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  • Country of origin

    Where does the best stuff come from? Why do I have faith in some makes and not others?

    I have various measurement tools; Mitutoyo, Starrett, Fluke, Tektronix, Snap-on. All of those are trusted instruments, I don't formally calibrate them but I check them against standards when the opportunity arises. Always dead on.

    I also have a 'Power Fist' clamp-on meter I got for $10 which works very well but I don't trust it.

    There's a line of machine tool equipment such as vices, live centers etc. branded GROZ carried by BusyBee. It looks really nice but it comes from India and although I haven't checked, it looks as though they have figured out how to grind a beautiful finish and are hoping that's enough.

    In todays global economy, how do we know where to go for the good stuff?
    Mike

    My Dad always said, "If you want people to do things for you on the farm, you have to buy a machine they can sit on that does most of the work."

  • #2
    I try to stick with the old stuff to get good stuff. If it has to be new and good I try to get american.
    Andy

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    • #3
      In todays global economy, how do we know where to go for the good stuff?
      That's the $517,630.56* question. I wouldn't sweat things made in the 1st world. For items made in the 3rd world, however, it's a problem. You can't trust it a bit as you don't know which factory made it and you don't know if the way it was made yesterday is the way it was made today.

      Companies in the US that import this stuff can add value by standing behind the product. I know if I buy a lathe from Grizzly and it sucks I'll be taken care of. If they don't, they'll go out of business. To me Horror Fright isn't as solid as Grizzly but they sell the "same thing"** cheaper. So you lower your expectations and you takes your chances.




      * adjusted for inflation.
      ** As far as anyone can tell. Maybe. But tomorrow, it could be different.
      Last edited by Tony Ennis; 01-31-2010, 12:31 PM.

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      • #4
        Ask here before you buy,chances are if it's metal or woodworking related somebody here owns,has owned or at least lusted after enough to research most items used in the shop fully.
        I just need one more tool,just one!

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        • #5
          You have to stay with the brands you trust. Where it's made is far less important that the company behind it. If my Mitutoyo says "made in xxxx", I could care less. You think your Fluke stuff is still made in Washington? lol... but it's still good stuff...

          But.. more in context of your question... Unless "Busy Bee" has a hard specification and an active QC department, then no... you can't trust anything. I've seen some beautiful surface finishes on import machine vices, but the two I checked were 3+ thou out of wack side to side (4 inches). Might make good wood working vices, but...


          If you're concerned, ask the supplier for a "spec", measure it when you get it and ship it back if it's not correct. Or... spend the $$$ on major name brands. We all want more for a lot less; sometimes you get it, sometimes not.
          Last edited by lakeside53; 01-31-2010, 12:44 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by MotorradMike
            I have various measurement tools; Mitutoyo, Starrett, Fluke, Tektronix, Snap-on. All of those are trusted instruments, I don't formally calibrate them but I check them against standards when the opportunity arises. Always dead on.

            In todays global economy, how do we know where to go for the good stuff?
            It's very hard to tell. Fluke is still made in the Netherlands. At least, I bought a Scopemeter last year that was, and a Fluke i200S current clamp that's made in France. Both superlative quality. Textronix is all made in Singapore now. The 24xx series scopes are highly sought-after because they were the last Made in USA scopes.

            Mitutoyo is still mostly made in Japan, although their entry-level calipers are made in Brazil. Starrett is slowly but steadily outsourcing to China, and there are a corresponding raft of complaints about poor quality with their hand tools (fish gauges, edge finders, etc).
            "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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            • #7
              For me it's a political as well as a quality issue.

              I'd rather put 100% of my money into an American's pocket buying a "used something" than put 20% of my money into the chinese economy buying something that cost someone here their job. That also means I want to prevent the other 80% of my money from paying someone here who sent someone else's job over there.

              Then there's stuff I know I'll be hard on and can't justify risking the loss (digital calipers tend to have accidents around my shop) - so I buy the crappy chinese version solely so I have more control over the larger discretionary purchases.

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              • #8
                Fluke - made all over now. The Netherlands stuff is from the "Phillips" rebadged equipment.

                Most of the smaller handheld stuff is made in China. Fluke has a big plant a couple of miles up the road from me, but not much being made there now. I haven't checked for a couple of years - maybe nothing now?

                In a previous life I bought a small fortune worth of Phillips/Fluke instrumentation - more than my house is/was worth. I still like their products no matter where it made, and it has nothing to do with the free trip I got to Eindhoven

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jim Shaper
                  For me it's a political as well as a quality issue.

                  .

                  Yep.. a tough choice sometimes. And buying current brand guarantees nothing in terms of county of manufacture. Take "Wilton" (a fine American Name) for example - how much and exactly what is made in the USA anymore?


                  At the opposite end of the spectrum - I grew up in New Zealand. Pretty much everything was imported so we never got into the "county of origin" as a political issue (unless it was ignorantly still associated with WW2). 30+ year here.. yep.. I can see the changes, the writing on the wall... and... and... but I agree. Unless someone (we) takes a stand and try to keep products made here by buying them, very quickly this will all be a moot point - import quality will be up, and that argument will be done.


                  Back to the orginal posters request... if you're not into the politics, then buy from someone that will stand behind the product. Great customer service is no replacement for quality and watch out for the "just send it back" - with Iron, freight can kill you.
                  Last edited by lakeside53; 01-31-2010, 01:19 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Take "Wilton" (a fine American Name) for example
                    'Pittsburgh' tools are made in Pittsburgh, China.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by lazlo
                      Starrett is slowly but steadily outsourcing to China, and there are a corresponding raft of complaints about poor quality with their hand tools (fish gauges, edge finders, etc).
                      Hmmm. I toured the Athol factory last fall (and posted the story here). I specifically asked if they made stuff in China and was told that unless it is labeled "international", it is made in America. They do have some parts roughed out in Asia but all the finish work and QC for hand tools sold in America is done here. I saw the complete production lines for micrometers and indicators as well as most of their other tools and gained an understanding of why their prices are higher than many other makers.

                      They do not use Asian steel, even for the parts roughed out in Asia. It's either American or French. They have tried Asian steel but had too many quality issues with it.

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                      • #12
                        Greg, Starrett was famously fined a great deal by the Federal Trade Commission several years ago for marking Starrett tape measures as Made in USA when they were in fact made in China.

                        Old-stock Starrett is superb quality, so when I see a flurry of complaints about modern Starrett hand tools, I'm suspicious they're made in Starrett's factory in Shanghai:

                        In this recent debacle, several Starrett thread gages (that were not Starrett International) had the same manufacturing defect. There was a similar thread on PM recently about edge finders that had the same defect.

                        Bad Starrett Acme Thread Gage No. 284

                        Last edited by lazlo; 01-31-2010, 01:56 PM.
                        "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."

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                        • #13
                          Lazlo:

                          Yikes. Well, let's see what Starrett has to say for themselves. I've sent an email to both their marketing and sales departments asking for an explanation or clarification. I'll post their reply here as soon as I get one.

                          In the tape measure case, according to the FTC, Starrett agreed to remove the "made in USA" label from it's packaging because the blade of the tape measure was made in Taiwan. It appears that the FTC closed the case without a fine. Here's a link to the FTC letter to Douglas Starrett:

                          http://www.ftc.gov/os/statutes/madeu...s/starret.shtm

                          A couple of other Web sites state that Starrett's "Exact" brand products are made in Asia, but these are not Starrett sites so we'll have to wait until the company responds to know for sure.

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                          • #14
                            Mike, I bought i product from the bee years ago, a set of collets. there was like 3 thou runout, back they went and didn't go back for years.
                            they were good about the return, i'll grand them that. next time was a year ago, finally weakened and though a cheap caliper would be handy for checking stock size etc. sr44 battery lasted about 3 weeks. with tools, two strikes and you're out

                            the made in india tools are the one the mainland chinese stay away from.

                            Add Schweitzer and Helios to your quality list, both made in Germany. I came into a bunch of their stuff last year and I think put it top of the heap. up there above Mit and Starrett on par Etalon and Compac
                            .

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                            • #15
                              It's worse than most anybody thinks. The owner where I work tries very hard to buy USA everything and pays more for it. Hardly anything we ever receive is made in the USA. We just don't make anything here anymore. Starrett, Jacobs, Kennametal stuff arrived at the shop last week and it all had a sticker saying where it came from. None of it from the US. Sad...

                              We can push money around like nobody's business up on Wall St., but when it comes to actually creating anything this country has really fallen apart. If we suddenly found ourselves in a position where we had to actually make something here, we'd be sunk. If they decided to bring jobs back inside the borders (won't happen) it would take at least 20 years before we were actually able to do it again.
                              I'm speaking in general terms here. There are tiny pockets of exceptions.

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