Must Have Tools

August 11th, 2021 by Nathan Hobbs

By Emmariah Holcomb

Where would tinters be without their tools? WINDOW FILM magazine reached out to those that know their way around a tool or two to find out what their must-have items are–you know, the ones you wouldn’t dare go to a site or work on a car without. But sometimes choosing isn’t so easy…

Although Mitchell Goldman, owner at Finalist Films in Marrero, La., values all of the tools in his arsenal, heat seems to take center stage.

“In two decades of forming, and laying film, most window tinters will tell you Steinel heat guns are the Rolls Royce of [that tool]. My heat gun is [the company’s] flagship model,” Goldman says. “Most would say the pricey heat guns are worth every penny. The digital heat adjustments allows me to toggle from 120°, to a whopping 1300°. With four preset temperature settings, and one being programmable.”

But the heat gun isn’t the only thing Goldman has on his radar, as Steinel also offers a heat scanner, which can be attached to the top of the gun. “The heat scanner when attached to the heat gun gives real temperature readings through laser technology,” Goldman says. “When the heat scan is turned on, you are able to set the temperature of the heat gun. Two little laser beams shoot out from the scanner angled toward each other.”

For those who don’t have heated tools at the top of their list, pocket squeegees and tool belts can be seen as essential pieces, especially for Kyle Fuller’s projects. Fuller is the owner of Tint Pro, which is located in Bonaire, Ga.

“When working on vehicles I absolutely love the Lil Chizler and I carry one in my back pocket every day,” Fuller said. The small squeegee can be used anywhere, according to Fuller, who said he uses it for various kinds of things. “It’s the tool I choose for finishing out any window that has the smallest specifications because perfection is key,” he added.

However when it comes to flat glass, Fuller says one trusted accessory is a must. “My Quick Draw tool belt by Jeremy Shapiro is a go-to for flat glass, with the right tools on that thing you can do anything and be anywhere with everything you need. I couldn’t imagine being on a job site without it!”

One industry pro says the extra height of her must-have tool is a go-to for her installations—the Little Giant Ladder.

“Beyond our usual arsenal of blades and squeegees, our Little Giant ladder is key when it comes to safely installing flat glass film. It’s extremely versatile and can be used in multiple configurations,” says Michelle Hurtado, co-owner of Sal’s House of Tint, located in San Marcos, Texas. “We’re able to quickly toggle between A-frame, extension, and 90 degree set-ups. It allows us to work in staircases and other uneven surfaces without worry. The optional work platforms and wingspan accessories are great too.”

Kyle Rehatchek is the owner of Black Diamond Tint, located in Pottsville, Pa., a residential and commercial window film company. He says his projects wouldn’t be complete without his go-to compressor.

“The tool I’m most happy with and that I use a ton on commercial and residential jobs, is the Milwaukee 12v compressor,” Rehatchek says. “It’s super small and portable, and operates off of
the same batteries we use for our handheld drills [in the shop and on the van].”

He noted its price point, which is just under $80 that seems to be a good value because “it’s quiet, and produces enough pressure to easily exceed the pop off valves on the corny tanks we use for
our slip solutions.” According to Rehatchek, the compressor will fill two of the company’s tanks on a single battery.

When your business is strictly mobile-based your most relied on tool is probably a unique item made just for you, and that’s the case for Aaron Okada, owner of Oasis Window Tinting, which offers a mobile option throughout California.

“A tinters favorite tool is usually custom-made. [My favorite is] this is a gray ribbed squeegee which I cut into a corner card,” Okada says. “I keep it smooth by filing it throughout the week with ‘0000’ steel wool. It never scratches and has multiple uses.”

Justin Beller, general manager of Meridian Window Tint, located in Meridian, Idaho, can’t pick just one tool to lead his list.

“The Red Dot is my favorite knife because with just one click you can extend the blade out just far enough that you can do freehand cuts along edges when doing flat glass installs,” Beller said.

“The Lime Speedwing is also a favorite when doing flat glass for two reasons. First, it has nice rigidity, and second, there is a slight curve on one long edge of the card that not many people notice. It helps in bumping out excess water or slip solution.”

Some who have a hand in making industry tools, but also install, say having the right tool depends on what the individual using it likes. Jordan Campbell, vice president for Fusion Tools located in
Maryville, Ill. says she’s a fan of having a good handle because she knows it won’t break.

“I always compare it to building a house,” she says. “In my mind, if you’re building a home and all you have is a hammer and nails it’s going to take you a long time and you’re probably going to get pretty bad results. Upgrade your tools to a good drill and screws and you’ll get faster more efficient results. The right tools are the deciding factor to between a bad job and a great job.”

Emmariah Holcomb is the assistant editor of WINDOW FILM magazine. You can reach her at Tara Taffera contributed to this report

To view the laid-in version of this article in our digital edition, CLICK HERE.

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