Best Practices For Shipping & Moving An Assembled Desk

Posted in Blog on Jun 10, 2016, tagged with furniture, how to, office moves, preparing for your move

Shipping an assembled desk may sound like a simple task, but don’t look to T.V. for tips on prepping your desk for shipment. There are a few more steps involved than simply picking it up and moving it if you want to ensure it arrives undamaged and in one piece. Let’s take a look at the steps you should take to prepare you desk and how to select the right shipping company for the job.

How to Ship an Assembled Desk: Better NOT Call Saul

Fans of the Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul, know what a cocobolo desk is. (Warning: Minor spoilers upcoming.) For the uninitiated, cocobolo is an outrageously expensive exotic wood from Central America. In Season 2, Saul whimsically asks for—and gets—a desk made of cocobolo when he joins a big law firm. Not much later, Saul gets himself fired but manages to keep the desk as a kind of going-away present.

Now, Saul is a great charmer, a great lawyer, and a great con man, but a horrible furniture mover. The multitudinous mistakes Saul makes transporting his cocobolo desk via freight, from its former Santa Fe location to his cramped office in the back of an Albuquerque nail salon, are instructive in terms of understanding the best ways to ship a desk.

7 Steps for Prepping Your Assembled Desk

Saul does nothing to prep his valuable cocobolo desk ($7,000, to be exact) for transport. Does he not know that truck trailers, no matter how meticulously they are maintained, are magnets for dust and dirt? Is he not concerned that termites, rodents or other wood-boring vermin can invade his desk while being shipped? Here's what he should have done:

  1. Remove or invert drawer handles to eliminate protrusions — the cleaner and flatter the surfaces, the less likely a part of the desk will get dinged or knocked off. If handles and handle hardware are removed, wrap them in bubble packaging or non-abrasive, unprinted paper to prevent scratching, and pack them in a shipping box, taking care to mark the contents.

  2. Remove all contents from desk drawers. Decreasing the weight of the desk will reduce the cost to ship it. In addition, valuable documents should not be shipped, as the risk of theft or loss is rather high. Many freight carriers will not accept valuable documents anyway.

  3. Tape desk drawers closed, taking care to use a tape that will not leave a residue that will mar the desk surface. Not sure which tape to use? Check with a hardware store professional.

  4. Wood and metal desk surfaces are vulnerable to scratching, so protect them:

    • For desk surfaces that are not particularly delicate, a non-abrasive, non-printed paper can be used as a wrapping.
    • For more delicate surfaces, bubble packaging or flexible polyethylene/polypropylene foam not only protect surfaces, but add cushioning protection as well. These materials can be purchased online or at many hardware and office supply stores for a reasonable price.
    • A final option for surface protection is a paper or plastic masking film — the kind of stuff you may have seen protecting the surface of a TV or mobile phone screen. For these products, check with a professional to select the right one! There are many types of adhesives, and the wrong type will stick permanently to your desk — or not stick at all. Whatever tape you use for wrapping, take care to avoid letting it come in direct contact with the desk surface, as the adhesive could transfer and cause damage. (This is more likely to happen if the desk is exposed to hot, humid conditions during transport.)
  5. If practical, remove the legs of the desk and package them in the same way as drawer hardware. Removing the legs creates a more stable foundation for the desk when it is stowed, reducing the chance of shifting and/or a leg getting damaged.

  6. If your desk is rectangular or square, you can use four corner posts (long, right-angled pieces of cardboard), and then have someone hold them in place while you stretch wrap around the desk. Stretch wrap provides protection against dirt, dust and other environmental contaminants. Corner protectors and stretch wrap, along with disposable stretch wrap dispensers, are available online and in some hardware and office supply stores.

  7. For a really expensive desk, such as a cocobolo or an antique, or if your desk is irregularly shaped, crating may be a worthwhile option. By securing your desk within a handmade wood crate, you will give it the ultimate in protection while it is being handled and stowed.

Selecting an LTL freight company for shipping an assembled desk

Saul rents a truck and asks a colleague to help him move his unprepped cocobolo desk. They muscle the ultra-heavy item on and off the truck, and through the narrow doorway (which Saul failed to pre-measure, by the way) into the new office. Miraculously, neither the movers nor the desk were harmed — but this is TV, and in real life the risk of damage and injury with a DIY desk move is high. What you should do when selecting an LTL (less-than-truckload) carrier to move your desk:

  • Select an LTL freight company like ours — one that has experience moving heavy, awkward household and office items. If the LTL carrier is inexperienced, it lacks the expertise or equipment to handle and stow the item(s) correctly, opening the door for damage.

  • Select an LTL freight carrier that has established business along the route your desk will be taking. Since LTL carriers combine loads from multiple customers to fill their trucks for delivery, if the carrier has a lot of business in your pickup and delivery locations, your desk will get where it is going faster and at a lower cost because the carrier is more efficient with routing.

  • Make sure your LTL carrier is properly insured — especially important when a valuable desk is involved. All LTL firms carry insurance, but the policy provisions vary widely. If the LTL carrier’s coverage is inadequate, you can purchase additional insurance through the carrier or on your own.

Better Call TSI

Most Better Call Saul fans are waiting for major plot twists to play out in Season 3. Here at Transit Systems, we are more interested to see if Saul learns anything about how to ship an assembled desk. Our company has been transporting assembled desks since 1989. We offer basic shipping services, as well as premium prepping and shipping services for customers who want to take a completely “hands-off” approach. Whatever you need to ship your desk, we are ready to help!