Volume 40,   Issue 11                      November  2005

Cool Tools
Glaziers Talk about the Tools They Use the Most
by Peggy Georgi

While the traditional tools of the trade remain a staple in glaziers’ toolboxes, today’s new and innovative products are bringing ease of use, efficiency and increased productivity to the jobsite. The quality, engineering and design of the next generation of tools, along with their durability, versatility and comfort are catching the attention of glaziers everywhere.

Matt Raza, president of Nu Glass & Mirror in Pelham, N.H., is a second-generation glazier who looks for tools that provide the power and diversity to get the job done. Raza says that in addition to having trained and knowledgeable glaziers, the type of tools utilized on the job also helps make a difference to the bottom line. 

According to Raza, many of the tools of the glazing trade, despite their age, can still be utilized in some fashion. He uses a varied assortment of battery-powered tools, with his favorite being the 18-volt DeWALT

Hammerdrill XRP. 
Other tools that Raza finds essential are the new DeWALT 12-inch compound miter saw and passload finish nailer. Raza explains that the blade on this compact miter saw affords the ability to cut a large variety of materials. The nailer runs off a propane pack and a battery and can be used without a compressor or hose. It takes from 1 ¼ -inch up to 2 ½-inch finished nails, and it is compact, versatile, quick and saves a great deal of time, according to Raza. And, since purchasing a Little Giant ladder more than 20 years ago, he says the need for an extension ladder has been all but eliminated.

In the Toolbox
Dennis Bellville, project manager for Custom Curtainwall in Arnold, Mo., and Dean Garcia, a partner and field supervisor at Storefront Specialties & Glass in Albuquerque, N.M., both say they never leave their shop without a select assortment of power and jimmy tools, ladders, scrapers, tape measurers, suction cups and glass cutters, describing them as absolutely essential for work on any jobsite. 

Bellville says his favorite tool is the Red Devil pry bar. 

“As a matter of fact, I typically carry two to three of these little, multipurpose bars with me at all times,” he says. “This is the one tool that I couldn’t do without.” 

Garcia agrees that the Red Devil pry bar may be the most valued jimmy tool in the glazing industry. “Of equal importance as tools on our jobsite or any jobsite for that matter is our safety gear and equipment—this includes hard hats, safety gloves and boots,” Garcia quickly points out. “Ensuring a safe work environment is paramount. We always check for hazards on or around the site before we get started and check our power tools daily. In our line of work we are either in everybody’s way or they are in ours. People are always coming and going around us as we do our job and the last thing we need to do is trip over a cord or run into another individual or piece of glass.” 

Ideal Glass & Mirror president Dan Satterlee is a third-generation glazier who has been in business for close to half a century. Based in Torrance, Calif., Satterlee services the greater South Bay area and utilizes a variety of traditional tools, complemented by an assortment of today’s compact, high-powered tools. 

“The hook tool has been around since the beginning of time,” explains Satterlee. “I like this tool because it can be used for many purposes. For the newer generation of tools, I get a lot of use from Pacific Laser System’s PLS5 laser level. This handy tool finds all levels and straight lines and definitely saves me incredible time, from estimating a job to performing the work.”

No Cords, More Power
“I really value my DeWALT cordless drill,” Satterlee continues. “It is essential in my work and I use it every day. As a matter of fact, I keep a spare one in my trunk. I have been very happy with all my DeWALT 18-volt cordless tools. Their charge lasts and they are powerful giving me the performance I need to get the job done. Another item that I have been impressed with, and one I searched for for many years, is my Bosch cordless chop saw. It’s 24-volt, compact, lightweight and ideal for work that involves making a few cuts.”

“When it comes to power tools, I prefer the Milwaukee cordless screw because it’s durable and easy to handle,” notes Bellville. The Metabo and DeWALT brands are Garcia’s top picks for cordless power tools, and Raza says he prefers any tool that is cordless. 

“This eliminates the need for power, a generator or compressor and heavy tools to drop and cords to trip over,” he adds. 

Joe Price has been in the glass and glazing business since 1963, and has been the owner and operator of Price Glass & Mirror in Compton, Calif., serving the greater Los Angeles area since 1983. Price, who describes him-self as a “glazier’s glazier,” says the three most valuable tools he uses are the tape measurer, leveler and calculator. 

“We are glass contractors who do a little bit of everything including storefronts, mirrors, auto glass, tabletops, new construction, repair, replacements and rehab,” explains Price. “These are absolutely essential in terms of estimating each and every job no matter what arena. I often measure the potential job myself and use a 30-foot tape measurer with a 1-inch blade.

I do have more modern tools, like my new cellular telephone with a digital camera, and believe cordless is the way of the future. However, I still have a few favorites from the early days, including my Fletcher glass cutter.”

While many of the traditional tools utilized by glaziers for generations remain functional today, technological advances are making some tools less desirable than others. For example, manual hand drills, screwdrivers, putty chasers and nail guns are being replaced by high-powered cordless models.

“I’ve been in the business for some 27 years,” adds Bellville. “While the technology continues to improve giving us more options in speed, power, performance and durability, many of us still utilize the tools used by the generation before us. With anything else, if you take care of your tools, they will last a lifetime and then some.” 

Garcia, a first-generation glazier with more than 20 years of experience, has used the same type of tools his entire career. 

“The construction world can be tough on tools,” explains Garcia. “They take a lot of use and abuse, not to mention getting lost or stolen. I personally don’t think there is a bad tool in the industry. Most serve their intended purpose and tool selection and use are often simply a matter of preference for the glazier. It all depends on what you are doing and where you are doing it.”

“I still have my old tools and use some of the tools my father has passed down to me but I do like the amenities afforded through the technological advances of today’s tools,” comments Raza. “The newer tools can save a great deal of time and this time saving ultimately helps save on the labor end of business.” 

“My father never bought any new tools,” recalls Satterlee. “He passed them on to me. While there is nothing wrong with tools used by previous generations, I purchase the types of tools that will help make my life easier. The trend today is about power, performance, versatility and durability. Manufac-turers are moving away from big, bulky equipment with cords and are giving us the type of lightweight, versatile cordless tools that assist us in getting in and out of the jobsites, many of which do not have electricity, with ease.”

“Today’s tools have evolved over the years bringing with them increased speed, quality and safety,” Price points out. “They have many attractive advantages in assisting the glazing professional to be more accurate, efficient and effective on the jobsite.” 

The Author:
Peggy Georgi is a contributing writer for USGlass magazine.

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