Shipping your swords
Okay, this has been mentioned a time or two in the past but a package I received yesterday reminded me that I've been meaning to post about this again. In this particular case I once more received a shredded box, only the fact that the customer had tightly wrapped his swords in bubble wrap prevented them from being damaged. So, for what it's worth here are some tips on shipping a sword. I'm going to start emailing it out with my worklists when I'm ready to begin work on a customer's projects, even if it is a bit of a rant... :)

1) Get a good quality box - It never ceases to amaze me that people who have layed out the money for a multihundred or even multithousand dollar sword get all parsimonious when it comes to purchasing a good quality cardboard box. Get a stout box with heavy walls. If you are reusing a box make sure it has not already been bent or crushed or otherwise had its structural integrity compromised. A good quality cardboard box is the minimum that you should use.

2) Get a box that's the right size. I can't count the number of boxes I've received a sword in that were really too short for the sword in question. Don't "make" do. Yes, I know you can save a few cents on shipping that way, but do you really want to have your sword damaged over a couple of bucks?

3) Movement inside the box is your enemy. If you pick up your newly packaged sword and can shake it around and it rattles about inside the box you need to repack. It's a well known fact that after the demise of the wicked witch of the west all of her winged monkeys started new careers working for the major shippers of the world. They think nothing of flinging your precious sword about and if it has room to move inside the box it WILL punch it's way out. If your box is too wide fill it up with packing peanuts, newspaper, old walmart bags or whatever, but fill it up! Filling it up half way does not help.

4) Package the tip of your sword appropriately. Some of my more perceptive customers have put a cork on the end of their sword. Others have used small blocks of wood taped to the tip or even old medicine bottles. These are all good ideas. Those tips are sharp and if something slams into the end of the box they are going to come poking through. This can result both in bent tips and carrying personnel or winged monkeys getting hurt. You take a dim you of bent tips. They take a dim view of getting stabbed or cut. Package the tip.

5) Securely wrap the crosses and those pointy pommel types too. Second only to tips cutting out of boxes is crosses and pommels punching out of boxes. I can often fix tips. I cannot fix damaged pommels or crosses. The idea here is to increase the surface area of these portrusions so that it is harder to punch out of the box. Layers of bubble wrap or even cloth work well for this.

6) Label the end of the box. I'm always very careful when opening the box since it is often difficult to tell which end I've got and I have an aversion to grabbing sharp blades. If you are not shipping to me, whoever you may be shipping to may be so excited that they are not so careful however.

7) Put something with your name and address on it INSIDE the box. Boxes get damaged or defaced or even wet. If they can't read the address and they can't find another one your sword goes to that big dead letter office in the sky. You might even eventually get it back.

8) Buy the insurance. It's cheap. Yes its hard to get them to pay on insurance claims sometimes. It is impossible to get them to pay on an insurance claim if you did not purchase any.

There is a reason why Albion takes so much care with their legendary white cardboard boxes. There is a reason why folks like Howard Clark, OlliN, Jake Powning and others make custom wooded boxes for the swords they ship.

To date unless their box was destroyed I've typically shipped the customer's sword back to them in the packaging that they send it in. This has been a money saving thing I've been doing for the customer. I'm seriously considering no longer doing however because of the possible liability. In the near future ruggedized shipping may be the only option.

Hope this helps. :)
Good rant, Russ! I couldn't agree more. Packaging is the only thing you can control when you ship a sword-the rest is entirely out of your hands once it is out of your hands...A double-wall box is about minimum for a sword IMO, unless there is very good supsension and re-inforcement.
Where's a good source for boxes? UPS doesn't have anything appropriately sized .
Jonathan Blair wrote:
Where's a good source for boxes? UPS doesn't have anything appropriately sized .

I buy them in bulk from

Pretty cheap for most 36 and 40 inch boxes in grouping of 25, plus if you have some leftover, they can make a decent cutting medium. :)
I may not be shipping swords but do sometimes ship other lengthy things and find the pvc tubes for plumbing, sewage or drainage very rugged. Wrap in bubbleplastic, put it inside and stuff with stryro flakes. Cap both ends with a solid piece of carton and seal with duct-tape.
This tubing is about as cheap as ' boxes' come.

If you send more than one ting, then tape them, packed individually, together with duct tape. Things WILL rub and chafe.

A major enigma for me remains the courier's pricings across the world and by different companies.
Another thing is that one particular company cannot find us whereas others even knock at the indeed hard to reach front door with a huge smile on their face.
About the wonders of dilivery times by postal services I have stopped to wonder: It sofar always has arrived even if once from Malaga to Amsterdam via Moskou. It was packed as described above, so arrived intact.

I can recommend those shipping crates from DoskoSport that Albion uses upon request. These are very stury and good to handle.

With round tubes here in Germany might be a problem because they are most likely covered by special fees. Donīt know for other countries.
Justin King wrote:
Good rant, Russ! I couldn't agree more. Packaging is the only thing you can control when you ship a sword-the rest is entirely out of your hands once it is out of your hands...A double-wall box is about minimum for a sword IMO, unless there is very good supsension and re-inforcement.

Thanks Justin. A fellow forumite tactfully reminded me that I have not always been exactly a shining light in the packaging department myself. :blush: I'm hoping others will not think of my above post as me setting myself up as holier then thou, but rather as some tips on how to make sure that both their prized possession and other people remain undamaged.

Also just for the record I can categorically state that Justin King does a fantastic job with shipping.

The more I think about it the more I think I'm going to only ship ruggedized from now on.
What do you mean by "ruggedized"?
Florist boxes
Florists get their long-stemmed flowers in rugged cardboard boxes that they then have to throw away. These boxes are just right for many swords. Just ask.
Terry Crain wrote:
What do you mean by "ruggedized"?

Oh, sorry, it's a fancy way of saying "well packed in a hard guncase." Not that just using a guncase isn't good enough either. I've had swords bang out of those on the way to me, when they could slide around inside.

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