Tested: Oscillating Multi-Tools

by Michael Springer
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by Michael Springer

As their name suggests, oscillating multi-tools can be used for a multitude of cutting, scraping, grinding, and sanding tasks. Controlled plunge-cutting and detail sanding are among the standout uses of multi-tools, but you’ll discover many more after you add one of these tools to your arsenal.

Oscillating multi-tools

Multi-tools work their magic by wiggling their blades back and forth along an arc of only a few degrees, but they do it really fast—making up to 40,000 tiny slices per minute. This is how they make cuts that seem to melt into wood and drywall and provide finer control than circular saws, jigsaws, or reciprocating saws.

Corded multi-tools give you more bang for your buck, especially for casual users who don’t own multiple batteries. They’re ready to work when you are, have no runtime limitations, and are less expensive than similar sized cordless models. And since you’re usually cutting or sanding carefully in one spot, dragging a cord behind is a minor issue.

The multi-tool is a real restorer’s tool—the one to use when you have to take the tool to the work, such as cutting into trimwork or other building materials already in place. However, if the material (wood, tile, drywall, etc.) is not installed yet, there are usually better tools for precision cutting.

Head to Head Test

Pro Tip

Read the fine print to determine the right accessories for your multi-tool. While all of the tools here have plenty of power to cut quickly and cleanly through hardwood with a sharp wood blade, all are capable of slow, smoldering cuts if used with a dull or incorrect blade. Most blades rated for cutting metal specify soft, non-ferrous metals only. If you need to nip through a lot of nails to remove moldings, find blades that can cut steel. Similarly, tile grout can be ground away with tungsten carbide, but to cut hard tile itself, you will likely need a diamond grit blade.
–Michael Springer, Tool Expert

How To Use It

Online Exclusive:See our guide to multi-tool accessories.

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