Southwest Tech Auto Collision Repair Graduate Invents New Tool

Matt Finn, a 2002 graduate of the Auto Collision Repair program can now include “Inventor” on his list of accomplishments. Finn invented the Spot Weld Chisel tool, a repair tool that is designed to separate spot welds which join two metal sheets on automobiles. The tool became available for purchase in October.

How did the idea of the tool come about?

I bought a 1931 Ford Model A that I wanted to hot rod about 10 years ago. 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) at the shop I was working at and was able to cut and shape it to the size I needed. 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 as well. That’s when I thought that it may be a good tool to have manufactured.

For those not in the automotive industry, what exactly does the spot weld chisel do?

It’s a repair tool that is designed to separate spot welds which join two metal sheets.  For example, auto repair often involves the body of a vehicle, which is comprised 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.  This tool 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, and also allows a lever movement (like prying) to break the spot welds and separate the metal sheets at the seam.

What is the process you used for having a manufacturer create the tool?

I found an ad in the back of a tool magazine asking for 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. 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 farther. I didn’t get an explanation; they just told me they weren’t moving forward with it.

Several years later I sent the tool to Lisle Corporation. I was familiar with their line of tools, and have many of their tools in my toolbox. They have a long history in manufacturing; they’ve been around since 1903 and they are based in Iowa. 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 I received an email that they had decided to move forward with production. I was pretty excited! It’s great to know that it’s an American made product and I was relieved that they were going to work with me on the patent process. That alone is a lot of work and a large expense to try to do on my own.

So you will have a patent on the product?

Yes, the patent is in my name and the tool says “patent pending” right on it.

How would others find the spot weld chisel to buy it?

It’s as easy as doing a Google Search “Lisle 51880”I bought one from our Matco Tools rep, I know they are on Amazon, ebay, they are starting to show up in all the tool catalogs as well. The first production run was 7000 tools.

What impact would you say Southwest Tech had on your career?

It gave me the building blocks and hands on experience that I needed when I started working in the field.

The tool was invented because you were working on the 1931 Model A. Is it finished? Do you take it to any shows now?

It will never be finished but no, 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.

Now that you know the process for creating a tool do you plan to pursue other ideas?

I have 3 other tools in the design and prototype stage so we’ll see what happens with those!

Finn is a Repair Specialist for Rick’s Auto Body in Prairie du Chien where he’s been working for the past eight year. Finn gave credit to Rick Rymarz, a ‘88 Southwest Tech graduate for encouraging him to keep pursuing the manufacturing of the tool.

Photos:

Top left: Matt and his wife on their wedding day in front of the 1931 Model A.

Top right: The manufactured spot chisel weld tool.

Bottom right: The tool Matt originally made that became his invention.