How to built a wooden crate for large format artwork shipping?

In order for your artwork to arrive safely in another country, it is very important to construct the appropriate packaging. The packaging must completely secure the artwork from tumbling and even falls. In this blog, we will describe the way we have been shipping artwork for many years.

A work of art, e.g. the painting (oil on canvas) must be ready for transport. This means that the paint and the final varnish are completely dry. On the back of the painting, be sure to write all the information about the artwork: the name of the painting, the technique and dimensions of the painting, the year of creation, the name of the author and your contact information (mail, phone …). If you have a certificate of authenticity, you can stick it with tape on the back of the painting as well. Then you need to wrap the painting in some kind of foam material that you can find in paint shops. If desired, you can additionally wrap the painting with stretch foil.

Wraped painting - with soft foam material

To make wooden crate you must first draw a detailed technical drawing with all dimensions. This part is perhaps the most important because it will make the whole process much easier and faster for you later. The thickness of the wood material you will use when constructing the crate will depend on the size of your artwork. If the painting is smaller, you will choose slightly thinner wooden bars and a slightly thinner OSB board. In our case, the painting had larger dimensions, more precisely 150 x 120 cm, so we chose an OSB board with a thickness of 11 mm, and the wooden bars we used were of the following dimensions: 4.5×3 cm, 3×3 cm, 4.5×7 cm , 8×7 cm. When making a technical drawing, always keep the following in mind: 1. Packaging for larger formats must have legs that are slightly wider in order to increase the stability of the packaging. 2. The legs must lift the packaging off the ground by some 10-15 cm, in order to allow access to the forklift. 3. Determine a place for metal handles so that people can also carry wooden crate. 4. Determine the angle of the stabilizers bars that connect the packaging to the legs and which serve as additional stabilizers. 5. Choose one side of the crate that will be easy to remove and serve as a door from which the painting can be extracted.

Shipping crate - technical drawing

You can get wood material in the woodworker shop or you can visit the “Do it yourself” shop where you will find all the material that the workers of this shop can cut for you.

Purchase of materials for a wooden shipping crate

The wood material you bought needs to be heat treated. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) sets the international standard for phytosanitary measures no. 15 (ISPM 15), which prescribes the treatments to be applied to any wood, thicker than 6 mm, which participates in international transport. In this way, preventive action is taken to prevent the spread of infections and insects that can affect plants and the ecosystem.

We decided to take the wood material for heat treatment with our car. Otherwise, if we had done it later, when the packaging was assembled, we would have had to rent a van transport because the assembled packaging could not fit in our car. Heat treatment of wood lasts about 24 hours, and at the end it is marked with a stamp in a visible place, and you will receive a certificate which contains information about heat treatment. For all other information regarding Heat treatment, visit the website of the company “Šumadija Omega” from Obrenovac.

Heat treatment stamp ISPM15

To assemble the packaging, you will need the following tools: a saw or even better a jigsaw, an electric screwdriver, a drill and drills, a meter, a pencil, wood screws. Now that you have all the wood materials, tools, and technical drawing, you can start assembling the wood packaging. This part is like a jigsaw puzzle, just stick to your technical drawing and enjoy the process!

Building a shipping crate

When you have finished assembling your wooden crate, you need to mark it with the following symbols: 

1. Fragile,  2. Handle carefully,  3. Protect from moisture,  4. This side is up.

You can print the symbols on paper, then cut them out with a scalpel and make a spray template.


Shipping symbols on artwork shipping crate

Then, you can place your painting in a wooden shipping crate.

Placing a painting in a wooden crate

Documents that we inserted together with the painting: Photocopy of the document for the export of the work of art, Photocopy of the document confirming that the packaging was heat treated (in English), Certificate of Authenticity signed by the author.

Documents we have sent to the courier service: Original – Document for the export of the work of art, Original – Certificate of heat treatment in English, and other documents that you will receive from the courier service.

The reason why we did not state which documents we received from the courier service is that it happens that courier services (DHL, FedEx, UPS) often change or add new forms. That is why it is best for the courier service to forward you all the necessary documents for export. While other documents can be found on the website of the Republic Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments (Serbia) and the website of the company “Šumadija Omega”.


We most often use the services of FedEx, we have been cooperating for many years and we have never had any problems. We sent our paintings to America, France, Spain, Austria, Australia, England, Germany, Canada … Services UPS and DHL are a bit more expensive

If you have additional questions, feel free to email us at !


Information about wooden packaging:

Weight: 40 kg

Dimensions: 165 cm x 129 cm x 45 cm

Volumetric weight: 207 kg.

Our work can be found in many private collections

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Design & Development by JA Paunkovic studio

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