Wednesday, April 6

Tray Tables - Packaging

Today we’re sliding into home on Jeffrey’s tables, Shelly’s are just behind.
The first thing I need to do is to crawl up into the loft of the lumber shed and pull down a half-sheet of Styrofoam, my box of Styrofoam scraps, and a flattened shipping box.  We bought these boxes from a box maker specifically for this purpose.  Each of our major products has a custom shipping container made for it.  We store the boxes flat, as they came from the manufacturer, and fold them out into boxes only when we’re ready to put a product into them.

We used to be able to buy something called “whiteboard” from the lumber yards: a 3/4” thick, 4 foot x 8 foot sheet of plain Styrofoam.  These cost me between $4 and $5 a sheet.  But recently the lumber yards have switched to a product that has a silver Mylar film on one side and a clear plastic film on the other and costs $17 to $20 per sheet.  This  distresses to us as we have no use for these insulative films - indeed we have to peel them off and dispose of them - and the added cost is most unwelcome. 

Packaging suppliers will sell us sheets of the old style foam, but bundles of them have to be delivered by truck; generally semi-tractor trailer truck.  That means high shipping costs and having to go meet the semi at a truck stop to transfer their load to our truck because a semi can not get up to our shop to unload.  Even just driving along
Piney Mountain Road
scares the willies out of them; a couple have tried it and swore they’d never do so again!

We would like to switch to the corn starch foam that dissolves away to nothing when it gets wet.  The cost of this product has been prohibitively high when compared to whiteboard, but is about comparable to the new insulative foam boards.  If we could find a local supplier (meaning within an hours drive or so from here) we’d just make the switch and everyone would be better off.

I mount a special extra-fine saw blade on the table saw, set the fence for a 24 inch cut, peel the films off the half-sheet of foam, and cut it in half.

The first pieces I need will be 24” x 36”.  The 24” dimension is done, but my table saw does not have the 54” wing that would allow a cut of 36” between blade and fence, so I lay out my cut and set the fence to the width of the excess instead.  The excess piece is then cut down to 10½”.  The cut-offs from that step will become pads between tables.  Nothing is wasted.

I push the flattened box out into a 3 dimentional shape and fold the bottom flaps over.  Then I grab my packaging tape gun and triple tape the bottom, center seam; single tape the end seams just so they don't snag as the box gets slid along things.

I flip the box over and drop one large pad in the bottom of the box and set the two end pads in place.  Now I’m ready to bundle the tables.

I retrieve the tables from the finishing room.  Before I start pressing foam to poly I do a quick test.  In an inconspicuous spot; a corner, I press the tip of my pinky finger against the polyurethane finish firmly.  If a ridgey fingerprint remains when I take my finger tip away, and it does, then the poly is not cured yet.

It is dry to the touch, but not cured out hard yet.  In this state, fumes escaping the finish as it cures could soften the Styrofoam pressed against it and cause it to mar the finish.  The temperature got down to the middle 30’s last night, apparently it got cold enough in my finishing room to slow the curing of the poly.  I move the tables into a room with more heat and turn up the furnace to help the poly to finish curing quickly.  It may only take a couple of hours.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Appropriate comments are welcome. All comments are reviewed before being posted. Spam messages (anything not a direct discussion of this message) and all profanity will be deleted. Don't waste your time or mine by posting trash here.