All too often, things break down or go bust. Door frames split, a window frame rots, pipes become rusted and so on. However, instead of working on them or paying someone to do so, we tend to save our precious time for the important things in life like having a barbecue with friends, watching a movie with your family, or eating ice cream. You should be able to do all of those things but getting any serious work done on the house is, quite frankly, outrageously expensive. So, eventually you get out your saw and start hacking away, but somewhere between frustration and exhaustion—about eight hours later—you give up on the to-do list. Instead, stop giving up, go back to the start and step up your game with an oscillating multi-tool set. Armed with one of these, and some tips about the tool and reviews of the best units, and you’ll be ready to take on that leaning wooden shed once again.
Of course, your chop saw can’t reach the rusting nut that's causing the pipe to leak in a tight corner behind the water heater. You’re trying really hard, and you're really telling the leaky pipe what’s what. Don't worry—you look like a real hero to your kids, who are trying to stay out of the way of the water and all that cursing and anger coming out of the water closet. At some point, between cursing God and teaching your kids the seven words you can't say on TV, you remember back to standing in the hardware store, looking at a cordless multi-tool.
You remember thinking that, you could get a better deal online, so you left and returned home. On arrival, back at your house you continued to procrastinate on the idea you had regarding the review of a cordless oscillating tool to be procured online. It was an enlightened idea, however, one which does you no good now, as you stand ankle-deep in water now gushing from the pipe. Perhaps if you had had the clairvoyance to get a cordless multi-tool, your kids wouldn't have had to learn what it looks like to see a grown man cry because of an awkward pipe. Here is a great resource for the DIYer, whose spirit is willing, but their flesh is weak.
Here is a much-improved scenario. You actually did order that cordless multi-tool online in time for the battle with the pipe. This time, as soon as you got home, the repair senses started tingling, panic is kept at bay because you know that you shall return, triumphant, from the coming battle with your great foe.
Your new oscillating multi-tool is fitted with a round bi-metal blade, perfect to cut through the pipe’s thick, metal armor. Your tool of choice is designed with an on-board LED light, the likes of which your foe cannot conceal from. With your weapon in hand, you lock eyes with the leak and reach the tool behind the water heater. Your blade just touches the rusty nut, which you must cut to replace the pipe. Not enough room to maneuver a chop saw, but luckily, your cordless multi-tool goes where no other tool can.
After removing and replacing the nut and pipe—using scrap stuff that you just happened to have in the garage—you rise valiantly. Success! You are the great water-leak-tamer. And, as fanfare for the common man begins to play, you saunter back to your kitchen table throne in slow motion. A fresh, steaming cup of coffee has been placed in expectation of your glorious return and, as you sit, you turn to see your proud children in heartfelt applause, ending in a salute.
If I were you, I would aim for the latter scenario. Be the wise warrior, not the tragic hero. Home-fix projects don't need to be the bane of your existence, and they won't be as long as you practice the basics fundamentals of craftsmanship. It has been said before, it will be said again, and it will be said now: always use the right tool for the job.
Professionals depend on tools that are precise, consistent and efficient, and so should everyone else. The upfront investment in a high-quality tool will come back to you tenfold, in the replacement parts and repairs, for which you do not have to spend your money. Poorly-made hardware will cost you in the end. There is no use in buying a screwdriver that is one dollar, since it bends like a spoon when you try to put pressure on it.
Reviewing your options before making an investment in a tool will save you time and money. And, since time is an investment to be realized in money, one should invest wisely. Be careful of unknown brand names and, if there are different types of the tool that you’re looking for, know what they are and why they exist.
Tool and Features
Multi-tools are named so on account of the multiple attachments available and operations in which the tool performs. The business end of the unit has a removable head, allowing the tool to accommodate cutting pipe, flooring, trim and anything else. If it's made of plastic, soft wood, hard wood, soft metal or hard metal, it can be cut, sanded, buffed, trimmed, or scuffed with a multi-tool.
The size, strength and adaptability of any specific multi-tool can be completely variable. A small, corded oscillating saw can easily be more powerful than a large model of a cordless saw. However, the opposite is also true. The right tool for you depends on your specific needs.
In fact, the difference in cutting ability, of larger vs. smaller multi-tools, is non-existent. The battery source is all that makes a difference in a tool's actual cutting ability, in terms of power. Universal attachments are standardized in size; therefore, the only thing in question is one's own comfort. It would be awkward to buff small tiles or use a router for engraving, if it was a large multi-tool, requiring two hands.
There are many features that differ on models of oscillating saws. They can be corded or uncorded. Corded tools usually have a substantially larger amount of power potential than that of their battery-operated counterparts. They can be physically large, usually a two-handed unit, or small, which would be a one-handed unit. The size of tool one prefers is different for everyone—a little like trousers. What makes you the most comfortable? Also, some units come as sets which include a variety of attachments and some are just the single, main unit. These are some things to be aware of when looking at multi-tool oscillating saws and saw sets.
As a general rule of thumb for all power tools, let the tool do the work. This is even true for some hand tools like hammers. There is a thin line between control and forcing. Forcing cuts and asserting excessive pressure will, eventually, wear down and break your tools. The torque on the oscillating motor will provide for the cutting power of your multi-tool and the tool is meant to do all the cutting. Guide the tool, instead of forcing it.
When working with an oscillating saw, certain blades are better for specific materials and shapes. If the cut which you are making is straight or plunged, use a straight saw blade. Often, the blades will clearly be marked with the appropriate materials which are meant to be cut with that particular blade. If the cut is on a curved surface or if it is a long, thin shaving, use a round blade. Straight blades are good for small pieces of material on things like cabinets and trim. Rounds blades are for scoring materials.
Straight bi-metal flush blades are great for cutting metal hardware from behind trim pieces. Slipping the straight blade behind the trim, next to the wall, allows you to cut the trim nails away, without damaging the trim. Use a thin sheet of metal to shield the wall from the blade of your saw. You should never cut metal with a standard oscillating blade unless you are sure that it is a bi-metal blade. Bi-metal is finer and made for cutting metal materials without becoming dull or breaking. The blade will likely be clearly marked as to whether it is a bi-metal blade or not.
When making straight cuts, use a metal straightedge as a guide. You can use a ruler or the edge of a T-Square—anything will do. Just beware not to cut into your guide and mess up your straight cut. Accuracy can only be assisted by tools, the hands come first.
Multi-tools allow for grinding out things like grout that has built up between the bathtub or shower tiles. There’s no substitute for detail oriented work, but the oscillating function removes about 80% of the frustration associated with physically intensive projects like these. By using a multi-tool grout attachment, the project won't create piles of dust everywhere or damage your other tiles and lungs.
Most craftsmen and handymen have come up against a bolt, nail, or nut that was rusted out and couldn't be removed. When these annoying little things show themselves, grab a cordless multi-tool and crawl under the sink. Using a bi-metal blade will get that rusty hardware out of your way in no time and the cordless design offers nothing in your way.
Make sure your blades are quality, though. When you’re working in tight spaces, breaking blades and bits becomes more dangerous for injuring your face and eyes. Fork up the extra for the best quality tools and always wear eye protection when using power tools. Safety is paramount.
Best Oscillating Saw Multi-Tools
1. Festool OS 400 Set Festool Oscillating Tool Vecturo with Plunge Base and Accessories
The Festool Vecturo is a truly unique multi-tool. The Plunge base grants users the benefit of a guide for the blade. No more straight edges and jigs for your router attachments. It is designed with a tool-less attachment and blade exchange, for fast swaps and quick work. The 400-watt motor produces an oscillation rate of 18,500 oscillations per minute.
With a tool-less plunge base and depth-stop, the Vecturo stands apart as an industry-first. It delivers the level of cutting precision which is unmatched elsewhere on this list. Faster, more comfortable to work with, and less downtime are the results and it gets rated as the best oscillating saw for contractors and precision work.
This saw is certainly recommended as an intermediate to expert tool. However, if you’re a beginner and you know that you are going to need precision depth control on your cuts, by all means, get the tool for the job. One drawback to this saw is the lack of oscillation speed control. However, what it lacks in speed variability it makes up for in accuracy.
- Cut, scrape or score virtually any material, thanks to a wide variety of blades and variable speeds
- Achieve accurate, to-the-line cuts anywhere in the material, thanks to the optional plunge base and slim body design
- Power through the most challenging tasks with ease thanks to hassle-free, tool-less base and cutter changes
- 400-watt motor producing up to 18,500 oscillations per minute
- 4-degree oscillation amplitude for super cutting speed
2. Rockwell 20V MaxLithium Sonicrafter Oscillating Multi-Tool with Variable Speed, Hyperlock Clamping, and Universal Fit System, 27-Piece Kit – RK2863K
Rockwell has designed a compact and powerful multi-tool in the RK2863K. The unit is designed to offer a tool-free changing system, which results in seamless transitioning between attachments. Rockwell has also designed it to be universally adaptable with its own and many other brands accessories.
The angled design of the battery pack acts to evenly displace the weight of the unit. With a variable speed adjustment feature, users can limit or extend the oscillation rate for precise work, when needed. Finally, this multi-tool comes with 27 cutting, sanding and grinding accessories and a 20-volt battery, giving users enough power and versatility to tackle any job.
The benefit of this tool comes from its power and many features. This unit is one of the smallest of the cordless multi-tools, making it great for tight, hard-to-reach spaces. It also comes with 27 accessories, perfect for beginners and craftsmen who need extra parts. And, the fact that these parts are universally adaptable, puts the Rockwell RK2863K oscillating multi-tool at the top of the list.
- Ultra-portability thanks to the powerful 2.0 amp per hour, 20-v Max Lithium Battery
- Hyperlock tool-free clamping system provides one ton of clamping force
- Universal fit system accepts all major brands of blades, sanders, and other accessories
- LED work light improves visibility
- Metal gear housing provides extreme durability
- 27-piece kit includes 5 universal fit blades, a universal fit sanding pad with 20 sanding sheets and a Rockwell carrying bag
- Manufacturer’s 3-year warranty
3. Dremel MM20-05 2.3-Amp Multi-Max Oscillating Ultimate Tool Kit with 29 Accessories
The kit includes the carbide cutting blade, drywall jab saw, multi-knife, and cutting depth guide. It features a powerful 2.3 amp motor and is designed to be compact. It operates between 10,000-21,000 oscillations per minute and the power cord is seven feet long.
The 2.3 amp motor provides enough torque to tackle any project and to get through the toughest materials. The compact design allows for easy access to hard to reach areas. Its variable speed adjustment system makes for smooth operation.
The Dremel is a great oscillating saw for doing fine detailed work. Dremel is a very reliable name in oscillating tools and the size of this one-handed multi-tool is perfect for specified work on projects. This pack also comes with a lot of attachments and is tagged as being the best small oscillating saw under $150.
- Cutting: MM430 multi-knife, MM435 drywall jab saw, MM450 wood and drywall blade, MM480 wood flush cut blade, MM482 wood, and metal flush cut blade, MM485 carbide flush cutting blade
- Sanding: MM11 hook and loop pad, MM70W sanding sheets (12), MM70P sanding sheets (6).
- Grout removal: MM500 grout removal blade
- Scraping: MM600 rigid scraper blade
- MM810 cutting depth guide attachment, MM830 dust extraction attachment
4. Makita TM3010CX1 Multi Tool with Tool-less Blade Change
You can’t go wrong with this one. The Makita TM3010CX1 features a 3.0 amp motor and a variable oscillation ratio of 6,000-21,000 op/m. This unit has an electronic speed controller and is double insulated. The Makita is designed with a small diameter barrel grip and a 12-setting clamp system.
The Makita Corporation began in Japan, back in 1915, and has been making high-quality tools and hardware since then. When they began, they were repairing lighting equipment, motors, and transformers, which speaks volumes about their expertise in their multi-tool motor designs. The speed control reaches lower op/m than those of its competitors and the low oscillation angle provides the benefit of fast cutting and smooth vibrations. The biggest benefit of this unit is the automatic speed control system. This keeps your cuts clean and allows you to maintain cutting power without undue stress on the tool.
This unit takes the medal for the best oscillating saw set reviewed for reliable quality. Though it might not universally adapt as smoothly as some other units on the list, what it lacks in adaptability, it makes up for in electronic motor design. This oscillating saw, unlike others, is quiet. This is a great multi-tool for intermediate and advanced craftsmen. This saw is also just fine for beginners, and know that this is a saw that can last the rest of your life if taken care of. Maintenance is next to godliness.
- Powerful 3.0 amp motor
- Soft start feature for smooth start-ups and improved performance for fast cutting, sanding, scraping and grout removal
- Variable speed control dial (6,000-20,000 op/m)
- Electronic speed control maintains constant speed under load for smoother, higher-quality work
- 2° oscillation angle, engineered for faster cutting and sanding
- Precision engineered for reduced vibration (6.5m/s) and low noise 80dB(A)
- Small diameter barrel grip for professional handling and added comfort
- Clamp system, providing 12 tightening settings; one every 30°
- 0° to 360° angle range
- Includes adapters to fit most competitive accessories
- Ideal for wood flooring, tile, plaster, sheetrock, wood, PVC and more
- 1-1/4"" Plunge Blade (A-95255)
- Sanding Pad (A-95423)
- Assortment Sandpaper; 120 grit A-95532/180 grit A-95548
- Adapters (313248-8 & 31324-9)
- Tool Case
5. Black & Decker BDCDMT1206KITC Matrix 6-Tool Combo Kit with BDCMTSB Matrix Wide-Mouth Storage Bag and BDCMTTS Matrix Trim Saw Attachment
The Black and Decker Matrix 6-tool Combo is a good choice for builders looking for a little of everything. It comes with 6 saw attachments and a carrying bag. A quick connect system lets the user change the attachment with ease and speed. A 20-volt motor is the power behind the hand on this unit. A powerful Li-ion battery holds a charge for up to 18 months—or so they claim.
The Matrix by Black and Decker offers many features that are the best for amateur craftsmen. The unit includes attachments, which enable the ability to cut drywall, metal, wood, plastic, composite, and many other materials not listed. The best thing about a large kit is the benefit of versatility.
From start to finish, this combo kit will get you through tough stuff. It is best for the projects that require a multitude of cutting implements and sanding ability. Black and Decker is a household name of high quality and will only improve this name in the future. The Matrix offers the benefit of being made by one of the best oscillating tool suppliers in the market and gets the medal for best oscillating saw set under $300.
- MATRIX 20V power unit
- BDCMTDD drill/driver attachment
- Double-ended bit
- Detail sander attachment
- Jigsaw attachment
- Jigsaw blade
- Oscillating attachment
- Universal adaptor
- Plunge cut blade
- Sanding platen
- Sheet 60 grit sandpaper
- Sheet 240 grit sandpaper
- Impact driver attachment
- Router attachment
- 20V Li-ion battery
- Storage case
So, now that you have reviewed the manner of use and the products available go and get yourself an oscillating multi-tool saw—like you should have before the pipe started leaking! There’s no need for home improvement to give you too much stress and sweat. Arm yourself with the right tools for the job and work smarter, not harder. There are lots of units on the market and the options reviewed here don't begin to cover the vast amounts of multi-tools out there; however, these five are surefire winners. These tools won't let you down when you need them most. Invest in more time doing things you enjoy, and benefit from the ability to fix things fast.
Feel free to comment and check out the multi-tool links above. Build on!