How to Pack Unusually Shaped Objects

Packing awkward and bulky items that won’t fit in standard boxes can be tricky.

That said, with the proper materials, a little guidance, and a dash of creativity, packing unusually shaped objects need not be a hassle.

In this post, we’ll share a few useful tips that’ll help you tackle this common moving issue.

If you’re in the early stages of the moving process, take a moment to check out these free resources before reading on –

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A quick overview of packing bulky items

Since most oddly shaped items are relatively difficult to pack and don’t get used frequently, you’ll want to pack them first.

Here we’re talking about things like-

  • Oversized vases and sculptures
  • Glass curio cabinet shelves and marble table tops
  • Dried flower arrangements
  • Fishing rods
  • Floor lamps

Consider hiring professionals to pack unusually shaped items

Before getting crazy with your box cutter, think about hiring professional movers or custom craters to pack your large, valuable, and fragile items.

They’re not cheap, but for peace of mind, their services are hard to beat.

Just remember that movers and packers don’t accept liability for items damaged on DIY moves.

Have the right equipment and packing materials on hand

You don’t need brand new boxes for packing, but they should be clean, dry, sturdy, and damage-free.

You’ll also need –

  • A few rolls of quality packing tape
  • White and/or brown packing paper
  • Boxes of various sizes
  • Bubble wrap or foam inserts
  • Old rags, sheets, and comforters for additional padding
  • A razor knife or a good pair of scissors
  • A pencil and marker
  • A yardstick, ruler, or tape measure

Be prepared to “slice and dice” perfectly good boxes

Packing large awkwardly shaped objects generally requires cutting boxes.

Thankfully cartons are relatively cheap, and by cutting and taping them together to fit the items inside you’ll prevent damage and save money, since you won’t need to repair or replace damaged goods.

Focus on protection, not using space efficiently

When packing oddly shaped items, boxes will usually have unfilled spaces.

As a conscientious packer, you’ll be tempted to fill them with small appliances, cuckoo clocks, and kid’s shoes, but this isn’t a great idea.

Instead, fill these voids with crumpled paper, packing peanuts, or a fluffy pillow.

Label your boxes clearly

You may find that some items fit snugly into boxes in unnatural ways.

It’s perfectly OK, but it makes labeling that much more important.

This is also the case when “telescoping” (more on this shortly) one box on top of another.

Remember, most corrugated container manufacturers print arrows and handle instructions on moving boxes at the factory.

If you’ve packed a fragile item inside a box sideways, you’ll want to cross out the pre-printed labels and write your own instructions on the sides, top, and bottom with a thick black marker.

How to pack oddly shaped items in standard boxes

Start by eyeballing or measuring your bulky items, then and see if you have boxes that they’ll fit in.

Also think about whether they can be packed with other items, and consider their –

  • Age
  • Value
  • Weight
  • Fragility

Once you’ve selected a box for the first item, tape its bottom securely and fill it with 3 to 5 inches of crumpled paper or a folded bath towel.

Next, wrap the item in white paper, a brown paper pad, and/or bubble wrap.

Now lower the wrapped item into the box and fill the empty spaces around it with packing peanuts or more crumpled paper.

Newspaper can be used too, but the ink can permanently stain some items, so use it with caution.

When your item is snug and well-cushioned, tape the box top and label it clearly.

Include –

  • Orientation arrows
  • What’s inside and what room it came from

Making tall custom boxes by “telescoping”

In many cases your oddly shaped items won’t fit in standard boxes, so you’ll need to customize them.

Sometimes an item like a large vase will fit inside a dish carton but stick up over the top.

If so, you can pack it by telescoping two identical cartons together.

Start by taping the carton that’ll be on the bottom, filling it with crushed paper, wrapping the vase in protective material like bubble wrap, and lowering it into the box.

Since the tabs on top of the box won’t close, stand them upright and tape them into place.

Next, fill the empty spaces with paper or another soft, lightweight material.

Then, tape the top of another identical dish carton and slide it down over the other.

Make sure to tape the boxes together securely and label the carton appropriately.

This process works with all cartons, provided they’re the same size.

Remember, it’s all about preventing damage, not making pretty boxes.

Tips for making extra wide boxes

Making wide custom boxes is similar to telescoping, with the exception that the cartons will be mated on their sides instead of their tops and bottoms.

First, tape the bottom of the first box, then using your razor knife cut along the two edges of one side.

Lay the remaining flap over onto the floor so that you have a 3-sided box.

Do the same with the second box, this time removing one side entirely.

Then slide the two cartons together leaving enough interior space for the item to fit inside.

Again, cushion the bottom of the box, pad the item you’re packing and place it inside the mated boxes.

Cinch the two cartons together snugly, then fold the top tabs over, tape them together, and run multiple strips of packing tape around them until they’re secured.

Folding a box (or boxes) around a large item

If neither of the previous methods will work for a particularly bulky item, you can simply flatten out a large cardboard box and wrap the sides around the article.

Start by cutting the box’s four vertical edges from top to bottom.

When you fold the remaining flaps over onto the floor the box will resemble a cross.

Now pad the item more thoroughly than you would if it was going in a regular box, putting extra layers of cushion on the bottom.

Set it in the center of the box and fold the sides up around it, taping each as you go.

There will be empty spaces between the sides, which you can cover with strips of cardboard from another box.

Once the item is totally enclosed, run multiple strips of tape around the cardboard from top to bottom and side to side and label it.

Some items should be left unboxed

Ironically, packing is more likely to damage some items than leaving them unpacked.

This is often the case when moving large dry flower arrangements.

Due to their brittleness and fragility, the very act of wrapping and boxing them can cause irreparable damage.

If so, they’re better moved by themselves in the trunk of your car, or loaded at the very top of the moving truck in an area where nothing can bump into them.

Alternatively, flower arrangements can be secured to the side of a box with twine or baling wire wrapped through holes you’ve cut in the carton’s side.

Examples of packing unusually shaped items

Pictures and mirrors

Most flat items like pictures and mirrors will fit in standard picture boxes.

If not, they can be wrapped in a moving blanket, brown paper pad, or old comforter, then covered in sheets of cardboard.

This method is often as safe as using regular mirror cartons, just remember to cover them carefully and don’t skimp when applying packing tape.

Golf clubs and other tall items

Whether loose or in a golf bag, it’s generally OK to wrap golf clubs in a moving blanket.

Due to their fragility, however, fishing rods should be bundled together, wrapped in paper, and packed inside a utility carton.

Utility cartons also work well for tall, narrow floor lamps.

Items that generally need to be crated

The following items generally need custom crates –

  • Exceptionally thick and/or long glass and marble table tops
  • Expensive works of art
  • Large sculptures

If you’re hiring professional movers, they’ll almost always require these articles to be professionally packed or crated.

If you’d rather not pay for these services, they may ask you to sign a liability waiver before they’ll move them.


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