by Bob Beranek
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I love power tools, they speed up the job and make glass removal easier with less effort. However, power tools are often misused. It starts with a lack of, or the wrong type of, lubrication and ends with using a tool that shouldn’t be used. Here are some tips to get the most out of your tools.

Our goal is to get the glass out of the vehicle with the least amount of damage. Unfortunately, many technicians, or their bosses, want the glass removed as quickly as possible. They do this to get through more installations per day. Don’t get me wrong, I too am a technician and past owner and pay attention to productivity and quality. I believe there is a happy medium between both goals.

Tool lubrication is mandatory for its durability and the ease of use. I compare cutting a urethane bead with a non-lubricated tool like trying to cut a tire with a utility knife. It’s not easy. Lubrication allows a blade to glide through materials, which makes it more durable and easier to use.

Some lubrication products can also contaminate the urethane bead and cause poor adhesion. I recommend water. It’s cheap and contains no harmful ingredients. The approved glass cleaner or lubricants your adhesive supplier recommends are also acceptable. In any case, all excess lubricant must be wiped off after removal and before trimming back the existing urethane.

Paddle-bladed tools are the easiest to train and learn on. Put the tool in a technicians’ hands and they can be comfortable with it in less than five minutes. By design, paddle tools are mostly used for the inside of the vehicle. It can be used on flat “A” pillar pinchwelds from the outside, but it’s designed to cut the bottom bead from the inside.

Paddle tools have reciprocating blades movement, which means the blade moves forward and backward at high speeds. If this tool is used on an “L” shaped pinchweld, the chance of the blade hitting the pinchweld wall is very high. This can cause corrosion to take place. This is even more important with the exposed edge glass mounting used in most vehicles today, because the scratches cannot be primed without it being in the customers’ line of sight. This tool is best on flat or bottom pinchwelds where the blade will not contact the body. I have seen hundreds of technicians try to control this tool on “L” shaped pinchwelds and cut the glass out without damaging the body, but it does not work. The tool should be used for its designed purposes.

The oscillating tools are more versatile, meaning there are different styles of blades for different uses. A straight blade for interior cutouts and a curved blade for outside use, much like a cold knife blade. This tool’s blade works side to side instead of in and out. The result is the same, but improper use results in pinchweld damage which also causes corrosion. The blades must be changed to handle different situations.

Many times, I see a technician using the blade that was in the tool instead of changing it to fit the immediate need.
Power tools for auto glass removal are wonderful inventions. However, if they are misused they are what makes us look bad to our customers and our fellow technicians.

Within the past few years there’s been an introduction of a new class of tools that I think warrants some discussion. These tools are produced by various manufacturers with names like the Rammer Jammer™, GT Tools™ Quarter Cutter™, and the Equalizer® Push Knife. These types of tools are designed to take some of the “power” away from the tool and give the control back to the technician. Think less violence and more control.

Photo courtesy of www.rammerjammertools.com

Those of us who do a lot of remove and re-installs (R&R or R&I) require the ability to remove a part without damaging it. The problem with some power tools is that without care and/or experience, the technician can damage the underside of the part or the body of the vehicle. Which can cause a poor fit or require outside repair for the damage to the vehicle’s body.

Hand tools give the technician a little more control. Though it is certainly possible to scratch a vehicle with hand tools, the severity is usually more superficial and can be remedied using adhesive metal primers or by the body shop as they fix whatever problem necessitated the R&R in the first place.

Picture Courtesy of Equalizer Tools®

Keep in mind that like with everything, there is a learning curve. You’ll have to practice the use of the tool and use more physical effort to do the job than when you use power tools. It  will also probably need a medium to heavy mallet as a “convincer’ to start the tool.

Picture courtesy of www.gtglass.com/products/gt-tools-quarter-cutter

Are these tools better than a wireout or other carefully used tools designed to cut close to the glass?  That’s hard to say.  I ‘ve heard some technicians argue that time is money and they can do a removal faster with a hand tool than with a wireout, and with less damage than a power tool. I think there is a place for all of the various options.

My advice is to research the tool and see what works for your needs. Quarter glass removal tools usually range from 12-14, 24-26 and 32-36-inch handle lengths and with blade sizes anywhere from 1-1/2 to 3-inch widths. Most of my clients use the shorter lengths more often.  So, if your budget is tight, you might want to purchase the shorter versions first and then move up when the need demands a longer one.