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Published Feb. 4, 2019

For making super-fast work of all types of cutting, sanding and grinding – whether it’s zipping through plywood, sheering off metal pipes or sanding down rust on a car – you need an oscillating multi-tool.

These multi-blade whizzing wonders will be the superhero of your toolkit as they take the strain out of making precision cuts, grinding out deep grout and cement, or reaching those tight or awkward spaces. With their fast vibrating blades, they can also smoothly cut through a whole host of materials, including wood, metal, masonry and plastic, making clean work of those jobs that other saws would be simply too brutal for.

Once you have an oscillating multi-tool, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. But before you get ready to take one for a spin, let us help you make your final choice by giving you the lowdown on some of the best oscillating tools available.

The Best Oscillating Tool

For an all-singing, all-oscillating multi-tool pack, you can’t go wrong with this extensive and effective battery-powered tool kit from DIY favorite, Dewalt. This is an impressive 28-piece multi-tool kit, with enough blades and head attachments to make short work of that home improvement snagging list, including heads for sanding, grout removal and cutting metal pipes, all packed in a neat carry bag. You can opt for the multi-tool body only as the unit has a universal accessory adaptor to take other blades but as a start-up kit, the whole pack is a great way to go. We particularly like the tool-free quick-change for accessories, which is really easy to do.

When it comes to the best oscillating tools, there’s a lot to like about the Dewalt multi-tool.  Well-balanced in the hand, it’s light enough to use for prolonged periods without straining your arm. And it comes with some nice little extras, such as a tool guide, so you can set the precise depth and height of the cut and also an LED light so you can still work accurately in dimmer or fading light.

Key Features
  • 28-piece multi-tool set with case
  • Universal accessory adaptor
  • Powered by rechargeable Lithium battery
  • Quick change accessory system – no tools needed
  • Includes tool guide and LED light
Specification
  • Brand DEWALT
  • Model DEWDCS355D1
  • Weight 7 pounds

This is a super-powerful, corded multi-tool that makes really light work of even the toughest jobs thanks to its 3.8amp motor and heavy duty 3.2 degrees oscillating angle. It is a little bulkier than some other multi-tool models, yet despite its heavyweight credentials, the Dremel sits ergonomically in the hand. It is also nicely controlled by its easy to reach on/off switch and separate variable speed dial.

An electric corded model, the power and handling of the Dremel Multi-Max makes it the ideal oscillating tool for those large or complicated jobs or professional renovations. It comes with a large pack of 36 interchangeable accessories to cover all your sanding, cutting and grinding needs and all are easily fixed into place with a smooth-working quick lock system. For the toughest, most challenging jobs, then this Dremel oscillating multi tool is your vibrating main man.

Key Features
  • Corded unit with high-performance 3.8 Amp motor
  • Quick-Lock for tool-less accessory change
  • Up-front on/off switch
  • Separate variable speed dial
  • Comes with 36-piece accessory pack
Specification
  • Brand Dremel
  • Model MM4005
  • Weight 6.6 pounds

There’s something of a split personality about the Sonicrafter F80 oscillating multi-tool from Rockwell and it’s all down to the angle of its blade.

With this solidly built unit, you not only get a meaty 4.2amp motor to prevent stalling under pressure, but you can choose between two angles for the head, depending on whether you want to go soft or hard. The first angle – 3.4 degrees – gives you steady precision and continuous control for those delicate or small space jobs. Then flip it up to 5 degrees for a monster grind when fast and aggressive is needed to get a job done.

Key Features
  • Corded unit with 10-piece accessory kit
  • Two oscillating angles, tailored to the job
  • Powerful 4.2 Amp motor
  • Universal accessory fit system
  • Variable speed dial, from 10-19,000
Specification
  • Brand Rockwell
  • Model RK5151K
  • Weight 3.3 pounds

The Starlock Plus comes with reassuring Bosch credentials and as a quality oscillating multi-tool, it certainly matches up to expectations. With a more than decent 13-foot cord powering it beefy 4amp motor, there’s some juice in its tank to take on those really big projects where only precision, power and performance will do. The variable motor has a top speed of 20,000 OPM but can easily be powered down to tackle delicate jobs and is surprisingly quieter than expected. Ear-protectors would be advised for the full-on speed but for less powerful jobs you should be able to still hear yourself think!

The oscillating tool comes with a good variety of blades to tackle most materials and boasts one of the slickest attachment units in our best oscillating multi tools review, thanks to its Starlock system that grips as if its life depended on it. And the subsequent torque transfer is certainly felt in the accuracy of its performance, whether that’s cutting, grinding, scraping or sanding. The Starlock Plus is also interchangeable with other accessories from the Bosch Starlock range, but disappointingly, there is no adaptor for other brands’ accessories.

Key Features
  • 4amp motor powers to 20,000 OPM
  • Extra-long 13ft power cable
  • Variable speed dial for precision control
  • Starlock 3-D tool-accessory interface
  • Comes with core range of multi-tool accessories
Specification
  • Brand Bosch
  • Model GOP40-30C
  • Weight 3.3 pounds

This is a great value oscillating multi tool kit that works just as well for the beginner as it would for more hardened DIY-er looking for an all-round tool that can just get on with the job. The Porter Cable oscillating tool has a nice long flex to power the 3amp motor and comes complete with a very impressive total of 52 accessories and a tough plastic tool box. OK, this oscillating multi-tool may be a little noisier than some of the more expensive models, but it does get on with the job, and more than adequately we’d say.

A little heavy in the hand, the Porter oscillating multi-tool does however sits balanced in your grip and is actually a reassuring chunk to get a hold of. There’s a tool-free accessory change so you can quickly switch blades when the DIY job demands. And to keep your cutting straight, there’s an easy to use depth and cutting guide for extra precision and control.

Key Features
  • Nicely powerful 3 Amp motor
  • Tool-free system blade change
  • Ample 10-foot electric cord
  • Depth and cutting guide for precision
  • Includes 52 tool accessories
Specification
  • Brand PORTER-CABLE
  • Model PCE605K52
  • Weight 7.7 pounds

With its value price tag, the Genesis is a good multi-tool to have on charge for when those everyday DIY jobs come to call. Although it has a smaller motor than some others in this review, it can pack quite a powerful oscillating punch, up to 21,000 OPM say its makers. That’s more than enough for cutting through tough materials such as metal and hard wood while the multi-tool can also be used more precise or delicate jobs, although the speed is not variable, so there is limited control over the power. Operated by a simple on/off switch, it’s a case of just plug in, fit your chosen blade and off you go.

The Genesis multi-purpose oscillating tool comes with a selection of blade heads and sanding pads, including a super-small 30mm saw blade that’s great for those tight corners and spaces. It is a tad noisy but the vibration in your hand is pleasantly low and it also comes with an adapter so you can use accessories from other multi-tools.

Key Features
  • Multifunctional tool for home repair
  • 21000 oscillations per minute
  • Die-cast aluminum gear housing
  • 4-pin flange design holds accessories in place
  • Cabled, with 1.5 Amp motor
Specification
  • Brand Genesis
  • Model GMT15A
  • Weight 2.75 pounds

The Makita oscillating tool is a very nicely engineered multi-tool that runs on an 18V lithium ion battery but offers the power quality of a corded machine. A single charge gives you around 20 minutes of run time, which may not be quite sufficient for a more prolonged DIY job, but you do get a variable speed of between 6,000 and 20,000 OPM, with no powering down. The overall design of this oscillating multi-tool has also reduced the vibration on the hand and offers a noticeably reduced noise level, compared to some others. Oh, and it has a cool ‘soft start’ feature so you can gently bring up the power level when taking on a more delicate job, while 3.2 degree oscillation angle can be used for faster, more aggressive cutting and sanding.

You will need to buy the additional blade and head accessories for this multi-tool but it does also have a universal head so it should be able to adapt to accessories you may already have in your workshop. This is a solid, well-made and easy to handle large oscillating multi-tool that would look equally at home in the tool bag of the amateur DIY’er as it would in the kit box of the hard-working contractor.

Key Features
  • 18V Lithium-Ion battery for 20 minutes run time
  • Variable speed control dial (6,000-20,000 OPM)
  • 3.2 degree oscillation angle
  • Large on/off slide switch with lock-on button
  • Soft start feature to bring up the speed
Specification
  • Brand Makita
  • Model XMT03Z
  • Weight 4.14 pounds

If you are looking for an everyday domestic multi-tool that is built to last, then you can’t really go too wrong with this solid variable speed oscillator from DIY stalwarts, Black & Decker. In B&D’s distinct black and orange colorway, this multi-tool would look good sitting on your work bench, just waiting for the opportunity to get on and oscillate! And when it does, it performs as well as you would expect, a robust feel in the hand and consistent power thanks to its corded supply.

The Black & Decker multi-tool runs on a 2.5 Amp motor, which steadily delivers between 10,000 and 20,000 OPM, and which you can easily control through its six-speed dial. We really like the quick accessory change feature, with a tool-free blade release that is slick and easy to use, especially mid-job. The multi-tool also comes with a starter supply of accessories, including a rigid scraper, a wood/metal blade and 12 sandpaper sheets. They’ve even thrown in a carrying bag for when the job takes you away from home.

Key Features
  • Tool-free blade release
  • Variable speed dial has six speed settings
  • Runs at 10,000 – 20,000 OPM
  • 2.5amp motor and 1.4 degree oscillating angle
  • Comes with a core accessory pack
Specification
  • Brand BLACK+DECKER
  • Model BD200MTB
  • Weight 4.25 pounds

The Ryobi JobPlus is the Transformer of the multi-tool world. Not only does it have an interchangeable head for all your oscillating accessories, but the body can mix it up too, with its power base section also compatible with other top attachments from the Ryobi range.

The result is a cool multi-tool you can adapt to the job at hand. That’s fantastic but bringing it back to basics, how does the JobPlus perform as an actual oscillating hand multi-tool?

Key Features
  • Body is cross compatible with other Ryobi tools
  • Universal accessories interchangeable head
  • Powers at 20,000 oscillations per minute
  • Runs on one 18 Volt lithium ion battery
  • Includes three accessory attachments
Specification
  • Brand Ryobi
  • Model RMT1801M
  • Weight 2.5 pounds

Best Oscillating Tool Buying Guide

What to Consider When Buying an Oscillating Tool

Oscillating tools are pretty uncomplicated beasts but there are a few essentials you need to consider when looking to buy the right one for your electric multi-tool set:

  • Oscillating rate

You want your oscillating wonder machine to be able cut quickly and cleanly (that project car renovation has been going on long enough already!) so the simple rule is, the higher the top speed on the tool, the faster it will cut. Look for at least 18,000 oscillations per minute (OPM) but with the option to vary the speed.

  • Oscillating angle

The angle of the oscillation also counts, the higher the angle, the faster the speed and so the more aggressively it will cut. Too high though, and you’ll get much more vibration and noise.

  • Vibration

The more vibration an electric multi-tool has, the more uncomfortable it will be to hold and use, especially over long periods at a time.

  • Noise level

For the higher performing oscillating tools you are going to have to accept a lot of noise, so make sure you have those ear defenders (and be on good terms with your neighbors).

  • Controls

Most oscillating tools come with an on/off switch plus a variable speed dial, which is preferred by most users. There are some models that have a paddle trigger, but just check that there is a lock on the switch, especially if you’re going to be sanding or scraping.

  • Accessory change

You want to be able to switch blades and tools quickly and easily, so we suggest you avoid power multi-tools that are over-complicated to changeover. Also, look for oscillators that have a universal accessory head, so you are not tied to the one brand.

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 What is an Oscillating Tool Used For?

Think of the tool that medics use to remove plaster casts if you break a limb, and you’re not far off from the oscillating multi-tool. The principles are the same, with the construction and DIY world adapting the concept to create the power tool we know today.

The oscillating tool’s cutting motion is different to that of a more conventional power saw. Unlike the power or jigsaw, the oscillating tool blades don’t saw back and forth or cut as they spin in a circle, but oscillate side to side in a regular, fast rhythm, at a maximum rate of around 20,000 times every minute.  This smooth, fast movement makes the oscillating cutting tool perfect for precise curved or straight cuts. Brilliantly versatile, the oscillating multi-tool can be used on a range of materials and for cutting, sanding, grinding, scraping and removing grout. And all can be done within a tight, awkward space, making it a must for every car nut or DIY-er.

Corded or Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool?

Whether you opt for a corded oscillating tool or go for cordless, it is not only down to personal preference but also the size of job at hand. Cordless multi-tools offer more flexibility and mobility but they do have a limited battery life per charge. Corded oscillating tools are perhaps more cumbersome but as there is a constant power supply, they are better suited to bigger jobs as they have an unlimited run time. Many corded oscillating cutting tools now come with an extra-long cable, taking the hassle out of having to also find an extension cord. And looked after, a corded multi-tool will last for many years.

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Best Oscillating Tool FAQ:

Q: How Does an Oscillating Tool Work?

An oscillating multi-tool uses a fast, side-to-side movement for a precision action. While super-fast (about 20,000 movements per minute) the oscillation movement is also very slight, about three degrees, making it feel like a vibration rather than a conventional saw or cut. Different blades, pads and heads can be attached to the oscillation mechanism to harness this fast, precise movement, so you can cut, scape, grind and sand. In short, the oscillating multi-tool is the ultimate jack-of-all trade tool for home, car and building projects.

Q: Are Oscillating Tool Blades Interchangeable?

The beauty of an oscillating multi-tool is its versatility, with its interchangeable blades and heads making it the go-to for a variety of home, garage or large project jobs. From cutting a drywall and trimming off screws, to precision cutting baseboards, sanding wood and grinding out grout, there are a range of interchangeable blades so that your electric multi-tool can pretty much take on anything.

Q: Can an Oscillating Tool Cut Metal?

Yes, but you need to have the correct blade for the metal you want to cut attached to the oscillating head. With a quality blade, you can cut through both soft and hard metals, including steel and aluminum. Check the oscillating multi-tool you are looking to buy to see what blades for metal cutting are included or you can buy and attach. And follow the manufacturer’s instructions on use.  As well as metal, blades are also available to cut a wide range of materials, including tiles, hardwood, softwood, plastic and even carpet. oscillating tool in use

Our Top Pick

DEWALT Oscillating Multi-Tool Kit

The Dewalt scoops our best oscillating multi-tool Top Pick for its versality, performance and quality build, in a bumper tool pack that will cover all your DIY and renovation project bases. This is an easy to handle, sturdy and precise oscillating multi-tool that has some really nice touches to help make a clean job and although it uses rechargeable batteries, it has a motor power that can give some corded models a run for their money. Whether it’s for the amateur or for the professional, your workshop and your DIY will be boosted by this new oscillating multi-tool toy.

Sources:

  1. Multi-tool (powertool) – Wikipedia
  2. How to Cut Wood Using Various Power Tools – wikiHow

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