Best way to pack large fragile dollhouse for moving?
July 12, 2019 7:04 AM   Subscribe

I need to pack and protect a large, fragile wooden dollhouse to move across country.

Would it be better to use a box that leaves very little space around the dollhouse (plus packing peanuts or similar)? Or to leave more space between dollhouse and box sides, with more room for cushioning material?

I am literally building a cardboard box around it because it's an odd size, so I can easily change the dimensions.

Discarding the dollhouse is NOT an option.
posted by Archipelago to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
I recently shipped a large object of high value. I had a crate builder build a crate for it. Would that be an option for you?
posted by baptismal at 7:09 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]

Don't just pack peanuts around it, pack peanuts IN IT. Put the box on it's side, set down a layer of filler, and lay the dollhouse flat, with the rooms open to the top. Stuff them with popcorn or starch peanuts. If you have delicate moulding or wallpaper or are concerned about transfer, you can bag the peanuts loosely in ziplocks and pack those into the rooms. I would leave about 3" of space on all sides.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:12 AM on July 12 [5 favorites]

If the box fits too tightly then any blunt force which deforms the box will also deform the dollshouse.
If the box fits with a lot of extra space, then the dollhouse can move inside, gain momentum and so if dropped that can be enough to cause damage.
A common approach is to have two boxes, one inside the other - the first closely fitting, then packing peanuts, then the outer box.
posted by Lanark at 7:13 AM on July 12 [11 favorites]

My childhood dollhouse was shipped internationally and then stored in a sturdy wooden crate built for it and packed with paper and peanuts. The base of the dollhouse fit inside of the crate with an inch or so to spare. I think there was foam tacked to the inside of the crate as well.
posted by amanda at 7:13 AM on July 12

PS: I assume this box is going on a truck. If it is being shipped, you 100% do need a crate; for a dollhouse, a plywood crate is typical and not hard to fashion inexpensively. You can also cardboard box the dollhouse and then put the box in a custom plywood or repurposed used crate -- they are around, try Craiglist.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:17 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]

I would fill with packing peanuts, in a box, and then put that box into another cushioned box (the outer one can use those inflatable-air pockets or similar).
posted by Mchelly at 7:49 AM on July 12

I haven’t done this, but it seems like it would be advantageous to secure the base of the dollhouse to the base of the crate. If there are open spaces at ground floor level that strapping could go through, you could take advantage of that. Or (less likely) holes where a bolt could pass through.)
posted by lakeroon at 9:46 AM on July 12

Definitely more space for more cushioning material.

I collect old computer equipment. A lot of people swear by expanding foam packing material for shipping delicate electronic stuff and vintage monitors. Not cheap, but everything I have received that was shipped that way was intact.

Popcorn is also an excellent packing material as the popcorn tends to lock together when packed in tightly, so the items in the popcorn don't move around that much.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:43 AM on July 12

You'll want to double box if you can't have a crate built. (A crate is best). To double box: make the box about the size of your dollhouse. Stuff it full with packing peanuts or rolled bubble wrap (roll it like a toilet paper roll, it provides more cushion than flat sheets) to keep the dollhouse from moving in it.

Then make a second box at least 2 inches bigger on each side (or even 5-6 inches bigger) and completely fill this space (the space between box 1 and box 2) with peanuts or rolled bubble wrap. This outer box serves as cushion--any dings will be felt by the outer box and leave the inner box (and your dollhouse) protected.
posted by museum nerd at 11:52 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]

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