Canadian Woodworking

Custom shipping container

Author: Fred Martin
Published: June July 2003
custom container
custom container

Here is an easy and cost effective way to prepare your smaller items for shipping.

Do you make hand crafted pieces that you need to ship to your customers? Do you enter your work into woodworking competitions?

If so, you know that shipping such pieces can be both risky and expensive, especially if the piece doesn’t show up in the same condition in which it was sent out.

It’s very easy to make your own custom, Styrofoam, shipping container out of rigid sheet Styrofoam insulation. Making your own custom containers not only saves you money and lowers shipping costs, but it also insures that your handcrafted piece arrives in its original condition.

You don’t need any fancy equipment or tools to make your container, and the material is available from your local building supply store.

There are a number of different types of Styrofoam available. For our purpose, the white pebbly type of Styrofoam is very messy and it’s not as strong as the more dense pink or blue Styrofoam. I use the pink or blue Styrofoam. It’s used on exterior basement walls and has many different trade names. The insulation comes in 2′ x 8′ and 4′ x 8′ sheets and in 1″ and 1 ½” thick sheets.


The first thing to do is to measure the piece that you will be shipping and add 4″ to each measurement. This allows 2″ protection all around. To make a container for this piece, I used three layers: top, middle, and bottom. The middle piece is cut to the shape of the item being contained, and the top and bottom pieces hold it all together, forming a solid outer box.

If your piece is thicker than one layer of Styrofoam, increase the number of middle layers or increase the thickness of the Styrofoam being used.

Place double-sided carpet tape on the underside of the middle piece. Align and stick the middle to the bottom piece.

You now have custom shipping container for your woodcraft or competition piece. Clean all the little pieces of Styrofoam from the container.

When clean, cover with a thin plastic sheet (dry cleaning bags are great) and place your piece in the container. Wrap the plastic around the piece.

Mark the top piece and tape it on. Wrap with brown paper and you’re ready to ship your piece safely and inexpensively.

Fred Martin - [email protected]

Fred is an intarsia artist from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

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