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I have had several requests from as to what is the best way to pack mandolins safely. Below I share my packing method for what its worth. I have currently posted over 200 instruments, to all corners of the world, and have very little damage. 

Following, is a short section on converting your posting box into a light case, as most of these restored instruments do not come with cases.

When posting within or from Great Britain, I can offer some advice. Pack light, use plenty of bubble wrap, and go for small packet rate.

UK Postage

Post Office Standard Parcels within the UK up to 1.5m long; up to 2 kgs for 4.20; up to 4 kgs for 6.85.

Link: http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/content1?mediaId=51000711&catId=400031 (Mar. 09)

International Postage

Post Office International Signed for Small Packages; up to 2 kgs @ 14.61 to France; 

over 2 kgs it becomes International Standard Parcel and the price doubles.

Link: http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/content1?mediaId=22700572&catId=400035 (Mar. 09)


   First, select a box that is ideally wide enough, but not quite long enough to fit the instrument.

   You need to re-crease the corners at one end, thus making the end narrower, a little wider than the head, and the box longer, long enough for the instrument and then a bit.

   Trim bottom flaps to fit and tape up. Overlap the two bottom flaps for greater solidity if required.

The instrument should sit in the bottom with some space (5-10 cms) all round. (left)

   Next make the centre section to fit at the base of the neck. Allow feet to stick on the bottom and at the sides. (right)

   Tape in securely. This will help make the box more rigid longitudinally, and hold the mandolin in the centre of the box.

   Cut a slot in the centre-piece to take the neck. I often use a top piece to slot on top of this centre section, to keep packing around the body.

   Cut down the sides of the box, allowing enough room for packing below and above the mandolin. )I usually find 25cms deep is about right) Don't  cut the old top flaps off yet.


   Wrap the mandolin in at least 2 layers of bubble wrap. Next you will need flattish pieces of polystyrene. These will be placed under and over the instrument, either side, and at the tail and head.

   These are the high-impact protection. Sometimes I tape them to the box, sometimes to the instrument.

   Next, pack around the instrument to stop it moving around, and increase the structural integrity of the box. I use either crumpled newspaper, polystyrene pieces, plastic air-sacks, or a combination. You can fill the whole box, or just the body section.

     Overlap the two lid sections for greater solidity if required.

The corners are most vulnerable, you can re-enforce these if you like.


   Finally tape up the box with parcel tape, leaving no raw or cut edges. Almost all mandolins I can now pack up in a package of less than 2kgs, though this does take me about an hour.

Write the address on the box, not on a stick on label, which can get scraped off. Also write your own senders address somewhere in case of problems or non-delivery. The service used and level of insurance, will depend on the value of the instrument.


Photos shortly....

   Keeping the mandolin in a case is important, as not only is it protected from knocks, it is further shielded from the sometimes devastating effects of temperature and humidity changes.

The posting box is usually 20-25cms deep. It does not need to be this deep for a case. First of all, re-tape the box until it is solid. Measure the depth of the instrument and add about 2-3cms. Draw a line all round the box at this height. Cut the top off along this line.

     Now cut the top at two of the corners, so that it fits snugly over the sides, leaving one long side flapping. This will be taped on to the bottom and act as the hinge.

 Tape both sides with something substantial like 'elephant tape.' This could be re-enforced with paper fasteners in need be.

  On the opposite long side, tape an extension that will serve as a safe catch around the handle. It will need to reach just over half way down the side. Through this flap, cut a long slot about 1cm. wide and 10cms. long, nearer the wider end. Mark its position on the side. At each end of the slot outline on the side, make a hole.  
     Behind the holes, glue 2 extra pieces of card as handle re-enforcement. When dry, re-bore the holes thru the re-enforcement. Push some thick cord thru one hole and knot inside. Push the other end into the box thru the other hole. Select what is a suitable length for a handle, and knot inside. Cut off any excess. The ends may be taped down if you wish.  
   Make good any edges, corners or joins with tape. Replace or repair any very damaged sections. Make sure the centre section is firmly fixed. Finally the box may be lined.... fur fabric or foam rubber work well, and the exterior may be covered in self-adhesive 'fablon' or something similar. I carried one of my instruments around for nearly 10 years in a box like this, neither lined nor covered, and it worked very well.