November 18, 2011:  How NOT to pack a mirror

Luckily I haven't held off too long writing about this.

That is, luckily no clients that have sent me improperly packed mirrors have had one damaged in transit.... YET.

The operative, important, and emphasized word in the previous sentence is YET.

If this type of shipping keeps up, it is inevitable that one will be damaged on its way to me eventually.

So, since I hadn't posted an update lately, when I received my latest shipment I got that "sinking feeling" in my stomach, and I knew I had to write an update.

On the exterior, everything looked fine - no damage to the box - but as soon as I saw the package I knew there was an issue.

How did I know, you might ask?

Well, when the UPS driver handed me the package, I knew there was a 16" mirror inside, and I could tell right away the box was not nearly as big as I would have liked.  Luckily I saw no damage on the box, so I signed for it and took it into the shop.

The photo below shows what it looked like when I opened it.  "Features" of the packing are listed on the image, and an 18" ruler is wedged into the cardboard flaps just above the mirror for scale.  There was some cardboard and another piece of squishy foam on top of the covering of the mirror, pushing it against the coated optical surface.

Insufficient mirror packing

All things indicated on the image are problems:
  1. The loose covering on the mirror can shift around, rubbing dust and grit on the coating and scratching it.  It was not taped on at all, just set on top of the mirror's surface, and was pushed on by another layer of squishy foam.
  2. The squishy foam allows the mirror to move around under rough handling, subjecting it to possible damage and increasing the movement of the loose covering.  Empty space allows the mirror and foam to move around, possibly loosening the packing further. 
  3. The secondary mirror wedged in the corner could be damaged by the primary smashing into it during rough handling, or the foam could be dislodged and the secondary could end up bouncing against the primary all the way to the destination.
  4. The box is less than 18" wide, which is too small for this size of mirror.
See how I pack mirrors in the next installment of "In the Shop".

Mike Lockwood
Lockwood Custom Optics

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