New Developments
In The World
Of Handmade Clothespins

Dateline: 27 December 2014

Classic American clothespins with a different spring assembly.
(click picture for an enlarged view)

I first mentioned the idea of starting a business making high-quality, traditional-style clothespins In This Blog Post back in April of 2012. It was impossible to find a good, American-Made clothespin and I was going to change all that. There I wrote...

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and a new, made-in-USA clothespin manufacturing business (home-based, and on the family-economy scale, of course) begins with one clothespin. So that is my challenge—to handcraft one clothespin. Stay tuned."

One month later, I Blogged About My Progress.  I had lined up a spring manufacturer and had 50,000 springs on order. I had also made a few prototype clothespins, using a few prototype springs. I was very serious about this new idea.

But it would be 15 months later (August, 2013) before I blogged, We're Making Clothespins!  My oldest son, fresh out of the Army, helped me with the first production run. It was a long, tedious, and somewhat discouraging job. 

The clothespins we made in 2013 sold out quickly. And the clothespins I most recently made this year (2014) sold out very quickly (8,000 ClassicAmerican clothespins were sold in a 12-hour span of time).  

Now, there are new developments in the world of high-quality, handcrafted, traditional-style clothespins...

The Pete Lilja Spring Assembly

If you look closely at the picture at the top of this page you will notice that the springs on the clothespins are different. They are the same stainless steel, American-made springs I have been using from the beginning, but they are on the clothespins in a unique way.

That spring attachment method was “invented” by clothespin maker, Pete Lilja of Cedar Falls, Iowa. I have named it the “Lilja Spring Assembly,” as opposed to the "Traditional Spring Assembly”...

These handcrafted Classic American clothespins show the "traditional spring assembly."

What you can’t see in the picture at the top of the page is that the spring coils fit in their grooves in the clothespin halves so much better with the Lilja Spring Assembly. Besides that, the clothespins have a tendency to close more evenly, which is to say, without a “side bite” (Pete calls it “longitudal torque”).

I have added this assembly option to the Clothespin Assembly Instructions page at my web site. If you’ve purchased some Assemble-Them-Yourself Clothespins from me, I recommend that you give this assembly option a try and see if you like it better.

Speaking of web sites, I recently purchased the internet domains of:,,

All those domains lead people to a web site named Good Clothespins, which is a directory of artisan clothespin makers. There are only three artisans there at this time, but more will come along. Once I have six clothespin makers in the directory, I will do some extensive marketing to get the word out.

More clothespin makers need to come along because there is no way I can make enough clothespins to meet the demand. The idea of creating a decentralized network of independent small-scale artisan clothespin makers has been part of my dream from the beginning.

In an effort to attract more enterprising woodworkers to the idea of making high-quality clothespins, I have also bought the domain of

The web site (which is not yet made) will encourage woodworkers to make their own clothespins, either as a personal project, or as a small business. 

I have updated and revised the clothespin specifications I sell and I hope to have everything ready to go with in a week or two.

More Springs

With lots of clothespins in mind, I purchased a second order of clothespin springs this month. My initial order of 50,000 is almost gone. 100,000 stainless steel clothespin springs was a major investment, but by purchasing 100,000 springs I was able to keep the cost down to the 2012 price. In case you wondered, an order of 100,000 stainless steel clothespin springs weighs 900 pounds.

Clothespin Review By Jane

(photo by Jane)

And finally, I would like to recommend the excellent clothespin review, Clothespin Woes No More, posted by "you can call me Jane" at her excellent blog, Thy Hand Hath Provided.  Thank you, Jane!


Jonathan Sanders said...

Interesting. So it appears that the new spring method uses the tension created by unwinding the spring rather than by winding. I suppose that is what takes away the side torque.

Herrick Kimball said...


I hadn't thought of it that way, but you are correct.

There is still some torque sometimes but it doesn't seem to be as much and, interestingly, any torque is in the opposite direction. But what is most amazing to me is how perfectly tight the coils seat into their place. With the traditional assembly, the coils tend to lift up just a bit on one side of the groove they fit into.

I'm going to switch all my wife's clothespins to the "Lilja assembly" for next year's clothes hanging season and see if there is any drawback to having the spring on there differently.

Thanks for the comment.

Jonathan Sanders said...

I played with this on a clothespin we have, and it seems like this would make assembly easier, since you are opening wide the spring "mouth" rather than crossing it.

Seems like an assembly tool could be developed for this...

Herrick Kimball said...

I have a very good assembly tool for the traditional spring assembly. It was invented by a friend of mine. But it does not work with the Lilja spring assembly. So another tool would be needed.

The only drawback I can see at this point with the Lilja assembly is that the two clothespin halves can be slid sideways and disassembled much easier than if the spring wires are crossed on the sides, as is the usual configuration.

But the clothespins don't seem to have a tendency to slide apart. Thus a summer of clothes-hanging and evaluation should help show any flaws.

Thanks for the comments.