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Are Vice Grips Made In USA? Short history of the humble Grips

Vice grips

By: Author John Cunningham. Published: 2019/06/27 at 11:07 pm

Vice-grips were invented by a blacksmith, William S Petersen, in Nebraska in 1924. The story goes that he needed an extra pair of hands in the workshop, so necessity is the mother of invention.

So, are Vice-grips made in the USA? Vice-grips, the brand is no longer manufactured in America; production stopped in 2008 and was moved to China.

Interestingly, though, in 2018, a small tool company called Malco bought the original vice-grips factory in DeWitt, Nebraska, and has employed some of the original workers. They plan to manufacture a line of vice grips called Eagle Grip professional-grade locking pliers. It’s not available yet, but when I get a set, I’ll update this post.

My Favorite Vice Grips

I think I have every type of Vice-grips ever made; I use at least one of them every day. Yes, I have a few favorites. I like the original type without the rubber grip handle, and I prefer my older ones; I don’t know why; more familiar, maybe. 
Anyway, if you’re going to buy a Vice-grips (available on Amazon), buy the 3 pieces; it gives you complete flexibility in terms of application; nothing is more frustrating than not having the right tool for the job.

Vice grips

I use my square jaw set the most; they’re ideal for removing damaged nuts and bolts or just holding a workpiece. I couldn’t work without this set.

The curved jaw set is ideal for tubing or anything cylindrical, and it has a handy wire-cutting feature that most people don’t know about.

I use the pointy nose set the least, but it has a great advantage over the others: its weight makes it ideal for lighter, more delicate work. Some of the pictures on this page link to, where you can check the price and delivery of products. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.

Tooled Up

The three-piece Vice-grip set is a staple in every self-respecting handyman’s tool arsenal. This set was among the first tools I owned; I still use at least one of them every day. Picture links to

Mother Of Invention

William Petersen was granted a basic patent on the vice-grips in 1924, and he sold his invention from the trunk of his car in neighboring towns and farms.
The first evolution of the grips had the adjusting screw, but it took several more before the grips became locking grips. By the mid-1930s, Mr. Petersen and his whole family were working for the company. He established the Petersen Manufacturing Company in 1934, and the first plant opened in 38 in DeWitt, Nebraska. 
The Vice-grips were a staple tool in every truck on every farm and eventually in every home. Tools were sent to the UK to help with aircraft manufacturing and shipbuilding during the war years.
By 1941, Peterson’s Vice-grips patent had run out, but they got busy improving their product and expanded the range. In 1948, larger jawed grips and in 1951, the locking C grips hit the stores. The final evolution came in 57 when the whole range got the quick-release trigger we’re familiar with today, and the curved jaw vice-grips made its debut.
In 1985, the Petersen family formed a company called American Tool Company and bought out Petersen Manufacturing; then, in 1993, the American Tool Company bought the Irwin Tool Company, an old and well-respected power tool manufacturer.
Today Irwin Tools, based in Huntersville, North Carolina manufactures and manages the Vice-grips brand together with several other well-known tool brands. Irwin Tools are owned by Stanley Black & Decker Inc.