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Moving Furniture/packing a container


QUESTION: Dear Harry

My wife and I are soon to be packing a 20' container on route to South Africa from the US. We have approximately 70 medium to small boxes, three 6ft couches a small table and chairs and a medium size cabinet and four bicycles (in boxes. Please comment on my plan:

My idea would be to place the couches vertically at the back of the container and fasten them securely. The remainder of the furniture will then be strapped up against the couches and a 2x4 screwed to the floor as a kicker.

Once the furniture is strapped and secured, I intend screwing two lengths of 2x4 1.5ft off either side on the container as a kicker for the boxes, this will allow two narrow access passages down the sides of the container for customs officials and strapping access.
Regards Simon

ANSWER: Hello Simon,

Everything sounds pretty good. Once the 3 sofas are vertical next to each other there will be space between them that will need to be filled in. If you have lots of wrapped sofa cushions, they would work out well here. It should be light items that can't cut, poke or rub into the sofas. They will move side to side if not secured. The layout sounds good. Just make sure nothing can move or rub through another object. Be sure to label cartons on multiple sides for identification purposes to the custom people if it comes to that.

Let me know if I can help you further on this.



---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Harry

Thank you, for your suggestions much appreciated. However I have one more.

Just with regards to the sofas stacked vertically, what do you suggest putting at the base to protect the arm rests from compressing under the weight of the entire sofa. Being vertical and due to the nature of the sofa I would think certain pressure points would develop, which might damage the sofa.



Hi Simon,

That is a very good question. First let me say that when containers are professionally packed, most all furniture is wrapped in layers. With sofas, they are COMPLETELY wrapped in padded paper sheets then totally wrapped in corrugated cardboard to fit and secured with packing tape. After all that is done, the pieces are stretchwrapped. When this is completed the sofa is pretty safe when stood on end (unless a heavily carved/ornate arm). However, there is precautions that should still be taken if the sofa style has a "compressible" arm. Sofas are place in the corner of the container, stood on end with the legs against the side wall and the back against the front wall. Put the sofas in the corners first then fill in the middle with the other sofa and soft stuff or even some cartons. The cartons shouldn't be inside the sofas unless very light.
With the sofa standing upright in the corner, a couple of things will matter as to what you do about the arms. Hopefully all the sofas will fit upright in the container or that could become another problem. If the arms of the sofa hit the ceiling, there won't be much you can do. If there is space above the sofa, the ideal solution is to support the sofa on something so that the arms are lifted off the floor. This can be done with boxes such as book cartons so that they can't crush. If you are going to place the sofa on these cartons so that the arms hang over, you have to be careful of placement. The cartons or whatever you use need to be supporting the "frame" of the sofa side and not just the middle where the fabric is. I have seen people actually build a wood box that would do this as well as suitcases, cartons of canned goods etc. You don't want any pressure on the arm center but you do want it on the arm edges. All this depends on the length of the sofa and how much room is under the sofa.

Let me know if you need me to clarify anything.

Keep me posted,


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Harry Lipsky


Moving your furniture. I would like to answer all questions dealing with the proper techniques of how to move ANY type of furniture, including difficult doorways and stairways. Also, all questions dealing with the proper packing of breakables including antiques. All general questions concerning the moving and storage industry will be answered. I cannot recommend a particular mover in a person`s neighborhood but i can explain how to obtain a company in good standing with the community. I have been in the moving and storage industry for almost four decades! I am located in Massachusetts.


I have almost four decades of experience in the moving & storage industry. When I was a small boy my father introduced me into the moving business and I have been hooked ever since. At first I started out as a young laborer untill I was old enough to drive a furniture van. As time went on I drove 18-wheelers around the country moving small shipments as well as large corporate relocations. I was taught the old school methods by men that were craftsman in their field. I learned how to pack the most delicate of breakables as well as museum pieces. It was common practice to do estimates and even the actual ratings on interstate jobs. Doing commercial moves were a big part of my moving career over the years. Some of the big names that I delt with were "GE","MICROSOFT","FIDELITY INVESTMENTS" AND "AMERICAN EXPRESS". As the years went by my family retired and sold the business (not my choice). I went on to establish my own moving company which ran for 12 years before I phased out the physical moving itself. Today I have developed a consulting service where I advise future furniture buyers as well as people moving for the first time on what to expect from their upcoming adventure. Furniture buyers are advised on what size furniture will fit through their narrow doorways and tight hallways. By choosing furniture with the right dimensions will narrow down the probability of the furniture being returned back to the store. That is not a scenario people want after waiting 8-12 weeks for their new furniture. I can also help people to understand the proper procedures of a first time move in their lives. I tell them what is to be expected,how they can save money,how to choose a good mover and what is involved with getting the packing done.

I have a FACEBOOK page for PRE-MOVE STRATEGIES. Please become a fan! I would like to have all people that I have helped to leave their comments on the FACEBOOK page.

I have a high school diploma from Swampscott High School............Swampscott, MA. Immediately after high school I entered the family business where I stayed for 20 years before moving on to my own business endeavors.

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