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What is the best way to ship model kits across the continental U.S.A.?

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Hi All. Say your a modeler with a stash that's too big and have started to find homes for the overflow. In your experience shipping things around the continental U.S., which services do you prefer and why? Are the reliability and costs much different between the U.S.P.S., FedEx and UPS? Thanks in advance, Greg

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Both the USPS and UPS have shipping calculators available online. The only caveat is that you need an accurate scale to determine weight. I always comparison shop; my experience is that the USPS is cheaper about 95 percent of the time.

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I find the USPS is typically the best way to go.  Also VoksUSA now has boxes designed for packing model airplanes.  I have been planning on buying some of these they look like they would be great either for storage or as an inner box for shipping.

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USPS for smaller packages (say under 12"x12"x12") and FedEx for larger stuff. At least its cheaper around where I live to ship USPS for smaller stuff, and Ive found shipping larger boxes for larger kits and what not, FedEx seems to be slightly cheaper here. 

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26 minutes ago, Eagle Driver said:

So do you use USPS boxes when the kit fits, or you just go with random cardboard boxes? Because if with random, don't they have to be without any labels or markings and what not?

Ideally I recycle boxes.  I try to save any box that would be a suitable shape and size for a 1/32 model airplane and remove any labels.  If I cant remove them I cover them.   Generally the USPS boxes are not a good shape or size.  Also I double box.  I pack the plane in an inner box, usually attached to a jig that I build in the box and secure to 4 hard points that I wrap in soft material like felt and then rubber band the plane down on the hard points.  This way the plane can’t bounce around.  I have build a wood jig but it is pretty easy to do with card board.  

 

Purchasing boxes gets expensive fast so any large amazon box that hit’s my door is never thrown away unless it is really large.  Also if I buy an LSP mail order if the box is suitable that it comes in I always save it collapse them and keep them stored in my shop.  I think I am out at the moment but Christmas is coming and should be getting some new boxes soon.

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6 hours ago, cbk57 said:

Ideally I recycle boxes.  I try to save any box that would be a suitable shape and size for a 1/32 model airplane and remove any labels.  If I cant remove them I cover them.   Generally the USPS boxes are not a good shape or size.  Also I double box.  I pack the plane in an inner box, usually attached to a jig that I build in the box and secure to 4 hard points that I wrap in soft material like felt and then rubber band the plane down on the hard points.  This way the plane can’t bounce around.  I have build a wood jig but it is pretty easy to do with card board.  

 

Purchasing boxes gets expensive fast so any large amazon box that hit’s my door is never thrown away unless it is really large.  Also if I buy an LSP mail order if the box is suitable that it comes in I always save it collapse them and keep them stored in my shop.  I think I am out at the moment but Christmas is coming and should be getting some new boxes soon.

 

I believe he's referring to un-built kits, primarily. I tend to use USPS priority boxes when I can, but really any old box will do.

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Kevin has a fair point, I did not notice if you meant built or unbuilt, however LSP’s tend to come in big boxes, so I still keep boxes for the same reason.  I just happened to receive my shipment from Sprue Brothers today in a nice big box that will get used one day to pack a built or unbuilt model as needed and shipped.

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So do you pre-lable them with a label printer or you just go to the postal office and have them re-check your calculations? They can be very picky at some offices.

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20 minutes ago, Eagle Driver said:

So do you pre-lable them with a label printer or you just go to the postal office and have them re-check your calculations? They can be very picky at some offices.

 

The USPS site allows you the option to download the label as a pdf, then you can print at will, and also have the pdf file for your records. I always pad the weight by a pound or two, just to make sure I've got the weight covered. In all the years I've been doing this, I have never had a package returned.

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An accurate enough scale can be purchased; they are sold at the post office as well. Remember to round the weight up when completely packed. You cannot use alcohol boxes for shipping. I put the kit in the box, scribe and fold the panels down to exact size, remove the excess and tape it shut. 

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16 hours ago, Eagle Driver said:

So do you pre-lable them with a label printer or you just go to the postal office and have them re-check your calculations? They can be very picky at some offices.

 

Both. If it's an ebay sale, for instance, I buy the postage through ebay via paypal and pre-label based on my own weight and dimension measurements. I use a simple kitchen scale for weight, and it's never steered me wrong. If it's a private sale, I either buy postage online like before, or I just write the address right on the package (or type it and print it out and then tape or spray glue it on) then pay at the PO when I drop it off. I have not had any issues doing it this way, as my local PO employees are pretty helpful. I just don't always have time to stand in line, so the pre-label thing is nice.

 

I also use old Amazon boxes a lot, I keep a stash of different sizes broken down in the store room for that. If I get too many, I just recycle them.

 

Tim

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