Monday, March 5

Weekend – Packing It Up

Over the course of the weekend I got Carols tray tables packaged up and ready to ship out on Monday.

The process starts with a trip up a ladder into the loft above the workshop where we store packaging materials; boxes of all sizes, bubble wrap, packing paper, sheets of Styrofoam and panels of crate board. Here we have some sheets of crate board atop my 4 foot by 8 foot sheets of Styrofoam. I won’t be needing the crate board this time, but I do need the Styrofoam. Why is it that whatever I need is always on the bottom? I do have plans to build a rack for this stuff so that I can get both products out when needed. But that’s one of those “when I have some spare time” projects. So for now I pull down all the crate board and snag a sheet of stryro.

I used to buy this stuff from a Pack & Ship outlet in Morristown until I discovered that the local lumberyard has a very similar product for half the cost. They call it “whiteboard” and it’s used for insulating buildings. This version is just a tad more brittle that the packaging foam, so I have to handle large sheets more carefully, but it works just as well for my purposes.

It takes half of a 4x8 foot sheet (plus some scraps) to package a set of tray tables. Normally I have to cut a full sheet in half using a utility knife, but this time I found a half-sheet up there ready to be used. So I put my dedicated Styrofoam blade on the table saw (the plastic foam melts a little as it’s being cut with a circular saw, gumming up the blade so I don’t use my woodworking blades for this) I cut the panel into 2 24”x36” pieces and 2 11”x24” pieces. The rest is cut up into small pieces as needed with a knife.

Then it’s back up the ladder to retrieve a box. We have these boxes custom made by a box factory in Morristown specifically for use with these tray table sets, since we sell so many of them. The box is just *barely* within the limits of UPS guidelines for an OS2 package, and gives us just enough space to securely package the tables. The boxes come folded flat and stacked 100 to a pallet, which we then have to restack in the loft. So I pull one out, fold it into a box and tape the bottom closed.

After laying a pad on the table saw, which serves as my workbench as well right now, I begin the process of packaging up the tables; blocks of foam keep the tables from damaging one another or the stand during shipment. Wrappings of stretch wrap hold everything together. Some places are reinforced with packaging tape, but only over the stretch wrap. Tape never touches the wood. Then the pairs of trays are placed in the stand and the whole bundle tied together with more stretch wrap and packaging tape.

The big box is lined with styro panels; bottom and both ends. The tables are laid in place – they just barely fit; we designed the box that way – the spaces on the sides are filled with crumpled or shredded paper, then another sheet of styro goes on top before the box is closed up and taped securely.

”FRAGILE” stickers are put on each side and the top and the box is weighed. The weight doesn’t really mean anything here because OS2 packages are billed on a “dimensional weight” scale rather than by their actual weight unless the package exceeds the dimensional weight. These hickory tables are considerably heavier than most: 39 pounds where most sets weigh 8 to 10 pounds less. Dimensional weight on OS2 packages is 70 pounds, so we still don’t come close to exceeding that. But the UPS on-line shipping utility requires that a weight be input or it won't process the label.

And that’s it, we’re done! The package goes out on the dock for Willis to pick up with his big brown truck and in a few days these tables will be gracing the home of Tim & Carol. We hope they’ll enjoy them.

We also hope they’ll take the trouble to log into the SMW website and offer a Product Review on these tables so others will know what they thought of our work.

Now it’s time to clean up the shop, put all the packaging stuff back away so we can get started on Ed’s custom HD Tray Table on Monday.

See you then!


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