Oscillating Tools: Why You Need One

Oscillating tools are for any woodworker, DIYer, contractor and tradesman, this is the multi-tools that power their work routines. Many tradesmen treat the oscillating tool like a Swiss Army Knife of power tools. It can manage a lot of tasks such as cutting, grinding, scraping, sanding, and sawing. It can produce clean results even in small spaces. Whether you are a carpenter, contractor, tradesman, flooring and cabinet installers, or serious hobbyist, you will love having an oscillating tool. This is the most versatile power tool you could need ever in your tool kit. 

How does it work? 

Oscillating tools have a body similar to a grinder of varying diameters. Some brands like Ridgid, Ryobi, and DeWalt have a slimmer design, which might be a better fit for someone with smaller hands. Oscillating tools work by oscillating or vibrating thousands of times per minute to produce their cutting effect.  Some oscillating tools do a better job than others at reducing the vibrations felt in your hand.  Fein is the pioneer in the space and their oscillating tools have the least amount of vibrations of the tools on the market. 

An oscillating tool is also called a multi-tool because it is a compact, versatile power tool that is designed to tackle a wide variety of projects. It resembles an orbital sander. But unlike a sander that can only sand wood, an oscillating tool is diverse in its mechanisms. It can smooth wood, preform flush and plunge cuts, rasping, scraping, grinding, polishing, removing grout, undercuts, trimming door casings and more. Compared to other types of power saws, the oscillating tool makes less dust when cutting due to its limited movement. 

The diverse functions of an oscillating tool are made possible with the accessories that they are compatible with. You can find an accessory for almost any application. Depending on the accessory, you can do efficiently do the following tasks: 

  • grind tile adhesive, 
  • trim baseboards and wood flooring, 
  • flush cut/undercut door jambs, 
  • plunge-cut wood flooring, 
  • cut off nails and bolts, 
  • clean or remove grout, 
  • scrape away old glue or caulk, and 
  • cut plastic, metal, wood, drywall and fiberglass. 

Features of an Oscillating Tool 

Given its distinction as a multi-tool, an oscillating tool offers a lot of features in its arsenal, depending on the brand you buy from.  

One such feature is a variable-speed trigger. This gives you greater control and allows you to choose a cutting speed (as high as 22,000 oscillations per minute) that best suits the attachment and material.  

Another sought after feature is tool-free blade changing is another popular feature. This is a time-saver, especially when you perform a task that needs many several different attachments used concurrently 

Third and fourth most common features are trigger locks and ergonomic grips. They help reduce fatigue over the course of an afternoon. You can also choose between corded and cordless oscillating tools.  

Accessories that Accelerate the Use of An Oscillating Tool 

An oscillating tool is only limited by the accessory you attach to it. Here are some of the accessories you can expect to use for almost every home improvement task.  


Wood-cutting blade  

Wood-cutting blades are the most basic accessory of an oscillating tool. They are best for undercutting baseboards and flush-cutting door jambs.  


Bi-metal blade  

Bi-metal blades have smaller teeth than the aforementioned blade. They also cut slower than wide wood cutting blades. But they are more heavy-duty with taking rugged materials. You can use this blade to cut through nails-embedded wood, unlike a wood-cutting blade that can just get damaged in the process.  


Circular HSS blade  

Circular HSS blades are versatile by design. Its moonlike shape enables it to cut multiple angles from a single blade position. When you need to cut a straight line, this is the blade to use. Maintain moderate speed and frequently move back and forth to avoid building up debris, causing your blade to overheat and burn the material 


Scraper knife  

Scraper knives vary in widths, with both rigid and flexible varieties. The first caters to peeling tasks such as in old carpets, linolium, dried-on glue or even old gasket material. The latter removes caulking or paint. 


Grinder blade  

Grinder blades can handle tough material like thin-set mortar, tile adhesive, tile, cement, stone, brick and metal. 


Sanding pad  

Sanding pads make this tool a level-upped version of a standard sander.  


Carbide grinder blade  

Carbide-edged grinder blades are excellent for removing standard tile grout and create less dust than high-speed rotary tools. 

How To Choose The Right Oscillating Multi-Tool 

Oscillating tools vary in versatility and durability. Here are some things you need to consider when choosing which one to get for your tool kit. 

  • Accessory Change: Changing the accessory can be very simple or overly complex. For a beginner, choose one that enables ease of use. 
  • Accessory Type: Check what style of accessory the tool needs.  
  • Oscillation Rate: The higher the top speed, the faster the tool will cut. Look for at least 18,000 OPM. 
  • Oscillation Angle: The higher the oscillation angle, the more aggressive it will cut. This means more speed but also more vibration and noise. The majority have a 3.6°-3.8° cutting angle, but some have a cutting angle up to 5.2°  
  • Vibration: The more vibration the tool has, the more uncomfortable it is to use all day. Choose one with minimal vibration if you will be using it all day.  
  • Noise Level: observe the noise that the oscillating tool produces. Choose one that you are comfortable working with.  

A well-built oscillating tool should be able to handle both small and large projects and can handle corners and narrow spaces. Choose the one that fits your skill level and the type of tasks you plan to use it towards. 


Oscillating tools are a great all-around tool for any tradesman to have in their tool kit. They are versatile and adaptable to any task. Just make sure that you equip it with the right accessory needed for task.  In our experience, when people are not satisfied with how the oscillating tool is working, they are either using the wrong blade for the job or are using the tool incorrectly. Use this tutorial as a springboard for information gathering. Get the knowledge first then find the best oscillating tool and accessory for the job. 

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