How to build a solid shipping box for stained glass windows

To send a piece of glass, it must be packed and well protected. We build a box around each piece of glass we ship. It must be a custom fit so that the glass can be properly protected. The images accompanying the article are of us building a box for an 18″ by 30″ window. We use the same techniques when creating larger windows.

We start by laying down a 1″ thick piece of rigid foam insulation that can be purchased at a home improvement center.

We then place the piece of stained glass to be shipped on top of the foam. I line up two sides 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.

Next, I break the foam at the score line by lining up the score on the edge of the table and pressing down firmly on both ends. It really makes a popping sound that will scare the cat or any small children in the area.

I then 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 to create some wood.”

Here is the “sandwich” and two of the 2 x 4 size foam pieces for the edges.

I place the foam edges around the sandwich so that I can take the measurements of the 2 x 4’s that I need.

Here you can see the sandwich, surrounded by foam and 2 x 4’s

I remove the top layer of foam, so you can see what is happening in relation to the stained glass.

I use tube clamps to gently tighten the frame. The 2 x 4s only put slight pressure on the foam that holds the glass.

Now that the boards are lined up, the box is ready to be assembled. I put a layer of “soft” foam under the panel and on top of it before replacing the top layer of foam. This way there will be a small amount of sag when the panel is transported.

With pipe clamps holding the wood frame together, I use additional clamps to tighten the side boards so they line up perfectly. This puts a slight pressure on the glass so it will sink slightly into the foam and remain securely attached as it is shipped.

I shoot a couple of finish nails into the frame to hold things together. There is little danger of hitting the glass since it is very far from the edge of the case. So I can remove the pipe clamps. No need to shoot many nails, just two per joint, the side will hold the box together.

I fill the void at the top of the box with scrap styrofoam that other carriers send me.

Then I cover it with another layer of foam sheet. I want there to be a bit of pressure in the box to prevent things from having too much play.

I put an instruction sheet inside the box.

TO UNPACK YOUR GLASS SAFELY,

FIRST REMOVE THE 1″ WIDE FOAM FROM THE EDGES ON ONE SIDE AND THEN FROM THE TOP OR BOTTOM. THIS WILL RELEASE THE FLAT FOAM SO YOU CAN LIFT IT AND EXPOSE THE GLASS.

TURN THE GLASS CAREFULLY AND SLOWLY. GLASS HAS LITTLE STRENGTH WHEN IT IS FLAT.

ONCE THE GLASS IS VERTICAL, YOU CAN CARRY IT WHEREVER YOU WANT AND HANG IT FROM THE CHAINS BY THE PROVIDED RINGS.

I then mark off the foam pieces for removal mentioned first in the unpacking instructions.

I then cut plywood to the size of the frame. Two pieces are needed.

I lay the top over the side with the instructions, lower it into place, and align it with the frame.

I then drive 1″ long drywall screws around the top to hold it down.

I pick up the box and tilt it gently, making sure to support the exposed foam on the bottom to keep it from shifting.

With the bottom of the box facing up and the foam side exposed, I’m ready to lay down the bottom plywood.

I put it in place and align it.

Then use staples to keep it in place. I do this because I want it to be easy to remove the top of the box and difficult to remove the bottom. That way, the client who receives the case will have a better chance of success.

I write instructions on both sides of the box, like, NO STEP, FRAGILE GLASS, and DO NOT LAY IT FLAT. At the top, I add arrows and the words: “Remove the screws on this side and read the instructions.”

I then take the box to the UPS store and hope they don’t throw it away or drop it too hard. I would imagine if the driver doesn’t toss it on its side and use it to step more than once or twice, it will survive the ride.

So I insure it for retail value!

I received an email from Debra Beatty who followed these instructions when shipping a window to Grenada from California via US Postmaster Ground and it arrived fine. But I have had times where customers got their windows with a little crack, I think those times were due to the packaging being so tight it wouldn’t give.

I took several photos 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 very article

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