Best Types Of Wood for Packaging (Shipping Crates)


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One of the most extensive uses of wood is for use in packaging materials. Shipping fragile, bulky, or even heavy goods need robust boxes and what better material to use than wood? Whatever you need to ship, heavy, light, fragile or bulky, wood is the most versatile material to make boxes and crates. But then, you need to be selective in the type of wood that you use for packaging.

It would be best to make many considerations for suitable wood to make boxes, crates, and pallets. In this post, we first discuss the various aspects that make the right wood for packaging material. We then look at some of the most suitable types of wood for the purpose.

Things to Consider for Packaging Wood

You cannot select any random variety of wood for use in packaging. The wood needs to meet a specific requirement in line with the nature of the purpose that it has to serve. For instance, you need to consider the temporary nature of the wood to ship and store goods. Hence, you won’t be looking for expensive wood that will last a lifetime.

Cost Factor

The goods within wooden boxes and crates have the most value. The wood that contains them will be broken apart and discarded once the contents reach their final destination. Hence, packaging wood cannot be too expensive. Although strength is an essential factor as well, using the cheapest wood available usually works okay.

Using Softwood

Softwood comes from conifers and is more readily available and easy to work with. It is extremely flexible and although less durable, serves the purpose of packaging materials quite well, due to the short service life.

Southern Yellow Pine is the wood that we use the most in wood packaging. It occupies almost 80% of the timber market and is one of the most inexpensive varieties available. It is strong but light and bears loads well. You will also find southern yellow in the building industry, and for making paper and furniture.

Strength of the Wood

You may feel that crates and boxes need to be strong, at least those which contain heavy contents like machine parts and metallic items. But if you consider that wooden crates and boxes mostly rest on pallets, the wood’s strength is not always a critical factor. If, on the other hand, you are to use wood for making pallets, then it needs to be extremely strong.

Availability

Also linked to cost is the availability of the wood that you may use for packaging. It does not make sense to use imported wood or wood from trees that grow remotely. The cost of transporting the wood to your location will unnecessarily shoot your packaging costs.

Softness is Good

When you are packing finished goods in a box, you want to close the box to make it ready for dispatch at the earliest. It means hammering nails, staples, and driving screws with ease. Boxes made of softwood will help you get your box closed and ready to go in an instant.

Weight of the Wood

Finally, packing wood’s weight also plays a vital role in deciding which type of wood to choose. It is another reason why softwood makes a better choice than hardwood. Softwood is lighter; therefore, the total tare weight of each shipment will get reduced drastically.

Although we also use particular varieties of hardwood for packaging, it is mostly restricted to pallets or else, for boxes and crates, and you need to use planks of less thickness.

Best Wood for Packaging

You can find countless cheap but relatively strong types of wood for packaging material. However, here are some of the most popular varieties:

Plywood

Plywood Veneers
Plywood Veneers. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

You can get plywood in various thicknesses to suit the requirement. Boxes and crates made of plywood will usually be strengthened by battens through the structures’ internal parts. Plywood has almost zero chance of splitting. It also has the advantage of being resistant to termites, mold, heat, and moisture when appropriately treated. One of the most popular types of plywood is Baltic birch plywood, due to it being a highly durable, tough, and reasonably-priced form of material for packaging.

Oriented Strand Board (OSB)

We consider Oriented Strand Board (OSB) as “engineered wood.” This material consists of strands of different types of wood pressed to form boards. OSB has been around since 1963, and it has similar properties to plywood, but the structure is more homogenous and devoid of a grain pattern. An advantage of this type of wood is it becomes waterproof if treated with wax.

Douglas Fir

Douglas fir is one of the stronger softwood types, with a hardness of 620 (Janka scale). It is among the hardest of the softwoods. We use Douglas fir a lot for construction material, and it makes good packing crates, boxes, and even pallets as it bears loads rather well. It has a remarkable strength-to-weight ratio. Hence, it fulfills the conditions for use as packaging material.

Spruce

Spruce grows all across continental Europe, the US, and Canada. It has a great demand because it is a tonewood and sought after to make musical instruments. It is almost as hard as Douglas fir with a Janka hardness rating of 510, making it tough enough to use as packaging material. The bonus you get with boxes made out of spruce is that the striking, uniformly-spaced grain pattern imparts an attractive appearance. The good looks of spruce make are also favored wood for making jewelry and trinket boxes.

Pine

Pine is one of the softest softwoods and much softer than many types of hardwood. You will find this wood abundantly occurring all over the US and throughout the world. Pine is a tough wood despite its softness. It has a Janka hardness rating of 380 to 420, depending on the type of pinewood that you use.

Pinewood has a high resistance to impact and is relatively stiff, which helps to make excellent boxes. It also comes in extremely dry condition, which helps to keep the contents dry and mildew-free. Pinewood is easy to work with, takes in nails and screws easily, making it easy to seal the boxes and send them on their way with minimal effort whenever required.

Conclusion

There have been some significant technological advances in the packaging industry in recent years. Many new materials have emerged. However, nothing can replace the reliable performance of natural or manufactured wood. Once you know the wood requirements for packaging, you can identify the best wood to make boxes and crates.

Featured Image Credit: Creative Common