Everyone has that one tool they could never live without. For some people it’s as simple as a pencil. For others, it’s an accurate level or a trusty hammer. But for me, it’s the Fein MultiMaster—which is why I jumped at the opportunity to review Fein’s 14.4V Cordless MultiMaster). This German engineered tool has been around since 1967, but I purchased my first MultiMaster in 2008, when I was renovating my house. At first, I found it very useful for small plunge cuts or jobs like cutting door jambs to fit new hardwood flooring, but after a few weeks, I was using it almost every day. It was perfect for lifting up linoleum tiles in the kitchen, removing old wallpaper in the living room—you name it, and I used the MultiMaster to do it. In 2009, the patent expired, and immediately every company out there manufactured their own multi-tools. At first, I was upset because I remember having to take a deep breath before pulling out my wallet on this purchase, but once I tried a few of the other versions I was still in love with my Fein.
Most of the competitor’s versions of the “multi tool” are significantly cheaper, but in my opinion they don’t supersede the original. I have used and borrowed three other multi tools and always come back to the Fein as the most durable, reliable and efficient. The way I see it, Fein has had over four decades to work out any kinks and perfect the MultiMaster. From observation I can tell they use only the highest quality components and state of the art manufacturing. Case in point is their attention to details—like using metal gearbox parts instead of plastic or nylon. They still seem to have the true high performance multi tool, and they back this up by offering a three year guarantee when you register on their website.
Details and Features
The 14.4V cordless MultiMaster, which came out in 2011, performs exactly like the corded version in every respect. Although it’s almost two inches longer and appears to be a bit bulkier, the tools weigh and feel almost identical to me. It is well balanced in my hand and easily suited for one-handed operation. I also noticed that they added a few rubber grips to the underside of the cordless model. I was curious if there would be any loss of power as the battery began to die, but after two weeks of using it, I haven’t noticed any fluctuation. The extra long battery life can be credited to the eight lithium-ion cells, giving it maximum performance down to the last drop of battery. Fein was kind enough to place a fuel gauge on each battery as well, so you can see when it’s time to recharge. Plus, the quick charger that comes in the kit will get you back up to full power within 30 minutes.
Another feature that comes in handy is Fein’s QuickIN system for changing out accessories. On my corded version, I use an Allen wrench to unscrew the chuck that holds the blade in. On every MultiMaster, I have been able to rotate the accessories to whatever angle best fits my application. With the QuickIN system, you simply pull the lever up to release the blade, and pull it back down once the blade is in place. No extra tools are required, and no time is lost. While I am a big fan of this feature, it does feel a bit awkward to me when releasing the blade. It holds the accessories in very tight, so it does require force, but I always feel like my hand is going to slip off and get cut on the blade when I unlock it. Maybe I will get used to it over time, but I wish this lever was a bit smoother or ergonomically designed—perhaps with a better gear mechanism.
My only other complaint with this tool is the case. Typically, I like cases that are bigger, but I feel like this one could be slimmer and still hold everything comfortably. For some reason, the pocket where the MultiMaster sits is designed so that you have to take the blade off when you put it away. Even though the QuickIN system makes changing blades easy, this still feels inconvenient to me whenever I’m storing the tool. It’s possible that, since this tool can operate cordlessly, they didn’t want to risk having it turn on while in the case and damaging anything. On a positive note, they did include a little bin for your blades, so they don’t roll around the case during transportation.
The Fein Kit Includes
- 1 FEIN MultiMaster AFMM 14
- 1 backing pad
- 20 sanding sheets (5 each of grits 60, 80, 120, 180)
- 1 Universal E-Cut saw blade (type 148)
- 1 E-Cut Long Life saw blade (65 mm)
- 1 carbide segment saw blade
- 1 carbide rasp (triangular)
- 1 HSS segment saw blade
- 1 rigid scraper blade
- 2 rechargeable batteries (Li-ion)
- 1 x rapid charger ALG 50
In the Field
Since I bought the corded version of this tool for construction work at home, I didn’t really think to take it on the road with me for my plumbing work. That was until about two years ago, when I thought it might be helpful as I was always having to notch out floor joists. (And I hate using a reciprocating saw in tight spaces.) Just like I discovered on my house, I ended up using it almost every day—especially for those hard to reach jobs. It came in handy for cutting ABS pipe under a tight sink or cutting out cabinets to run a dishwasher line. It has also gotten me out of a few jams when I had to cut a copper pipe and couldn’t fit a tubing cutter into the space. Because the tool has a nice long cord, I never really thought a cordless version would be all that useful to me. Hold that thought.
One of my favorite jobs to use the MultiMaster on is installing a new kitchen sink. When removing the old sink, especially on a formica countertop, you need to be especially careful not to ruin the surface. Even after removing the clips underneath, plumbers sometimes use a caulking that holds the sink down. If you try to lift the sink up, you can actually pull a chunk of the veneer off and ruin the countertop. With the MultiMaster you can place the scraper blade under the lip of the sink and work your way around, safely removing the sink as well as the old caulking. Sometimes you will need to cut the countertop to fit the new sink, which can easily be done with the wood cutting blade. (For new work you’ll want to break out the jig saw, of course.)
On certain faucets, the design of the shank and friction ring may not fit, so you have to cut a small notch out from the bracing underneath. When you’re under the sink and don’t have much room, you will be thankful you own this tool. I recommend keeping a pair of earplugs in that case as well because this thing is loud when you’re inside a cabinet! And don’t forget your safety glasses.
To help save the life of your blades, consider cutting at lower RPMs when possible. This keeps the blade from overheating and dulling faster. In the manual, you will find the optimal speed setting for each accessory. When you are using this tool for a long time, the vibration may cause your hands to feel tingly, but of all the multi tools that I’ve used, this one has the least amount of hand vibration. I’ve even seen other multi tools have issues where the battery vibrates right off while you’re using it.
- High torque motor with performance identical to corded version
- Large 14.4V lithium-ion 3.0Ah battery
- Tool-free accessory change
- Battery charge indicator
- 8 point tool mounting
- Electronic speed control