Tech Rescue

Gear Test: RHYNO Windshield Cutter

Issue 7 and Volume 8.

The RHYNO Windshield Cutter was conceived, developed and manufactured to assist first responders in freeing trapped vehicle occupants quickly and safely. The manufacturer, We Cut the Glass, has done a lot of homework on laminated glass and how best to puncture it during rescue scenarios.

As you know, laminated glass is standard in automobile windshields, which can become damaged during normal use and during motor vehicle accidents. When windshields fracture, the glass fragments are contained and occupant injury risk is minimized. Rear windows of automobiles are also constructed of glass laminates, as are about 10–30% of all passenger windows. By 2018, all vehicle windows will be required to be laminated.
The RHYNO Windshield Cutter is a small, lightweight tool that efficiently manages laminated glass, which is typically found in front windshields and is becoming increasingly popular in side and rear glass. The tool consists of several integral parts:

  • The head is comprised of a middle dynamic blade that reciprocates up and down between two static cutting blades.
  • The motor is controlled by a variable speed trigger equipped with a break that will stop the blades when the trigger switch is fully released.
  • The variable speed trigger allows the operator to start cutting slowly and increase speed.
  • A work light that illuminates the cutting area is activated when the trigger switch is squeezed.

The cutter is powered by a lithium-ion battery and features a convenient battery status indicator on the side of the tool. The cutter also comes as part of kit that contains an initial access tool, suction cups and a carrying case.

Removing laminated glass with the RHYNO Windshield Cutter was remarkably easy, especially when compared to other hand tools, and was safer and more efficient when compared to reciprocating saws. Remember: When operating the cutter, be sure to follow standard glass-management procedures, such as guarding the respiratory tract, wearing extrication-rated gloves, protecting the patient and interior rescuer as appropriate, and communicating with group members.

In most incidents where laminated glass has to be removed, the collision is significant enough to create an entry point for the cutter; however, if no entry point was created, the entry point tool contained in the kit or typical forcible-entry tools can be used to create one. Note: The tool itself can also be used to create an entry point, but due to the variables involved with laminated glass and car construction, it’s typically better to use secondary tools.

Once an entry point has been established, grasp the tool handle with the preferred hand while placing the opposite hand on the back of the motor. The cutter provides the same results whether it’s pushed away from or pulled toward the operator.

The variable speed trigger allowed for remarkable control during starting, stopping and cornering. In addition to speed control, the tool is very beneficial when finesse is important, such as with incidents that involve body part impalements through the glass. Due to the cutter blade design, the tool penetrated less than an inch into the patient compartment—a significant difference when compared to other tools.

The cutter did not eliminate glass dust, which is inevitable; however, it did control the glass dust better than other tools. Just like a shear does to sheet metal, the cutter created a long string of glass that was pushed outside the windshield by the middle dynamic blade that would have become dust if using another tool. Also, once the windshield was removed, there was an obvious collection of dust on the dash area that drops down, but with other tools, the dust would’ve been finer and more airborne.

Maintenance and cleaning of the RHYNO Windshield Cutter involve several steps that don’t require any special training: Check for misalignment or binding of moving parts, breakage of parts and any other condition that may affect the operation. Blow dirt and dust out of all air vents with clean, dry air at least once a week during regular use, and after each use involving extended periods. The blades should be kept clean and sharp; they can be purchased separately and installed by following simple instructions. (The manufacturer tells me that one of their demo tools has removed hundreds of windshields without the need for blade replacement.) Monitor the battery indicator light and charge as needed. After my day with it in the scrap yard and 10 windshields later, the cutter still indicated a full battery.

The value and ease of operation with this tool cannot be overstated. During repeated attempts, inexperienced operators were able to quickly remove several front windshields with minimal instruction and supervision. The RHYNO Windshield Cutter provides solutions to most of the disadvantages of other windshield removal options. It produces limited glass dust and won’t project into the patient compartment.

Sidebar: RHYNO Windshield Cutter

  • Easily removes laminated glassHow does your glass cutter perform on windshields, laminated glass and vehicle glass in general? Les Baker puts the RHYNO windshield cutter to the test in the scrap yard.
  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Work light illuminates cutting area
  • Variable speed trigger allows for remarkable control
  • Comes as part of a kit with other tools
  • Penetration into patient compartment is less than one inch
  • Controls glass dust


  • None.

Sidebar: We Cut the Glass
4960 William Flynn Hwy.
Suite 6, #350
Allison Park, PA 15101
Tel: 800-883-1094, ext. 800