Though all it does is oscillate a few degrees, what it enables you to do is an array of home improvement and remodelling tasks, from cutting rusted copper pipes to buffing shiny satinwood. Just snap in the right attachment in an Oscillating Multi-Tool and off you go!
Imagine a Swiss Knife that shimmies and shakes and you’ve got an idea of the Oscillating Multi-Tool. For a tool that does nothing more than oscillate, it’s arbor by about 3 degrees – glorified vibrations, really – the Oscillating Multi-Tool will enable you to perform an astonishing variety of handyman tasks in and around the home. It is, of course, the interchangeable blades and attachments that give the Oscillating Multi-Tool its multi-purpose, multi-use, versatility. See section What Does An Oscillating Multi Tool Do? underneath to get an idea of the wide range of uses of this power tool.
Talking about arbors, unlike many other power tools Oscillating Multi-Tools neither has a single spindle nor a standardised one. Each brand’s Oscillating Multi-Tool has its own distinctive arbor configuration which means that it can natively accept only blades and other attachments expressly designed for that arbor configuration. Several Oscillating Multi-Tool manufacturers design the arbor in such a way so as to accept the broadest range of differently-configured blades and attachments, or supply adaptors for the same. Therefore, when shopping for an Oscillating Multi-Tool look into whether or not it supports the widest possible number of other brands’ attachments and whether adaptors are included to avoid getting stuck with a kit that restricts you to attachments from only one or two brands.
Other factors to consider when evaluating Oscillating Multi-Tools is whether it is cordless or corded. A cordless kit – assuming a task for which dust extraction is not a requirement – certainly affords much more flexibility and portability than a corded one, all other things being equal – but all other things are not equal because cordless Oscillating Multi-Tools are much more expensive than corded ones! In any event, when evaluating corded tools compare respective power outputs by looking at the motor’s wattage; for cordless tools, the battery’s voltage. For Oscillating Multi-Tools in particular, consider the range (from and to) of oscillations per minute. Importantly, consider the number of steps or levels at which the oscillations can be set, and the lowest and highest level. The reason is that a particular attachment can be used for a particular task in the cleanest and most effective fashion at a certain oscillations-per-minute setting.
A couple of further considerations highly specific to Oscillating Multi-Tools may escape your notice because these are not among the usual facts and figures one tends to look through in the product specifications. These are profile and weight.
Because an Oscillating Multi-Tool is one of the go-to power tools when you need to work in hard-to-access, constrained spaces, the profile of the tool is an important consideration. As such, a beefy, chunky Oscillating Multi-Tool would tend to defeat one of the main attractions of this power tool.
The power tool’s weight is an important consideration as well. If it is too heavy for a particular user, he/she will tire quickly and also will not be able to hold and handle the tool with accuracy and precision. On the other hand, if it is too light, it will transfer uncomfortable vibrations to the user, sooner or later causing a dead hand or an aching wrist.
Therefore, in addition to that just-right weight, a comfortable rubberised grip is to be welcomed even more on an Oscillating Multi-Tool than on other power tools.
Last update on 2021-09-23 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
Underneath we evaluate grips, weights, and much more on five very fine Oscillating Multi-Tools. Angles of oscillation notated are side-to-side and not centre-to-side.
Battery-operated yet with gorilla power, boasting the best quick-change, chock-full of features – even by Makita standards this is one heckuva power tool.
At 2.2 kilogrammes, by an Oscillating Multi-Tool standards Makita’s cordless kit is a heavyweight. It is not as easy to manoeuvre as other, lighter, models and it may be tiring to handle for lengthy stretches.
This is a cordless power tool that runs on an 18-volt Li-Ion battery, available in from 1.5 to 5.0 Ampere-hours. If you want to cut down on weight by using a 1.5 Ah battery, go ahead. This kit has a low-charge warning light so you’ll get sufficient advance notice before the battery dies.
The DTM51ZJX7 has a 390-watt motor that oscillates the arbor at up to 20,000 oscillations per minute, which can be adjusted via the variable speed dial. The angle of oscillation is 3.2 degrees.
This cordless tool has power to spare and is fully the equal of most any corded oscillating multi-tool.
Makita’s tool-less lever-style clamp is simply excellent, enabling quick changes that are also firm and reliable. Attachments can be fitted at 30-degree increments, across 360 degrees.
This tool’s performance and results are both excellent, with many attachments and in as many tasks.
The handle is one of the better ones but we wish it had a better rubber covering to improve grip and reduce vibration transfer.
It has a much-appreciated soft start while noise-wise it is par for the course.
The dust-extraction attachment is well-designed; hook it up to a vacuum and sanding will be a dust-free task.
The build quality is top-notch. Makita power tools usually fall in the very good to superlative range, and this one is close to the superlative end of the spectrum. This high-quality power tool is good enough even for light or weekend professional use (though that would void the guarantee) and is an automatic Best Pick.
The kit includes a dust extraction attachment, a universal adapter, an 85-millimetre segment saw, and 20 sanding pads for wood comprising of 5 60-grit, 5 80-grit, 5 120-grit, and 5 180-grit. These accessories and the tool come in that thing Makita users love, a Makpac case.
Makita provides a one-year guarantee extendable to three years if the purchase is registered within 30 days.
- It’s cordless – but is as powerful as a corded kit.
- Various helpful features, such as angled fittings across 360 degrees, low-battery light, and more.
- Solid kit of top-notch build quality.
- Heavier than most of its competitors.
- The rubberised handle, though good, can be improved.
WORKPRO’s multi-tool may not be feature-rich and it may vibrate but it is perfectly functional, and it is low in weight, low in size . . . and low in price!
Cost: Price not available
Weighing an ultra-light 1.1 kilogrammes and having a very slim profile, WORKPRO’s oscillating multi-tool will let you access tight spaces that other ones may not. This corded tool has 300 watts of power that oscillate the attachment at between 10,000 and 23,000 oscillations per minute, which you can adjust with a 6-speed dial.
A hex (Allen) key has to be used to change attachments. Although this is not at all difficult, it is still not as quick or convenient as a quick-release lever. The supplied universal adaptor can be slid on to the arbor to allow compatibility with Bosch, Dremel, and Black & Decker accessories.
The handle is certainly ‘non-slip’ and with a ‘rubber coating’ as claimed by the manufacturer but it won’t tamp down the vibrations. Although vibrations are barely palpable at speed setting 1, they become more intense as you dial up the oscillations-per-minute, and become very uncomfortable at setting 6.
A few units tend to pack it in for good but if – like most buyers – you get a good piece, you’ll be one happy DIYer because you’ll have spent but a few tenners on a multi-purpose power tool that will do whatever you ask it to without fuss, including cutting through soft metals.
This is not positioned as a durable kit meant for daily use in the field; it is a budget-buy DIY tool and is a self-choosing Value Pick.
WORKPRO’s kit includes a spatula, a sanding plate, a plunge blade for wood, another plunge blade for wood and plasterboard, 10 sanding disks, a hex (Allen) key, and a universal adaptor to fit Bosch, Dremel, and Black & Decker accessories. All this and the multi-tool come in a little zippered nylon-canvas carry bag.
WORKPRO provides what they call ‘Limited Lifetime Warranty,’ but do not be misled for it is actually a one-year warranty that ‘warrants this product for its useful life (not to exceed one year for products with electrical or electronic components).’
- This multi-tool is especially light and very slim which give it its own advantages.
- Thoughtful adaptor allows compatibility with major-brand accessories.
- The super-low price makes it a super-value buy.
- Vibrations are quite intense and uncomfortable at level 6.
- Does not have a quick-change lever or clamp.
- Now and again a unit may quit and die.
Blazing with power and boasting an array of accessories, SabreCut’s multi-tool is of such high quality and is such good value that it could nick Value Pick.
Cost: Price not available
SabreCut’s 1.55-kilogramme multi-tool is equipped with a very powerful 400-watt motor, making it the most powerful kit among our selections, and more powerful by 100 watts than three other oscillating multi-tools in this review and most other DIY-class ones as well.
The 6-speed dial recessed at the base of the unit selects a speed from 15,000 to 22,000 oscillations per minute. The angle of oscillation is 4 degrees. For a tool that has six speed levels, the range of 15,000 to 22,000 is somewhat narrow. The lowest speed setting could have been 10,000 to afford the user finer control and more flexibility.
The claimed ‘quick change mechanism’ really is quick; swapping accessories out and in is a one-minute task. The SCMTK400 is compatible with Dewalt, Makita, Milwaukee, Erbauer, and other Open Arbor attachments.
Though the handle has a rubber coating front and back, if your hands get sweaty it may not be easy to maintain a firm grip.
It is quite noisy.
The supplied saw attachments are not of the best quality and will get blunt if used too frequently on hardwoods.
The SCMTK400 has a magnesium motor housing and is very well made and finished. Although solid enough for hobbyist use, it is not the most robust.
A small percentage of units give up the ghost after a few go-rounds but the odds of getting a defective unit are about as slim as this tool’s handle.
The electric cord is a quality rubber one and it is 3 metres long.
It comes with a dizzying 39 accessories in a separate box that fits inside a solid carry case.
The accessories include a 10-millimetre wood fine tooth, a 20-millimetre wood fine tooth, two 35-millimetre wood fine tooth, a 35-millimetre wood coarse tooth, a 35-millimetre wood/metal, a 44-millimetre wood fine tooth, a 44-millimetre wood coarse tooth, a 44-millimetre wood/metal, a 44-millimetre wood fine tooth, a triangle carbide rasp, a triangle finger carbide rasp, a rigid scraper, a flexible scraper, a sealant remover, a 65-millimetre wood fine tooth, a 65-millimetre wood coarse tooth, a 90-millimetre wood fine tooth, an 80-millimetre sanding pad, and 20 sanding sheets comprising 4 each of 40-, 80-, 120-, 180- and 240-grit.
At its price point, a power tool of such good quality with so many fine accessories is an attractive value for money.
SabreCut provides a 2-year warranty
- Seriously powerful motor of 400 watts.
- The mechanism is truly quick change and it’s even compatible with a host of makers’ accessories . . .
- . . . Not that you will need them because it comes with a stupendous array of accessories.
- Above average on the noisiness scale.
- The lowest speed setting of 15,000 is a bit too fast.
- The rubber coating on the handle can be improved.
Weighed by a couple of big flaws but buoyed by a few huge strengths, B&D’s kit is for those who don’t mind noise and heat but want top sawing and cutting.
Very light at only 1.53 kilograms, and having a very slim body, Black & Decker’s multi-tool has 300 watts of power and an oscillations-per-minute range of 10,000 to 22,000, selectable by the 6-speed dial at the rear of the body with 1 the minimum and 6 the maximum setting. The angle of oscillation is 2.8 degrees.
The Super-lock tool-free accessory lever allows rapid change of accessories which can be fitted at various angles, up to 90 degrees.
The spring is really strong and the fit is one of the most secure; unfortunately, the lever is not smartly positioned at all. It goes over the fore part of the power tool and, therefore, prevents you from getting kissing close to the workpiece.
Black & Decker’s multi-tool is compatible with Bosch, Einhell and Worx attachments.
It is very noisy; however, its rubberised handle is just about the most ergonomic and comfortable you can find.
This multi-tool has a severe defect and a great strength. The sanding plate can melt, and if doesn’t, its velcro quickly loses its grip, leading to sanding pads to come loose. It is virtually unusable for sanding. But sawing, cutting, and scraping – fantastic!
B&D’s multi-tool has a metal gearbox. It feels good in hand and is a sturdy kit. However, it heats up – heats up a lot and quickly.
It comes with a fixing bolt and spacing adaptors for Bosch, Einhell and Worx attachments, a sanding pad with integrated dust extraction, precision plunge-cut blade, segmented flush-cut blade, rigid scraper blade, flexible scraper blade, and 6 sanding pads, comprising 2 each of 60-, 80- and 120-grit. These accessories and multi-tool are all packed in a hard plastic case.
Black & Decker provides a 2-year guarantee.
- The ergonomic and comfortable rubberised handle is just about the best in the business.
- Tool-free Super-lock system is excellent – very quick changes and one of the most secure.
- Where sawing and cutting are concerned, it’s a demon.
- Prone to heating up, sometimes a lot.
- On the noisiness scale, this one’s up there.
- Where sanding and buffing are concerned, it’s a dud.
Without major flaws and also without standout draws, Hi-Spec’s respectable set is a great choice for DIYers who want a value deal but not the cheapest kit.
Cost: Price not available
The 300-watt motor on Hi-Spec’s multi-tool provides a range of 15,000 to 23,000 oscillations per minute, which are selectable by a 7-speed dial at the rear of the body. The angle of oscillation is 3.2 degrees. For a tool that has seven speed levels, the range of 15,000 to 22,000 is somewhat narrow. The lowest speed setting could have been 10,000 to afford the user finer control and flexibility.
Hi-Spec is a brand of Apollo Tools.
It has a universal fit system that is compatible with Makita, Dremel, and DeWalt accessories. It features a ‘quick release lever’ for tool-free accessory changes, and allows 8 positions for fitting accessories at an angle. However, the screw that holds the attachment in place now and again vibrates loose, requiring the user to tighten it. This screw also protrudes a bit too much from the face of the multi-tool preventing you from holding it near-flush against the floor when undercutting.
Hi-Spec’s multi-tool has a decent rubber grip but at higher speed settings the vibrations are quite intense. It is also really noisy. It has a dust extractor to which a vacuum can be attached.
The machine itself is sturdy and of high quality but most of the attachments are of poor quality. The blades get blunted and wear out quickly and the sanding pads tend to come off.
Now and then random units simply shut up shop. But if it survives, as most do, it will prove to be a brilliant buy because it has excellent cutting capability, allowing you to be accurate and precise in tandem with its respectable power.
All said, for DIYers looking for a value buy that is not necessarily the cheapest kit, this one’s a very good choice.
The electric cord is 2 metres long.
It comes in a hard moulded case along with 38 accessories. These include a delta sanding pad, a buffing pad, a triangle epoxy sand rasp, a semi-circular grout remover, a semi-circular diamond blade, a semi-circular saw blade, an e-scraper, a dust extraction tube, 6 straight edge e-cut saw blades, and 24 sanding papers comprising 6 each of 60-, 120-, 180-, and 240-grit.
Hi-Spec provides a 2-year warranty upon registration of purchase.
- Manifests very good cutting power yet allows accuracy and precision.
- Has a quick-release lever that works really well, and accessories can be fitted at 8 angles.
- A shrewd choice for budget-conscious DIYers who want to buy at the next level up.
- The screw that holds the attachment in place can come loose due to vibrations.
- Vibrations are somewhat uncomfortable at higher settings.
- The lowest speed setting of 15,000 is a bit too fast.
What Does An Oscillating Multi-Tool Do?
How about, “A hundred-and-one-things, and counting?” An oscillating multi-tool by itself does little other than oscillate the attached blade or other accessory. What it accomplishes depends directly on the variety of accessories, and on the selected attachment. To draw a good analogy, ask, “What can a Swiss Knife do?” Well, it depends directly on its blades and accessories, and on the blade or accessory that is opened.
An oscillating multi-tool can do certain tasks that would be well-nigh impossible for other tools. It is one of the best choices to make plunge cuts in hard-to-reach areas and to undercut baseboard, trim, skirting, and jambs. It really earns its stripes when the need arises for some rough cutting, scraping, or grinding in a tight corner or constrained space.
Among other things, this wonderfully multi-purpose tool can saw, groove, scrape, sand, mill, deburr, and buff (whew!). With the appropriate attachments, it is used to remove mortar, grout, caulk, and mastic, and it can also strip off paint, vinyl, and residues.
It can be used to work on woods, metals, plastics, drywall, sheetrock, laminates, PVC, and even soft metals.
How To Use An Oscillating Multi Tool
Usage of an oscillating multi-tool is partially dictated by the kind of blade or other attachment you have fitted to your multi-tool which, in turn, is – or should be – dictated by the task you intend to do. Note the keyword ‘partially’ because you switch attachments in and out the same way, power it on and off the same way, and even hold it the same way, no matter what blade or accessory is in the body. However, you would handle it slightly differently to very differently depending on which (kind of) blade or accessory is attached.
- Choose the right accessory attachment for the task at hand and fit it, making sure that the arbor and all its pins are engaged.
- If the multi-tool has just been used, put on gloves before touching the fitted attachment. In any case, unplug the tool before removing and fitting accessories.
- For protruding attachments (cutters, scrapers, etc.) as opposed to sanding pads, you’ll also need to choose the optimal angle of attachment. Normally you would fit the accessory in a straight line with the body of the tool.
- But, under certain circumstances, you will want to attach it at an angle. Say you want to work on palings but you cannot face them because a large bole is only a couple of feet from the fence. In such a case, you would position yourself alongside the fence and hold the tool parallel to it with the blade attached at a wide angle. Or, if you’re standing on a high stepladder to cut into architrave, it will be much more convenient to hold the tool upright which means that you would attach the blade at a wide angle.
- You’ll also need to choose the appropriate speed setting. As a general rule, you would choose the highest or second-highest speed to get the job done as quickly as possible but for accurate and fine work or where the material is delicate or thin, you would choose a lower speed. If in doubt as to the correct speed, play it safe and select a lower speed and work your way up.
- For cutting, scraping and similar tasks you would keep the tool’s frontal area and attachment facing the workpiece but for sanding the tool’s under-side would be close and parallel to the workpiece.
- You’ll need to deck yourself out when using an oscillating multi-tool. Put on safety goggles, ear defenders, dust mask, and thick gloves. Depending on the work you are doing and whether it is indoors or outdoors, a vacuum attachment would be very useful.
- As the tool will rapidly oscillate the attachment from side to side, all you need to do is position it, hold it steady, and smoothly move it along.
- Finally, an oscillating multi-tool can convey a fair degree of vibrations so maintain a firm grip. If you feel yourself tiring when working with or close to fixtures you cannot afford to damage, such as when you are removing unsightly over-caulking around or between perfectly good tiling, take a break.
Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.