Packing Tape Is Your Friend


This blog is primarily for content of a pastoral or theological nature. But there is a piece of entirely secular wisdom so valuable, so hard-won from 12 moves in the span of 10 years, that I feel compelled to share it here. That piece of wisdom is this: when it comes to loading cardboard boxes, packing tape is your friend.

You are probably familiar with the classic over-under-box-top-foldy method of closing a cardboard box. Like this:


This method, unlike packing tape, is NOT your friend. You inevitably bend a piece of the cardboard, or you lose track of what goes under and what goes over and have to start all over again, and most importantly, you end up with a wobbly box. This is fine for a little box – although even with little boxes it makes them harder to stack – but it can spell disaster with a big heavy box. Woe betide the unsuspecting soul who picks up an overpacked over-under-foldy-closed box and attempts to carry it down the basement stairs. Behold:


What is the alternative? Packing tape. This is obvious in the case of, say, international moves, but I contend that the same is true for moving a box of old electronics from the garage to the back of your car for a trip to the recycling depot. Look at the difference, holding the same box, nicely sealed with packing tape:


Any minor objections to this method can easily be overcome. Packing tape isn’t always handy? KEEP it handy, in your basement, garage, and kitchen. It makes the box harder to open? Box cutters and scissors make quick work of it, and you can keep them handy too. It’s more expensive? This is true, but you can get all the tape you need for years for less than 15 bucks. (Note: this blog post was not sponsored by, nor do I endorse, any particular brand of packing tape. I’m lazy, and that’s the first result on Amazon.)

So, there you have it – the most valuable piece of entirely mundane wisdom that I’m likely to share on this blog. Blogging on more spiritual subjects will resume shortly.

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  • Mark in Ohio

    Some tips I’ve picked up from working around professionals on this: 1- be aware that there are different weights of packing tape. The cheaper tape tends to be thinner, which is easier to tear by hand, but doesn’t hold up as well. The better tape also has better (stickier) adhesive. These both can be significant if you have stuff you are packing for long term storage, or for larger boxes.

    2 – If you have to do a lot of boxing (like for a move), buy and learn to use a packing tape gun. There’s a reason you see them out on shipping docks, where people spend lots of time making up boxes. It makes the job a lot quicker and easier, and keeps you from fighting and wasting tape trying to cut off long pieces and get them in place. It helps you get the box assembled without leaving those gaps between the bottom flaps, the ones that either create weak spots or stick to whatever you put in the box. The tape gun also keeps you from wasting time hunting for the free end of the tape roll.

    3 – a pocket knife with a handle clip, the type designed for one hand opening, is your best friend during a move – especially when unloading. Get used to handling it with one hand and clipping it back to the top of your pocket when done. This will save you a lot of time and frustration playing the game of “Where did I set down my knife (or scissors). It takes some time and practice to get good at opening and closing them with one hand, but when you have it mastered, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner. Spyderco makes excellent knives of this type, and there are many others, including those that use replaceable utility knife blades. These are handy if you don’t have sharpening gear or work in areas that can be destructive to blades- you just replace the blade when it dulls. Personally, I don’t understand how anyone functions without owning a good pocket knife (or several, for different purposes), but I understand that people like this exist.

    • EXCELLENT tips – thank you! Especially number three – I’ve had a Gerber multi-tool with belt holster for years but never got into the habit of carrying it regularly. I strapped it on during our most recent move and now I feel helpless without it – it makes a big difference to be able to tear down a box IMMEDIATELY rather than shoving it in the corner for later.