Finn, a 2002 graduate of Southwest Tech’s auto collision repair program, created the Spot Weld Chisel, a repair tool designed for use on automobiles. The tool became available for purchase in October.
According to Finn, who lives in Prairie du Chien, WI, the idea for this tool came to him about 10 years ago. He had purchased a 1931 Ford Model A that he wanted to transform into a hot rod.
“I was trying to remove the quarter panel, but the area was too tight to get into with any of the tools I had. I found a piece of scrap angle iron (an old bed frame section) and was able to cut and shape it to the size I needed,” he recalled. “Then I used a torch to heat it and bend it so that it fit into the panel. It ended up working just like I had hoped on the Model A, and I discovered it worked well on newer cars at the shop (where he worked) as well. That’s when I thought that it may be a good tool to have manufactured.”
Finn explained further what the Spot Weld Chisel does. It’s a repair tool designed to separate spot welds that join two metal sheets. For example, auto repair often involves the body of a vehicle, which is composed of metal sheets that are formed and then joined by spot welding. To repair or replace a damaged metal component, a technician may need to detach the sheet metal panel from the rest of the vehicle. The Spot Weld Chisel is unique in that its chisel end is formed in a U-shape, allowing it to get into an area of the car with little access. It also allows a lever movement (like prying) to break the spot welds and separate the metal sheets at the seam.
When considering manufacturing his original design, Finn found an ad in the back of a tool magazine that solicited ideas for new tools.
“I went back and forth deciding if I should submit it. After about two years, I decided to submit the idea. I sent in the tool I had made and also put together a video of how it works and what I used it for so the company could see it in action,” he said. “I started working with one manufacturer on the tool. It was really interesting to be included in all the communication between the company and their manufacturer. They sent me a prototype of the tool and then, in the end, just decided not to move any further. I didn’t get an explanation; they just told me they weren’t moving forward with it.”
Several years later, Finn sent the tool to Lisle Corporation, as he was familiar with their line of tools and had many of their products in his toolbox.
“They have a long history in manufacturing; they’ve been around since 1903 and they are based in Iowa,” he noted. “They had the tool for a couple years while making some design tweaks, doing some field testing and market research. I found that it’s a very deliberate and slow process.”
One day, Finn received an email that the company had decided to move forward with production of the Spot Weld Chisel. The first production run was 7,000 tools.
To say that he was excited would be an understatement.
“It’s great to know that it’s an American-made product, and I was relieved they were going to work with me on the patent process,” Finn said. “That alone is a lot of work and a large expense to try to do on my own.”
Finn is a repair specialist for Rick’s Auto Body in Prairie du Chien, where he’s been working for the past eight years. He gives credit to Rick Rymarz, also a Southwest Tech graduate, for encouraging him to keep pursuing the manufacturing of the tool.
Eventually Finn will have a patent on his product, as it’s pending right now. The tool actually displays the text “pat. pend.” on it.
Purchasing the Spot Weld Chisel is as easy as doing a Google search for “Lisle 51880.” Finn said they’re available on Amazon and eBay, and are starting to show up in all tool catalogs as well. He said he purchased one himself through a Matco Tools representative.
Now that he’s gone through the process of creating and getting a tool manufactured, Finn said he has three other tools in the design and prototype phases. So he may get to add more products to his list of inventions.
Finn invented the tool because he was working on restoring a 1931 Model A. So, is it road-ready?
Finn said, “It will never be finished. Right now, I’m busy with my young family so I don’t dedicate as much time to it as I used to. It’s in the garage and my boys like to play in it, or take it around town. I have a 1952 Chevy Sedan Deluxe that has room for my wife and kids, so we like to get that out to a few shows in the summer.”