The ABCs of the Multi-Tools — From Start to Saw


Hand-operated oscillating power tools have changed at home DIY projects forever. If you’re a craftsperson who’s tried one of these multi-tools, chances are you have, at some point, bought one of your own. Gone are the days of struggling around tight corners with cuts in which you can't get leverage. Oscillating tools are able to fit into spaces no other tool can. Oscillating tools can be as small as a water bottle or the size of a drill. The business end of the tool moves in a side to side motion at a three-degree angle. Though the movement is slight, the 20,000 oscillations per second make for a strong cutting instrument. Using it can feel like a vibrator on your hands and that is what gives it a few of its unique abilities. Since there is no excuse for shoddy craftsmanship or technique, compiled here is a distilled list of the best oscillating tools on the market and a beginner’s guide to the technique of using a multi-tool.

Oscillating tools are also referred to as Multi-tools because of the many different functions these tools serve. By changing the attachment at the head of the tool, one is able to saw, sand, rasp, grind, cut and polish, all with the same, handheld tool. These handy tools are ideal for cutting pipes, flooring, trim and anything else you can think of. The only question is if the tool you are using has the quality and power to measure up to the task. Of course, you need some basic woodcraft knowhow.

To start out with, you should know a few basics. A few tips about technique might seem obvious; however, it never hurts to strengthen good habits and knowledge. Keep it simple and steady, which is, coincidentally, one of the benefits of using a multi-tool.

Which Blade to Use

Every DIYer out there has their own variations and individualities regarding how they work with the tools at their disposal. That being said follow the principles and adapt as needed. If the cut is straight, use a straight blade. If the cut is plunged, use a straight blade. A good technique for making straight cuts is to use a metal ruler or the straight edge of your T-square as a guiding post. Any straight edge made of metal will do fine. Straight blades are good for shaving off little pieces of material from cabinets and trim. Careful that your blade doesn't rip into your guide or your hand, ruining your nice straight cut. Just remember that the hands using the tool will always do more to mess up a project than the tool they are using.

While straight blades are good for plunge cuts, if you are shaving a longer strip of wood off of a door frame or the like, use a round blade. The cut will come out clean and smooth, especially if you start the cut by making a small scoring cut with a straight blade. Use the round blade to make cuts deeper over a gradual period. Do not hesitate from going over an area of a cut multiple times. Just go little by little instead of cutting big chunks all at once.

The key to using an oscillating tool is to let the tool do the work. As anyone who uses portable power tools knows, each tool has a balance to be found between asserting pressure and forcing the tool. The oscillating nature of the tool does not require much force at all. Focus on guiding the tool, and, feel for in which direction the material wants to be cut. This can also be felt in terms of which way the tool wants to cut. The danger of putting too much force on an oscillating tool is that you will tend to break blades and bits. The more you try to force the blade through a cut, the more friction and heat is built up on the blade and heat destroys blades.

Flooring, Sinks, Grout and Trim

Using a flush-cutting blade will speed up your next floor installation project considerably. This blade feature will cut on the same plane as the floor to take out door jambs. This way, you don't rip into the flooring or walls with hand saws that are difficult to use accurately in tight corners.

When removing long sections or small pieces of decorative trim, use a flush blade in order to cut the nails which hold the trim in place. Gently pry the trim away from the wall; then use a thin piece of flashing to slide the blade between the wall and the trim.

Just be sure to use a bimetal blade to cut metal. Never cut metal with a standard oscillating blade unless you are sure that it is a bimetal blade, such as the 10-Piece Quick Release Bi-Metal Oscillating Multi-Tool Saw Blade Set, which are specifically manufactured to cut metal. Making that mistake will have you going through a great many more bits and blades than you need to. Removing trim this way will keep your walls from getting damaged and splitting your expensive trim.

Grout that has built up between the bathtub or shower tiles can quickly be taken care of with a multi-tool. There’s no substitute for slow, steady, detail oriented work, but the oscillating function removes about eighty percent of the frustration associated with this project. By using a multi-tool grout attachment, the project won't create piles of dust everywhere or damage your tiles.

Most DIYers have come up against a bolt, nail or nut that was completely rusted out and couldn't be removed. When these annoying little projects present themselves, grab the multi-tool and crawl under the sink. Using a bimetal blade will get that rusty hardware out of your way in no time. 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. This is why you always fork up the extra pennies for the best quality tools, and always wear eye protection when using power tools. Safety is always key.

Long-Term Investment

Experienced craftspeople and tradespeople depend on their tools to function with precision and consistency. The tools that we use are essential in supporting the skill of our practice. Any handy person that has begun building their tool box will agree: good tools aren't cheap.

Bad tools can be very cheap. Screwdrivers are sold in the checkout lines at The Dollar Store that cost 99 cents, and when the head of that tool strips under pressure you’ll have to buy another. This is why it is important to buy quality, trusted brands at the outset of any project.

Industry Quality Leaders

Craftsman has been a household name in the Hardware industry since its beginnings in 1926. They boast the most confidence in the quality of their tools with a Lifetime Warranty. If any hand tool of the Craftsman Brand breaks in any way during the life of its use, the company will replace it for free. By far, it is, and has for a long time been, a leader in offering the best tools that people can use.

On January 5th of this year, it was announced that Black and Decker is to buy Craftsman. However, this should not cause patrons of Craftsman to lose too much sleep, since Black and Decker offers some of the best-made tools on the market, in their own right. The convergence of these two giants might result in the Craftsman line taking on new life.

Though Craftsman does not offer an all-in-one kit, their Bolt-On ™ 20v max lithium ion drill/driver is the most versatile and durable multi-tool on the market. The options for add-ons are vast and the quality of the tool is second to none. If quality is your priority, Craftsman makes your tools.

Ryker Hardware offers multi-tool blades that are made with the highest-quality materials and craftsmanship. Ryker works with small scale manufacturers to offer hardware and tools which measure up to the best tool on the market.

One thing that makes the company Ryker stand out—as the new kid on the block—is its 60-day money-back warranty on breakage of new oscillating blades. Snap a blade while working on your project and Ryker will replace it for free. That’s a serious show of faith in their product, given that, should the blade break due to subpar craftsmanship, it will likely do so at the first chance it has during your project.

They only offer three products as yet, which include the 10-Piece Oscillating Multi-tool Saw Blade Set, as well as a symbiotic quick release, bi-metal set and the 15-Piece Universal Quick Release Oscillating Multi-tool Saw Blade Set. What their inventory lacks in quantity, Ryker makes up for in offering tools made with high-quality materials.

DeWALT has been producing tools and hardware, made in the USA, since 1924. They have grown from a single office in Pennsylvania to being a forerunner in the hardware market. DeWalt is a trustworthy and high quality brand.

They offer a three-year limited warranty. During that time, DeWALT will repair any defects to your tool without charge. They also offer a one-year free service contract. During the first year of ownership, they will maintain the tool and replace any worn out parts caused by normal use—for free.

When choosing the best power tools to add to your toolbox, think about the replacement or maintenance it might need. Multi-tool kits, like the DeWALT 20V MAX* XR CORDLESS OSCILLATING MULTI-TOOL KIT, have many parts for something to go wrong with. That’s why it is important to go with a brand that has a reputation of quality products. Then, if something does go wrong during use, there is a company with integrity to help.

Black and Decker has a good reputation for making strong, precision tools and appliances. Tools purchased under their 2-year warranty can be exchanged or replaced. To replace an item, customers must send or take the tool into an authorized Black and Decker service center.

Top of the Line

Now to the tools. This is a list of some of the best oscillating multi-tools and blades that are available on the market. Of course, there are so many products on the market that it would be impossible to see them all in a day. This is a list of tools that are proven to be above par and to last for years, without malfunctioning. Think about what your project needs are, while you take a look through these hardware options.

1. 10-Piece Oscillating Multi-Tool Saw Blade Set

10-Piece Oscillating Multi-tool Saw Blade Set

These are, well-made, universal fitting, oscillating straight blades by Ryker. Ryker makes fine blades and offers replacement protection for broken blades. These blades are carbon steel and made for cutting wood. Also, Ryker makes all of their blades as a universal fitting. These blades are usable with the multi-tool you already have, or the one you want to get.

The blade is a 32 mm by 40 mm fine straight blade for wood and plastic. This is the standard, the blade that will do the bulk of the work you need to get done.

About

  • Heavy duty blades, made of high carbon steel, thick gauge
  • Superior wear tolerance and durability
  • Used on wood & plastic
  • Strong welds for blades that can handle high pressures and stressors
  • Universally compatible with Dremel, Rigid, Ryobi, Milwaukee, Craftsman, Chicago Electric, DeWALT, Black and Decker, and more
  • Rulers on the sides of the blade allow for accurate cuts
  • 60-day satisfaction guarantee & replacement policy


2. 15-Piece Universal Quick-Release Oscillating Multi-Tool Saw Blade Set

15-Piece Universal Quick-Release Oscillating Multi-Tool Saw Blade Set

This set is the best option for those looking to get a set of basic blades. If you’re just putting together your multi-tool blade set, look no further. This 15-piece set gives you all the needed essentials for cutting plastic, softwood, hardwood, and metal. It comes with five different oscillating blades and gives you three of each style.

Blades

  • 32 by 40 mm coarse straight blade for soft and hardwood
  • 32 by 40 mm fine straight blade for wood and plastic
  • 50 by 44 mm bi-metal straight blade for metal
  • 55 by 40 mm HCS tapered blade for wood and plastic
  • 88 mm round blade for wood and soft metal

About

  • Semicircle saw blade includes elevated arbor for flat cuts
  • Heavy duty blades, made of high carbon steel, thick gauge
  • Used for plastic, wood, metal
  • Strong welds for blades that can handle high pressures and stressors
  • Universally compatible with Dremel, Rigid, Ryobi, Milwaukee, Craftsman, Chicago Electric, DeWALT, Black and Decker, and more
  • Rulers on the sides of the blade allow for accurate cuts
  • 60-day satisfaction guarantee & replacement policy


3. 10-Piece Quick-Release Bi-Metal Oscillating Multi-Tool Saw Blade Set

10-Piece Quick-Release Bi-Metal Oscillating Multi-Tool Saw Blade Set

This set is made specifically for metal. The blades will also cut wood, but the reason to pick these blades is the bi-metal design. The straight blade will do well for most metal cuts, though you may find some cuts easier with a semicircle metal blade, which this does not include. However, if it's between Ryker’s standard straight blades and the bi-metal straight blades, it might be a good idea to go with the bi-metal, just to play it safe. And, of course, Ryker offers a 60-day warranty. So, if your new blade breaks or maybe you got the wrong kind, Ryker will replace it. The blade is a 32 mm by 40 mm Bi-metal straight blade. In this pack, comes a set of ten blades, which should keep you going through the first bit of your project.

About

  • The bi-metal multi-tool blades are designed for making flush and plunge cuts and are ideal for cutting wood with nails
  • Heavy duty blades, Made of high carbon steel, thick gauge
  • Used for plastic, wood, metal
  • Strong welds for blades that can handle high pressures and stressors
  • Universally compatible with Dremel, Rigid, Ryobi, Milwaukee, Craftsman, Chicago Electric, DeWALT, Black and Decker, and more
  • Rulers on the sides of the blade allow for accurate cuts
  • 60-day satisfaction guarantee & replacement policy


4. DEWALT 20V MAX* XR CORDLESS OSCILLATING MULTI-TOOL KIT

DeWALT 20V MAX* XR CORDLESS OSCILLATING MULTI-TOOL KIT

For those who want an all-in-one starter kit, here it is. DeWALT has put together the multi-tool and a few attachments, along with lots of little extras. This pack comes with 28 pieces and accessories to fill out the many functions of this tool.

The unit is cordless and sports a 20 Ah battery. Altogether, the kit weighs 6.6 pounds and 3.2 of its weight is due to the main multi-tool unit. The tool is designed with a quick-change accessory which saves you the trouble of getting a wrench out every time you need to change a blade. Just press on the spring-pressured clamp and slip the blade out for an easy exchange.

Some extra features of this multi-tool make it unique. It comes equipped with an LED light that can be operated by the same hand with that one holds the tool. It also has an oscillation speed control, for fine, precision work. DeWALT also has created brushless motors. This delivers up to 57% more run time for the battery.

About

  • DCS355 20V MAX* XR oscillating tool
  • (1) DCB203 20V MAX* XR compact Li-ion battery (2.0 Ah)
  • DCB101 charger
  • DEWALT oscillating tool guide system
  • (1) Wood with nails blade
  • (1) Sanding pad
  • (25) Sheets of sandpaper
  • Accessory storage box
  • Universal accessory adapter
  • Contractor bag


5. Craftsman 46133 Bolt-On ™ 20v Max Li-Ion Drill/Driver

Craftsman 46133 Bolt-On ™ 20v Max Li-Ion Drill/Driver

One is hard pressed to improve on the standard of quality, manufacturing and customer satisfaction that craftsman exhibits. The bolt-on multi-tool is, arguably, the best oscillating tool on the market. In terms of torque, handling, precision and versatility, this tool takes the cake.

Unlike the DeWALT Multi-Tool Kit, the craftsman bolt-on drill/driver includes the drill/driver attachment, the bolt-on body and a charger and battery. The many bolt-on attachments available are separate from the base unit. This is not, necessarily, unique in any way. Starter kits are for starters. Craftsman tools are for craftspeople.

The feature that stands out as being unique to this tool is the Ergonomic design, which mimics a hand drill. This design allows for improved control, over the standard linear multi-tool design. Craftsman is a leader because they deliver what they claim to. When they say that their Li-ion battery lasts longer than a NiCad, you can believe it. The add-on attachments are the distinguishing feature of this unit, including…

  • Impact driver
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Hedge trimmer/shear
  • Sander
  • Jig saw
  • High-pressure tire inflator
  • Circular trim saw
  • 2-speed hammer drill
  • Oscillating tool

Included Items

  • Bolt-on body
  • Drill driver
  • charger and battery
  • Full metal dual sleeve chuck
  • 11-Speed clutch adjusts
  • Powered by a 20 Volt MAX* Li-ion battery
  • Li-ion battery holds charge longer versus NiCad up to 18 months
  • Charger includes easy cord wrap and wall mount functions for easy portability
  • Built-in LED light that provides illumination to dark areas


6. Black and Decker MATRIX™ 20V MAX* Lithium 6-Tool Combo Kit with Storage Case

Black and Decker MATRIX™ 20V MAX* Lithium 6-Tool Combo Kit with Storage Case

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 say.

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 the 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 standards and will only improve this name into the future. The Matrix offers the benefit of being made by one of the best oscillating tool suppliers in the market.

Included

  • MATRIX 20V power unit
  • BDCMTDD drill/driver attachment
  • Double-ended bit
  • Detail sander Attachment
  • Sandpaper
  • 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
  • Charger
  • Storage case


Time to DIY

    What are you doing, sitting there, reading this, when you have so many projects to do? So many cool things to build! Whether you need blades, attachments or the whole shindig, a investing in a multi-tool is going to reap untold benefits on your next project. Save time and work smart, not hard. Get yourself one of the best oscillating tools on the market and get the honey-do-list done.

    Feel free to leave comments and check out the reviewed product links. Build on!

     


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