Best Oscillating Tools
The Oscillating Tool multitool has the potential to be the most powerful tool ever created. It saws, grinds, sands, scrapes, and polishes, among other things. It’s much more remarkable when you know that it can be used on a multitude of surfaces, including wood, metal, stone and mortar, tile, and grout. This just thing it can’t do is a drill, and we wouldn’t be surprised if anyone came up with a solution. When you’re stumped and don’t know what else to do, use an oscillating method. (Read our story on the Oscillating Tools flexibility for a more in-depth peek at what it can do.)
The instrument does this with the help of a powerful horizontal motor that drives a gearbox that rotates the motor’s rotational force 90 degrees and turns it into an oscillating side-to-side sweeping motion. Fine-tooth saw blades, triangular-shaped sanding or grinding pads, putty knife blades, and some other accessories that differ by the maker are mounted to a tool-free chuck. Our evaluations of the best can be found below, along with hard-won perspectives gleaned from our research. But first, a little more information and a look at how we function.
Things to Consider
You may be debating whether to buy cordless or corded at this stage going to be doing a lot of chopping, rubbing and sanding, for example, if you’re renovating an old house, we recommend going corded so you just have to change out accessories instead of batteries. If you only need to make a few cuts or sand a few surfaces, a cordless model will suffice a single battery will hold more than enough charge for certain tasks. The only difference is if you’re already connected to a power tool company’s website, in this case buying bare cordless oscillating tools and using the battery and adapter from the other power Oscillating Tools makes sense. You’ll save a little money this way, plus you’ll have more battery options. When one of the batteries loses its power, switch it out, charge the dead battery, and keep going.
How We Tested and Selected
Eight machines, six corded and two cordless were gathered to reflect a cross-section of the market, with all major labels included. We put their strength to the test by chopping through hardwood, softwood, and wood with nails stuck in it. Us remarked how simple it was to mount and dismount blades and accessories, as well as how convenient the tools were to use, particularly in difficult, tiring cuts like nail-embedded wood. We reviewed a previous edition of the Dremel but haven’t yet received the latest one, so we’ll update the analysis with our experiences until we do.
Fein FMM 350QSL MultiMaster
Weight: 4 lb
Likes: This is clearly a pro-duty tool, and the price reflects it. The Fein does more work per amp—and does it more smoothly—than any other tool in this category. It cuts and sands with almost no vibration, and accessories snap on and off in seconds.
Weight: 3.2 lb
Likes: We reviewed the MM45, which is the tool’s ancestor, and were amazed by its strength and value. We have high hopes for the MM50, which boasts two significant enhancements. It has a new curved motor-body arrangement and a much shorter nose (measured from a razor to the top of the housing). When installing flooring or cutting into a close corner, the offset makes for easier access when flush-cutting a door trim and jamb. The tool comes with 30 parts, including a range of blades, sandpaper, plus mounting pads, and it has the same great five-amp motor as the previous tool.
$259.00 $212.99 (18% off)
Weight: 4.2 lb
Likes: Long cuts, drop cuts, and the embedded-nail test were all made easier with this strong saw. It sands just like a dedicated sander, and the snap-on attachments are simple to use.
Dislikes: It’s pricey. The included saw blades are longer and more powerful on long straight cuts than the blades that come with the other instruments, but they are more difficult to handle.
Weight: 4.4 lb
Amp Hours: 3.0
Likes: In our checks, the Milwaukee and the DeWalt DCS 356, shown below, tied for first place in overall results. However, this instrument has a marginal advantage when it comes to cuts that need a lot of pressure, such as cutting through a thick nail. We also liked how accurate the dial speed regulation (numbered 1 through 12) is. Something like a kitchen cabinet installer or cabinetmaker, for example, would benefit from that extra degree of precision.
It’s worth noting that we’ve shown it with a charger. The connection (and price) on Amazon is for the bare tool. It makes sense to add this product to your remodeling arsenal if you’re not using Milwaukee’s well-regarded 18-volt platform.
Dislikes: This is a small complaint, but we prefer the DeWalt’s ability to stand upright on its battery, the way almost all cordless drills today can.
Weight: 3.4 lb
Likes: The low price makes this a good option if you only need a tool for one job, such as thin-plank flooring, and then only use it sometimes.
Dislikes: It failed in the embedded-nail test as well as more difficult applications such as plunge cutting plywood.
Weight: 3.8 lb
Likes: The DeWalt sander performed admirably in sawing through nail-embedded hardwood and making deep, precise, straight rip cuts.
Dislike: The spring-loaded accessory lock and unlock lever is painfully rigid.
Rockwell Sonicrafter F80
Weight: 3.8 lb
Likes: This tool is the best value here because of its sturdy build, high strength and pace, and ability to cut long, straight lines. It has two oscillation settings: rapid cutting at 5 degrees and precision cutting at 3.4 degrees. Rockwell has increased the value proposition by including more accessories in the box.
Dislikes: It’s not a deal-breaker, but the rotating lever-release mechanism on the chuck was a little tough to maneuver.