd: Build “cap" like crates - one for the bottom, one for the top. They are 4 sided, about 4" tall with (2) 4" stretchers each. The top of the furniture piece is the largest and determines the size for both caps.
4th: Bend 275 lb cardboard (from 4x8 sheets) around the sides stapling into the crate "caps" at top and bottom. We now have our furniture boxed.

5th and most important. We recycle old shipping crates and use steel bands to strap our box to the pallet. You don’t want the handlers to be tempted to use anything but pallet jacks and fork lifts. I've asked the drivers and they all like the way we package. I want to make their job easy. The pallet also helps keep taller pieces from tipping and creates a distance barrier around the piece.

6th: Label "fragile" etc. and mark shipping paper work to match. No, it will not keep them from driving a fork into it but it will give you a better leg up when you do have a claim. It was $1200 worth of packaging material and equipment when we started but it was well worth it.