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Ship shape

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I have to ship a project today. If the past is any guide, the task will likely take more time and effort than making it.

I’ve stated before why I can’t be a full-time professional woodworker, and the main reason is that I’m just too fussy and take way too much time making things. I never leave good enough alone, even when a project is perfect, and as a result my hourly wage would plummet.

But here’s another reason: I hate shipping stuff.

As with the creative process, the packing-up-and-shipping process is one I spend way too much time on. It’s usually complicated from the beginning by just finding a box for shipping – nothing is ever the right size. Either the best box I have on hand is too small, or so large it would require numerous cubic feet of packing material just to take up the empty space. Trying to buy a box typically has the same results, and usually I have to take a way-too-big box and cut it down to a reasonable shipping size.

Once I’ve obtained (or made) an appropriate box, I then obsess over the packing. I’m always afraid the project will break in shipping, so I go ridiculously overboard on protecting it with peanuts, bubble wrap, crushed newspaper, excelsior or what the heck have you. Invariably, I never have enough and the packing ends up being a mish-mash of materials.

After an hour or two the project is packed, then comes taping the box up. I should take a clue from Amazon, since I order so much from them. Their packages typically have a single strip of tape over the box seam and they always arrive fine. But when I’ve got the packing tape in hand, paranoia strikes and I go nuts with the stuff.

A couple hundred feet of packing tape later, I usually spend another half hour making a shipping label that’s clear, concise, and easy to read. Then, because I’m terrified the label will get torn, come off or become illegible due to the elements, I slather on a few dozen more feet of clear packing tape over the label.

Make a box of the right size. Pack it safely and securely. Tape it to death. Label it like it’s going to the moon. Then and only then can I head to the shipper.

If it hasn’t already closed.



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