How to Pack & Ship Tools

There are many special considerations when shipping tools. Sharp edges need to be protected; items that are heavy or bulky might need to be crated; fuel might need to be drained from motors; and aerosols or flammable chemicals might limit the available shipping methods. With a little research and preparation, however, you'll be able to properly package your items and deliver them to your buyers without problems.

1. Prepare the Tools for Packing

Use the original packaging if you have it (and it's in good condition). If the tool came with a carrying case, make sure the tool and all parts fit inside securely and don't rattle around when the case is moved; if they do, pad the tools with bubble wrap or cloth to protect them.

If you're selling a tool box with tools, wrap all contents in bubble wrap. Small hand tools like hammers and wrenches should be wrapped with bubble wrap and packed in peanuts. Heavy items might need to be double boxed for security. Run strapping tape around all sides of the outermost box to reinforce it.

You might have to disassemble some items for shipping; if so, your buyer will appreciate it if you label each part. Use a low-adhesive tape (like blue painter's tape), but avoid affixing this to wood since it can damage the finish; instead, consider tying a label on with string. Place smaller parts like nuts and bolts in clear plastic bags and label each bag with a marker.

2. Wrap Sharp Items

Bubble wrap is great for protecting porcelain but not very useful when it comes to hatchets and hacksaws. A better choice is a stiff leather cover or heavy corrugated cardboard sleeve. If you construct one yourself, make sure that the blade can't cut through the material and that the sleeve is securely fastened to the tool so it won't accidentally slip off. Depending on the weight and size of the blade, you might want to reinforce the cardboard with plywood (on the outside) so that the blade won't get bent. Finally, don't forget to wrap the handle with bubble wrap.

3. Crate Heavy Items

Very large, heavy tools like lathes and table saws need to be shipped in custom-built crates. Constructing an appropriate crate can be challenging: you have to know how to take the equipment apart and which pieces require reinforcement and cushioning. Some parts might need to be bolted to pallets (or wrapped in extra-strong plastic) and moved via forklift. If you've never crated a large item before, this tutorial on how to crate an arcade video game will give you an idea of the process.

Many shipping companies will crate your item for you, so contact a few freight services for quotes. Building custom crates can be expensive; determine the cost before you list the item so that you can factor the amount into your shipping and handling fee. Also, when talking to the buyer ask where the item is to be delivered. Is the destination easily accessible by a delivery truck? Can the item be delivered to their home, or will it require a loading dock? Make sure the buyer understands exactly how the item will be shipped and how large/heavy it is, so that they can prepare the space in advance, and round up help to unload it if necessary.

4. Shipping Hazardous Materials

Many tools contain oils, solvents, sealants, pressurized gasses, and other substances that pose risks to the people and equipment transporting them. These materials can be shipped safely, if proper precautions are taken. Before accepting an item to sell, be sure to read your carrier's guidelines for packing and shipping hazardous materials:

5. Choose a Freight Service

Large, heavy items (typically those in excess of 150 pounds) will need to be shipped via a freight service. Look in the phone book under "freight" or visit these websites for quotes and more shipping tips:


  • It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with shipping regulations if you are planning on selling tools, because they also apply to many household goods and collectibles.

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