Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout Oscillating Multi-tool Reviews

Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout


Oscillating tools, or oscillating multi-tools, are far from sexy. But they specialize in making the cuts that no other saw can do effectively – close undercuts, plunging flush cuts, and all manner of tight space work that other saws are just too brutal for. They work by vibrating thousands of times per minute to create an effective sawing motion with its 2° – 3° (usually) oscillation angle. This gives it the unique ability to make a controlled cut with a relatively small footprint. So who makes the best oscillating tool?

We brought in 25 26 models to find out!

Editor’s Note 6/4/2018: Kobalt’s 24V Max oscillating tool was a late entry. The results have been updated to include its performance.

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Wait, You Said “Multi-Tool”

Oscillating tools have three primary roles: cutting, scraping, and sanding. The tool’s ability to scrape is directly tied to the same qualities that make it good or bad in cutting. Sanding is another story. While you can sand with a multi-tool, it’s not very good at it compared to using a Pro-level random orbit sander. If you need a quality finish, you’re likely looking elsewhere. For Pro purposes, we’re focusing on the cutting/scraping side of things.

Key Features

The feature set on an oscillating multi-tool is more limited than many of the power tools we test. For Pro use, we like to see a variable speed dial with an on/off switch rather than a trigger. If it does have a trigger, a lock on and lock off are essential.

Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout

Ridgid, Ryobi, and DeWalt all lack a variable speed dial, though their triggers are variable speed. You can work with it, but our testing team is unanimous in their push for a simple switch. Ridgid and Ryobi lack lock-on switches for their triggers.

Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout

There are several areas where some models go beyond the basics. 10 of our models give you an LED light to work with. Ridgid and Ryobi have an interchangeable head system – JobMax and Job Plus, respectively. There are a variety of other conversions you can make like a jigsaw, right angle drill, and reciprocating saw. Ridgid takes it a step further with corded, 12V, 18V, and pneumatic power options.

Worx throws in a vacuum port on their 2.5-amp corded model while the Rockwell Sonicrafter corded model gives you the ability to change oscillation angle for more aggressive cutting. Porter-Cable includes a depth and control guide on their corded model.

Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout 38

The Dremel Velocity looks very different from the rest of the group. It has a 90° rotated blade and drive system that allows it to easily make long cuts or scrapes.

Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout

Ergonomics

The ergonomics of the best oscillating tool comes into play mainly through weight and handle design. Most of our models stick with the standard large diameter, rounded handle similar to a grinder. A few break the mold, however.

The two Ridgid models earn our admiration with having the best grip design with their handles and rubber overmold. Ryobi is right behind them with the DeWalt 20V Max oscillating tool taking a close 4th place. The Porter-Cable 20V Max model takes 5th to wrap up our favorites. The downside is that, aside from Porter-Cable, each of the top 5 trade switches for triggers to get the handle design.

Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout

On the other end of the spectrum, Makita and Bosch leave room for improvement in the grips and handles of their cordless models. The Dremel Velocity is our least favorite with its comparatively massive bulk.

Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout

Weight becomes an interesting topic, especially since some of the cordless models come with compact batteries while other include extended capacity. The Porter-Cable 20V Max remains the lightest of all, weighing in at just 2.59 pounds. Harbor Freight’s Chicago Electric model is pretty close at 2.64 pounds, and the Worx cordless is right behind it at 2.65 pounds.

For the heavyweight division, Dremel’s Velocity (4.16 pounds), Festool’s Vecturo (4.3 pounds), and Bosch’s cordless powered by a Core18V battery (4.46 pounds) leave a gap to Makita’s 18V LXT with a 3.0 Ah battery at 4.99 pounds.

Best Oscillating Tool Cordless Ergonomics

Best Oscillating Tool Corded Ergonomics

Editor’s Note: Kobalt 24V Max scores 83 points for ergonomics.

Blade Changes

Blade changes might not be a big deal if you’re a DIYer, but if you’re a Pro making a variety of cuts or just have a lot of cutting to do, blade changes can be a sigh of relief or a source of frustration.

Bosch and Fein both take advantage of Starlock technology. This completely hands-free blade change system quickly became our favorite. DeWalt and Porter-Cable also earn solid points for their clamping system. Ridgid take a couple of steps to make the change happen, but we like that they include magnets to hold the blade during the change.

Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout

On the downside, Milwaukee uses a lever to release the lock on their bolt, but you also have to unscrew with your fingers. It’s possible to over-tighten it, requiring a slotted screwdriver to get it loose again.

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Hitachi has an effective blade change system that’s simply over-engineered. You have a lever along with a pull-and-twist lock release before you can slide the bolt to remove or install a blade. It’s one step more than most of the group that makes us feel like we’re playing a game of Bop It.

Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout

Both Worx models, Ryobi, and Harbor Freight require a hex wrench to change the blade – something our testing team hates.

Best Oscillating Tool Cordless Blade Change

Best Oscillating Tool Corded Blade Change

Editor’s Note: Kobalt 24V Max scores 80 points for blade change.

Next Up: Performance and Value

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Loren
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Loren

You failed to mention no light on corded Porter-Cable model

Rob
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Rob

Where is the honesty Pro Tools? You say “Bosch and Fein both take advantage of Starlock technology”.
Ambiguous wording considering Starlock is proprietary and patented by Fein’s parent company Bosch. Starlock is only available for Bosch and Fein. Bosch even left Dremel (another Bosch own co) out of the Starlock system.
You might think it swell but for a pro a proprietary interface tool is usually just more costly and limiting and makes me seriously doubt the honesty of your recommendations.

Jack
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Jack

The makita TM3010CX1 is 3 amps, why is it listed as 6.5 amps on your review? It’s really confusing as not even makita’s own website lists a 6.5 amp multitool.

Dwight
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Dwight

Have used the Harbor freight corded oscillating for 2 years. As a DIYer I would not pay for the Fein model because of the amt of use. I was impressed with the results shown for the Dremel MM45. HB is very loud and would be tiring to use for long period due to the vibration. But for short tasks / baseboard cuts while tiling or minor cuts in sheetrock it is fine for the price.

Matt
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Matt

Have you all gotten to test out the new cordless BRUSHLESS model from Rockwell? Very impressed with it. Cutting speed is great. Vibration is very low and noise level is also very low. Also comes with a 20-year warranty!