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Forum topic by pashley posted 11-08-2008 03:18 PM 3759 views 0 times favorited 82 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1043 posts in 3715 days

11-08-2008 03:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: quality china

It seems like I ever since I started woodworking, with a focus on quality – materials, design and construction, I’ve become very sensitive to the quality of other consumable goods, such as furniture, but also other general consumables – clothes, tools – just about anything you’d find at say, a Wal-Mart.

And I’ve really come to hate Chinese goods.

It seems like our retails stores are just flooded with Chinese junk. Sure, it’s cheap, but lasts about as long as a teenager’s mood.

I’m sick of anything Chinese (ok, I like the food).

They constantly rip-off our products with cheap imitations. Did you patent, produce and market a great gadget? Expect the Chinese to rip it off, and turn out a cheap imitation inside of a month. Go to Harbor Freight Tools – all Chinese junk. Whether it’s the quality of the steel in something as simple as a cold chisel, or a $200 lathe – it’s all Chinese junk. I don’t think I’m going to shop there anymore.

I recently visited “Chinatown” in NYC, and you wouldn’t believe all the Gucci and Prada handbags you can get for $30.

This antipathy towards inferior products is not just targeted at China; there are other countries that dump junk here as well, but their products don’t seems quite as bad (Mexico, Thailand, etc). The Japanese seem to make world-class electronics.

Then you have the health hazards coming out of China. In addition to the dirtiest coal plants going up every couple of days in China, you have baby formula with formaldehyde, toys laden with lead, tainted pet foods, etc.

I’m wondering if America will see the light here, and start shunning Chinese junk, and look for better quality stuff – especially in things we craftsman trade in – furniture, clocks, cabinets, etc.

Wouldn’t that be great?

-- Have a blessed day!

82 replies so far

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Bob #2

3809 posts in 4019 days

#1 posted 11-08-2008 04:14 PM

When Reagan and Mulrooney signed the free trade act they also unilaterally decided to allow our home based manufacturing to leave North America, leave the tax base, and leave the workers behind.

If you want to put the blame on anyone it should be the consumers who even today are fixated on getting the cheapest of everything.

That can only happen at the expense of somebody else.
The Chinese know us better than we know ourselves and simply offer the promise of having what we cannot or will not afford.
Pashley, you are right, you can vote with your wallet.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

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10390 posts in 3645 days

#2 posted 11-08-2008 04:28 PM

The Chinese can do good quality if asked too… but because
suppliers push them so hard on price they just give them what
they want… in that cricumstance something has got to give.

China is waking up. I don’t know if China will continue to produce
cheap low quality good forever. SO – as energy costs rise globally
it will get more costly to import goods to the States from China
and goods made closer will be more able to compete on price.

Manufacturers – even small ones like one-man wood-shops – they
have to adjust to the changing demands of the marketplace. There
are plenty of people out there with the money to buy nice woodworking
- and they can easily be persuaded that Chinese stuff is junk. The
trick is in knowing how to get their attention.

In Urban areas with “loft living” there is a whole cultural subset of
people who are interested in “reclaimed” and “recycled” things -
but the real motive is one of STATUS : “Oh, that piece was made
from the timbers in an old barn in Pennsylvania – it’s the only one of
it’s kind and I was lucky to get it,” – people buy the provenance of
such things as much as the object… After all – a few cinder blocks
and a board make a table that serves the same purpose.

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1580 posts in 3759 days

#3 posted 11-08-2008 05:06 PM

Not to get too political, but the “one sided” 1993 trade agreement with China was the major turning point for American manufacturers.

Once this was in place, Wal-Mart dumped their “made in America” slogans & ads and began forcing their suppliers to move manufacturing to Asia. Companies that did not comply were cut off. As an example, they destroyed Rubbermaid in Chillicothe Ohio.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

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1043 posts in 3715 days

#4 posted 11-08-2008 05:25 PM

I admit, I don’t understand those trade agreements…I suppose there was good things and bad things about them.

I know labor unions don’t help with the problem either, e.g., car manufacturing. I’m sure someone will take issue with that comment, but labor costs are insane some times…

-- Have a blessed day!

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dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4312 days

#5 posted 11-08-2008 05:30 PM

...and you should have heard the politicians crow when our little town got it’s own walmart. “Jobs for Idahoans” was the cry. Economic development! Hurray! And a dozen little family businesses quietly closed their doors.

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2656 posts in 3524 days

#6 posted 11-08-2008 05:33 PM

For those that are old enough, Japan used to be as China is today and now look at Japan. I agree that everytime we purchase a foreign good we are hurting ourseleves, and this is for every country. As an American I have seen our quality drop to a point that it is very close to the imported cheap goods but having a higher price. Our large manufacturing companies have ruched to cheaper labor and laid off their employees. The company that work for is one of the biggest in the world and they have done this also. My company is now getting bit in the butt because of they have lost their skilled labor here and the overseas suppliers have given them the fickle finger of fate. Ok, where do we go now? I try to buy goods that are made here but then we are not manufacturing what we used to. How many times have we had to fix things after bought them and brought them home? We need to let our political leaders, who really don’t have a clue what’s going on with everyday citizens, know what we are thing and what we want. For this country, I would wish and hope that we drop back a bit and be proud that we can manufacture the best and not continue to sell out to the cheap. Remember when we bought something and it lasted nearly forever and if it broke there were parts to fix it and just throw it away and buy a new one? ...I am rambling but… Where do we go from here? I will try and do my best in working wood and not settle for good enough…

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

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1043 posts in 3715 days

#7 posted 11-08-2008 05:37 PM


Wal-mart is definitely getting me riled up over time. They force their way into communities that oppose them. My wife is an HR person with a large local firm, and she tells me horror stories about Wal-mart’s treatment of employees.

-- Have a blessed day!

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1088 posts in 3564 days

#8 posted 11-08-2008 08:36 PM

I have a European perspective (being English living in Portugal).
What’s been said is true, but I’d note …
a) “Vote with your wallet” and “Buy the quality”. Yes, if possible – but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to actually find the alternative for many things – it’s starting to become “Chinese or nothing” for many things – now that is scary!
b) I think that that is actually part of the plan – to drive the “quality” manufacturers out of business forever.
c) As for the “Gucci” and “Prada” – if it’s saying that on the bags report them – fairly sure that’s illegal.
d) Best Chinese restaurant I ever ate at outside China was in Aqaba, Jordan.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

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1102 posts in 3611 days

#9 posted 11-08-2008 09:18 PM

If labor costs are the problem, then why are Honda, VW and Toyota building plants here in the US and eating Detroit’s marketshare? Shipping costs across either ocean are just too great to make it profitable, no matter what the labor cost differential is, to make cars off-shore and ship them to the US.

No, damnit, the problem is $billion CEO’s who are convinced they know better what their buyers want than the buyers themselves! And quality. Well, quality is job none in Detroit!

Saddest of all, now that times are tough and sales are falling, what solution have the Detroit automakers come up with? Better cars, improved manufacturing? No, they want part of the $700 billion bailout for banks to merge two failing Detroit automakers to make one good one! Much like failing financial institutions, the problems start at the top!

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

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930 posts in 3487 days

#10 posted 11-08-2008 09:32 PM

And yet, as a newbie woodworker, I am being referred to Jet equipment, and it is made in China!

-- Chip ----------- 6:8

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Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4297 days

#11 posted 11-08-2008 09:35 PM

I think the reason Japanese car makers are building plants in the USA,

is because the labor costs in Japan are higher than ours.

That may happen in China someday, & the factories will be returning here.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

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11295 posts in 3872 days

#12 posted 11-08-2008 09:39 PM

The foreign companies manufacturing in the US are non-union plants. The “American” manufacturers are all union. Like unions or not it does not make for an even playing field.

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904 posts in 3813 days

#13 posted 11-08-2008 09:39 PM

I think part of the problem with China is that they have not had to learn the lesson American manufacturers learned around the turn of the century. If you don’t pay your employees enough to buy your products, you won’t have a market for your products. China hasn’t had to follow that rule because they don’t sell most of their products domestically. They rely on an eternal fountain of consumers from outside China. I think they are about to suffer from that philosophy though. I think the fountain is drying up.

-- Scott - Chico California

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2821 posts in 3588 days

#14 posted 11-08-2008 10:36 PM

This is so funny. I was thinking about this topic yesterday and was going to post, but I get a little nervous talking about things foreign related. After all there are a lot of jocks on here that are foreign. As an american I see things change everyday. Cartoons are teaching spanish, asians are the professors at colleges, etc. I pulled my pants down to take and crap and the first thing I saw on my tag to my underwear was made in mexico. That is when I started thinking about the fact that nothing is american made anymore and that is the downfall to our economy. Lets face it U.S. auto manufacturers assemble cars with foreign parts. We assemble cabinets with imported materials. Thus they are assembled in america, not made in america. The only goods that are truely american are the goods people like Frank make when they walk into their back yards, knock down a tree, and make a piece of art out of it. Otherwise we are importing the products to make it. Sure in the woodworking industry we have to. Cocobolo don’t grow in my back yard. But in the auto industry we can make our own pistons, we just choose not to. It was said before that the companies making these things are closing small shops down. This is true and not true. Those making a truely custom product that can be considered art are thriving. The others have to close because the large manufacterers are producing the same thing in bulk and faster. It’s like buying cabinets from someone with a CNC machine as opposed to someone with a table saw. Lets face it, the CNC machine will cut the parts better and faster. It’s the next steps that make that method crap. The assembly, etc is meant to move as fast as the milling, so joinery is lower quality, hot melt glue is used, etc. It’s production.
But lets get back to the topic. I’m unsure if the topic is stressing Chinese products only, making it okay to buy a lathe from lets say Spain as opposed to china, or if it’s buying foreign products in general. I want to say we buy foreign products not only because they are cheap but because americans are lazy. Chinese people love to work. They have one goal in mind. Family. Keeping their family fed and sheltered comes first and foremost. Americans think of themselves. They want that boat and to retire early. I know what my goals are. They are to semi-retire when I’m 45 so I can focus on furniture making and art. To get there I have to be a little greedy. Maybe charge more or lower my standards on cheap customers to save a buck. The unions are a very fine example of greed. They want want want. I don’t want to pick on teachers because I think they deserve more but they get what is affordable through the state budgets. And yet it is never enough. If we pay them more taxes go up, and yet when elections come around these same people vote no on tax increases to save that money. It’s a catch 22. Other unions aren’t getting good health plans or whatever. The problem here is when their health care is increased to make them happy the doctors and hospitals or whatever charge more. This makes the increase in care obsolete. My point is that in order to get things back on track people need to be willing to work. Just the other day I had a comment on a post on a different site telling me to outsource to save costs. That’s my point exactly. It’s easier for people to outsource and wait for delivery then it is for them to make the product. If we stopped outsourcing we could keep employees working, make nicer products, and be able to make them quicker because we would have help that is experienced. With outsourcing you aren’t educating people how to make products or even be responsible enough to work. People are expecting other people to do the work because they can’t. There’s carpenters here that are licensed cabinetmakers but all they want to do is bid the job and outsource it to another company. Why? Because they don’t have a shop, tools, employees, experience, etc. This means the system failed and this company shouldn’t even be in business. These people are the ones lowering the pricing to get the work, then finding the cheapest company, companies that don’t have legal workers, workers comp, insurance, etc to make the products. The consumers are getting a crap job because of this. So, that means that even though the product was made in america it was still crap because it was built by inexperienced workers from a company that shouldn’t be in business.
Everyone has the right to work I know. But it’s retarded to say that China’s products are crap when products made in shops here are as bad or worse. The people making the products over there know how to do their jobs and have the experience to do the work. As opposed to here employers are hiring people with 3rd grade educations from mexico because of the greed factor I talked about above.
If americans had half the heart and spunk they claim we wouldn’t have a recession. There would be more people working, higher educated people, better quality products, etc. America is the land of the Hypocrit, lazy, greedy, self centered hypocrits. And until we come to that realization China will prevail.
We complain about foreign products, how crappy they are, etc. But we (Americans as a whole)will go to target and walmart to buy them.
Sorry if I offended anyone. These are my thoughts and opinions only and are not meant to be directed to anyone. I apologize if I said anything that was out of line or rude. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful, hate me because you’re not. LOL

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

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1930 posts in 3763 days

#15 posted 11-09-2008 02:00 AM

I agree with just about everything you said kolwdwrkr (except for the beautiful thing).... but, as an American too, I think as far as this site goes, we are among the foreigners.
- JJ

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