From the EBSQ Archives: How to Build Your Own Custom Boxes for Shipping Art by Kini Art

17 simple steps to build your own boxes for shipping stretched canvas

Supplies needed:
2+ USPS priority mail tube boxes (#O-1098M), FREE from the USPS website
USPS priority mail tape, FREE from the USPS website
scissors for cutting/scoring cardboard
scissors for cutting extra sticky priority mailing tape

1. Open the 2 priority tube boxes and lay flat with brown side.



2. Pull the box bottoms away from the inside of both boxes.



3. Remove the glue cover strip from box 2.



4. Line up the boxes evenly, then carefully set the right edge of box 1 over the exposed glue of box 2. Press firmly to seal.


5. Now you’re ready to determine the thickness of your box. After preparing your painting for shipment (shown here sandwiched between 2 flattened boxes for protection), lay your art on top of the (now joined) box 1 and 2.



6. Place your painting beside the pre-existing fold crease of box 1. Fold up so the side of the box is next to your painting, and choosing how much extra width you prefer the painting to have inside the box and poke a small cut to use as a starting point for scoring a 2nd parallel folding crease (I prefer my box to be no more than 1/4 inch wider than my painting).



7. Using just one point of your scissors, gently run them from that starting point down to the opposite end of the box (from bottom to top). **Be sure you are not cutting clear through, as you only want to score a crease for folding.** Repeat this on both sides of your painting.



8. Now Returning to the bottom of box #1, cut the first flap completely off. Then finish the cut as shown…This piece will be the bottom of your side panel and will fold inside the bottom of your box. (Gray lines represent your scored and pre-creased folds)



9. Moving to the bottom of box #2, cut your bottom side panel by snipping in the same area as on box #1, and then cut along your scored area up to the bottom crease. (Again, gray lines in the diagram represent your scored and pre-creased folds) Now finish that cut along the crease to the outer edge of box #2 , completely removing the larger portion with the pre-cut circle in it. Now, you’ll notice there is a gap in the center between the bottoms of box #1 and #2… Use the piece that you just cut away to fill the gap, and secure with tape.



10. Use the point of your scissors again to score a fold on the bottom piece of box #1, that will will fold up into your box bottom. (See diagram)



11. Now ready to start folding the bottom of your box:
Begin with the bottom of box #1…
Lift A1 upward off the floor so that the side of your box is touching the side of your painting.
Now fold A2 over so it is against the bottom of your painting, and hold it there (this will also keep A1 upright)
Lift A3 up and fold over at the score – this will put A2 inside the box between the bottom and your painting. A3 should be folded over the front of your painting.
Repeat the same process to form a bottom on box #2… and secure with tape.



12. Both A1 pieces can now be folded over the top of your painting and taped to the newly built bottom.
If your find that you have a gap down the center front of your box, you can easily fix this by taping an extra piece of cardboard from a 3rd priority tube box on the inside. You can expose and use the glue strip from A1 of box #1 to help hold it in place while you begin taping.



13. Now you’re ready to stand your box up and create the top flaps.
To begin, cut the original flaps off completely.



14. Cut each of the four corners down to about 1.5 to 2 inches above your painting, and fold the side panels down so they’re covering the top of your



15. Open your scissors to measure the width of the box from front to back. Now simply rotate the scissors so they are upright along the piece you need to cut – they will already be spread to the height you’ll need your front/back pieces to be.



16. Now simply cut away the excess height, fold closed…



17. And begin taping. I use a LOT of tape – taping over the one remaining pre-cut circular hole in the bottom, any tiny opening, once or twice around the entire package (both vertically and horizontally), and at all the corners.


This method works great with canvases up to around 36″.
You could build bigger boxes with this method, just keep in mind the size limits for USPS.


Tips of the trade: on shipping art

by EBSQ Guest Author Aja Trier

Ok. Since my Quit Your Day Job article was published on the Etsy Storque I’ve had a number of inquiries on how to ship paintings from new sellers. I’m going to post this here (mostly so it’s easy to find as I get more inquiries) but maybe someone will come across it and find it to be useful 🙂

I know the shipping aspect can be intimidating at first and can seem rather daunting. I actually go back and forth between shipping through a local shipping place and doing it myself, it depends on the time I have and the size of the painting. I’ve built a repertoire with the place I ship through over the past 4 years or so and finally took the plunge a few months back and it’s helped to have someone who can wrap up and take care of the really big ones instead of me fooling and fussing with it at home. When I do it I buy frame boxes and bubble wrap from them, there’s a bunch of sizes to choose from and I buy a good amount at a time. I have an account with FedEX and and I have them pick the packages up. The accounts were easy to set up and it’s really convenient. You can also print shipping labels through paypal – hee’s there help explanation on their site –;jsessionid=KT0DSyptYvvv5wHXdQynbdQplDtrc4WJGzS52hfKb4G8KJQn5ppC!-685170754?locale=en_US&_dyncharset=UTF-8&countrycode=US&cmd=_help&serverInstance=9004&t=solutionTab&ft=searchTab&ps=solutionPanels&solutionId=10773&isSrch=Yes

It’s really quite simple. You do need a scale – I got mine at Walmart for 10 bucks.

Larger paintings should really go through FedEX because of the cost and the shipping “zones”. 16×20 I’d send through FedEX. 11×14 can go just fine through the postal service.

For all of my small shipments (anything up to 12×12 or so) I use the free boxes you can get through the post office. You can order some online for free – they are for Priority shipments though so if you plan on sending your paintings first class you can’t use the free boxes. I always send Priority when I use USPS because it looks more professional and is faster for the most part. Here’s a link to order free Priority boxes –

The place I go to for my other boxes orders theirs from uline and sells them to me at cost. It’s good to start a relationship with a local place cause there can definitely be perks! Take a day and shop around. A really large box for me costs 16.00 – that’s for a 36×46 box, unfortunately sometimes you gotta cut um down since they don’t always have the size you need) I have heard some people go to Michaels and get their boxes on garbage day, but you have to be there at the right time – they wouldn’t hold them for me and it was like 20 miles for me so I just broke down and bought them outright. But that is an option.

When I am wrapping it myself I wrap the painting in plastic and tape it to secure moisture from compromising the painting. Then a layer of bubble wrap is tightly wrapped around and taped. Another layer of bubble wrap is then wrapped around the first, bubble to bubble, creating a “pillow” that is extremely effective in securing the painting from damage. The pillow is then placed in a sturdy mirror box for shipment with more bubble wrap or paper if needed.

Please copy and paste this URL in your browser to see how these “pillows” look just before shipment –

Note that with international shipping, to most countries the largest stretched canvas you can send is 22×28 through the postal service. The postal service has strict dimensional guidelines – length+girth (a tape measure wrapped around the middle of the box gives you the girth) can’t be any larger than 79 inches. This includes Australia, a popular shipping destination. For places with the 79 inch cut off I offer taking the painting off the stretchers and rolling it in a tube. This doesn’t always work though. I can’t do this with gallery wrapped canvas, only with canvas that has staples on the back – I can take staples out of the canvas. Can’t rip it from that groove the higher end canvases have, and I won’t cut the canvas from the stretchers. It’s best to advise your patrons of these things so they are aware. That’s why in my shop I only show US and Canadian shipping prices for larger works. Canada has a 108 inch cut off, so pieces up to 24×36 can go through USPS. Any larger and it has to be sent through FedEX or UPS – which for an international destination can be a couple hundred easy. If a patron is willing to pay the actual shipping cost then by all means. But it really is exorbitant!

It looks like a lot to take in, and initially it is – but after doing it a while you’ll become a pro and it will be second nature 🙂 Best of luck!

Be sure to check out Aja’s blog at Sagittarius Gallery

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