Do you care where your tools are manufactured?

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Over the years I have sometimes been a Buy US only tool buyer and sometimes a whatever is cheapest that I think will do the job buyer and just about everything in-between. Many years ago I was ashamed that I had bought some no name Japanese combination wrenches, but guess what, they are still good wrenches 30+ years after they were a guilty bargain.
Presently I'm avoiding anything Made in China as much for geo-political reasons as anything else. That and it saves me time not even having to look at the Harbor Freight or Grizzly catalogs :).
Where to the rest of you sit with this question?
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Personally, I try to buy the best quality tool regardless of its place of manufacture. Having said that, I have compared Chinese made products (often knock off repicas) to the same functional products manufactured in the US, Japan, Germany, Canada, and Taiwan. I have yet to find a Chinese product equal in craftsmanship to those in these other countries. If I was only interested in cost, I could often have saved anywhere from 30%-50% of the cost of the better product. I look at my shop as something that I am equipping for the next 30+ years and I don't want to be replacing broken or malfunctioning equipment because I tried to save a few bucks.
Roger
Roger

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I try to buy U.S., Canadian, British, German etc. because the quality is better, and I try to buy domestic because I see no reason to export jobs to China. I suppose some cheap tools are acceptable, a garden rake or something like that, but for jobs I care about I prefer tools that do the job properly and will still be doing it ten or twenty years down the road, and from what I've seen most of the tools coming out of China are still distinctly lower quality.
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That works exceptionally well when you can FIND tools manufactured in those countries. Today, a very large percentage of woodworking tools is manufactured in China. Some of the comments I read today are similar to those that used to crop up about Taiwanese tools 20-25 years ago, and about Japanese products of all kinds 25 or 30 years before that. Today, Japan leads the world in quality in several areas-- autos, cameras, among others. Taiwan isn't far behind. Today, with very minior exceptions, tool manufacture has moved out of the U.S. German tools retain their excellence, but also have an excellent price, so are not for a lot of people (check both quality and price of Festool for an example: their tools are wonderful; the prices can be staggering).
China's tool quality is much better now than it was a few years ago. I wonder more than a little, though, about a system of goverment that tends to blame poor quality manufacturing on the people buying the product for resale, as in the toy flap with Mattel which had to apologize to the Chinese because Chinese manufacturers used lead in children's toys. Absolutely weird by my standards, but, more than that, it limits the incentive for manufacturers to improve products while maintaining price.
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Agreed, and as the west has transplanted its technology to China their quality has improved greatly, consider the guitars they're making there now. However in most cases I can still find western-made tools that are markedly superior to the Chinese versions and not always at a much greater price, although I'm willing to pay more for something I won't have to replace when it dies a premature death. That will change as more companies with manufacturing in China aim for the quality market rather than just punching out discount-bin disposable tools. Still, when I'm looking at a display of tools for sale I'll go for Made in America (or Britain, Germany etc.) if I possibly can, how long that will be possible is anyone's guess.
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John Horner wrote:

Personally I don't much worry about it. The sooner China is dragged kicking and screaming into the First World the better--right now they're a huge pool of cheap labor and they're going to keep undercutting everybody's prices until they become a huge pool of expensive labor, then they're going to become the world's largest market and outsourcing a lot of work to places like, well, everywhere including the US.
In the medium term a wealthy China is going to be good for the world. Long run, who knows?
--
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it is happening already.
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wrote:

I just bought a Jet sander, Made in Taiwan. Seems like good quality, though. I have an iron grinder stand, Made in China, but it hasn't fallen apart yet. Not really sure where my 2006 Toyota Tundra was made and I didn't care if it was a Ford 150, although I don't like Chrysler RAM's repair record. I like Made in USA, Canada, maybe Japan or Germany is good. Today, it is very difficult to NOT to buy China goods but stay away from China tools. Buy quality!
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wrote:

I look at the origin, and make the decision on a case-by-case basis. Available alternatives are a big part of the decision. Sometimes, finding a North American, European, or free far-eastern made alternative is difficult to impossible.
Imported goods in general are not a problem to me, if they're well made and not made by children or slaves.
I'm trying more and more to avoid Chinese crap.
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I'd prefer USA/Canada as it provides jobs where I have mine and it depends on mostly US and Canadian customers.
My first goal is to find the best piece of equipment that I can afford and that can do the job. In more and more cases, that means imported goods because there is no other choice. Try buying a "not" made in China toaster for less than $200. While China is my last choice, it is possible to buy from there well made merchandise built to good specifications. I don't blame the factory worker making 50 a day as much as the importer that accepts crap and tries to sell in at an enormous profit.
Remember Pogo saying "we have met the enemy and it is us"? The first TV I bought was a 19" B & W set that costs two weeks pay. Now a 42" LCD is a few days pay. I had to work a couple of hours to buy a nice Van Husen shirt, now I can buy a shirt for 15 minutes of work. We want it both ways.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/



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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

And of course if you really want a fancy shirt most cities of any size in the US have some Indian or Chinese gentleman who will make you as many as you want, for US hand-work prices.
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nice shot!
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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I think it's clear that there are two issues here. We all want to get the lowest price & the highest quality. There's nothing wrong with that. If the tools coming out of China were built to a high standard it may be the end of the debate, but maybe not. The problem for me is the loss of American jobs, I'm not talking flag waving & beating your chest, I'm talking bread & butter, these people. our fellow countrymen & women need jobs that pay decently. If manufacturing was being moved because American companies can't make ends meet that's one thing, but we are talking about maximizing profits, maybe even obscene profiteering by companies that want to claim they are American but really don't give a damn about it. If China ever becomes to expensive, they will find another workforce to use in Asia or Cuba.
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Chris wrote:

Actually not--if China becomes too expensive for US businesses to make money using Chinese labor then it will be too expensive for Chinese businesses to make money using Chinese labor as well, and they'll be competing for that same workforce. But when that happens they'll be providing goods and services for a population larger than that of the US, Japan, and the EU combined, so they're going to use it up pretty fast. And there aren't that many untapped labor markets in Asia anyway--South Korea is competing directly in the US market (LG, Samsung, Hyudai, etc), Maylaysia is contracting all sorts of high tech manufacturing (IBM used to make a lot of stuff there), I'm occasionally seeing "made in Thailand" labels, what does that leave really, other than North Korea, which isn't going to be a labor provider until somebody (probably China) gets annoyed enough to bitch-slap its leaders into at least the 14th Century.
South America and Africa have some potential, but nobody in his right mind is going to trust either of them to provide manufactured goods that are needed on a reliable schedule until they get stable governments established.
As for Cuba, Cuba has a workforce smaller than the population of many American cities--while I don't have any problem with doing business with Cuba and think that current policies toward it are lunacy, even at full employment it's not going to be making much inroads into the worldwide demand for goods and services. Still, would be nice to be able to get a Cuban cigar without having to ride to Quebec.
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Well American would be better for this country, the U.S., but unfortunately we have this large group that wants to make every one feel good with no one left behind. They believe that regardless of your productivity you should be paid equally. Because we have had to lower the standards and expectations so that many will be automatically raised to "par" we get poor to average quality for top dollar pricing. Those of us that still believe that you should get what you pay for buy from other countries. Lowering the expectations of others productivity while lowering our expectations of that group is good for no one. It simply does not work. Buying American does not guarantee better quality nor does it help the economy unless we get what we pay for. Paying some one to do a piss poor job or manufacture a sub par product is bad for the economy.
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On Fri, 23 Nov 2007 08:21:22 -0600, "Leon"

Then we have the other side of the coin. Let's take Delta as an example.
Established, long term, excellent reputation for WW machinery. Happened to be made in USA (vs, say Japan). Moved production to China. Quality went to H#LL.
Never was one to buy strictly American, but when American (or Japan, or Germany,...) had the reputation for the best, that's what I buy. Now, they keep their premium pricing - for Chinese junk.
This is my big issue - premium pricing remains - production costs waay down after moving to China; quality inevitably deterioted in some way.
Won't be buying new Delta any time soon. Maybe one day the quality will be back, the customer service will have some folks who know the difference between the stationary tools and portable stuff, then can revisit decision.
Renata
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That is both a simple and a very complex question. Loyalties to certain manufacturers/countries(of origin) only go so far. Sometimes adequate is good enough and it doesn't always have to be the 'best'. In my line of work, certain equipment MUST give me consistent results and be absolutely reliable. In my shop, you'll find a Milwaukee jigsaw made in Germany. A Ridgid sander made in Germany. A German Fein vacuum made in Italy...and then there is stuff 'assembled' in the USA. My questions are usually the same: will it do the job? Is there a warranty? Can I fix this myself, assuming I can get parts?
If everything else is close to equal, I will try to buy North American/ European in that order. The exceptions are many as there are 'niche' tools that certain manufacturers seem to do 'just better'.
r
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Robatoy wrote:

And then there are Japanese handsaws, that _nobody_ does like the Japanese.
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"John Horner" wrote...

I'm pro-global economy, and understand that there are some items that are best produced overseas. But I think we should use neither profiteering nor protectionism as our guide to which industries we should send overseas.
I've had poor luck with Chinese/Taiwanese made tools and machines:
3 jaw scroll chuck with reversable jaws - jaws don't line up when reversed
heavy duty 3MT live center - excessive radial play - went from the box to the lathe to the trash can.
Jet jointer - warped castings.
Grizzly table saw - burned up first motor, fence lock crushes fence rail
Grizzly jigsaw - vibration problems, breaks blades constantly; replaced with 50yr old Craftsman 18"
Grizzly "heavy duty" lathe - lightweight casting, dinky spindle; replaced with old YA J-170. While rebuilding the J-170, we opened up the Grizzly headstock and laughed at it - dinky spindle, dinkier bearings, dinkiest variable speed drive. J-170 lathe weighs twice as much as the Grizzly, and has a pair of 3-1/4" double race bearings supporting a beefy spindle.
Had always been a PC router man, but our latest made in Mexico PC router has too much preasure on the upper spindle bearing, and it runs so hot the collet gets too hot to touch, even without a load. Soon as it burns up, I'll look for a non-PC American-made router.
Here's a weird one - always used Dixon Ticonderoga pencils in the shop, bought them by the gross. Last gross were made in Mexico, and were defective. Leads constantly breaking - some pencils couldn't even be sharpened, cause the leads kept breaking in the sharpener. Email to Dixon customer service brought no response. Threw away a gross of Dixon pencils and bought a gross of Papermate American pencils - not as pretty finished, but they work fine. Sheez.
I don't mind one bit buying foreign goods where it makes sense - small electronics devices, for example, but I'll be damned if I buy another Chinese machine or large tool. It's unfortunate that we've driven American manufacturers out of business by buying cheap crap from Asia, but we've done it to ourselves. I bought a cheap Grizzly saw instead of making some sacrifices and coming up with the scratch for a Powermatic. I tried to get a 3MT live center on the cheap by buying Chinese, instead of buying a quality product from Royal.
When buying handtools at the HW store, I'll always look for American made tools & am willing to pay extra, even if it means I won't be buying a new truck or flat screen TV this year. When no American made version of a tool is available, I make a point to complain politely, but loud enough for my fellow customers to hear, to the manager that I would prefer an American made tool, as in my experience as a professional craftsman, I've found the Chinese tools to be of inferior quality, and a poor value for the money.
On another note, I recently noticed that Pumb and Crescent brands of American made tools are owned by Cooper Group, headquartered in the Bahamas so they can be "tax competitive". Here I am making small sacrifices to buy American tools and support American jobs, and these @&*@^%$* loads can't even pay there $%&#@* taxes. WTFF.
-- Timothy Juvenal www.tjwoodworking.com
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I guess I'm part of the global economy, not always by choice.. I buy Jet, Ridgid, Craftsman, etc.. all made off shore and all good tools.. The last major tool that I bought that I'm sure was made in the States was my Shopsmith in 1980..
IMHO, it's not where or who makes a tool, it's the quality control involved... you can make a very good or very bad tool anywhere in the world, including in the U.S.... YMWV
mac
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