Vaughan and Bushnell delivering right tools for the job

For 150 years through five generations, Vaughan and Bushnell Manufacturing Company has been hand-making high-quality hammers and hand tools in Illinois.  Founded in Peoria and now located in Bushnell in McDonough County, Vaughan has been committed to producing hand tools that proudly state, ‘Made in the USA.’ Many of what are now accepted as basic hammer designs, from the distinctive curve of the claw to the set of the handle and the shape of the head, were introduced by Vaughan. 

“One of the world’s top producers of hand tools is located here in the small town of Bushnell in downstate Illinois,” stated Rep. Randy Frese (R-Paloma). “No corners are ever cut at Vaughan and Bushnell, as they are dedicated to delivering the highest quality of products.”

In the 1860s, Alexander Vaughan moved to Chicago to open a blacksmith shop behind Sidney Bushnell’s hardware store. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed both of their shops, the Vaughan and Bushnell families came together to open a custom tool business. Since then the Vaughan lineage has descended five generations from father to son, with the second generation of Vaughans buying out the Bushnells in 1922. The Vaughans acquired a manufacturing plant in the village of Bushnell in 1940, where the company today manufactures 95 percent of its tools. 

Consumers can find Vaughan-branded tools at big box retailers such as Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Menards. The company also markets products at independent hardware stores such as True Value and Ace. While most of the tools bear the Vaughan name, the company manufactures 25 percent of its tools under private labels, including Snap-On and Stanley. Bushnell has made Craftsman hammers for over 100 years. 

Vaughan delivers well-balanced hammers through a process that includes heat treating. Vaughan hammers are triple zone heat treated, ensuring that the striking face, claws, and eye have precisely the right hardness and toughness for the different jobs they must do. Vaughan’s products include straight claw hammers, curved claw hammers, pry bars, soft face hammers, ball pein hammers, framing and decking hammers, dalluge, hatchets, axes, bear saws, landscaping tools, and industrial hammers and mallets.

Vaughan is committed to providing American made products comprised of American raw materials. A chance meeting at a trade show with a garden tool manufacturer headquartered in Bushnell led to Vaughan’s move there in 1940. The town’s location and ample labor supply proved favorable, and by 1950 the company decided to consolidate all manufacturing operations in Bushnell. 

“Vaughan is the largest manufacturer of striking tools in the world,” stated Rep. Dan Swanson (R-Alpha). “We are honored that Vaughan has called McDonough County home for the last 80-plus years and provided so many great employment opportunities for area residents.”