Good Power Tool Habits

There is no doubt that power tools help today’s technicians do their job more easily and efficiently.   How many of you just pick up the tool and go to work?  Do you sharpen the blade?  Do you change the blade for the job at hand or just use the blade that’s in the machine?  Do you adjust the blade for the vehicle that is being done?  Do you lubricate the cut out area?  Do you oil the tool from time to time?

These are questions that can mean the difference between damaging the vehicle, injuring yourself, burning out the tool prematurely, and using the tool most effectively.  Here are the eight good tool habits that all technicians should develop.  You may remember the last two from an earlier post.  Your feedback suggested that I address this topic more thoroughly.

  1. Wear your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  The PPE for power tools are basically the same as for hand tools, safety glasses and gloves.  However, when using power tools, your safety gloves should be anti-vibration gloves.  These gloves give extra padding in the palm and finger area to cushion the hand from the constant jarring of the tool.  If this type of glove is not worn while using the power tool, a serious disease called HAVS (hand-arm vibration syndrome) or VWF (vibration-induced white finger) can occur.
  2. Sharpen your blades before every use.  Make sure that you sharpen them the way the tool is designed, tapered on one side and flat on the other.  “Machine sharpen” daily and hone it before each use.  Sharpened tools are safer tools.
  3. Keep your tools in good repair.  Some tools need lubrication or tune-ups but all need cleaning and care.
  4. Work from outside of the vehicle whenever possible.  It is always better to see what you are doing rather than working blind.  Stand on the outside while working the tool from the inside.  Then watch where your blade exits the bead and pull back when necessary.  If the vehicle has a flat “A” pillar pinchweld, plunge the blade from the outside and run the tool downward with part of the blade visible inside and out.
  5. Lubricate the cutting area.  Make sure that the area to be cut is liberally sprinkled with water and added during the process.  Wet the interior, exterior and the cutting blade as well.  If you add soap or another lubricant to the water, the chance of contamination to the bonding surface is possible so it is recommended that only water be used.  Once the glass is out, make sure you wipe away any standing water from the bonding area before you trim back the existing urethane.  The urethane bead is porous and water can be absorbed into the bead and hinder the bond between the new application and the existing one.
  6. Do not apply tension to the adhesive bead while cutting.  Unlike the utility knife, tension does not aid in the cutting action of the power tool blades.  As a matter of fact, it can cause the cutter to jump and cause damage.
  7. Make sure you use the right blade for the job.  The closer the blade edge is to the power source the better the cut out.  I know that changing the blade is a pain – though tools are making quick change blade housings – but the fact is that if you use a long blade when a short blade is called for, the cut out will be harder, the blade and tool will be damaged faster, and the chance of vehicle damage will be higher.
  8. The flat side of the blade should always be toward the glass.  Almost all blades are purposely sharpened on one side and flat on the other.  The purpose of this is to have the blade rise to the glass surface and away from the metal and interior moldings to prevent damage.  If the blades are reversed, the blade dives to the metal.  There are occasional reasons to reverse the blade; I am only saying that the blade design is made for control and not convenience of manufacture.  If you prefer the blades that are beveled on both sides, then the technician must control the blade with the hands to shave the adhesive from the desired surface.  This takes a lot of skill and control.

They say that it takes at least 21 days to develop a new habit.  I propose that you develop these good habits one at a time for the next three weeks until all are second nature.  You won’t be sorry, I promise.