Etsy - hit or miss

MCH818

Hi everyone,

I am going to write a review to share my experiences with few Etsy wood workers.

The main reason is because when I did my research about these craftsmen all reviews were positive and the photos of their products looked so good. Looking back, I wish someone wrote a review that said “hey there were some issues”. That way I could know what to expect and what questions I might want to ask.

I want to preface this review by saying all of the people I dealt with were super nice and honest about what they could do for me. Also, when I reported issues to them, they were all willing to make it right. Based upon my experience they all seem to be good people.

The first will be ColoradoWoodWorker. The shop owner’s name as most of you know is Brad. As of today, he has 5 stars with 266 reviews on Etsy. I ordered a 14” borderless maple and walnut chess board back in May 2019. Here is a photo of it with my HoS 2.875 boxwood/ebonized Zagreb set. I have absolutely no complaints about the board. I totally loved it and still do. This was a hit.

Around November, I decided to buy a tournament-sized board. Seeing how I was so happy with the 14” version, I placed an order with Brad again. This time I bought an 18” version of the maple/walnut combination. When it arrived, there were 5 misaligned squares. Here is a photo of it. I circled the spots where the issues were located. I reported this to Brad and asked if he could make me another. He basically said no. He said he runs a small shop and such issues cannot be avoided. He offered to take the board back and give me a refund which is what happened. This was a miss.

I went looking for another wood worker. Someone here recommended DovetailArtistry. I looked at Dovetail’s page. I don’t remember his rating back then but as of today, he has 5 stars with 90 reviews. His chess boards looked great. What was especially attractive to me was the maple squares on some of his boards. The grain was so interesting and the color was a little darker brown than normal maple squares. I contacted the shop owner. His name is Brian. I explained to Brian what happened with Brad and asked if he could make or sell me an 18” walnut/maple borderless chess board that did not have any misalignments. Brian said he could sell me his most accurate board. He showed me some photos of what he will send me. It looked good so I ordered it. When it arrived, it was just as promised. There were no misaligned squares and the maple squares were for real. It is hard to explain but it looks like 3D baseball card. The reflection of the light changes how the grain looks. Anyhow, I was very happy until I looked closer. There were finish issues such as bubbles and tool marks on both sides of the board. I reported this to Brian. Brian was very apologetic. He said he will (his words) do whatever it takes to make it right. In the end I decided to keep the board because I can’t really see the issues unless I look very closely. Here are the photos of the issues:

I decided to also buy a box to store my new 3.75 chess pieces. The boxes from HoS and other places are so expensive. I found xZoticwoodZ on Etsy. Steve is the shop owner and as of today he has 5 stars and 29 reviews. Steve advertises that he can make a box to what ever specification the buyer wants. I bought one of the boxes and then specified the size I wanted when I made the purchase. Unfortunately, I made a mistake. The purchase receipt from Etsy had a contact button, so I clicked it and sent an email to Steve with the correct specification. The problem was Etsy won’t send the email unless you have an account which I did not have at that time. The email bounced back without me knowing. Steve already started the project by the time I realized this. I offered to pay Steve for any materials he used already. He wouldn’t take my money which was really awesome! He told me that he would need more time and I said no problem. He finally finished the box last week. I got it last night. When I opened the package, I found many issues with the box. The latch that was suppose to hold the slide top in place fell off. The bottom of the box cracked. Also, the bottom portion of two of the sides were chipped. Lastly, the sides did not seem to fit together. I was very disappointed. I reported the issues to Steve but I did not ask for a refund or to have the box fixed. Steve apologized and said he would fix the issues or even make me a new box. At this point, I was so tired of products from Etsy that I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. I told Steve it was ok. We can just leave it as is. Here are the photos of the issues.

The last review will be for JKCreativeWood. The shop owner is actually the Brokelaw family and as of today, they have 5 stars and 229 reviews. They are out in Iowa. As mentioned, I kept the board from Dovetail but the bubbles and tool marks bothered me. Also what Brad said about not being able to make a board without any misalignments bothered me. Why can’t someone make a board without misalignments? I could not understand this. I’ve seen Youtube videos on how a borderless chessboard is made. Anyhow, I decided to bit the bullet and make one more board purchase before I completely give up on Etsy. I previously contacted JKCreativeWood about their XL maple/walnut borderless board. The XL is the 18” version. I explained the situation with the two previous boards I purchased. I asked if they could make or sell me an 18” board without those issues. Someone named Keilah replied back to me. She explained that the misalignments and finish issues can happen, but she would sell me the best one they had. However, she would not guarantee there would not be any issues. About a week ago I went ahead and bought the board. It just arrived today and finally we have a hit again. In terms of misalignments, I would say the only ones present are only noticeable if my nose is touching the board. I have to be that close to see it. The finish is awesome… no bubbles… no tool marks. It has a matte finish. It almost looks plastic but in a good way. The board is so smooth that I cannot feel where the walnut ends and maple starts. Here is a photo of the board with one of my 3.75” sets.

I contacted Keilah to let her know how happy I was with the board. She told me that her grandpa has been a cabinet maker for 50 years and her dad is a true artist. She also said that they do a lot planing and sanding to get the finish so smooth. She further added that if there are any bubbles or finish issues after they are done, they will re-sand and start the process over to get it right. Based upon the board they sent me I really believe everything she said to be true. I really believe they know what they are doing and it reflects in the quality of their product.

Anyhow, I hope this helps someone. When it comes to Etsy, buyer beware!

Thanks for reading this.

Audioq

Interesting. Thanks for sharing your opinions. That box is an absolute shambles. I would be embarrassed if I made that for myself. 

MCH818
Audioq wrote:

Interesting. Thanks for sharing your opinions. That box is an absolute shambles. I would be embarrassed if I made that for myself. 

Thanks for reading my long long post. I totally agree with you. I know mistakes happen but I don't understand how someone could make that and think it was acceptable to send it to a paying customer.

sound67

The box is an absolute shambles, the seller should never have sent it to you in the first place. As for the misaligned squares in the Colorado Woodworker board, I'm really surprised. 

DrChesspain

"I circled the spots where the issues were located. I reported this to Brad and asked if he could make me another. He basically said no. He said he runs a small shop and such issues cannot be avoided. He offered to take the board back and give me a refund which is what happened. This was a miss."

The fact that he took it back and issued a full refund really makes this a wash.  When you claimed he refused to make you another, were you hoping to 1) Keep the first one for free, or 2) exchange it for a new one?  

MCH818
sound67 wrote:

The box is an absolute shambles, the seller should never have sent it to you in the first place. As for the misaligned squares in the Colorado Woodworker board, I'm really surprised. 

 

I was surprised too based upon everything I read and my first experience with Brad's board. Stuff happens I guess. What completely surprised me was Brad's answer when I reported the issue to him.

MCH818
DrChesspain wrote:

"I circled the spots where the issues were located. I reported this to Brad and asked if he could make me another. He basically said no. He said he runs a small shop and such issues cannot be avoided. He offered to take the board back and give me a refund which is what happened. This was a miss."

The fact that he took it back and issued a full refund really makes this a wash.  When you claimed he refused to make you another, were you hoping to 1) Keep the first one for free, or 2) exchange it for a new one?  

 

I agree the service was good from Brad, Dovetail, and even XzoticwoodZ. They all tried to fix it. However, my thinking was why would you send me this? Also, the problem was with buying 3 products from 3 different makers and all 3 products were not acceptable. 1 of the 3 came from someone already purchased from before and all 3 had good reviews. This doesn't instill a lot of confidence for the buyer when the result was what it was. Don't get me wrong... I love the JK board, but I'm not sure I would buy from Etsy again. I will always remember this every time I think of Etsy.

Haha! No, I wasn't trying to ask for a free board. I really just wanted a different one without any misalignments. I live in a small place so I don't have room for a lot of stuff. 

forked_again
MCH818 wrote:
sound67 wrote:

The box is an absolute shambles, the seller should never have sent it to you in the first place. As for the misaligned squares in the Colorado Woodworker board, I'm really surprised. 

 

I was surprised too based upon everything I read and my first experience with Brad's board. Stuff happens I guess. What completely surprised me was Brad's answer when I reported the issue to him.

I've read a lot about CO woodworker and this is the first negative comment I have read.  I live in CO and met Brad when I picked up my board from him.  He is a High school teacher and Wrestling coach and does his boards in his garage when he has time.  

Anyway, the misalignment seems minor and some others might not notice or might not care, but it is real and I don't blame you for not liking it.  But he gave you your money back, so you can't really ask for more than that.  

He could have just as easily kept the money and remade the board for you.  He was probably put off by your complaint and didn't want to bother with you.  That's ok too.  

MCH818

I might also add that if the JK board turned out bad, then I would only buy mass produced products from a retailer such as from HoS, chessHouse.com, chessusa.com, etc. The produced products are not one-off type stuff. I know a lot if not all from these retailers are handmade but they are bought in large qty and require a certain level of quality before they are sold to the consumer. The products are definitely more expensive and you can not get custom. However the QC would be much better and the replacements are readily available.

MCH818
forked_again wrote:
MCH818 wrote:
sound67 wrote:

The box is an absolute shambles, the seller should never have sent it to you in the first place. As for the misaligned squares in the Colorado Woodworker board, I'm really surprised. 

 

I was surprised too based upon everything I read and my first experience with Brad's board. Stuff happens I guess. What completely surprised me was Brad's answer when I reported the issue to him.

I've read a lot about CO woodworker and this is the first negative comment I have read.  I live in CO and met Brad when I picked up my board from him.  He is a High school teacher and Wrestling coach and does his boards in his garage when he has time.  

Anyway, the misalignment seems minor and some others might not notice or might not care, but it is real and I don't blame you for not liking it.  But he gave you your money back, so you can't really ask for more than that.  

He could have just as easily kept the money and remade the board for you.  He was probably put off by your complaint and didn't want to bother with you.  That's ok too.  

I think this is the problem. No one writes about the negative for some reason. You are right some people might not care but I also know there are others like me. I can't be the first who has experienced this. But yet I am the first to write about this. If I knew others experienced this before I made a purchase then I could have at least asked Brad about this before I ever made the purchase. That way I can know what to expect or perhaps go somewhere else.

I think Brad was definitely put off by it. I was expecting a different answer from him... like sorry about that, sure I can't make you another... given what his first board looked like. Anyhow I wasn't trying to insult him but I could see how my comments might have come off as that.

forked_again

I imagine that your case might have had a positive affect for future customers as  good businesses will adjust quality to what they perceive is the customers expectation, based on feedback.

MGT88
MCH818 wrote:

Hi everyone,

 

I am going to write a review to share my experiences with few Etsy wood workers.

 

The main reason is because when I did my research about these craftsmen all reviews were positive and the photos of their products looked so good. Looking back, I wish someone wrote a review that said “hey there were some issues”. That way I could know what to expect and what questions I might want to ask.

 

I want to preface this review by saying all of the people I dealt with were super nice and honest about what they could do for me. Also, when I reported issues to them, they were all willing to make it right. Based upon my experience they all seem to be good people.

 

The first will be ColoradoWoodWorker. The shop owner’s name as most of you know is Brad. As of today, he has 5 stars with 266 reviews on Etsy. I ordered a 14” borderless maple and walnut chess board back in May 2019. Here is a photo of it with my HoS 2.875 boxwood/ebonized Zagreb set. I have absolutely no complaints about the board. I totally loved it and still do. This was a hit.

 

 

Around November, I decided to buy a tournament-sized board. Seeing how I was so happy with the 14” version, I placed an order with Brad again. This time I bought an 18” version of the maple/walnut combination. When it arrived, there were 5 misaligned squares. Here is a photo of it. I circled the spots where the issues were located. I reported this to Brad and asked if he could make me another. He basically said no. He said he runs a small shop and such issues cannot be avoided. He offered to take the board back and give me a refund which is what happened. This was a miss.

 

 

I went looking for another wood worker. Someone here recommended DovetailArtistry. I looked at Dovetail’s page. I don’t remember his rating back then but as of today, he has 5 stars with 90 reviews. His chess boards looked great. What was especially attractive to me was the maple squares on some of his boards. The grain was so interesting and the color was a little darker brown than normal maple squares. I contacted the shop owner. His name is Brian. I explained to Brian what happened with Brad and asked if he could make or sell me an 18” walnut/maple borderless chess board that did not have any misalignments. Brian said he could sell me his most accurate board. He showed me some photos of what he will send me. It looked good so I ordered it. When it arrived, it was just as promised. There were no misaligned squares and the maple squares were for real. It is hard to explain but it looks like 3D baseball card. The reflection of the light changes how the grain looks. Anyhow, I was very happy until I looked closer. There were finish issues such as bubbles and tool marks on both sides of the board. I reported this to Brian. Brian was very apologetic. He said he will (his words) do whatever it takes to make it right. In the end I decided to keep the board because I can’t really see the issues unless I look very closely. Here are the photos of the issues:

 

 

 

I decided to also buy a box to store my new 3.75 chess pieces. The boxes from HoS and other places are so expensive. I found xZoticwoodZ on Etsy. Steve is the shop owner and as of today he has 5 stars and 29 reviews. Steve advertises that he can make a box to what ever specification the buyer wants. I bought one of the boxes and then specified the size I wanted when I made the purchase. Unfortunately, I made a mistake. The purchase receipt from Etsy had a contact button, so I clicked it and sent an email to Steve with the correct specification. The problem was Etsy won’t send the email unless you have an account which I did not have at that time. The email bounced back without me knowing. Steve already started the project by the time I realized this. I offered to pay Steve for any materials he used already. He wouldn’t take my money which was really awesome! He told me that he would need more time and I said no problem. He finally finished the box last week. I got it last night. When I opened the package, I found many issues with the box. The latch that was suppose to hold the slide top in place fell off. The bottom of the box cracked. Also, the bottom portion of two of the sides were chipped. Lastly, the sides did not seem to fit together. I was very disappointed. I reported the issues to Steve but I did not ask for a refund or to have the box fixed. Steve apologized and said he would fix the issues or even make me a new box. At this point, I was so tired of products from Etsy that I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. I told Steve it was ok. We can just leave it as is. Here are the photos of the issues.

 

 

The last review will be for JKCreativeWood. The shop owner is actually the Brokelaw family and as of today, they have 5 stars and 229 reviews. They are out in Iowa. As mentioned, I kept the board from Dovetail but the bubbles and tool marks bothered me. Also what Brad said about not being able to make a board without any misalignments bothered me. Why can’t someone make a board without misalignments? I could not understand this. I’ve seen Youtube videos on how a borderless chessboard is made. Anyhow, I decided to bit the bullet and make one more board purchase before I completely give up on Etsy. I previously contacted JKCreativeWood about their XL maple/walnut borderless board. The XL is the 18” version. I explained the situation with the two previous boards I purchased. I asked if they could make or sell me an 18” board without those issues. Someone named Keilah replied back to me. She explained that the misalignments and finish issues can happen, but she would sell me the best one they had. However, she would not guarantee there would not be any issues. About a week ago I went ahead and bought the board. It just arrived today and finally we have a hit again. In terms of misalignments, I would say the only ones present are only noticeable if my nose is touching the board. I have to be that close to see it. The finish is awesome… no bubbles… no tool marks. It has a matte finish. It almost looks plastic but in a good way. The board is so smooth that I cannot feel where the walnut ends and maple starts. Here is a photo of the board with one of my 3.75” sets.

 

 

I contacted Keilah to let her know how happy I was with the board. She told me that her grandpa has been a cabinet maker for 50 years and her dad is a true artist. She also said that they do a lot planing and sanding to get the finish so smooth. She further added that if there are any bubbles or finish issues after they are done, they will re-sand and start the process over to get it right. Based upon the board they sent me I really believe everything she said to be true. I really believe they know what they are doing and it reflects in the quality of their product.

 

Anyhow, I hope this helps someone. When it comes to Etsy, buyer beware!

 

Thanks for reading this.

 

 

A few words of wisdom from my experience (as a perfectionist) owning various wooden boards/sets of different levels of quality (from ultra low-end all the way up to ultra high-end); chess equipment always looks best/flawless in pictures, however, when inspected in person/in extreme detail, will always possess minor flaws (both in craftsmanship and due to the fact that wood is a natural material that is not 100% stable). To the naked eye, and to most people, minor flaws are not really visible/go unnoticed, or are of no concern; to perfectionists like you and I, they are very annoying. I would caution you to know that even ultra high-end products will contain minor flaws; obviously, you get what you pay for and quality general correlates with price, however, you will still find some level of imperfection in even the most expensive products. My advice is to understand that some degree of imperfection is to be expected, and not to obsess over the extremely fine details.

Regarding the products you purchased; the condition of that box is ridiculous, no question there; the misaligned squares rise (in my opinion) to the level of an "imperfect piece" (meaning it should be discounted for being a flawed piece, or replaced); I'm on the fence about the bubbles.

If I may say so, it seems like you're interested in border-less boards, and "The STACK" from Chess House fits the bill...I understand that it is expensive, however, it is probably roughly equal to the cost of the boards you purchased combined.

DrChesspain
forked_again wrote:

He was probably put off by your complaint and didn't want to bother with you.  That's ok too.  

 

That was my thought as well--that he might think that you were too picky to please.  

Haverumwilltravel
DrChesspain wrote:
forked_again wrote:

He was probably put off by your complaint and didn't want to bother with you.  That's ok too.  

 

 

That was my thought as well--that he might think that you were too picky to please.  

 

Excellent topic.

B.S..  You pay good money you expect to get a flawless product. Those flaws should have been addressed before they were sent out to the customer. The squares not lining up stuck out like a sore thumb. The box was way over the top in crappy work. Look at the miters.

I ordered a 4 piece magnetic board from Co Wood Worker . He informed me that he misaligned a magnet and the bore hole broke through the other side so he offered me a discount and I took it. He had no option to pass it off and hope I would not notice it. And he did offer to make me another. He did do a good job of masking the mistake. I would not order another board form him again. If he had a simple jig made up to align the magnet holes straight and even this would not of happened. That is a amateur mistake. 

My grandson in middle school could of made a better box. Esty is a good source for custom work but it is the roll of the dice.

TundraMike

If the aligning of the squares perfectly is a game-changer do not order any chess table made in China. My squares are WAY WAY OFF in the A file and get progressively worse as you get to the 8th row, I had no recourse because my wife would not let me open it and put it together till we got the living room straightened out which was 6 months later. If I had opened it as soon as I got it and took it out of the box for examination (box is so that taking it out you would not want to put it back again because if the way it is packed...would be too cumbersome for an oldster like myself). If my squares lined up that good I would be a happy man.  They obviously do not take pride in their work in China for these chess tables. You get what you pay for. The table usually can be had for under $400 shipped. If you want quality you will have to pay significantly higher than that for a chess table. 

I feel Brad does a very good job and was even thinking of asking him to do a table for me. I bought one of the first boards off of him and it is truly a beauty. Just to be completely transparent Brad does not give me a better price than anyone else on here gets. 

MGT88
Haverumwilltravel wrote:
DrChesspain wrote:
forked_again wrote:

He was probably put off by your complaint and didn't want to bother with you.  That's ok too.  

 

 

That was my thought as well--that he might think that you were too picky to please.  

 

Excellent topic.

B.S..  You pay good money you expect to get a flawless product. Those flaws should have been addressed before they were sent out to the customer. The squares not lining up stuck out like a sore thumb. The box was way over the top in crappy work. Look at the miters.

I ordered a 4 piece magnetic board from Co Wood Worker . He informed me that he misaligned a magnet and the bore hole broke through the other side so he offered me a discount and I took it. He had no option to pass it off and hope I would not notice it. And he did offer to make me another. He did do a good job of masking the mistake. I would not order another board form him again. If he had a simple jig made up to align the magnet holes straight and even this would not of happened. That is a amateur mistake. 

My grandson in middle school could of made a better box. Esty is a good source for custom work but it is the roll of the dice.

While I agree with you in spirit, I think you need to be careful with the term "flawless"; if you order a $200 USD set or board from HoS, for example, you cannot expect it to be flawless; even a $1000 USD set or board will not be flawless. The OP is buying lower-priced products off Etsy...depending upon what he paid I wouldn't be surprised to see this level of quality; for example, what did the box cost? If the box was like $10-20 USD, I wouldn't be surprised to see that level of quality.

As an example, I made a thread a little while ago about chess board warping/flatness, and how there is no such thing as a truly 100% flat chessboard; I mentioned how the "Monk" chessboard from Summerville-New England (an extremely expensive/highly engineered board) boasts that it is "flat to high degree of correctness", but still not 100%; what should we expect from low-to-mid range Etsy or HoS boards? They will almost certainly show some level of warp, or warp over time. As price increases, flaws decrease; we can't expect a "flawless" board for $50, the reason it is $50 is because it will contain more flaws (i.e., lower quality craftsmanship) than a $1000 board.

Haverumwilltravel

Your first mistake was listing to your wife.wink.png

TundraMike

@MGT88   The Spanish board maker who does veneer boards that look beautiful is a great board. Have one of their boards I bought through a USA site for the last 10 years and it looks like the day I received it. No warp. I think the material they lay the veneer onto is resistant to moisture or lack thereof unlike wood. All wood will expand and contract with humidity levels. So yes I agree with your statement no true 100% warp-free for solid wood boards. 

MGT88
TundraMike wrote:

@MGT88   The Spanish board maker who does veneer boards that look beautiful is a great board. Have one of their boards I bought through a USA site for the last 10 years and it looks like the day I received it. No warp. I think the material they lay the veneer onto is resistant to moisture or lack thereof unlike wood. All wood will expand and contract with humidity levels. So yes I agree with your statement no true 100% warp-free for solid wood boards. 

Yeah synthetic materials like MDF are probably highly resistant to humidity changes etc.; not sure what they use for veneered boards but probably something along these lines. I had unrealistic expectations about solid-wood board flatness/warping until I learned about humidity and so forth. I humidity and temperature control my chess room to the best of my ability, but we have to accept some flaws in this game, they are inevitable.

Haverumwilltravel

Splitting hairs there 88. OK, almost flawless. Geezzz And yes there is a 100% warp less board. 

Its made out of metal. wink.png