Friday, January 6

Boxing the Cradle

 All too often I get to the end of a furniture project and, once the finish is on, think that no one will be interested in the rest.  But so many times we've gotten comments from customers about the way we package our furniture.  One said, "I'm not sure which I'm more impressed with; the quality of your workmanship or your packaging!"

This cradle offers some special challenges on packaging; you might be interested in how I deal with those.

My first step was to build a fame underneath the cradle that will keep it from rocking and keep it positioned in the box. I used scraps of maple lumber; one rail under each rocker and a pair of connectors that keep the rails positioned; shaped like a giant Roman numeral 2.  Blocks of foam shaped to fit under the rocker ends and rockers secured to the frame with stretch wrap create a stable base.  The rails are cut to just fit inside the width of the box.

The box I'm using was from a new sink I just installed for Marie, the Styrofoam is what cushioned the sink, so it exactly fits the interior of the box.  I needed only reshape the inside surfaces with a hand saw to make a snug fit for the cradle. How fortuitous that these events lined up!
 Of course the cradle is much taller than the sink, so I will raise the flaps that formed the top of the box and strap them together to increase the box's height.  It's still not quite enough, but I can deal with that.

Here I've added cushioning around the sides, back and top of the cradle cover.
 For the next step I go out to the lumber shed and drag in a scrap of crate board.  Scrap?!  Yes, this is just a cut-off; a full sheet is something like 7' x 12'.  I used to use a lot of this when we were making large furniture pieces.  I'd have to use crate board to design a custom box, then frame the box in wood and make a pallet under it so the trucking company could move it around with a forklift and stack other crates on top of it.

This crateboard is 1/2" thick, triple wall corrugated cardboard.  Much lighter and just as sturdy as the 1/4" plywood I had used for crating before.
 I cut panels, partially slit them down the center so they'll fold and insert them as corner reinforcements and lid-holder-uppers.  I also cut a panel to fit between the corners at the foot as a hold-down to keep the foot of the cradle in place.  This way no amount of bouncing will cause it to shift in the box.  The dock apes can even turn the box upside down (and don't think they won't!) and everything will be held in place and protected.  By running the corrugations vertically in the corner pieces they have enough strength to prevent crushing the box even if another is set on top of it.
 Yet another panel of crate board forms a sub-lid that will further prevent crushing.  This is not bulletproof, but will help a lot to prevent mashing the box if they're careful at all.
Another large standard cardboard box is cut up and shaped to form the cap that slides down over the corner braces.  Everything is taped securely, yet can be opened easily by slitting the band of tape where the cap meets the lower box.  The cap will simply lift off.  Slit a few pieces of tape to remove the inner top and corner braces, slit the flaps turned sides, fold them down and lift out the cradle to remove the foam.  The foam is held in place with stretch wrap - lots and lots of stretch wrap.  No tape there; we wouldn't want any sticky gunk getting on the cradle.

Remember to recycle the cardboard.  The styo: well, maybe you can find a way to re-purpose that one more time.  Eventually it will end up in a landfill, and that pains me, but it's hard to avoid sometimes.

Now, we're done.  All that remains is to await payment, run a shipping label and summon the FedEx man.  He won't be any too happy to see this beast sitting on my dock, and I'll be sure to be watching so I can help him with it.  It only weights 67 pounds, but at 40" long, 27" wide and 35" high it is a handful for one person to be sure!

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