Choosing the best oscillating multi-tool used to boil down to just a couple of brands. Not anymore. Advancement in battery, motor, and vibration control technologies offers more viable options than ever.
As we considered the landscape, our team was unanimous in our selection of cordless oscillating multi-tools. Corded models are absolutely relevant and there are some outstanding options available. However, when we laid out the requirements of earning the “best” label, everyone wanted the convenience of battery power.
Best Oscillating Multi-Tool Overall
Fein’s Supercut Cordless has some serious competition from Milwaukee, but this model is still advanced enough to hold the number one ranking. It’s the complete package—outstanding speed and vibration control with Starlock’s lightning-fast blade changes.
The downside is that it’s bulkier than most of the other models we tested and it has a pretty steep price tag.
Best Oscillating Multi-Tool Speed
Let’s clear the air here—if cutting speed is your highest priority, there are Fein and Milwaukee, and then there’s everyone else. On a single cut, Fein’s SuperCut Cordless and Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel are way ahead of the competition.
Their control is also much better, making your cutting even faster because they help you reduce mistakes during the cut. In the end, the two are so close to each other in speed that it’s nearly impossible to concretely say one is faster.
PTR Oscillating Multi-Tool Test Track Results
Taking five individual applications, we pulled them together to create the PTR Test Track for multi-tools to see how fast we could get each tool through a series of real-world tests. You can see the full details of the setup below.
When the dust settled, the Fein SuperCut Cordless emerged with the best overall time at 1:24. Bosch settled into second at 1:38, proving that Starlock is a big time-saver when you’re changing blades frequently. Kobalt’s 24V brushless model wrapped up the top three with an impressive 1:40.
Best Oscillating Multi-Tool Vibration Control
This generation of multi-tools features some outstanding improvements in vibration control. Skil and MasterForce introduced an isolated head design that helps significantly.
The big story is that Milwaukee has finally overtaken Fein, though. Their M18 Fuel version is very close, but Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel has the best oscillating multi-tool vibration control of the group we tested.
Best Oscillating Multi-Tool Ergonomics
Milwaukee’s M12 Fuel oscillating tool earns another big win for the ergonomics of its design. Its 12V foundation is lighter than the 18V models, it’s short enough to reach tighter spaces better, and its slim handle makes maneuvering into awkward positions easier.
We still have a love for DeWalt’s and Ridgid’s handle designs, too. They fit into your hand more naturally when you’re cutting and sanding. They’re not as comfortable when you need to switch your grip to the side or completely flip it upside down, though.
Best Oscillating Multi-Tool Blade Change
Starlock: Bosch 18V and Fein SuperCut Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tools
There were no surprises in our blade change evaluation as Starlock still dominates in speed and ease. By simply pressing the interface into the blade, it snaps the lock on it and you’re ready to go. When it’s time to change it out, the release ejects it from the tool without any additional help.
Bosch and Fein both have Starlock interfaces on the multi-tools we tested. Festool’s cordless Vecturo now sports it as well. Even though Starlock has a significant advantage, Craftsman and DeWalt have a clamping style interface that’s also very easy to use.
Best Budget Oscillating Multi-Tool
There’s a difference between getting the cheapest oscillating multi-tool and the best value. We didn’t bother testing the cheapest models. We’ve gone down that road before and were left disappointed.
The least expensive of the ones we did test (and are comfortable recommending) is Craftsman’s V20. It runs just $119 as a kit and $79 as a bare tool.
However, the best budget oscillating multi-tool goes to Skil in our book. For around $162, you get a brushless tool with a 2.0Ah battery, an upgraded PWRJump charger, and a nice blade/sanding set to get you started. Combined with its 1:52 performance on the Test Track and low-vibration design, it’s a solid package for the price.
Best Oscillating Multi-Tool Blades
For our testing, we primarily used Milwaukee oscillating multi-tool blades. They have a very deep line that covers just about anything you need for cutting, scraping, and sanding. As far as universal fit blades go, we haven’t run into anything Milwaukee doesn’t have that we’ve needed. Here’s a snapshot:
- Bi-metal blades
- Titanium coated bi-metal blades
- High-carbon blades
- Titanium-enhanced carbide blades
- Japanese tooth blades
- Drywall blades
- Sanding pads
- Diamond grit (grout removal) blades
- Sealant cutters
What they don’t have at the moment are blades for Starlock multi-tools. For those models, we turn to Imperial Blades (owned by Milwaukee Tool) to get corresponding blades with the Starlock interface.
How We Tested
Everyone has different priorities when searching for the best oscillating multi-tool. Some Pros just want the fastest performance, others might value vibration control highest. Regardless, our team looks for the same general characteristics even if they’re in a different order.
Speed and Test Track
To test speed, we compare how fast we can cut wood, drywall, nails, remove grout, and sand as standalone applications.
Then we pull them all together on the PTR Oscillating Multi-Tool Test Track—a series of applications designed to test the real-world potential of each tool. Here’s what it consists of:
- Undercutting a door jamb
- Cutting out drywall for an electrical box
- Cutting 5 finish nails holding trim
- Removing 18 inches of grout
- Sanding 3-1/2 x 6 inches of pine
Over the course of the Test Track, we have to change blades twice and maneuver the tool in a variety of ways to complete it as quickly as we can.
Vibration control has been dominated by Fein for a long time. Their technology has been so far ahead of everyone else that it hasn’t been competitive at all. That’s all changing, though.
As we test speed, we build our first impressions of each tool’s vibration control. Then, our three-man testing team spends time cutting and sanding to rank them into groups and assign their final scores.
When we consider the best oscillating multi-tool ergonomics, it starts with weight. Cordless models tend to be heavier than corded ones, of course, but working with a compact battery can shave it down a bit.
Length can get in the way if you’re working in tighter spaces, so we measure that.
We also consider the handle design. Most use a grinder-style barrel grip with varying diameters. A design that feels good in our hand is great. However, we also check how it feels as we use the tool in the variety of angles we often have to switch to in the field.
There’s the issue of how the battery connects to the tool as well. If it’s in the way of your grip or forces you to adjust your angle of attack into a cut, it can be a pain point. We’re looking for battery connections that power the tools without throwing off their balance or force grip changes.
Starlock set a new bar for oscillating multi-tools a few years ago with a completely hands-free and super-fast blade change. There’s still no other system that comes close to its speed and convenience.
For the rest of the group, there are several versions of tool-free changes. We work them all to see how securely they hold the blade along with how convenient and quick the changes are.
While it works for some folks, we generally stay away from models that require a tool to change the blade.
When it’s your bank account funding your tool purchases, we get that you want the most bang for your buck. For us, value is much more than just how much the multi-tool costs. It’s what you get for the money and some give you more than others. We weigh pricing against the performance and design of each model to calculate a value score.
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