3 Meters of Misunderstanding

I wanted to buy some food-safe wood glue because, with the overabundance of jatoba, I want to try to make some end-grain cutting boards to go with my knives. I wish I could also make those cutting boards from the very beautiful black locust but that wood is poisonous so probably not the best choice for cutting boards that come into direct contact with food even though the toxicity can allegedly be negated by heating it up to 70°C and holding it there for a few minutes. Best not to risk it, at least until I can find a reliable source confirming this.

Anyhoo, local shops did not have the glue that I desired, so I had to order it online.

And when I was ordering it, I have also decided to order some other materials. Including 3 m of 6 mm aluminium tubing for hidden pins in my knives. Aluminium is cheaper than brass, it should be more than enough strong for these pins, and I reckoned that 3 m will last me probably forever – I can cut about 250 10 mm pins out of 3 m. Enough for roughly 120 knives, so probably until I have to get employed or die of starvation. And when I was at it, I have ordered some brass and stainless steel pipes too.

However, I have assumed that I will get one delivery containing all of these assorted pipes. Which was not the case. They split it into three deliveries, each with one-two tubes in a package hundred times their volume. Already extremely wasteful – and that was not all. I have also assumed that the tubes will be delivered as 1 m pieces since that is the form in which they are being sold in the b&m stores of this company. So you can only imagine my surprise when I received this package.

© Charly, all rights reserved. Click for full size.

That is a huge, 3 m long hard cardboard tubing of ca 100 mm diameter. It was used to deliver a single 6 mm aluminium tube.

I will probably cut it into shorter segments and use it to ship my knives if someone buys them. I am at a loss to think what else to do with it. Simply tossing it into trash seems wasteful. I totally fail to wrap my head around this – if they were going to send this humungous package, why did they deliver all the other tubes in separate packages? They would fit handsomely in this, with room to spare. I do understand why they sent the glue separately.



  1. flex says

    My first guess is subcontracting.

    It is not uncommon that a company which sells the material to the public doesn’t stock the material itself. So your order was split into a couple different orders, sent to the various sub-suppliers, and they packed the tubes and shipped them out. They may even use the return address from the original seller because if there is a problem it’s gotten to the point where the original seller doesn’t want the material returned, instead they will send replacement material.

    So your order for 3m of aluminum rod went to one sub-supplier, they didn’t have any instructions about whether you needed it in 1 meter lengths or larger, and they probably had 3 meter shipping tubes. So, cut a rod into a 3 meter length, put it in the tube, and ship it. Easy.

    The glue and pipes probably came from different sub-suppliers, or, on the off chance that they were in the seller’s inventory, from different warehouses. It’s easier, and cheaper, for a company to ship from different locations directly to you, then to try to combine the shipments into one. The additional shipping cost for 3 shipments to you is lower than the cost of shipping all three (or two of the three) to another location, unpacking the material, then re-packing it and shipping it to you.

    Mind you, this is just a guess. The only way to know would be to call up the customer service from the company you ordered from, and even the customer service team may not really know why.

  2. dangerousbeans says

    @ Ice Swimmer
    i reckon they thought it through: “we only have 100mm tube in 3m lengths, trying to source something more sensible involves bothering my boss and waiting for the new shipping material, and it’s not like this won’t work.. eh, screw it” :P

    it’s a good size for knife shipping, and knives are weird shapes to ship if you don’t make presentation boxes.

  3. says

    Packing and shipping is an area most puzzling. I swear I had something that came in a square box packed into two additional square boxes…
    Treat it as free packing supplies…

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