Building a 30ft cut down shipping container

30ft shipping containers are very popular for a range of storage uses, but as an original shipping container they are extremely rare. For this reason the majority of 30ft we sell are made by cutting down a 40ft container.

In this guide we show you whats involved with cutting down a 40ft container to 30ft long.


30ft Shipping containers are not in common use any more. The only 30fts still regularly used by the shipping industry are ’30ft bulker containers’. These containers are commonly used for the bulk import and export of grains and powders. Sugar is a very common commodity to move in this type of shipping container.

These 30ft bulker containers are designed to be loaded with loose grains via some porthole hatches in the roof. To empty the container a special tipping chassis is used. The doors are specially designed to have a ‘letterbox’ opening at the bottom. The tipping chassis lifts the container up and the grain tips out of the back into the mill or receiving receptacle at the destination point.

They are also a non-standard height, often coming in near 9ft high (approx halfway between a standard height container and a high cube container)

When these 30ft containers are sold into the marketplace, they generally only come into the north east area. Care of the letterbox door opening we need to modify the doors to make them workable for storage use. Otherwise the end user would need to step over a circa 2ft high lip to get in and out of the container every time. Generally not a practical option for customers who may want to store large equipment or large heavy items in their shipping container.

Because of this a used 30ft container won’t be the most practical or cost effective solution for someone needing this amount of secure weatherproof storage space. Over the years our yards have built up the reputation as the major 30ft builders in the UK. We an commonly offer a 30ft container that has been made by cutting down a 40ft contianer to size. We usually do this with used containers due to price point. Very occasionally we have a customer needing something very special; as was the case in this example.

This customers brief was for a 30ft container that would be used as part of a bands tour around the UK. It needed to be smart and neat, so we recommended working with a one trip (new) container as opposed to a used one. It was going to be used to move and store electrical items and the customer requested that we ply line and insulate the container. This offers the best possible quality anti condensation treatment available at a sensible price. This container also needed all its original corner castings on the unit to allow for this to be loaded on a trailer with adjustable twistlocks. These twistlocks are the standard means to safely secure a shipping container to a truck.

Our yard kindly took these snaps as they went so that we can show you how its done!

How to make a 30ft cut down container

Step 1: Start with a one trip (new) 40ft shipping container

Here you can see the donor container we used for this project. Commonly our more popular range of 30ft refurbished containers are made from a used shipping container. These will come with more dinks and dents than you see in this example. This customer needed the smartest possible finish, hence we quoted for this project using a one trip (new) container as the donor container.


Step 2, cut the container

Using a plasma cutter we made 2 cuts into this container, one cut was made just behind the end frame of the container, and the other cut was made as close to 10ft as possible.

NB when we cut a bigger container down to size, we need to work with the corrugations on the container. This does means that commonly our 30ft containers will vary in length by approx 10cm or 4 inches in length only. In this instance this was not a problem as the customers haulier had adjustable twist-locks on his trailers. You can see from the photo here that we have cut down the centre of the inner corrugation on the container. This is the best place to make a cut for the overall finish and this is also why there is a slight variance in the length dimension on all of our cut down shipping containers.

Step 3: Remove the front end section and take out the 10ft cut out section.

Once the shipping container has been cut, we remove the spare 10ft section.

This 10ft section wont’ go to waste, we will usually make up a 10ft storage container from this spare sleeve or use it within another conversion project depending on the work we have in at any given time.

The non-door end (front end) of the container is then placed back at the end of the now 30ft long container, and set up ready for welding back up.


Step 4: Weld it back up again

Pretty much exactly what it says on the tin! We weld the container back up to make our 30ft shipping container.

You can see the original fork pockets are now out of centre underneath the container. This means they can not now be used to lift and move this container around when empty as the container itself will be off balance if lifted from the fork pockets. Any cut down 30ft container we provide can only be lifted when empty fro the top 4 lifting points, or in the case we have supplied the cut down container with full sets of corner castings, then this specific unit can also be lifted empty from the bottom 4 corner castings also.

Step 5, Finish to the customers specs.

This particular unit was given a premium repaint in pink RAL 4003. This was also going to be used for the moving and storage of electrical equipment and the customer requested that this shipping container was ply lined and insulated which offers the best possible level of condensation prevention inside the container.

This container was given a premium repaint. with this option we spend a little longer preparing the surface, but we also mask of the door rubbers and locking rods on the door. (with our basic repaint these are also painted over with the same paint used elsewhere on the container) the premium repaint doesn’t add to the lifespan or the capacity for the container do do its job well. But it does offer a smarter, neater finish.

Most common for us woudl be dark green or dark blue options, but as you can see here, genuinely any colour is possible if you want it! offer the UK’s largest online range of shipping containers for sale with a nationwide network of storage and conversion yards and crane equipped delivery vehicles.

If you need a shipping container feel free to browse our online range of shipping containers for sale, which also includes our ranges of flat pack sheds, container canopies and more. You can also call us on freephone 0808 1234 215 any time 9am – 5pm weekdays and our team will be happy to discuss your requirements. Alternatively, you can use our online shipping container quote form or request a telephone callback. In both cases we aim to get back to you within 1-2 working hours (may take longer for more detailed quotes).





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