Best Oscillating Tool Review and Shootout
For a tool that uses vibrations as a performance specification, it’s hard to keep it from transferring that into your hand and arm. There’s a wide gap from the best oscillating tool to the worst and some are downright impressive.
Earning the top score for controlling vibration is the Fein MultiMaster, nearly eliminating vibration altogether. Fein’s Supercut is next followed by the Supercut cordless and MultiMaster cordless. Clearly, Fein has a handle on this area. Bosch and Makita are the next two on the list with their corded models.
Moving away from the models that are pleasant to use, we see vibration that turns our hands to jelly. The Worx cordless model has the worst vibration with Ridgid’s corded JobMax ahead of it. Harbor Freight, Ridgid cordless, and the Dremel Velocity are next up the list.
Editor’s Note: Kobalt 24V Max scores 80 points for vibration control.
To be fair, we weren’t originally going to test noise levels to find the best oscillating tool. However, it became clear that there were some significant differences. So I hauled all 25 models out into a field and tested the noise level (dB(A)) during a cut at 24″ – roughly the distance to a user’s ear on a baseboard undercut.
Keep in mind that perceived sound pressure level (how loud it sounds to you) roughly doubles every ten decibels.
Milwaukee takes the top spot at 92 decibels, two decibels lower than Fein’s cordless MultiMaster (94 dB(A)) and three decibels (half the pressure level) of Ridgid’s cordless model at 95 dB(A).
From first to worst, there’s a 12-decibel difference to Rockwell’s cordless Sonicrafter at 104 dB(A). The corded Sonicrafter comes in at 103 dB(A) while DeWalt’s 20V Max, the Dremel Velocity, Festool, and Harbor Freight all settle in at 102 dB(A).
Editor’s Note: Kobalt 24V Max delivered 98 dB(A) in our noise level test.
All the best features are useless if it takes until next Tuesday to finish the cut. We outfitted almost all of our models with nearly identical bi-metal blades from Imperial Blades. They’re nearly identical because Imperial makes blades that fit most multi-tools and then a separate line for Starlock models. We went with bi-metal because that’s what most Pros are using right now. We went with Imperial because, in our opinion, they’re simply the best universal brand out there. They carry blades of all shapes and sizes for nearly every oscillating tool available. Better still, they’re made in the USA.
In addition to the bi-metal blades we used for testing, Imperial also has titanium and carbide blades to extend cutting life. They have Japanese tooth blades for fast cutting, 90° plunge cut blades, and even sanding accessories. Their lineup includes many more options than I have space to list here. We have yet to run into a situation they don’t have a blade for, so head over to their website and check them out.
I mentioned that Imperial Blades covers nearly every oscillating tool. They don’t have bi-metal blades for the Festool Vecturo with their proprietary connection, but there are titanium blades available. Our German friends develop their accessories in conjunction with their tools to create a very intentional system to maximize performance.
Making the Cut
To find the best oscillating tool cutting speed, each model used a 1-1/4″ Imperial Blades bi-metal blade to plunge cut through untreated 2x pine. Our rig is designed to ensure each tool has the exact same amount of force applied to it within the realm of normal use force.
In first place, Festool averaged just 4.6 seconds to make the cut. We have to qualify that, though. Given the fact that we could only use Festool blades, the closest one we could get our hand on was a 1-1/4″ Japanese tooth bi-metal blade. The Japanese tooth style is more aggressive and faster cutting than a standard design. Also earning top points for the fastest cut with an Imperial blade is the Rockwell Sonicrafter. Flipped to its 5° mode, it took an average of 8.2 seconds to make the cut. If you’re curious, it cuts at 15.3 seconds in its 3.4° mode – still pretty quick. Third place goes to the Dremel Velocity, another 5° model, with an average speed of 11.7 seconds.
Unfortunately, Porter-Cable’s 20V Max failed to complete the task. Its first test took 67.6 seconds and the motor burned up during the second. Of the tools to complete the test, Harbor Freight comes in last with an average speed of 46.8 seconds followed by Worx corded (43.7 seconds) and Fein MultiMaster cordless (43.6 seconds).
Editor’s Note: Kobalt 24V Max made in the cut in an average of 14.4 seconds.
Price and Value
Value is more than just the lowest price. It’s a balance of how much you get for how much you pay. When you look at this group together, corded models have an advantage because of their lower prices and higher performance. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t buy a cordless multi-tool, there’s still the convenience of not being tethered.
So who gives you the most for your money?
Harbor Freight, actually. Their price point is so low compared to the rest that even with near-bottom rankings in every category, you still get a great value rating. The Worx corded model comes in next followed by the Dremel MM45 (the only one our team would actually use in the top 3 for value).
On the wrong end of our value equation is the Fein Supercut cordless with Festool and the corded Fein Supercut rising from there.
That’s a mainly upside-down list, all things considered. It just goes to show you that Pros are willing to pay more for higher quality.
Editor’s Note: Kobalt 24V Max scores 90 points for value.