The shelf is not the same from one side of the boot to the other ,nor is it the same from one boot to the other. I have never seen a shelf on any boot, so I can't say good or bad on that. It seems that a shelf this large would be a bad thing on a work boot, one made to wear fighting forest fires as it would be able to load up with embers, ash or mud. The Bounty Hunter is a Smoke Jumper made on a semi dress last, so it should be a dressed up work boot . No? Thanks for your input on this. It is a learning experience and it will work out in the end. I doubt I will be happy wearing these as they are and I trust Baker's will make it right.
The inner shelf (the one on the inside of the boot) is larger than the outer shelf because of the way the upper is shaped, so the "shelves" on one single boot will not be the same on both sides. As for the left boot being different than the right, I would say that is a common complaint about White's. I think only if there is a drastic difference does anyone really notice or return them. I have three pairs, and there are definitely minor differences between the left and right on each one. It's just part of the process when building something by hand with very thick leather.
The shelf protects the upper from punctures coming from below. When fighting fires you're supposed to try and not wade through 4" deep piles of embers. Besides, the embers really won't hurt the uppers if they are properly treated and cleaned once you get out of the fire. I mean, if you're standing in one spot and the ground is glowing red and 700 degrees as far as you can see, you better get moving.
I know what you mean about the BHs being built on the SD last, but that is just the shape of the upper. The basic boot itself is still a SJ workboot.
I know what you're saying though. I would definitely contact Kyle at Baker's and I have no doubt he'll do what needs to be done.