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Tool review: Oscillating Multi-Tools

Pages in this Story:
What to look for
Grip size comparison
Enlarge Image
With a test-largest circumference
near 8", the Fein, left, is a handful.
The cordless Rockwell, right, has
the smallest circumference.

What to look for

Comfortable grip. Because you typically wrap one or both hands around the tool's barrel, its circumference and shape determine how well the tool fits in your hand, right. Circumferences under 7" suit small hands best. Heavier tools--some weigh up to 4 lbs--sand quickly, but are it tiring to hold during extended use.

Minimal vibration and noise. Most of the models we tested vibrated about equally, but we felt Bosch's Multi-X vibrated least. Fein's MultiMaster ran loudest when cutting, while the Rockwell was significantly quieter.

Variable speed. Slower speeds make delicate sanding jobs more manageable. Cutting and grinding work best at the highest speeds. Every tool except the cordless Craftsman 17438 offers variable-speed control. Further smoothing things out, a couple of models also feature soft-start motors that ease the tool up to speed and prevent it from jerking to the side when switching on the power

Continued on page 3:  More things to look for


Comments (5)
#mowry wrote:

The HF multi tool I bought for my son 2 years ago is still going on occasional use but mine died after 1 month of mild-modest useage. Reviews suggest vibration causing electrical joints to fail but checking mine, all seemed tight. Question is do I replace it? Honestly,it's a 50/50 decision based on my mood if I ever get past a store. I probably should have returned it but the cost of gas to and from was a lot higher than it cost. (I live rural)

1/7/2013 08:10:01 PM Report Abuse
Gmcromp wrote:

I agree on the Harbor Freight Multi-tool, I have had mine for a year and it has performed very well. I can buy four of them before I get to the price of the cheapest one of these. Not always the case with HF tools, but this one seems fine to me. HF does make some junk but this doesn't appear to be one of them. i have cut tile, wood, and plastic without a problem. I can't get past the price of some of these, i can buy four of the HF tools and still have money in my pocket from your cheapest pick.

7/12/2012 06:24:41 PM Report Abuse
mmcconoughey wrote:

I bought the Harbor Freight version hoping it would work OK. It works far better than that. It has been one of my most useful tools, and cuts much faster than I had anticipated. Not all HF tools are great, but many offer better performance for the buck than name brand tools.

6/15/2012 10:55:29 AM Report Abuse
Danwoodman wrote:

I've been using the $20.00 one from Harbor Freight for several years now at it works fantastic. Don't see the need to spend the big bucks on a Fein. Although the Chicago or Harbor Freight blades don't seem to hold up very well so I found some on Amazon that were less expensive and held up much longer.

1/26/2012 09:46:33 AM Report Abuse
tenpenny3315200 wrote:

I have to agree with your choice of the Fein. Mine is the older type with bolt. Bought this many years ago and as a general contractor carpenter have put this tool thru much abuse and use. I have replaced the bolt a few times but not the allen wrench. It has been a great tool for me.

8/17/2011 10:04:46 PM Report Abuse

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