How to Build a substantial Shipping Crate For Stained Glass
To ship a piece of glass, it needs to be crated and well protected. We build a crate around every piece of glass which we ship. It needs to be a custom fit so that the glass can be adequately protected. The pictures that go with the article are of us building a crate for an 18″ by 30″ window. We use the same techniques when crating bigger windows.
We start by laying out a piece of 1″ thick, stiff foam insulation which can be bought at a home improvement center.
Then we lay the stained glass piece to be shipped on the foam. I align two side of the glass with the edges of the foam.
Using a utility knife, I score the foam along the two edges of the foam that need to be trimmed.
I then break the foam at the score line by lining the score on the edge of the table and firmly pressing both ends. It really makes a popping sound which will scare the cat or any small children in the area.
Then I line up the resized insulation and cut an identical piece using the cut foam as a template. While I’m cutting foam, I cut several strips the width of a two by four.
Here we have the “foam, glass, foam sandwich, ready for some wood crating.
Here is the “sandwich” and two of the 2 x 4 sized pieces of foam for the edges.
I put the foam edges around the sandwich so I can take measurements for the 2 x 4’s I need.
Here you can see the sandwich, surrounded by foam and 2 x 4’s
I remove the top inner of foam, so you can see what’s happening in relation to the stained glass.
I use pipe clamps to gently squeeze the frame work together. The 2 x 4’s only put slight pressure on the foam which is holding the glass.
Now that the boards are lined up, the crate is ready to be assembled. I inner “squishy” foam under the panel and on top of it before replacing the top inner of foam. This way there will be a slight amount of give when the panel is being transported.
With pipe clamps holding the wood framework together, I use additional clamps to squeeze the side boards so that they line up perfectly. This puts a slight pressure on the glass so it will sink into the foam slightly and stay held firmly as it’s shipped.
I shoot a associate of finish nails into the frame to keep up things together. There is little danger of hitting the glass since it’s so far away from the edge of the crate. Then I can remove the pipe clamps. No need to shoot many nails, just two per joint, the side will keep up the box together.
I fill the void in the top of the box with fragment styrene foam, that other shippers send to me.
Then I top it of with another inner of foam sheet. I want there to be a little pressure in the crate to keep things from having too much play.
I set a sheet of instructions inside the box.
TO UNPACK YOUR GLASS SAFELY,
FIRST PRY THE 1″ WIDE FOAM FROM THE EDGES ON ONE SIDE AND THEN THE TOP OR BOTTOM. THIS WILL FREE UP THE FLAT FOAM SO YOU CAN LIFT IT OUT, EXPOSING THE GLASS.
TIP THE GLASS CAREFULLY AND SLOWLY. GLASS HAS LITTLE STRENGTH WHEN LYING FLAT.
ONCE THE GLASS IS VERTICAL YOU MAY CARRY IT TO THE identify WHERE YOU WANT IT AND HANG IT FROM CHAINS BY THE RINGS PROVIDED.
I then mark the pieces of foam to remove first mentioned in the unpacking instructions.
Next I cut plywood to the size of the frame. Two pieces are needed.
I put the top over the side with the instructions, lower it into place and line it up with the frame.
Then I screw 1″ long drywall screws all around the top to keep up it down.
I lift the crate and gently tip it over, making sure to keep up the exposed foam on the underside to keep it from shifting.
With the bottom of the crate facing up and the foam side exposed, I’m ready to attach the bottom plywood.
I set it in place and line it up.
Then use staples to keep up it in place. I do this because I want it to be easy to take the top off of the box and hard to take the bottom off. That way, the customer receiving the case will have a greater likelihood of success.
I write instructions on both side of the crate, like, NO STEP, FRAGILE GLASS, and DO NOT LAY FLAT. On the top, I add arrows and the words: “Take out screws this side and read instructions.”
Then I take the crate to the UPS store and hope they don’t throw it or drop it too hard. I figure if the driver doesn’t throw it down on its’ side and use it for a step more than once or twice, it’ll survive the journey.
Then I insure it for the retail value!
I got an e-mail from Debra Beatty, who followed these instructions when sending a window to Granada from California via snail mail (US postmaster ground) and it got there fine. But I have had times where customers got their windows with a small break, I believe those times were because the packaging was so tight that there wasn’t any give to the package.
I took several pictures to illustrate what I’m talking about in this article. You don’t have to see them, but if you want to go to our betterstainedglass site and read this same article