There are two ways to package maps for shipment: flat or rolled. It is generally easier, safer and less expensive to use the rolled method. However, a fragile map should not be rolled and it is difficult to make a sturdy package larger than approximately 40 x 40 inches (100 cm). A folded map, such as a pocket map should be refolded and packaged in a flat package.
The key to protecting a map in a flat package is to make a rigid package that cannot be bent. That means choosing a stiff, sturdy material such as thin plywood, Masonite, or doublewall corrugated cardboard without any creases. Do not use a recycled box with creases - it will damage your map! If you use cardboard, you will need at least four sheets, alternating the direction of the corrugations for added strength. Flat packages made from cardboard are adequate up to roughly 24 x 24 inches (60 x 60 cm).
Begin by wrapping the map(s) tightly in Kraft or wrapping paper. Take care not to bend the paper edges, but still wrap the maps securely. Measure that package and then cut the boards so they are at least 4 inches (10 cm) larger than the wrapped map package. For instance, if the map package measures 15 x 20 inches (38 x 51 cm), the boards should be cut to at least 19 x 24 inches (48 x 60 cm). Securely tape the map package to the center of one of the boards (so there is a minimum of 2 inches (5 cm) of space on all sides. Cover the package with the other board or layer the cardboard so that the map package is at the center and tape the sides securely closed.
Choose a tube that is sturdy and with adequate diameter and length to protect the map(s). Do not use a thin-walled (.070 inch or 2 mm) shipping tube. The standard tubes sold by the post office and office supply stores are not sturdy enough. The tube should have a wall thickness of at least .125 inch (3 mm) and be at least 3 inches (7.6 cm) in diameter. A good alternative, especially for large maps, is plastic pipe available from plumbing supply stores. The length must be approximately 4 inches (10 cm) longer than the shortest side of the map. If you have several maps, this 4-inch rule is for the largest map. Any map that has a centerfold must be rolled so that no additional stress occurs at the fold, i.e., rolled so that the fold lies along the length of the tube. For instance, a map measuring 15 x 24 inches (38 x 61 cm) with the centerfold running along the 15-inch side requires a tube at least 19 inches (48 cm) in length.
Cut a sheet of sturdy Kraft or wrapping paper to the size of the length of the tube, less the depth of both end caps and at least 6 inches (15 cm) longer than the longest side of the map. Be sure the width of the sheet matches the length of the tube, less the depth of the two end caps. The Kraft paper protects the maps from damage.
Lay the map, or the largest of multiple maps, in the middle of the paper so there is at least 2 inches (5 cm) of space on the sides. Lay the other maps on top of each other alternating from side to side so you don’t have all the maps on one side. Generally maps can be laid on top of one another. However, if there is tape, glue or a rough binder’s stub on the verso, it is best to interleave them with tissue or Kraft paper.
Place a cap in one end of the tube. Carefully roll the maps slightly tighter than the diameter of the tube. Do not apply any tape to hold the roll closed. Slide the roll into the tube and shake it gently to allow the paper and maps to expand against the sides of the tube. Insert the other cap into the tube and tape both ends securely.
Note that you do not put any extra paper or cushioning into the ends of the tube. If the Kraft paper is sturdy, cut to the correct size, and allowed to expand into the tube, it will hold and protect the maps from damage.
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Open exclusively to independent, university, and self-published titles, the “IPPYs” are awarded in 80 national, 22 region, and ten e-book categories. We are thrilled and honored to have won the Gold Medal for Reference Books.