Making patterns

This year I found myself and my family had lots of extra time on our hands.  The Corona Virus has given us lots of more time to work around the house.  This has been great for our home because we have improved many needed areas and it has been great for our summer because now we will have more time to go out and enjoy it.  Hopefully, the country does open back up soon, but if not this is a really great time to create, build, and explore new hobbies.  So my wife and I have decided to create a new product while we are trapped inside. This has been a crazy process but it has been fun and kept us busy.

The first thing we did was to create an idea.  We got a useful idea in our head that we believed many people needed and that there was not a proper item to fill that need in existence.  Once we wrapped out head around this plan, the idea soon came.  We found a need that was not filled and found it was not patented either. 

From this point on we then created a plan for it.  We started to build the dimensions of the product and what it would be made out of.  The goal is to make it look really good so this was a painstaking process.  We started on the computer to sketch out the idea. Then once we were thrilled with the initial plans we needed to build a real outline pattern of it.  So we went to the closet and grabbed shipping supplies and wrapping paper to make a pattern to create the product.  It did take a little while to measure and cut it all correctly.  Lots of tape was needed  to hold things together, so I did make a few extra trips to gather more shipping supplies. From that point on we were on the way to making the first prototype.

Getting the pattern was really important because it allows us to use real materials only on the actual prototype.  The materials are simply more expensive that paper and tape, so remember to put your product together accordingly and not waste money on good materials when paper and tape will do. Finally after many weeks we had a working prototype and were able to test it.  It was a great journey and we hope to start an actual business out of the work we put in while on quarantine at home!

Getting Rid of Shipping Boxes

Really I am not sure how your life has been over the last few months, but for 7 weeks my state has been on a stay at home lockdown.  The stay at home order was put in place due to covid-19.  This virus has fundamentally changed the way I have lived and worked for the last 7 weeks of my life. 

What has really been a big difference is the extra amount of orders I have done online.  This is because we are only supposed to travel for essential items or for emergencies.  So I have been placing lots of online orders for the things I need around the house.  Some of those items have come in massive boxes and I am only allowed to get rid of so much trash each week.  So I am going to go over a good way to break them down and get rid of all the extra shipping boxes you may not need around the house.

The first step is to find a good way to get rid of all the cardboard.  I found that for me since I do not have recycling the answer was going to be to go out with my normal weekly trash.  For me it only comes once a week to be collected and I only have a few extra bag loads that I can use beyond my normal amount of trash.  Since I don’t have a way of recycling the boxes I am now forced to get rid of them through the normal trash.  So my way of eliminating the 3 foot by 6 foot pile in my garage will be with a trash bag.

Now I suggest if you can, get heavy duty 55 gallon trash bags because anything else and it will tear.  I have many that I have picked up in a giant box at Costco so I was well prepared for box destruction.  Next I gathered up all the boxes and began to deconstruct them.  I pulled out a fixed blade knife with a comfortable handle and started to cut the tape holding them all together.  From there I cut the boxes into a size that would fit in the 55 gallon bag.  Then you fold it flat and try to fit as much in each bag as possible.  It does take a while and I suggest gloves. Not only use gloves because of the knife, but because cardboard can cause large paper cuts that border real cuts very easily on human skin.  So stay safe, pack well, and get those bags filled with shipping boxes to the trash.

Shipping in a Pandemic.

The times are getting a little crazy as retail stores have had to change.  The Covid-19 Pandemic has systematically altered the American Economy and many stores are having to adapt quickly.  Lots of stores have gone from open storefronts to only being allowed to operate as e-commerce companies.  What the unforeseen effects have been is that now every item is being shipped instead of having a customer pick it up in the store.  This is creating lots of extra costs in many different areas. 

The unforeseen cost in all of this is time.  Changing a company from a brick and mortar store to a ecommerce business takes lots of time.  Now entire departments have to be created or changed in order to actually ship out orders. There now is no longer a cash register but a computer telling you to gather up an individuals order.  This could be lots of products from all around a store.  There now has to be essentially a new position of shopper created to gather all the orders. This takes time away from current employees doing their normal jobs because the orders have to actually be gathered and then moved into a new shipping area.

One area that many store did not quantity in their change to becoming e-commerce retailers is the cost of shipping supplies.  Products that were once going to be sold directly on off the store shelf and put into a bag are having to be packaged into shipping bags or boxes. Each and every box or bag now comes with separate costs.  The retail stores purchase the shipping back or box.  Some products require extra cost due to their weight.  Some heavy duty boxes cost between 12 and 100 dollars just for the box.  Then each package must then be sealed.  The costs go up because many different types of tapes have to be used.  Before they can be sealed some products are fragile and have to be packaged with extra materials.  So stores must now purchase packing peanuts, or air buble products and in some cases massive amounts of paper to make sure products wont shift during shipping. 

The shipping supplies  stores are having trouble keeping up with demand.  Amazon just hired 100,000 workers in order to keep up with demand and now prominent packaging stores are struggling to create enough boxes and packages themselves to ship to all these new e-commerce retailers. So take this into account that there will be extra time for supplies to reach you. Try to keep up with the correct quantity of orders coming in and purchase ahead of time.

Working in a warehouse

Back in my college days I have the pleasure of working in lots of different roles.  The summers were filled with many different opportunities and jobs in lots of different industries.  One year I had the opportunity to work in the auto industry.  I found myself working at an Porsche dealer and found myself in the parts department.  My jobs was to manage the entire parts department and keep all the inventory in stock and in its proper location. This unique opportunity lead me to become good friends with lots of different parts of the business world and not just the auto industry.  I found right off the bat that being friends with the local delivery companies was paramount to having a shop that ran well.

Knowing what type of shipping boxes would work best in multiple situations was also key. I found that talking with my local FedEx and UPS delivery driver was a crazy amount of knowledge.  They understood warehouses and what made good ones work.  The vast knowledge was worth taking time out of my day to be friends with them and get to know different aspects of their life.  They were able to walk me through different ways to ship items to be the most efficient. They also told me their preferences as driver and deliverers as to how they were able to load their truck and keep items the safest.

In tern, I was able to take their advice and purchase the best shipping boxes possible.  It lead me to spending less on damaged parts and overall a more efficient parts department.  The cost of many of the high end sports parts I was purchasing and shipping across the country was in some times extravagant.  The cost of fenders and wheels for racing vehicles was nearly always in the thousands and having them arrive damaged would cost much more than the cost of proper packaging.  These small details meant the return rate for my products went way down to a nearly non existent percentage.

I was able to save thousands of dollars in a single summer and it lead to rave reviews from my supervisors.  From there I was able to take their praise and get a higher paying position for the next summer.  In tern, I was able to hand off my process to the company and give them a sustainable way of decreasing their costs on a yearly basis.  It was a great job to have and much experience was gained at it.

How to Ship a Knife Properly

If you had asked me if I would ever have an interest in knives five years ago I would have laughed and thought you were really weird.  But alas, times have changed.  I found myself enjoying the outdoors more and thanks to my father gifting me a knife I thought was crazy at the time I have thrive outside.  Now I regularly hunt and backpack and have found it very rewarding.  I have also found myself making lots of money buying and selling knives on the second hand market.  It is a passion that has been driven by adventure and profit over the last several years.  I have also ran into some interesting experiences when sending knives in the mail.

It is indeed imperative that you use the proper shipping supplies when mailing important gear and specifically knives.  One might think that it’s ok to send them like any other item, in the box and it will simply be fine.  After all these tools are made of steel and handle materials that are meant to withstand impacts.  The issue is that they are meant to withstand impacts only in certain ways.  So if the box gets dropped on the truck or thrown around in the factory and the knife shifts it can damage it.  I have had several knives come to be with broken tips.  This is a failure on the packer of the box and a lack of proper shipping supplies used.

So what are some of the most important steps.  The first is to ship the knife and sheath wrapped separately.  This can be done by taking the blade and wrapping it in a cardboard sleeve.  Most people will not have one so it can be made by cutting another box and wrapping the blade with the cardboard.  Then you tape it closed. Fold it over the blade and apply lots of tape to it won’t cut anything. Also add another piece of cardboard to the end so the point has a place to land if the box is dropped.  Then place the knife in the proper shipping box and add a small piece of wood to the end where the point is. 

This gives a second layer of protection.  Since wood is soft yet hard enough to stop the blade, if the box is dropped the tip will go into the wood and not through the box and onto the ground.  This lessens the impact and keeps the tip from being broken in shipping.  Those are the most important parts of shipping a knife.

Mail With Confidence

The majority of the business across the world is moving to an online model. People are able to stay at home in their pajamas, read reviews about certain products, and then choose one to then get delivered to their door within a few days. This really is a luxury most people take for granted. Ordering things and then shipping boxes showing up at their door is truly an advanced way of doing business.

It has become so common so quickly that pretty much every business is expected to offer this same luxury to keep up with their competitors. Especially during a time where everyone is isolating and cannot visit storefronts, it is important to be able to send packages directly to customers. The thing is, shipping boxes vary greatly, and it is up to the business owner to decide what type of boxes to keep on hand for shipping. It would be smart to keep a few options on hand for different shipments.

Easy-fold Mailers.

These types of boxes are great for bookstores because books and magazines fit right into them. The boxes are scored in multiple different places for easy flexibility in the shipping process. The customer can browse the type of books they want and then the employees can find the book in the store, package it in the mailer, and send it on the way to the customer. Depending on the books size, multiple books can fit into one box for easy shipping.

Telescopic Boxes.

These boxes are useful for awkward shaped things. These types of boxes are adjustable and can be adjusted for any shipments. They are also good for heavy shipments because of the overlap on the bottom. Multiple things can be packed in these boxes for minimal shipping containers for the same order.

Heavy-duty Boxes.

For bigger products, heavy duty boxes are best. People who are buying big products like furniture still need the product to be shipped to them. Some boxes can even hold products fifty pounds or more. It doesn’t need to just be big items like furniture, though. Smaller products that weigh more can be shipped in a smaller size heavy-duty box. This can be things like gym weights or heavy decorative pieces.

Store owners should know the type of products they are shipping and what type of boxes work best for those products. They need to have variety in boxes as well, so they can instantly ship any orders that come in.

Mailing Art

A great way to spruce up your house is adding art to your home. Any kind of art, really. Some people choose to keep it simple and just display a few pictures of their family. Some people go all out and spend thousands of dollars on expensive art pieces that were once hanging in galleries. And then there are the people in between who want to do something more creative in their homes, but don’t really think spending thousands of dollars for a few pieces of art in their home is really worth it. Where does that leave them?

One happy medium between the two is buying local art. There are so many talented artists right in our own communities who can either be commissioned for a piece, or clients can simply choose between their favorite pieces the artist has created. When you are buying art the one thing you want to make sure is that it arrives safely and without any scratches or marks. Certain shipping supplies can prevent damage to your precious pieces.

Specifically, mailing art is a very popular way for local artists to quickly sell their products. In these cases mailing tubes are the best option for pieces on paper, poster, or parchment. Mailing tubes can be ordered in many different sizes to fit the piece exactly. The tubes can be longer, or shorter depending on what is needed. Some tubes are skinnier, while others are wider. Many different types of projects can be sealed inside these tubes. These shipping supplies make it so easy to mail pieces of art without the fear of the paper or poster being ripped or teared.

While being rolled for the tube, the artists will be careful not to crease the paper. Folding the paper will obviously leave creases and possibly ruin the design. But rolling the paper will not create creases. When the client receives their poster they can simply lay it out and maybe put a few books on each end to prevent the poster from rolling back into itself.

Mailing tubes are also great because artists can order many different colors for their tubes. They can use a color that matches their brand or just whatever they think fits their style! Some artists even opt for white or brown tubes so they can draw their own designs right on the tube. Then the client will have two pieces of art! But seriously. Consider supporting local and purchasing art from an actual person, not a company. They can mail your art directly to you!

A Great Time for the Outdoors

While people are being asked to stay home I know most people are going stir-crazy at this point. Most of us have been inside our homes for over two weeks now, with no end in sight. I think I have organized and reorganized every room in my house by now, so I am definitely looking for something different to do.

As the weather has started to warm up I have found myself on my back deck most days. I love being outside and decided this weekend would be perfect for a little camping trip. Now I know most public campsites are closed, and for good reason. We don’t need people gathering in public places, even if it is outside. But I know of some specific places in state parks that are free-range for camping. I don’t have to reserve a spot or worry about being around people.

The fresh air and a change of scenery will surely be beneficial for us during this hard time. We will learn a new appreciation for nature and being out of the house, if nothing else. Many of the camping stores are closed for now, so I will have to make due with what I currently have.

For sleeping arrangements it is actually pretty lucky that we received two camping cots for Christmas. We asked for these to use at camping music festivals and for trips to the lake when all the beds are already taken. But these will certainly be perfect to set up inside of the tent we also already have. We have fold-up camping chairs we can bring and even recently purchased a jet-boil to cook pasta or rice instant meals. We will pack all of our other belongings in shipping boxes and be on our way.

Since we are not going to be camping at reserved campsites inside parks, it might take a little hiking to get to a spot. We probably won’t be super close to our car either so we need strong shipping boxes to hold the weight of the things we will be carrying to our campsite. Once we get there we could use the cardboard for kindling for our fire. We could also tear down the boxes and make an even ground for our tent. Sometimes the ground is too rocky or uneven and a few boxes will help stabilize the ground for the tent.

This may be a more primitive camping experience than I am used to, but I think it will be worth it. I am ready to pack up my belongings and get to somewhere new.

Staying On Task

As the charm of the new year has started to wear off a lot of people are looking at themselves and realizing they are no longer working on their new year goals or resolutions. It’s almost April, but there is still many months left to get back on track. People assume if they did not achieve their goals by now then it is probably a lost cause. They will wait until next year to make the same goals all over again and fail at them, once again. So, how can you turn it around right now? How can you motivate yourself to get stuff done?

First things first, have you tried writing a list? It has been proven that people who write what they want to get done down are way more likely to actually do it. Maybe you did write your goals down! Okay, so where? In a journal in your bedside table that you haven’t opened since January. Or maybe you wrote it down in your notes app in your phone. That’s probably so far buried by now… Some people opt to keep a list on their desk at work. Okay! That’s more like it. A place where you can look at the list every single day. But, it looks like you spilled some coffee or some leftovers on it one day. Maybe the gross document is still there, or maybe it has made its way to the trash by now. We’ve established that you need to write it down. It needs to be visible. And it needs to stay clean.

My best advice would be to buy a few job ticket holders from a place that sells shipping supplies  to put around your office and home. These things are seriously great. You can put any document inside of them and the document essentially becomes waterproof! There is even a little hole at the top to tack it to your wall. Or use a magnet to hang it on your fridge. The front is clear so you can always see your document.

The more you see your goals, the more likely you are to work on them! You can even use dry erase markers to mark up your document. You can write notes to yourself or cross things off as you achieve them! Who knew there would be such great use for random shipping supplies! I wonder what else I could use for my everyday life.

Still Shipping?

Given the current climate of the United States, many Americans are nervous about their packaging and what will be happening with their orders. With any pandemic, there are going to have to be sacrifices. Some people will have to temporarily leave their jobs. Some even will be asked to stay inside for weeks on end in order to contain the virus. So the question on a lot of our minds is, will I still get my package?

For now and probably indefinitely, shipping is labeled an essential activity. It is understood that people need to receive their packages. Many people are ordering food and necessary medical supplies from companies all across the U.S. These are the people who cannot leave their homes to go pick these essential items up from their store. Shipping could be the only means for a person to get the supplies they truly need. So, shipping companies will stay open for the good of all people.

People should also not fear their packages and worry about where they are coming from. Some people are assuming their goods from highly infected areas must mean that their boxes will also be infected. The way the virus is acting right now, this simply is not true. The virus cannot stay active for more than 30 minutes on a hard surface.

Think about how long the box would take to ship to you. The people who should worry a little about the virus are the people who are handling the shipping boxes. If you are still worried about it then you can let your box sit on your doorstep for thirty minutes before opening your door and unboxing your package. Make sure you have wipes and hand sanitizer available at all times. Even better, wash your hands with soap and water multiple times a day.

A lot is going to change in the world in the next few weeks. More and more updates are released by the hour at this point. We should not be afraid, though, of shipping boxes not being delivered. There are companies dedicated to making sure the boxes are made, packaged, and then shipped to the consumer. We understand most of these packages will be containing essential items in order for the consumer to survive. It is in everyone’s best interest to keep these operations running smoothly and quickly. If you are able to, please stay home during this time. Enjoy your deliveries!