American-Made Clothespins
Are In Production

Dateline: 16 August 2013

An early prototype clothespin


I drove to Memphis today. No, not that Memphis. I'm talking about Memphis, New York. It's less than an hour from my home, but I've never been there before. Memphis is a very little rural hamlet along what was once the Erie Canal. I'm led to believe the place was a bustling center of commercial activity back in the early to mid-1800s. But there's no bustle of economic activity in Memphis these days. From what I could see the town has a volunteer fire department and a lumberyard. It was the Memphis Hardwood Lumber Company I was interested in. I had ordered nearly 200 square feet of 3/8" thick ash lumber for my first production run of Classic American Clothespins. This day has been a long time coming.

It was back in April of 2012 when I announced at this here blog that I wanted to start up an American-made clothespin company. I had come to the realization that American-made, hardwood, spring-action clothespins were no longer being made, and American line-dryers weren't happy with the, cheap, poor-quality, imported clothespins being sold in the Walmarts and Dollar Stores of the land.

My announcement brought a surprising number of positive and encouraging comments from readers.  I took that as validation that I ought to proceed. I soon contacted a spring manufacturing company and we worked together to create a high-quality stainless steel clothespin spring. I invested in an initial order of 50,000 springs and got them in June of 2012.


Custom-made stainless steel clothespin springs

In retrospect, I am a little surprised at myself for moving so quickly on the idea. I dare say it was almost impulsive. But I was feeling positive and springs are a critical part of the product. My plan was to get the springs made and then develop the clothespin design. 

Then, last September that I posted the following picture...




I made a LOT of prototype clothespins and just about had my final specifications figured out when I posted that picture. But I wasn't quite there. Into October I continued to tweak the measurements and I used up every last scrap of hardwood lumber in my work shop. The last piece of wood I cut up was a short section of wormy chestnut that Earl the Bee Man had given me years ago.

The wormy chestnut clothespins came out just right. I finally had my critical dimensions. I was pleased with that, but winter was coming and I had to get on to some other projects. I stashed the chestnut beauties in a safe place and  determined to get back to the clothespin project after I finished The Planet Whizbang Idea For Gardeners, and that's pretty much what I've done.

Since my little workshop is too crammed to make the clothespins, I've set up an outdoor workshop under a tent...

 
View from the steps of my shop, down into the clothespin workshop. The hat is over a post at the top of the stairs. That clothespin on the hat is one of the wormy chestnut ones. (click picture for a closer view)

Where there's a will, there's a way, eh?  I have a table saw and three router tables set up under the tent. The weather is supposed to be good into next week. Even if it gets bad, the tent sides drop down. 

So I'm on my way with the American-made clothespins. I will be keeping track of my time and material costs going into this first production run. Then I can figure a selling price. I'm afraid the cost of these crafted clothespins will end up being more than most people will want to spend, but they will be heirloom-quality clothespins that are strong and dependable, unlike the cheap imports.

Stay tuned.....


12 comments:

Gorges Smythe said...

I hope your clothespins sell like hotcakes!

Mrs. T said...

I'm looking forward to buying some! My made-in-China clothespins are falling apart. Keep us posted :-)

Sunnybrook Farm said...

This is wonderful, I sure hope you get a good production run and sell out. It will all fall into place, typical learning curve thing. Of course you realize that people will now need American clothesline!

Sharon said...

I'm excited! My mother refused to throw away HER mother's wooden clothes pins, who died in '87. I tried to get her to get rid of them. "Why are you keeping them?", I asked. "Because they were Mother's," was the only answer. Now, I'm glad she still has them - unless she finally decided to ditch them. You're right about new clothes pins. What nerve to pawn those things they sell now off on us as clothes pins! I use them, but they are not very strong or long lasting. Thanks for being willing to take up a small task.

You Can Call Me Jane said...

How timely a post! I just emailed my mother in law to ask her if she could pick me up some clothespins in Lancaster, PA, figuring the Amish must have access to heavy duty ones. I am SO tired of buying cheapies to replace cheapies that fall apart (sometimes the first time I use them). I can't wait to try out some of yours:-).

melldot said...

Am very much looking forward to these clothespins. Had some Amish made 'split' pins that work very well but would love to have a supply of clip pins. Can't wait!

shannon templeton said...

Sign me up... I want a big bag of them.

Lady Locust said...

I can't wait! I actually went to a hardware store looking for 'the good kind of clothes-pins' not those narrow ones.
Thank you,
JoeyLea
http://www.thelocustblossom.blogspot.com/

kathyinozarks said...

I am a new reader-just a month or so-I can't wait to see your finished product-how very cool!! keep us posted Kathy

Herrick Kimball said...

Thank you, everyone, for the positive comments. My son and I made a lot of sawdust today. I will certainly provide updates here and when the clothespins are ready I will announce it here first. That announcement is probably at least a couple weeks away.

Clinton J said...

Are they ready yet? Just kidding... sorta. I'm almost finished building our clothes line, don't let me down here :)

My wife will be very excited to find out I got her some Made in America rust free clothes pins, that don't have to be taken inside every night to keep them from rusting!

CopperBounty said...

Yes, this is great, I'm definately a buyer!