Flap Clamps Make Packing Easier
Anyone who has done any packing knows it’s quicker and easier to pour in loose fill than gradually scooping in the fill. The problem with pouring is the difficulty controlling the flow without an expensive overhead hopper.
Large full time shipping rooms solve that problem with a simple device—a flap clamp—which holds the box’s flaps straight up. With the flaps up in a funnel-like shape, you can pour loose fill into boxes directly from the large bags and it ends up in the box, not on the floor. The clamps, simply a rectangle with two parallel slots, slide over the top edges of the flaps of any two opposite corners.
Commercially made flap clamps are available in metal and plastic but for part-time online shippers, it’s much more practical and economical to make your own. The clamps shown here are made of one-eighth inch thick fiber board (Masonite® is one brand) but almost any rigid smooth-surfaced material between one-eighth and one-quarter inch thick will work including plastics and solid wood. Sheet metal and aluminum also work if you have proper tools to work them.
If you prefer not to use saws or other shop tools you can even make flaps from quarter-inch foam core board or glued up sheets of ordinary corrugated cardboard. Those materials can be cut with simple craft knives; they just won’t last as long as wood or metal. But don’t be choosy about material; use whatever you have on hand.
The example shown works on flaps on most all sizes of single wall corrugated boxes. It is 11” X 5” with two 3/8” wide slots cut 2¾” in from the edge. Power tools are nice, but most materials can be cut with ordinary hand saws. It isn’t essential to keep the overall rectangular shape absolutely square but try to keep the slots perpendicular to the bottom edge and as parallel as possible. I cut the slots in the samples shown by “nibbling” a penciled outline on a table saw but you could also use a band saw, router table, a hand held jig saw or regular hand saw. Sheet metal and aluminum, of course, require appropriate blades.
With the exceptions of foam core and cardboard, be sure to sand or file all the edges of the slots taking special care to round over the opening. Sharp corners there tend to catch the cardboard flaps. Test your clamps to make sure they slide on and off the flaps easily and adjust as needed. Most materials should be finish sanded with 220 grit or equivalent abrasives including plastics and metals. The examples shown also have a quarter-inch hole drilled in each corner for easy hanging on the side of the packing table.
You’ll need a minimum of two clamps for every box but I’d suggest making four. Flaps on large boxes over 18” per side can become unstable if held with only two clamps. Besides, as long as you’re making two it isn’t much more work to make four especially if you have access to power tools. Once you have the basic rectangles cut, simply gang them together to cut the slots.
By Mark Chervenka for Ruby Lane