Moving big glass or stone table tops is easily one of the hardest-and most risky-parts of moving. Round or oval pieces can be hard to grip, especially with sweaty hands. Square or rectangular are easier to hold onto, but can still be a problem because of the weight. If you have a long distance between your house and moving or rental truck, you may find yourself with no safe surface to rest a delicate glass or stone edge on when you start to fatigue and lose your grip. Crates are the safest way to move big glass and stone pieces, as well as larger and more valuable pieces of art.
Carrying smaller pieces “naked” or uncrated might work, but larger pieces can be risky for the glass or stone and dangerous for persons carrying them. I have explained to a number of my moving clients that I insist on using crates not just to protect the item but to protect my crew. A 4ft x 8ft glass dining table that breaks can turn into a lot of long, sharp edges as well as the small flying glass shards that can get in your eyes.
Most self-movers shy away from building crates because they lack the tools or the space or the know-how. On top of that, most all crates used by movers are called “slat crates” which are made by staple-gunning 1″ x 4″s together. I’ve heard a number of clients with tools and garages and skills say they didn’t build crates because they “didn’t want to spend $3-400.00 on a staple gun.
There is an easy workaround for that.
Crates can easily be put together using drywall screws. The trick is to use 2″ fine thread drywall screws and 2″ x 4″s instead of 1″ x 4″s on the top and bottom pieces.
The fine thread drywall screws are good, but you will still have to drill 1/16th” to 1/8th” pilot holes to prevent the 1″ x 4″s from splitting, Two pilot holes at the top and bottom of each 1″x 4″ and three on the sides of the end pieces are all you need. We use Styrofoam insulation sheets glued into our crates because we reuse them, but you can just as easily use cardboard to fill the space.
One big advantage to using screws instead of staples, aside from making the crate easier to open, is that it also makes the crate reusable. The front slats, generally spaced at 12″ apart, are all you need to remove to uncrate your glass or stone. The slats will easily-and securely-screw back in for your next move. If space is at a premium, the whole crate can easily be disassembled and stored flat.
My favorite trick for making heavy crates easier to carry is to attach a 2″ nylon strap, or a “hump strap” to the bottom of the crate. Professional movers use hump straps to carry heavy mattresses. The same principle applies to using them on a crate. The strap not only allows you to step back from the piece far enough to avoid the “little tiny steps” carry but it also transmits the weight of the piece to your hips, which is the most effective way to carry weight.
These pictures of hump strapping a mattress also demonstrate how the strap allows you to keep the piece low to the ground, instead of waist high.
Tie a knot in the slack at about knee-height to grab on the strap below it. Do not wrap the strap around your hand and do not lift with your arm but instead keep your arm straight, kneel slightly to reach below the knot and the simply stand, lifting the weight of the crate with your legs.
Be sure to mirror the other person when you pick up the crate: if your helper has his or her right hand on the strap then you need to grab it with your left hand. You will generally carry the crate at a slight lean so if you are carrying it with mismatched hands you will be leaning (and fighting each other) in a mismatched direction