We’ve reviewed nearly every single multi-tool available today, from the most expensive models to the brands you know best. The Harbor Freight Variable Speed Multifunction Power Tool by Chicago Electric may not have much brand recognition, but it has the dubious honor of being the cheapest variable speed oscillating tool on the market. If you’re looking for an oscillating multi-tool that is intended for light duty, it’s going to very hard indeed to pass on this sub-$60 product.
Since the patent expired on Fein’s MultiMaster oscillating tool, hordes of manufacturers have thrown in with their own brand of multi-tool to see if they might offer a better value, higher performance, or more helpful feature set. So which one is best? We didn’t know – so we got a hold of them all to test them out and see for ourselves. After reviewing no less than six multi-tools (nearly all of the available products on the market in fact), we have drawn several helpful conclusions on which oscillating tools perform the best and which you might want to avoid. While no single tool can be declared the winner, we try to offer helpful suggestions that show which tools cater to particular needs. These needs include build quality (ruggedness), ease of use, performance and value. We’ll examine each of these throughout this multi-tool comparison shoot-out.
Since the Fein MultiMaster patent expired, we’ve seen lots of copycat oscillating tools on the market. The Harbor Freight Multi-Function Power Tool by Chicago Electric is the cheapest one on the market and offers a bargain method of getting into the oscillation action without breaking the bank. In a stellar case of “you get what you pay for”, however, consumers shouldnâ€™t be surprised to find that this tool may not exactly satisfy as much as some of the competition does.
Fein invented the handheld oscillating tool and released their MultiMaster back in 1986. At the time they decided to focus entirely on creating products of the highest quality possible. 23 years later they are retaining that attitude and have the most robust, easily usable handheld oscillating multi-tool on the market. The Fein MultiMaster Top system is quite simply the most well thought out, ergonomic and feature-rich oscillating tool on the market, even though Fein’s competitors have had over a decade to drool and tool up their own products now that the patent has expired.
Rockwell may not be a name that is on the tip of your tongue when you think of tools – but it ought to be. This fairly new company is making some very impressive tools right now that span the industry, from saws to drill guns to sanders. Now, they’ve added a new tool to their arsenal, the SoniCrafter – an oscillating multi-tool that makes short work of jobs once thought impossible. Plunge cutting into wood? Flush-cutting PVC or copper piping? Not a problem for this handy tool that oscillates at speeds up to 20,000 OPM.
Anyone who is even minimally into tools has heard of Dremel. They make all sorts of polishing and cutting tools based on a rotary design. When Fein’s exclusive patent on their oscillating tool expired last year and other manufacturers were allowed to manufacture similar devices, Dremel was first on-board. Sure, an oscillating tool only rotates a total of 3 degrees, but it’s still technically a rotary tool, right? Not really, but who cares, these are very cool tools that do things no other tools on the market can do. With Dremel bringing theirs to market at under $100, they have made this tool very accessible to consumers.
The SoniCrafter from Rockwell is a versatile and efficient multi-function tool. Featuring microsonic oscillation that will help give smooth cuts, this tool can be use for all kinds of cutting, sawing, scraping, shaping, polishing and removing grout. Since there is an extensive line of accessories available from Rockwell there should be no problems with working in materials such as plastic, masonry, tile, fiberglass and wood.