How do I Build an Export Shipping Crate?

shipping, postage and packing image by Studio Pookini from

Your overseas customer likes your product so much that he placed a large order for more, but the order is too large or too bulky to use cardboard boxes. The only way to get your product to the customer safely and intact is to use a shipping crate. While building a shipping crate is relatively simple, there is a specific type of wood that must be used for the shipment to pass through customs. This wood, which has been specially treated to prevent insects traveling from country to country, is marked with an ISPC 15 certification stamp. You can purchase ISPC 15 certified wood at most lumber companies.

Set the product to be shipped on the floor. Stack according to box shape and necessary load distribution to ensure the product will not be damaged during shipment. Be sure to allow room for padding if necessary. Measure the height, depth and width of the stack to determine the crate size.

Find the appropriate size pallet to hold the width and length of the product. You can purchase an international certified pallet from your local pallet company, or check to see if you have one already in your warehouse. A certified pallet can be identified by a stamp in the wood bearing the letters HT or ISPM 15. The pallet will act as the base for your crate. Be sure the side of the pallet that has only 3 boards is against the floor. If the pallet is upside down, the forklift will not be able to move it.

Measure the certified plywood for the side of your crate. Take the measurement according to the length of the chosen pallet and the height needed for your product. Mark the measurements taken on the plywood. Use a straight edge to draw your line from point to point to ensure a straight cut. Cut the plywood to these measurements. Repeat the process for the ends of the crate, using the width of the pallet and the height of the product for your measurements. Cut a piece the length and width of the pallet for the top of the crate.

Measure and cut the 1-by-2 boards. You will need six boards cut to the length of the crate, six cut to the width, and eight cut to the height. Nail each board to the plywood at 2 inch intervals, creating a frame around each piece. If extra reinforcement is desired, cut additional boards to be placed on the diagonal, creating an x inside the frame.

Assemble the crate by nailing the sides to the pallet. Nail the sides to each other at the corners. Be sure to use enough nails to make the crate sturdy. After the product is placed inside the crate, nail the top in place.


  • Add an additional metal shipping strap, placed around the crate, for added security. Check with neighboring businesses for international certified pallets and crates they may be willing to discard.


  • Failure to use the proper stamped certified lumber on export shipping crates may result in the shipment being confined at customs. Wear safety goggles when cutting wood.



About the Author

Joni Ryan has been writing public interest and how-to articles since 1989. Based in a suburb of Charlotte, N.C., Ryan has written for the "Charlotte Racing News," "The Current" and "The Oceana Herald." She studied the principles of business ontology for two years with the Unicist Research Institute. Ryan completed the Coach Training Alliance life coaching program in 2006.

Photo Credits

  • shipping, postage and packing image by Studio Pookini from