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My First KiwiCo Experience

Posted in Non-Stationery Reviews

Since I first watched one of Mark Rober’s glitter bomb videos, I’ve wished I could develop interesting things like that. However, with a background in arts, engineering is rather intimidating. When Mark first announced his engineering class, I desperately wanted to join, but wasn’t certain I’d be able to keep up.

But, then I started seeing ads for KiwiCo. It seemed like it would be a good way to dip my toes in engineering. Perhaps it would also give me the confidence to try Mark’s class. I took a while to make up my mind, but I finally took the plunge a few weeks ago and ordered the Eureka Crate.

Because it was my first order, my crate was shipped within a couple of days — future crates will ship on KiwiCo’s standard schedule — and it arrived in 4 days. Pretty good for coming from California.

The Crate

I shared my unboxing experience on Instagram. KiwiCo clearly puts a lot of effort into the planning and packaging. The box was customized for this particular crate — Mechanical Lock Box.

The number of items they managed to fit in the box impressed me.

showing all of the items that were in the box

And the pamphlet of information and instructions was phenomenal.

The Parts

The individual parts and pieces were well-made and well-finished. None of the wood pieces had any splinters or problems. The edges appear to be burnt — maybe cut with a laser? — and are perfectly smooth.

Showing the edges of the wood pieces

The Project

Creating the lock box took me about an hour and a half, including some intense finagling at the end.

Putting it together was like making IKEA furniture on steroids. It was a step-by-step puzzle. The instructions, however, are more precise than IKEA instructions, and are divided into parts and steps.

There are three parts: a) building the lock, b) building the door, and c) building the box. Each part has steps, interspersed with “Stop and Check” sections, and each step includes images and text.

The pamphlet spread with part a, steps 1-5

The steps also make it very clear which parts you should use.

There are a couple of steps where you’re basically advised to make sure that the put together piece isn’t too loose. Plastic washers are provided to help tighten things up. However, the instructions don’t provide a good definition of how tight or loose the parts should be. I think it’s telling that the only building problems I had were with those steps.

showing one of the locations in the pamphlet where the instructions say to tighten the bolts or add washers.

The Issues

Unfortunately, right at the end, I encountered some issues:

  • A part was missing
  • The “door” for the box doesn’t close tightly
  • The turning mechanism is obstructed

Missing Part

Starting with the biggest issue, a part was missing. Thankfully, it wasn’t a crucial part — it’s one of the wooden u-shaped pieces you can see below. I could actually have left it be without really noticing it’s absence. However, since the Eureka Crate is $32.95 — when paid monthly — and I wanted the complete kit.

KiwiCo’s help live chat was fairly easy to find. I just had to search on their website help center. The person I chatted with was helpful, and within about 10 minutes, I had a resolution: a replacement part would be sent to me.

Because the chat was well past shipping time on the Saturday before a holiday, I assumed it would ship out on Tuesday, which it did. Even better, it arrived in two days, coming in Thursday’s mail.

Oddly, although I was asked which part was missing, I was sent all of the wooden parts.

showing all of the extra wooden parts I was sent

At first, I thought I was sent a whole new kit. While unexpected, I figured it gave me a chance to see if the other issues I had were user error or problems with the it itself. However, once I realized that I only received the wooden parts, I’m annoyed. It’s a waste, as I can’t do anything with those other parts. They’re just trash now.

The Door

The iris door doesn’t close tightly. While it appears to close tightly when you first lock it, after a few moments, it loosens, and there are gaps between the “triangles.”

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Because of the lock mechanism, you can’t get the door open, even with the wiggle room. But, it would have been better for the door to close tightly and securely. The wiggle room takes away from the appearance of security.

The Turning Mechanism

Still related to the door, it’s very hard to open and close. There isn’t enough clearance between the iris triangle and the lock cog.

I wish the instructions had explained about that issue. When I checked the door after finishing the front panel, I assumed the problems I was having were because it wasn’t stable — after all, I was just holding it. I double-checked bolt tightness and ensure the lock wasn’t tilting, per the “Stop and Check” instructions.

showing the "stop and check" section mentioned in the text above.

But, once the box was fully built, I still couldn’t turn the key easily. And, by then, it would have been a total pain to take everything apart to add a washer to the front of the lock mechanism to add some clearance.

showing where washers could have been added
adding a washer to each bold between the cog and the circular piece would have provided the needed clearance.

However, if I hold the door and give it some help turning, the door opens OK. But, I don’t think it’s something I should need to deal with given the price of the crate.

Overall Thoughts

So, I’ve covered the good and the bad, time for my final thoughts.

This crate was fun, but I don’t feel like I learned anything. It was more like a 3D puzzle with instructions than a learning experience. However, this may be because I’ve worked with locks a little in the past. I re-keyed our locks when Jim and I moved into our home.

I’m also not sure what to do with my lock box. It’s not something I’ll use often, so I feel like it’s going to collect dust somewhere. Perhaps I’ll donate it.

the finished lock box

I’ve researched other kits KiwiCo has available — they aren’t part of the subscription service — and several of them look interesting, and would probably teach me something. They are also useful, like a hand-crank flashlight and a soap dispenser. I won’t have to worry about them just collecting dust. It was just my bad luck that my first crate wasn’t great for me.

I intend to keep my KiwiCo subscription for a few months to see how future crates are. I’ll likely also pick up a few of the non-subscription crates to try out.

I would definitely recommend KiwiCo for kids. Whether it’s a good choice for adults is still up for debate. I’ll share future crate experiences so you can decide for yourself.

Thanks for reading to the end, I hope you enjoyed my post. Have you heard of KiwiCo? Have you tried any of their services? Do you want to? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

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  1. Deborah Basel
    Deborah Basel

    Rachel, I always enjoy your write-ups and this was no exception. I had never heard of Kowi-cp before and I love puzzles, so if you had a good experience, I would have been very curious about it. I will look forward to your future Kiwi-co adventures.

    September 18, 2022
    • I’m happy you enjoyed it! I look forward to future crates as well. 😊

      September 18, 2022

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