Quick-change lever allows for keyless blade changes. Cuts through sheetrock “like a hot knife through butter” with minimal dust kicked up. Users can switch from the included 2-amp battery to a 4-amp battery if longer power is needed.
Some reports of faulty batteries that lasted only one charge. Tends to run loud, and vibration is sometimes an issue. Kit includes a few basic blades and sanders only.
Users like the higher cutting radius, which ranges up to 5 degrees, as well as variable speed and overall power under load that this 4.2 amp tool provides. Quick blade changes with no Allen wrench needed, and accepts "just about any" type of blade. User can change blade angles, too.
Depth and cutting guide not included. LED light doesn’t provide enough illumination. A few reports of blade loosening during use.
Blade changes are relatively simple with Dremel’s Quickfit feature, and the multi-tool runs more quietly than more powerful tools due to its lower 2.3-amp rating.
Some users have difficulty getting the blade attachments to clamp down tightly enough. Hardwoods and heavy work cause power problems for this multitool.
Corded tool provides consistent power, whether cutting floorboards to fit door frames or removing grout around old tiles. No wrench needed to change blades thanks to a quick-lock lever. Non-professionals were overwhelmingly happy with its reliability, particularly on smaller jobs.
Blade switching can be difficult despite quick-lock feature. Reports of tool head misaligning after only a few uses, damaging blades. Reports of ceasing to work after a few uses. Using non-Dremel blades isn’t recommended.
Depth and cutting guide included with kit. Universal fit means blades from other manufacturers usually can be used with this multi-tool. Easy blade switching. Corded unit provides reliable power during use.
Tends to heat up quickly. Sanding pads don’t last long, even with moderate use. Numerous complaints that blade attachments don’t last, and reports of tool quitting after just a few minutes of use.
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An oscillating multi-tool is one of those devices you didn't know you needed, but once you get one, you wonder how you ever managed without it. This go-to tool provides a superb solution for hundreds of awkward tasks, from replacing cracked tile to lifting old flooring to cleaning out grout.
You can select from cordless and corded models, and there are many task-specific blades and sanding accessories to choose from.
Read our oscillating multi-tool buying guide to look at these versatile devices in more detail. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a pro, there’s something here for you.
The motor of an oscillating multi-tool drives the tool head in a rapid side-to-side motion, just a few degrees each time. This may not sound like much, but it's actually ideal for a wide variety of sawing, cutting, scraping, and sanding tasks.
The blade of an oscillating multi-tool can be attached at a variety of angles. This means you can work in spaces where other tools wouldn't be able to reach. Multi-tool blades have teeth on the leading edge, so when used horizontally, the blade can cut flush, right down to floor level. This is ideal for trimming door frames or skirting; no other tool can perform this task with the same efficiency.
As with many power tools, one of your big decisions when buying an oscillating multi-tool is whether to go corded or cordless.
Cordless oscillating multi-tools have either 12 volts or 18 volts of power. You'll see some that quote 20 volts, but that's peak performance at start-up with no load; they actually run at 18 volts. For occasional DIY tasks, 12 volts may be sufficient, but run times can be as short as 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll get a much more impressive performance with a tool of 18/20 volts, with run times of up to an hour.
Corded oscillating multi-tools motors are rated in amps. A tool with three or four amps is common, but some have up to 5.5 amps. That's pretty awesome for a relatively small handheld tool. And unlike cordless tools, a corded tool will maintain the same level of performance all day.
Corded tools generally have brush motors, the main reason being they are cheap to produce. Cordless multi-tools can have brush or brushless motors. The latter costs more, but it will maintain a consistent performance for considerably longer.
Angle of oscillation
The angle of oscillation (the number of degrees back and forth) varies from one multi-tool to another. Some have a sweep of just a couple of degrees; some have up to five degrees of sweep. In general, small movements provide greater precision for detailed work. A larger sweep provides faster, more aggressive cutting. Although uncommon, there are one or two multi-tools that offer switchable angles, thus providing improved flexibility.
Speed is rated in oscillations per minute (OPM) and can be up to 20,000. More important than a maximum OPM is variability, so you can adjust speed to suit your task. Some oscillating multi-tools rely on trigger pressure; others have dials which allow for more precise setting. The best motors have feedback circuits that can compensate for increased load and maintain power delivery.
Some tools are fitted with a small LED lamp on the front. This is particularly useful when you're working in dark corners.
Battery charge indicator
The batteries on cordless tools sometimes have charge indicators. However, it's difficult to know with any accuracy how long the charge will last. The reason: a greater load will run the battery down faster.
Some oscillating multi-tool batteries are very slim. Others are quite chunky. Not everyone likes bulk at the back of the tool, so keep battery size in mind as you shop.
Power cord length
Power cords can be as little as three of four feet long. Often, the better models offer a dozen feet more than this — though you'll still probably want to keep an extension cord handy.
Weight and length
These are by no means heavy tools, but weight might be a consideration if you have to use the multi-tool all day. Length may or may not have a bearing, depending on the jobs you have in mind. However, because you can change blade angle, length is seldom a problem.
You can find entry-level corded oscillating multi-tools for $35 to $40, and if you only need it for occasional use, this may be adequate. Notably, the vibration can be a bit harsh with some tools in this price tier.
For $70 to $120, it’s easier to find quality corded multi-tool. You’ll find a few 12-volt cordless tools in this range, as well as some “bare” tools with 18 to 20 volts. However, by the time you’ve paid for a battery and charger for the cordless tool, the overall price could rise up to around $200.
The most expensive oscillating multi-tools may reach the $400 mark. For that money, you should expect a superb device with a truly comprehensive range of accessories.
Always use the appropriate blade for the material you’re working with. Don't try to “make do” with a metal-cutting blade on tile, for example. Performance would be poor, and you’d likely ruin the blade — as well as the tile.
Avoid cheap accessories for your multi-tool. Often, these low-cost options are poorly made and wear out quickly. In the long run, that's false economy. You don't necessarily have to buy from the manufacturer of your tool, but you should always invest in quality components.
Overheating blades don't cut well, and they wear out more quickly. Don't force the tool. Gentle pressure allows the teeth to cut more efficiently.
Q. Is there much difference between an oscillating multi-tool and a rotary tool?
A. Both are extremely versatile and a valuable addition to any tool bag. The main difference is the tasks they're designed to undertake, and this has an impact on their physical size.
Most rotary tools are extremely compact and designed for highly detailed work. As the name suggests, they have a rotary action particularly suited to drilling, polishing, and engraving.
While by no means bulky, an oscillating tool is somewhat larger. The oscillating action makes it an ideal tool for general-purpose cutting, sanding, and scraping jobs.
Q. Can I buy an oscillating multi-tool instead of separate circular saw, disk sander, etc.?
A. It's really a question of having the right tool for the job. An oscillating multi-tool is superb when you need to cut a hole in drywall for a light fitting, sand around stair rails, or take the corner off a floor tile. But they're not high-productivity tools, and if you've got to saw a load of decking or sand oak flooring, it's quicker and more efficient to use individual tools designed to do those jobs.
Q. Are oscillating multi-tool blades universal?
A. Some manufacturers call their blades “universal,” and there is a lot of interchangeability, but there are many different manufacturers, so it's always worth checking before you order. Some manufacturers do provide adapters, so you can use blades that might not otherwise fit.
4.2A Sonicrafter F80 Oscillating Multi-Tool and 10-Piece Accessory Kit
Fast, precise cutting through hardwood, plywood, and sheetrock has users crowing over this oscillating multi-tool. Keyless blade change is a nice plus, as is the wider oscillation range setting between 3.4 and 5 degrees.
20V XR Lithium-Ion Oscillating Multi-Tool Kit
A great addition to your power tool collection and a good lightweight multi-tool for contractors, as well. 20 volts provides a satisfactory ramp-up from smaller 12-volt multi-tools and is more than adequate for cutting through sheetrock and light wood. The rechargeable battery offers versatility and convenience.
Multi-Max 3.8A Oscillating Tool Kit with Quick-Lock Accessory Change Interface and 36 Accessories
Multi-Max 3.8A Oscillating Tool Kit with Quick-Lock Accessory Change Interface and 36 Accessories
A highly reliable multi-tool that provides plenty of power for jobs around the house. It might have trouble with tougher jobs, such as cutting through metal pipes or hardwood, but most non-professionals were more than satisfied with this tool.