Home Depot Choosing China Again

I was in my local Home Depot yesterday and walking through the tool section looking to buy a couple of bar clamps.   I have always favored the Jorgensen brand because they are sturdy, well made, and are made in the USA.  I have always appreciated that Home Depot carries them.   So I walk to where a 10 foot wide section of Jorgensen’s used to sit and I found every single Jorgensen/Pony gone.  In their place sat a 10′ wide section of Blue Irwin’s all with the label “New” on them… all of them…every single one, made in China.  I just shook my head in both sadness and disgust then walked out.  Home Depot didn’t just replace the bar clamps, they replaced the cabinet makers clamps, the pipe clamps, the hand screws, and several vices too.

Did Home Depot choose to replace Jorgensen with Irwin based on quality?   Absolutely not.  Anyone who picks up the Jorgensen and a matching Irwin will immediately see and feel the differences.  Aside from machining and materials, here is a simple example.  Comparing the 24 inch heavy duty F clamps, the Irwin is 3 lbs, the Jorgensen is 4lbs.  Sure weight is not always a direct indication of strength or quality, but now consider that the Jorgensen is rated at 1000 lbs, while the Irwin is 600lbs.

Did Home Depot choose to replace the Jorgensen based on the idea of saving consumer’s money or features?   You be the judge: (prices and reviews from HomeDepot.com on 1/7/2013)

Product Irwin Jorgensen / Pony Winner
12″ Heavy Duty F-Clamp
(clutched bar clamp)
$13.97
600lbs
No Warranty*
$13.97
1000 lbs
1yr Warranty
Jorgensen
24″ Heavy Duty F-Clamp
(clutched bar clamp)
$15.97
600lbs
No Warranty*
$15.97
1000 lbs
1yr Warranty
Jorgensen
12″ Wood Handscrew $19.97
200 lbs
No Warranty*
Jaws – wavy
$19.97
600 lbs
1yr Warranty
Jaws – Seasoned hard maple, selected straight grain; properly oiled and individually inspected, finished and tested.
Jorgensen
 36″ Cabinet Makers Clamp
(parallel jaws)
(not available)  $39.96
1000 lbs
1yr Warranty
Material: Steel
  Price comparison not available, but quality is unquestionably
Jorgensen
 48″ Cabinet Makers Clamp
(parallel jaws)
$44.97
300 lbs
No Warranty*
Material: Resin
 (not available)
 3/4″ pipe clamp  $13.97
600 lbs
No Warranty*
Main end goes on with Clutch plates (damages threads making it difficult to add on extentions)
 $13.97
600 lbs
1 yr WarrantyMain end screws onto pipe threads
Jorgensen
 3/4″ Deep Throat Pipe Clamp  $16.97
150 lbs
 $16.97
1000 lbs
 Jorgensen
 3″ wide Light Duty Clamp-on Vise $21.98 (3/5 stars)
wt: 3.75 lbs
$15.98 (4/5 stars)
wt: 4.25 lbs
 Jorgensen
    * Home Depot lists as Warranty: No, but in fairness Irwin claims their hand tools have a limited lifetime warranty.  It is unclear if this applies to clamps (Craftsman clamps do not fall under Craftsman’s lifetime guarantee.)

So it should be pretty clear from the chart that they did not lower their prices with the switch from American made Jorgensen/Pony to Chinese made Irwin  (Yes Irwin is a US held company but they shifted most of their manufacturing to China).  In fact in most cases they kept the price point the same.  So I can only reason that they have a bigger profit margin on the Irwin.

Here is a prime example of the difference in quality.

Handscrew Jorgensen vs Irwin

Straight grained seasoned maple on the Jorgensen. Wavy mystery wood on Irwin

I have several Jorgensen Handscrews that have been in my family for over 40 years. They work incredibly well to this day. I also have one 12 Handscrew that came from HarborFreight for $10and it is identical to the Irwin with the exception of the “Irwin” name on it.

It is interesting that there is not a Jorgensen clamp to be found in my Home Depot now, but they still seem to be available on the Home Depot Website.  I imagine they will be slowly disappearing from the website as stock disappears.

What Can You Do?

In the store:  Voice your opposition to the tool manager.

 In your home: vote with your feet and buy your Jorgensen or Pony tools from someone else

Of course you can always send feedback to HomeDepot online.

Okay, I promise to get back to woodworking soon.  The shop is still not useable.

UPDATED 1/8/2013:  Thanks to comments from Eric and David,  it seems that The Adjustable Clamp Co / Jorgensen Pony is or has moved much of its production to China as well.

Here is a thread with some interesting details from back in March 2012 : http://www.bt3central.com/showthread.php?t=55135

It seems Dubuque Clamp Works is the company to support at this point.  They have bar clamps (closer in style to cabinet clamps) , handscrews, and cam clamps

 

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