While many clothespin models have been developed since the 1800s, the traditional spring-hinged clothespin consists of two pieces of wood joined together in the center by a wire hinge. The hinge allows a person to push on the open legs while opening the clasping ends where the clothing item goes.
The New York Times explains that despite other models made from wood, the contemporary clothespin aligns most closely with a design patented in 1853 by Vermont inventor David M. Smith. Another Vermont inventor, Solon E. Moore, updated Smith's model with a single wire fulcrum in his 1887 patent. The simple manufacturing of two grooved wood pieces joined with a single wire enables companies to sell clothespins to consumers at very low prices.