Please, don’t shop at Wildwood

I don’t tend to use this space for out of channel stuff. I’m all about making and building and doing and all that, and don’t want to cloud things up with all kinds of other dross. But, this feels like a special case for all you makers out there, especially ones with laser cutters. DON’T SHOP AT WILDWOOD DESIGNS (aka Cherry Tree Toys).

One sheet cut through at 40% power 10 speed. One did not.

Wildwood Designs (site, Facebook, Twitter) sold me a bulk order of custom cut plywood. It was 100 sheets of the 1/4″ veneer core birch plywood. I’ve bought a half dozen sheets of it before at the recommendation of some folks from Artisan’s Asylum, and thought it was a good consistent material. That notion took a sharp turn as I opened up the box containing my purchase (a solid three feet of stacked sheets of wood) and found two different products inside. One was the wood I was used to, a plywood that cuts well and leaves a nice soot-free edge. The other had the same veneer jacket, but was a completely different beast. I haven’t given everything a final count, but it looks like about 70% of all my wood is the very, very bad kind.

In all sane universes, two such hugely different materials would be labeled and sold separately. It’s like ordering a hundred turkey mayo rye sandwiches, and having 50 of them arrive stuffed mainly with tuna, only possessing a thin veneer of turkey. You might rightly say: “Hey, even though you could technically call these turkey sandwiches, the insides are totally different. I am upset and desire apologies/replacements/refunds.”

Now, I brought this up to Wildwood, speaking to the same person who took my order, explaining that one material was very different from the other, and that a good portion of the material they sent wouldn’t work. Here’s the response I got back from the manager:

This sheet took four more passes to actually cut.

Dear Matthew,

I have talked to the manager regarding the birch plywood.  She said
she has no control over the inner cores of the plywood.  She suggested
you try changing the laser settings for the plywood you are having
issues with.  She said to try increasing the temperature and slow down
the speed.

Her recommendation for using plywood for laser cutting is the 1/4″
(#7009)or 1/8″ (#7008) Italian Poplar.   It works quite well with the
lasers, has a different core and seems to have more consistency when
do laser work.

Hope that helps!
Alaina

I took some photos illustrating the difference between the woods so there wasn’t any confusion. They seemed to think the problem was with the laser, or that I hadn’t bought enough wood from them. Here is my response:

More bad cuts.

Alaina,

Changing the laser settings will not improve the quality (I can go into detail if you’d like). Here are photos of the two materials side by side http://imgur.com/a/WK39d/all
While you may not be in control of the cores for your veneer, that is not my problem. My problem is that I purchased your product based upon certain material properties and you gave no indication that you would be changing these properties for a portion of my order. I have a reasonable expectation to either a) be informed of potential irregularities, which you did not do or b) have my order refunded.
As I purchased this wood for a particular purpose, and it will not work, I would like you to take it back.
Sincerely,
Matthew Borgatti

And, for good measure, their reply:

Matthew,

Message from the manager:

No, we do not guarantee cores on plywood.  And this was a special
order, plywood was cut to a special size and is not usable by us.  We
do not advertise or publish what is in the core of a plywood and it is
not controlled by us.

Please, just don't shop with these guys.

I get it. You don’t check your product and you don’t want to have to care.  The issue is, I’ve got >$700 of unusable wood on my hands and a client to deliver parts to.  If I had my say, I’d return the useless stuff for some of the good wood, no harm no foul. At the least, I want a refund for the borked up portion of the order. Currently they’re telling me “take a hike and, PS, we don’t even bother checking this stuff so it’s not our fault that we screwed you”.

I don’t have evidence that this isn’t part of some sinister cost cutting procedure, sneaking inferior stock into bulk orders to clear out duds. I sincerely don’t know. However, I do know that I’m never dealing with these folks again, and I hope for your sake you do the same. You can find all the pictures I took, comparing the good and bad veneers here http://imgur.com/a/WK39d/all

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