Tint My Ride November/December 2022

November 9th, 2022 by Nathan Hobbs

Hand Cutting 101

By Joe Doyle

Welcome back! I have been hand-cutting tint for cars since 1985, and I’d like to share some things I’ve learned along the way.

Gaining an Edge

I remember cutting a perfect piece for the driver door and hoping I could do it again for the passenger. Looking into the trash, I saw the clear from the driver’s door and wondered how I could use this to make a mirror image of the door I just cut. Laying the clear covering from the driver door onto another piece of tint makes sense, but how could you possibly see the edge to cut it?

I searched for a way to make that happen and stumbled across the answer. We all use white talcum (baby powder) for heat shrinking, right? How about white talcum powder in a spray can? If you lay the clear piece on top of the tint on your cutting board, spray the edges with white talcum spray and remove the clear pattern, you reveal a perfect black and white edge to cut. The spray is called “Leak Trace” and is used by car repair shops to locate water leaks around car weather strips and gaskets.

Learning this led to other time-saving tactics. First of all, when you have a pattern piece of clear, you can easily write on it with a Sharpee and note the car model, the years that it fits and the location on the car. So, for a Chevrolet Impala, I will have three patterns— front door, rear door and quarter panel. I don’t use these for rear windshields on sedans and coupes but definitely use them for SUV rear hatches and pickup truck rear glass, as well as front windshield sun strips and sunroofs.

When I tint a car I’ve never done before, I take the time to cut a perfect piece and then mark it and add any notes that will make the next car easier. Notes written on the pattern include things like, “Remove lower weather strip” (RLWS for short) or, “Remove door panel” (RDP) and list any tools needed to do that job. If the panel removal requires a 10 mm socket and Philips screwdriver (+ for short) I write that as well as how many of them I need to look for. For example—10 m (two) and + (five). It is also handy to write the size of the piece of tint for the window on the pattern so that you don’t have to measure every time.

One of the best things about using templates is that you can cut both sides at the same time. Simply lay the first piece of tint on the cutting board clear side down, and the next piece clear side up, then lay the temp on top and spray the edges with the Leak Trace. Remove the template and cut both pieces at the same time.

Storing the patterns can be tricky, so here is how I do it. They can be rolled up for a very long time yet lay perfectly flat when unrolled, so I put them into clear round plastic tubes and label them. In one tube I have all the patterns for every model of the Impala from 2005 and up, and that includes all doors, quarters, sunroofs and windshield strips.

The tubes I use are from the hardware store and come in lengths of eight feet which can be cut into four 24” or five 19” segments and cost around seven bucks. These tubes are used as covers for the large fluorescent bulbs, size T-12; Lowes calls them “bulb guards.”

Joe Doyle is the owner of Tint My Ride in Florissant, Mo.

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

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