Hand-Crafted Clothespins
(Made in America)

Dateline: 11 September 2013



As many of you already know, my son and I are working on the first production run of our hand-crafted wooden clothespins. The clothespins will be offered for sale right here (a web site will be developed later). But they are not yet ready. This is an update.

I posted pictures and some explanation of the clothespin-making process HERE. Since then, we have gotten to the point where we are ripping pin halves out of the "flitches." After that is done, they're going into a homemade clothespin tumbler. Here's a picture of the tumbler...


The tumbler is filled about half way with the clothespin sections and they are tumbled for 3 to 4 hours. Ground corn cobs are added to the cylinder (you can see some pieces of corncob on the deck under the tumbler). This action eases the sharp edges. Here's a box of tumbled clothespin halves...



The sections are then tumbled with beeswax, linseed oil and turpentine. This coating brings out the color of the hardwood and helps protect it from the elements (but no wood clothespin should be left out in the weather). The coating also makes the clothespins smell good, until they are thoroughly cured. This next picture shows some finished clothespins...

(Click any of these pictures to see an enlarged view)

Here's a view of the open clothespin...




And here are some finished clothespin doing what they are made to do...




Beth Stoneking, a reader of this blog from Ohio, sent me a few old clothespins she had, along with her opinions of them. Here is a picture of two of the clothespins she sent, along with one of my new clothespins...




The old clothespin in the back of the above picture has DENMARK stamped on it. Here it is (click picture to see an enlarged view)...


I appreciated getting the gift of old clothespins and sent Beth a gift of four of my new hand-crafted clothespins. I was hoping she would give me some honest feedback, and she did. Beth wrote a nice letter back and critiqued the clothespins as follows...


1. Thickness of the wood is outstanding
2. Gauge & strength of the spring is outstanding
3. Finger grips, outstanding
4. Finish is outstanding. Love the smell of them.
5. Love the larger size! 
6. There is one slight drawback with the clothespin. I really don't even want to mention it because as far as function goes it is irrelevant but here goes...
When I'm holding the clothespin and snapping it open and closed, the jaws, or the gripping ends, become askew. There may be no way to avoid this and again, you may think I'm silly but my oh my does it bug me. Almost all clothespins do this and it has always bugged me. 
Anyway, that's the only thing I could say that is even remotely bad because they are so perfect. I really hope you are successful selling these, they are by far one of the most professional hand crafted items I've had the pleasure to own. 
Now there's an honest review. I wrote Beth back and told her that what bugged her about the clothespins is exactly what bugged me about them. I spent a lot of time trying to design a clothespin that always closed perfectly—never askew. I came to the conclusion that it's impossible with the spring and traditional design I'm using. Here's a picture of askew clothespins...


If you have a bunch of old clothespins, go look at them and you'll see that most of them are, to some degree, askew, like in the picture above. If they aren't, please send me a sample. It's just the nature of the implement to not always close perfectly.


Availability & Pricing

My son is starting school next Monday. He is taking a one-year program in electrical maintenance. So he will not be helping me as much as he has been, if at all. That means I'll be hard pressed to have the clothespins done and ready to sell by the end of this month. I have so much else going with the Planet Whizbang business. Nevertheless, I'm going to try hard to have clothespins ready to sell by the end of September (or shortly thereafter).

I've decided on a price that is, I'm sorry to say, relatively high. These first clothespins will cost $1.50 each. They have to cost that much to pay for the materials and labor. Fact is, I'll probably have to charge even more in the future. I'm still crunching numbers and looking to see exactly how many clothespins I end up with this first production run.

With price in mind, I am thinking of making a "budget" clothespin in the future, something more like the old ones Beth sent me (pictured above). They will have a lower profile, no grip grooves, and only one "tooth-groove" (instead of two). The budget clothespins will have the same stainless steel spring and be made with ash wood. I might not oil & wax them. I'd like to get the price down to a dollar each.

I will be offering these first clothespins in packages of ten or twenty. I'm limiting the size because I want as many people as possible to get some, try them out (which means, to actually use them), and give me some feedback. I wouldn't want someone to spend a lot of money on a lot of clothespins, only to find out that they don't like them. 

So, a box of ten clothespins will sell for $19.95, postage paid (to any US address). A box of twenty clothespins will sell for $34.95, postage paid. Yes, it's a lot, but you will be getting some very special clothespins that you (or whoever you give them to as a gift) will cherish for a lifetime. And that's the whole idea—to make a top-quality clothespin that will be loved and passed on to the next generation.

Here's a picture of ten, perfectly useful, hand-crafted, multi-generational clothespins...




One More Thing...

If you would like to be notified by e-mail when these clothespins are finally available for purchase, simply sign up for the Planet Whizbang Newsletter. I will let my newsletter subscribers know the day before the clothespins are going to be made available here. The supply will be limited and they will sell first come, first served, until gone. Thanks!

11 comments:

Kevin and Beth said...

I copied this to my Facebook page. I wanted my friends to see that I am now famous, lol! Really nice post. Thanks

kathyinozarks said...

I want some-will definately be purchasing a package of 10-they look beautiful-love that they are larger-and handcrafted in the USA I applaud you for even attempting to make these
Once you are set up to sell I will post a link to you on my blog page
Kathy

Survival Gardener, AKA David the Good said...

Sign me up for 10, just because this is totally awesome.

Gorges Smythe said...

No disrespect but, at that price, maybe you should have started with the old one-piece style.

Herrick Kimball said...

Gorges,

I guess it's kind of like buying a cheap, knockdown particleboard cabinet at Walmart, as opposed to buying a more expensive piece of handcrafted Stickley furniture.

Both will get the job done, but the handcrafted piece is a lot more pleasurable to own and use, and if taken care of, it becomes a valued heirloom.

By the way, I once toured the Stickley furniture factory in Syracuse, N.Y. and they really do have some beautiful furniture.

Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Herrick,
Regarding the misaligned jaws: Would changing the wire bend and rear groove angle (at the back of the clothespin) to great than 90 degrees (in opposing angles) help? Seems this would apply torque to realign the clasp end. You'd now have a more complicated build because you'd have to have top and bottom pieces. Possible an X cut that would accommodate either angle would work so you'd still have interchangeable parts.
Regards,
Muns

Herrick Kimball said...

Muns,

I have considered that but don't think it will help. The skewed close isn't consistent. Sometimes the jaws close down perfectly, and then sometimes they don't. You can open & close the same clothespin a dozen times and it may close right on half the time. How it closes also seems to depend on if the person is right or left handed.

After getting frustrated about the inconsistent closing of the pins, I decided that what is more important is if they are strong enough to hold heavy clothes on the line, and if they will hold hanging clothing on a windy day without snapping off. They seem to be very reliable in that respect. Also, I was concerned that they be comfortable to use. My wife has been using homemade prototypes on our clothesline for over a year, and they have performed very well.

I also tested them by hanging a towel and yanking it off. I can do this with a tight cable clothesline (it takes a lot of downward pressure to yank the towel free). The clothespins will fly off but they almost never come apart.

Thanks for the idea.

Anonymous said...

Yes - I'm sure there's a reason the design hasn't changed for 100+? years. It'd make assembly a lot more difficult too I suppose. Plus I know from past post you've got a good number of springs already made.
Best of luck - if you need a western WI distributor let me know! :)
Regards,
Muns

Play in the dirt said...

For a cost savings, would you consider selling the pieces and letting me put my clothes pins together? I'm sure it takes a good bit of time to put the spring on them, just as it does to put the cheap ones back together when they come apart.

I would like to order some, but the price is somewhat prohibitive for me right now. Just curious what your thoughts are on that...

I also might be interested in tumbling mine and coating them myself... but you have such a nice machine for that it seems you may not be interested in that discount?

Herrick Kimball said...

Play in the dirt,

I think you may have a good idea there. Let me think on this some more and I'll post about it soon. Maybe tomorrow. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Clothespins! Who'd 'a' thunk it?

Once again, good stuff!

Regards,
David Smith