How to...
Get it there
in ONE piece


First off, we need some materials.
Corrugated board, masking tape, filament tape, box sealing tape, frame corner protectors, banding film, and 1” thick expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. This product is readily available in many sizes through any packaging supplier.

Why not just get a big box, put your piece in and dump some “popcorn” in for padding? Two reasons…first, when (if) the piece arrives at it’s destination, all the popcorn has settled to the bottom and has been totally ineffective for most of the journey.  Secondly, the dreaded “oversize” category can creep up on you quickly.
Exceeding the guidelines for regular parcel measurements can easily have you paying 150 pound rates for a 25 pound package if you‘re not careful.  For regular shipping rates to apply (with UPS), packages can be up to 165 inches in length and girth combined (length = longest side, girth = width x2 + height x2).

The beauty of the custom box lies in it’s ability to protect the contents, while keeping the parcel’s overall size to a minimum.

Our patient for the box doctor today is an oversize $1000 bill with poker chips and cards destined for Chicago.  The outer dimension (O.D.) of the frame is 26’ X 48”.  Note… If your item to be shipped requires glazing, and you have the option to use acrylic instead of glass, do so.
Keep in mind that all the little precautions add up to a  successful outcome.


1). Inspect, clean and do your final touch-up’s.

2). Use some thin foam or small bubble wrap on your frame corners (under the corner protectors) to avoid any marring, sometimes caused by the protectors themselves.

3). Secure corner protectors onto your frame with banding film, more commonly known as “stretch tape”.  If you don’t have this product, GET SOME.  Stretch tape not only holds your corner protectors on, it protects the frame finish, allows you to bundle mouldings or spacers in the shop, holds problem corners together while glue is drying,  helps keep length moulding from warping, plus a million other uses.

4). Measure the outer dimension of your piece.  Our project including the corner protectors is 26 ½ x 48 ½.

5).Cut 2 pieces of cardboard that are 2 ¼ inches larger all around than your piece i.e. 28 ¾  x 50 ¾.

6). Use the cardboard as a stencil to cut your 1” thick foam pieces.  These can be scored with a sharp blade and snapped or broken off since your blade will not cut completely through. 

7). Tape the cardboard(s) to the foam(s) using masking tape.

These are the front and back pieces of your box. 
Put them aside for now.

8). Measure the thickness or height of your piece (our example is 1 ½” high). 

Cut cardboard pieces that are the height by whatever your longest side is. 

We will be using 2 pieces that are 1 ½” x 50 ¾”.   These are your 2 long sides. Repeat step 6 with these pieces.

9). Place both of the sides on the edge of the back. 
Measure the distance needed to get to the opposite outer edge. 

Cut cardboard to that length by the same height as before (1 ½“ Our example requires 2 pieces at 1 ½” x 26 ¼” to make the short sides.  Repeat step 6 again with these.

10). Using masking tape, secure all sides to the bottom piece by coming from the bottom up and over the sides. Also tape horizontally around the corners.  This will leave you with a self contained shell that your piece will fit into.

11), Lay your piece in the opening and pray that you don’t see it again (most important part this project).

12). Put your top piece on, and this time with filament tape, come from the bottom, up and over the top.

Re-enforce your corners horizontally also with the filament tape.

13). Using the box sealing tape, cover the filament tape making sure to extend over the ends. If there is a weak point in this project, it will be that the filament tape tends to give way starting at the ends, with dust on the cardboard or
temperature and humidity changes generally to blame. 
Completely covering the filament tape with box sealing tape
 will alleviate this problem.

14). Apply box sealing tape to every place you see foam meeting cardboard all around. This will seal up the box nicely, protect the contents from the elements and add a final bit of re-enforcement.

15). Using a black marker, make a line all around the box where the top foam meets the side cardboard.  Make a reference on the box that says… “To open: Cut along black line only”.  When the black line is cut, the top will be easily removed, leaving the contents face up, and the rest of the box intact.

Packing multiple pieces with several layers or levels inside your box is also easy.  The height of the sides simply needs to reflect the total height of all layers to be included.  Cardboard is fine for the layering and actually adds stability to the box shell.  To layer pieces, refer to #1,2 and 3 above and measure the outside of your largest piece. This will determine the box length and width.

Cut cardboard layers that are 1/8” smaller than the box opening to accommodate the appropriate number of pieces to be included.  Fit the smaller pieces on each layer like a puzzle and fill the empty spaces of each layer with scrap EPS.  The goal here is two fold, first, to keep the pieces from moving on each layer and secondly, to make each layer as “level” as possible within the confines for the box shell.

Stack all the required layers on top of one another and get your height measurement for the box sides, then go to #8 above and have at it.  When finished, all the layers inside make this box virtually crush-proof.  

We have clients that re-use our custom boxes for traveling art exhibits.  Some boxes have been back and forth across country 3 or 4 times, housing 10+ pieces of art with the boxes weighing in excess of 90lbs each.  Now that’s a box!

We have shipped up to 60 X 90 X 15 using the above guidelines without any problems.
The 1” EPS version (described above) is fine for pieces up to about 40 pounds. When you get into the 50-90lb range, you will need to increase the layers used on your sides, and replace all cardboard mentioned with Gatorboard or equivalent. Regular white foam-core can always be substituted for cardboard when “pretty is pertinent” and further towards that end, don‘t forget the white filament tape instead of cream.

United inch pricing of length + width + height times $1.25 is the current rate for building a box that houses one piece.
More than one piece can be shipped in the same box for an additional charge.

Best of luck to you all and… happy boxing.


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