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A Helpful Guide to Shipping Odd-Shaped Items

Virtually all boxes are square or rectangular in shape, but not every item you pack is going to be square or rectangular. What are you supposed to do with these oddly shaped items that don’t fit the typical mold?

Fortunately, most other shapes fit into boxes and envelopes perfectly fine as long as you make a few accommodations for them. And don’t fear—the ones that don’t fit into traditional containers aren’t un-shippable. They simply require out-of-the-box solutions.

Pantero has created a helpful guide to shipping odd-shaped items that explains what you need to know about irregular goods. Read on to learn how to pack your products for shipment.

What Constitutes an Odd Shape?

Pantero_Odd_Shaped_Boxes_1920An odd-shaped item is any item that isn’t square or rectangular. Similarly, odd-sized items are any items that are too large or wide for most boxes to contain.

Dishware, furniture, and tires are a couple of commonly shipped items that fall under one or more of the “oddly-shaped/oddly-sized” categories.

Why Is Packing Odd-Shaped Items So Complicated?

The process of packing and shipping irregularly shaped items is complicated because odd-shaped items require extra care and precautions that normal-shaped items don’t.

Some odd-shaped products fit inside of standard size and shape boxes. They just require extra cushioning and adhesive. But most won’t fit inside standard cardboard or corrugated boxes, which means you’ll need to purchase custom or special packaging.

Odd-shaped and odd-sized items also cost more to ship. Odd-sized items typically have a weight that matches their impressive stature. Meanwhile, the custom/special packaging used for odd-shaped items often leads to a higher DIM weight. You can try to lower costs by negotiating with your shipping carrier to lower the DIM weight denominator you’re billed by, but this doesn’t always work.

How To Pack Odd-Shaped Items, Shape by Shape

Shipping odd-shaped and odd-sized items isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s also not brain surgery. The key to shipping these items is using the correct box and packing materials. Our helpful guide to shipping odd-shaped items lists some common odd shapes and offers tips on how to pack them correctly.


Pointy

Woah, put that thing away! You could hurt someone—or something! The biggest challenge with pointy items is that they’re dangerous. Not just to the people who handle them, either, but to the container they’re shipped in and to other cargo. If you’re shipping a pointy item, it’s crucial to add ample padding so the pointy end(s) can’t pierce through the container easily.

How To Pack Pointy Items

Dismantle the item into as many pieces as possible. Then, take a box that’s slightly larger than the item and pad it on all sides. Set the pieces of the item in the box and fill any gaps with packing peanuts or crinkle paper. Add a layer of thick foam on top. Finally, seal the box and label it.


Long

Normally, long products have a “weak point”—a part of them that’s more delicate than the rest. For most long items, this is in the center or wherever the item is thinnest. If too much pressure is placed on the weak point, the item can snap. To prevent this, you need to support any weak sections with additional cushioning.

How To Pack Long Items

Wrap your item with a layer of bubble wrap or thin foam. Pinpoint any weak sections and then add two to three additional layers of wrap around them. Place your item into a long shipping box and fill any voids with packing peanuts. Finally, seal and label the box.


Circular

Most circular items fit snugly inside standard boxes, but they leave gaps in the corners that need to be filled to keep the item from moving around during transit.

How To Pack Circular Items

Wrap your item(s) in bubble wrap or polyethylene foam. Next, place the item(s) inside the box. Fill the corners with craft paper or other packing materials so the items can’t shift inside the box. Finally, seal and label the box.


Cylindrical

Cylindrical items are unique because you can often ship them without a box, assuming they’re small or flexible enough. As an example, rugs are usually shipped folded and covered with a layer of semi-translucent wrap.

How To Pack Cylindrical Items

Otherwise, you should ship cylindrical items similar to how you would ship a pointy item—by dismantling the item as much as possible, wrapping the item in a layer of bubble wrap or foam, padding the box, and then sealing and labeling as needed.


A Summary

To summarize, when packing an odd-shaped or odd-sized item, you should:

  • Ensure pointy edges can’t piece through the container
  • Choose a box that accommodates your item’s shape, size, and weight
  • Fill any empty spaces inside the box with packing material
  • Seal the box tightly
  • Add appropriate labels

Of course, these are just general guidelines. Some items require special containers or packing materials. Others call for extra steps in the packing process. String instruments, for example, need to have their strings loosened so they don’t snap during transit. And for items like flowers, less cushioning is more because packing material can crush or tear off petals.

Pantero_Odd_Shaped_Boxes_GUIDE_800

Custom Boxes: A Foolproof Solution

There are dozens of box types to choose from: heavy-duty, mailers, reverse tuck, side loading, telescopic, and more! Chances are, your item will fit inside one of these many box types and a standard box size. But what if it doesn’t? Does that mean you can’t ship your item through a carrier and have to hand-deliver it?

Nope. You can still ship your item normally. You just need a special box to put it in. Fortunately, you aren’t limited to boxes of standard shapes and sizes. Many companies that make and sell boxes also offer custom box programs that allow you to create custom boxes for your oddly shaped and sized items.

Take Pantero’s BoxAwesome program, for example. We can help you create custom packaging for any product.

We also carry pre-made boxes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Our telescopic cardboard boxes are ideal for shipping long and flat objects, while our heavy-duty double wall boxes are built to handle larger and heavier items.

Shop with us today or contact us to discuss creating custom boxes with one of our experts.

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