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How do I pack work in a crate?

Use a custom crate for artworks such as sculpture, large flat artworks, paintings larger than 48"x48", and fragile items.
 
What you’ll need:

  • Four (4) planks of plywood (¼ to ½ inch thick depending on size and fragility of the work) for the frame
  • Two (2) plywood sheets for the front and back panels
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • 1¼ inch wood screws
  • Wood glue
  • Foam board, ½” thick 

 Step 1 – Measure your pre-wrapped artwork (wrapped according to the instructions given for your particular work), taking down the height, width, and depth of the wrapped piece. If you’re shipping a painting, use these measurements to calculate the dimensions of your plywood pieces for the frame of your crate. Keep in mind that you will add a ½” foam board lining to your crate, so accommodate for this. If you’re shipping a sculpture, make sure that the crate’s dimensions are approximately three (3) to four (4) inches larger on all sides than the sculpture itself. The extra space will be filled with bubble wrap and shredded paper.

Step 2 – Cut four pieces of plywood according to the dimensions you took in step 1 in order to build a frame with an opening that can snugly fit your wrapped work. Remember to account for the thickness of the plywood when measuring length and height, and cut accordingly. The top piece of the frame should sit on and extend over the top edges of the side pieces, as it must be easily removable. This piece will act as the crate’s lid, to be unscrewed by the collector.

Step 3 – Begin building the frame by assembling three (3) of the plywood strips together with screws and wood glue, leaving the top piece (i.e. lid) off for now. It will be screwed on after the artwork has been placed inside.

Step 4 – Line the frame with strips of foam board, securing them on with tape or glue. If using glue to line the crate with foam board, wait for it to dry before finishing the packing process.
 
Step 5 – Cut two sheets of plywood to the same dimensions of the assembled frame. These will be the front and back panels of your crate.

Step 6 – Secure one sheet to the back of the frame using wood glue and screws.

Step 7 – You will then complete the packaging process by placing your artwork inside and sealing the crate around it. Lay a piece of foam board (the same size as the frame) inside the open crate, and place your pre-wrapped artwork on top. There should be no room for movement inside.

Step 8 – Cover your artwork with another layer of foam board. Place the other sheet of Masonite board on top of the frame, securing well with wood glue and screws. Do your best to ensure that the crate is air and moisture tight.

Step 9 – Clearly indicate which panel is the removable lid by writing “UNSCREW THIS SIDE ONLY” so the collector knows which panel to remove. If needed, write any instructions (using a black felt tip pen) on the crate that will help the collector easily remove the lid.
 
Step 10 – Affix the shipping label to the outside and put clear tape over the label so it doesn’t get removed during shipment. Clearly mark the crate or box as “FRAGILE.”

TIP: For ease of transport, you can screw a cabinet handle to the top of the crate. The screws should be long enough so that the handle doesn’t come loose while someone is carrying the crate, but not so long that they protrude into the interior of the crate.

If at any time you need help during the packaging process, please don’t hesitate to contact us at support@saatchiart.com

Please follow the instructions appropriate for your work. For complete instructions, download our complete Packaging Guidelines (which also includes information on the common causes of artwork damage, the proper packing materials, links to additional resources, and more) located at the bottom of this article.

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