HVAC technicians handle a lot of gears: from hand tools and specialized HVAC tools, to business management tools. Whether you’re an apprentice starting from scratch or a business owner, there’s no shortage of variety!
To help you navigate the many tools involved, we connected with OLFA Pro All-Star Jessica Bannister, a Level 3 HVAC/R Apprentice based in Vancouver. She knows all the ins and outs of the recommended hand tools and has shared some of her favorite ones from OLFA.
What Are Your Top 3 OLFA Tools for HVAC?
OLFA has many different hand tools available, but there are three specifically that stand out for me.
- The OLFA 25mm XH-1 Fiberglass-Reinforced Ratchet-Lock Utility Knife* is a durable, strong utility knife that comes preloaded with an ultra-sharp black snap off blade. The ergonomic shape and larger handle deliver more leverage for easier cutting on tough or thick materials. I use this tool for each of my air conditioner/heat pump installations and specifically for cutting flexible ducting, refrigerant pipe insulation (“Armaflex”), vinyl hose tubing, and filter media.
- The OLFA 9mm XA-1 Fiberglass Precision Knife is all about detailed cutting. Featuring a wrap-around anti-slip handle, this knife is perfect for all outdoor installations where I need to have an extra grip on the tool. (You could be exposed to rain, snow, or winds, so having a tool that you can trust is essential). This knife features an auto-lock blade slide that moves the blade through several preset detents for easy cutting. I use this knife for cutting through various types of tape and smaller vinyl tubing.
- Lastly, the OLFA SK-16 Quick-Change Concealed Blade Safety Knife is a robust, heavy-duty safety knife that features an ergonomic fiberglass reinforced handle, a premium stainless-steel blade (that can cut up to 7X more** than competitive blades) and a concealed blade that protects your hand and the goods under the cutting surface. This knife has already won several awards thanks to its innovative design, and I couldn’t recommend it more. I use it to cut cardboard boxes that air conditioners come in, and the nylon ties around the boxes.
*Available in auto-lock as well: OLFA 25mm XH-AL Fiberglass Reinforced Auto-Lock Utility Knife.
**Independent testing results: To cut the same amount of single wall corrugate, you would need 7+ of the leading competitor's blade heads or just one OLFA blade replacement head (Model SKB-16).
Why Would You Recommend These Tools to Fellow HVAC Professionals?
I’ve been using each of these tools for several years, and they have never failed me. Despite having different features, these tools have one important thing in common: they always allow me to complete my job safely, quickly, and efficiently. The user-friendly locking-mechanisms and the snap-off blades that come with each knife are just some of my favorite things about these tools. I know that no matter where I’m working from, choosing OLFA means choosing efficiency— and that’s why I recommend these tools to all my fellow HVAC Professionals!
Jess Bannister Bio:
I am a Level 3 HVAC/R Apprentice in Vancouver, BC and I work with my dad and brother every day. I am also the President of the "Women in HVAC/R Canada": an organization that brings education to women in HVAC-roles. Find me on Instagram!