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Made in America?

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Blog entry by David Craig posted 03-26-2010 08:43 PM 1073 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I know, I know, this subject raises its ugly head every now and then in the forums and the blogs. Every now and then someone will pose the “Buy American” phrase or question. I just wanted to post a thought on this, or at least give everyone my take on my “Made in America” thought process.

First of all, “Made in America” is not as simple as looking at the tag. Items are assembled in America with foreign parts, items are assembled in a foreign land with American parts. Some items are completely manufactured overseas but are owned by American companies who invest in other America products, some items are completely made in America by foreign companies that invest in their country of origin. Each purchase may, or may not, affect an American job. There are manufacturers, distributors, retailers, dock loaders, shipping clerks, managers, staff of every kind who is an American despite the stamp on the product.

Do I believe that Americans should be out of work or that nothing should be manufactured here? Absolutely not. But I really can’t tell you the economic repercussions of my purchases based on the tag. And just to throw another thought out there, when you buy used, it may be a fully American product, but the downside is that the purchase definitely does not increase the quantity of jobs in America one iota.

That being said, I buy the best quality tool I can afford, despite the country name on the manual. Ultimately, whatever I purchase will help an American out somewhere (and maybe a few woodworkers in LJs that do not claim this country as their motherland.)

And, as long as I am cutting, finishing, sanding, and assembling, I do know one American who is definitely working and I try to keep him that way :)

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.



16 comments so far

View hObOmOnk's profile

hObOmOnk

1381 posts in 2781 days


#1 posted 03-26-2010 09:10 PM

Note: This is an international website community. In fact, we’re not even “Made in America”.

Its all about social networking without boundaries.
That’s why WWW means “World Wide Web.” <grin>

-- 温故知新

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1762 days


#2 posted 03-26-2010 09:11 PM

Exactly!

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2302 days


#3 posted 03-26-2010 09:17 PM

amen to that!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View azwoodman's profile

azwoodman

132 posts in 2034 days


#4 posted 03-26-2010 10:54 PM

Agreed.

-- Spencer, Gilbert Az (http://www.azwoodshop.com)

View Rick Boyett's profile

Rick Boyett

167 posts in 1866 days


#5 posted 03-27-2010 12:10 AM

Your point is well taken. The Toyota Camry is a very good example of what you are writing about. It is a “Japanese” car but it is built in the US. Not only that, but it has the HIGHEST US parts content in the US. It is Designed in the US.

And a lot of Toyota’s stock holders are American too.

The #2 most American car/truck is the Ford F-150.

In fact, Toyota builds 4 out of the top 10 cars that are assembled in the US and have the highest US sourced parts. GM only has three and Ford has 2…

http://www.cars.com/go/advice/Story.jsp?section=top&subject=ami&story=amMade0709

But focusing on tools. I’m like you and buy the best tool available, that I can also afford. I would love to buy Lie-Neilson planes but they are just too expensive. As I said in an earlier review, Stanley is now making mostly non US sourced tools and most of them are crap. The new Delta Unisaw seems to be a rare exception but I haven’t seen where its parts come from. Either way, as of right now that is going to be my next table saw..

View kansas's profile

kansas

153 posts in 2354 days


#6 posted 03-27-2010 01:00 AM

I think buying good used anything is an excellent way for both parties to benefit. It may not create manufacturing jobs directly but it definately puts all the cash into the hands of a consumer, not a corporation.

View John Steffen's profile

John Steffen

218 posts in 1708 days


#7 posted 03-27-2010 01:10 AM

Great post David! But I do agree with kansas in that buying used is a good thing in that it keeps 100% of the money in the economy (most likely locally) which can then go on to do other things.

-- Big John's Woodshed - Farmington, IL

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1762 days


#8 posted 03-27-2010 02:09 AM

Don’t get me wrong, I feel there is nothing wrong with buying used or American tools. But when I hear people criticize themselves or others for not buying American, these are the thoughts I have. I like to see things used and re-used. I was just making a point that “American” jobs are not just linked with “American” tools.

Thanks for the comments.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View noknot's profile

noknot

548 posts in 2095 days


#9 posted 03-27-2010 12:51 PM

david you are spot on

-- GO DAWGS!

View hObOmOnk's profile

hObOmOnk

1381 posts in 2781 days


#10 posted 03-27-2010 05:09 PM

Buying USED tools does save jobs.

I buy gently used vintage tools from several local dealers that appreciate my business.

Because of the recession and our disposable society, the used and reconditioned tool market is starting to become significant. In fact, I’m adding used and re-purposed tools to my business plan for 2010.

-- 温故知新

View ericandcandi's profile

ericandcandi

152 posts in 2171 days


#11 posted 03-28-2010 07:04 AM

One thought that no one has covered yet….How many times have we (Americans) watched the nightly news and saw a report about sweat shops filled with children working for pennies in hazardous working enviroments? At least when we ”Buy American” we know the products we purchase are built with regulations that protect both the person that made the tool and the one who purchased it. Its not always about the cost or quality. I Buy American and always will. Every time I walk into a Harbor Freight I can’t help to think about what the pay scale is of the people who make that junk. Just my two American cents worth.

-- ericandcandi in Louisiana- Home of the "LSU Tigers"

View EEngineer's profile

EEngineer

891 posts in 2266 days


#12 posted 03-28-2010 07:35 AM

All good points, but there is something you left out.

I used to be able to run to Sears, who had a an outlet in every major city, and buy quality tools.

Now, I am left with Home Depot or Lowes, whio have an outlet in every major city, but all I can buy is cheap junk (made in China or wherever) that doesn’t do what it is sold to do!

There is no quality anymore; at least not readily available, within easy reach. I agree with buying the best tool, for a price I can afford, no matter what country it comes from. But all I am offered, readily and easily available, is cheap shit! Why? Why don’t I have the option to pay more to get better quality? And don’t hand me any crap about “this is what the market demands”, I am the market; I will pay more for quality; but I cannot get it locally and readily available. Why not? Where is the disconnect between the mass market box stores and the buying public?

I recently put in a new steam plant in my house. I demanded and got quality fittings from a local contractor supply house. When I quizzed them to find out what quality fittings they delivered, they told me “we tried selling that cheap Chinese junk, no one would buy it.” They didn’t have the disconnect between the buyers and sellers that seems to exist with the big box stores.

There is more to this than simply who makes what, where. There is the bigger question of why quality has gone out of style in any mass-market, big quantity stores that are putting everyone else out of business. How can they continue to sell shit and get away, nay, prosper, doing it? Quite frankly, the stuff they sell doesn’t even do what it is sold to do. How can they continue selling it? What allows them to stay in business selling shit that doesn’t even work?

Answer that and then I will listen more. Until you answer that, you haven’t even said anything worth hearing.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2135 posts in 1762 days


#13 posted 03-28-2010 02:17 PM

I would agree that there has been a large outpouring of crap tools and materials that hit the market. And, yes, like it or not, as long as they turn a profit turning out junk this trend will continue. I will also agree that it is difficult to find some quality items locally. Which is frustrating for me as well.

However, I would disagree that quality has completely disappeared. When I shopped, in the beginning, and purchased tools. I had a number of garbage items. I picked up a Craftsman cheap model table saw that I learned to loathe, a Craftsman scrollsaw that vibrated so bad it was barely workable. The HF plunge router would have a tendency to not keep its plunge settings because the motor vibration would lower the depth set screws no matter how much I tried to tighten them down. I went cheap, I got cheap. Now I have a collection of Ridgid tools that I purchased from the Home Depot. I haven’t been disappointed in any of them. I have a Dewalt scroll saw that I just completely love. I had to go to Amazon for that one. I have the Porter Cable compressor and gun set, can’t complain at all about them. Very robust and good quality tools.

I think the trend is turning back around. I think so many people are unhappy with poor quality that companies are starting to respond. Ryobi had a bad name for cheap garbage a number of years ago, but I have seen much improvement in their offerings. Ridgid offers lifetime service agreements with their tools and I have seen where they put their money where their mouth is. I hear very few complaints about Bosch. I have a Dewalt reciprocating saw that I literally cut a maple tree down with, have used and abused, and that thing is still running well. Stanley is trying (though failing at present) to put higher priced tools on the market to reclaim its image. But the quality competition is there.

And those that don’t adapt will find themselves left behind.

Materials can be a hassle, I don’t care for many of the blades, accessories, and wood quality in much of the big box stores. I think, though, that trend will cause them to modify their approach or sink as well. The internet and quick shipping has expanded competition where the local store is not one’s only option. And if you read the news, 2nd generation Chinese workers have caught the capitalism bug and are not as content to work for slave wages and poor working conditions anymore. This will eventually drive up the price of goods and if cheap quality comes at the same price as good quality, I am sure the pressure will be on to furnish more top notch items.

And as far as the sweat shops are concerned, I am not happy about children working in horrible conditions either. But I also know that it wasn’t that many years ago that children worked in Europe and America because they had to. My grandfather worked in the coal mines starting at the age of 14. Very cruel conditions, but there was no alternative except to starve. It is great to make a stand against those things, but you have to offer an alternative. You can’t push for the children to be safe but then offer no alternative for them to put bread on the table.

And my point was not anti-American. My point was that buying American is not so simple a process anymore. That the tag stating “Made in the USA” is not so cut and dry that you know you are purchasing a fully American product. And, as noted by others on the comment page, not everyone here is American. This is a global website and a global economy. So rather than try to orientate my purchasing decisions towards something that I am deluded into believing is helping my country, I purchase what is quality at a price I can afford. And I can’t say that I have been ashamed of my purchases since I took that route.

David

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 2900 days


#14 posted 03-28-2010 04:37 PM

Right on David!!!

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View EEngineer's profile

EEngineer

891 posts in 2266 days


#15 posted 03-28-2010 06:51 PM

Well, David, I certainly hope you are right about the trend reversing. I don’t see much evidence of it tho. Your point about Ryobi improving is well-taken, but can you honestly say that their quality is up to the same standards that everyone played to even 20 years ago. I don’t think so.

And your point about Ridgid tools is well-taken, also. Of the power tools that I do think pretty well of, Ridgid tops the list. However, in my local HD, I have noticed a distressing tendency: they are not displaying or selling nearly the same amount of Ridgid tools anymore. Instead, all that is on display are the cheaper, shoddier offerings from other brands. I could still get it from the HD website, but why would I bother with that hassle? The only reason to visit a local brick and mortar store is convenience.

As far as the main point of your original post – no, I am not ashamed of buying equal quality for less money no matter where it comes from. But I am absolutely incensed with the insulting attitude of most big businesses that I am only being offered inferior quality because that is all I will pay for! If it doesn’t do what it is being sold for, then it doesn’t matter how cheap it is – it is money wasted.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

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