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June 15, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool Review

Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool
PTR Review
  • Cutting Speed 5.0
  • Vibration Control 6.0
  • Blade Change 2.0
  • Ergonomics 8.8
  • Noise Level 5.8
  • Value 10.0

Even at $40, it's hard to recommend the Chicago Electric oscillating multi-tool to anyone that needs to do more than make a couple of cuts on a very occasional basis.

Overall Score 6.2 (out of 10)

For whatever reason, every time we run a shootout, someone will ask us why we don’t include a Harbor Freight model. It’s a little hard to tell if we have a legitimate Harbor Freight fanboy demographic out there, or if y’all just like to troll us from time to time. In either case, those of you clamoring for us to include this budget brand in our testing will be pleased. Because we love you, and because we’re genuinely curious, we included the Harbor Freight oscillating tool (Chicago Electric) in our Best Oscillating Tool Shootout.


Standard Features

Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of the Harbor Freight oscillating tool performance, let’s take a quick tour of the main features. Oscillating multi-tools, in general, aren’t feature-rich, so this short list isn’t a surprise or a disappointment.

  • Variable Speed Dial
  • Power switch (instead of a variable speed trigger)

The only thing that’s really missing is an LED light and that’s not something terribly common on corded models.

 

Accessory Changes

This Chicago Electric Oscillating Tool requires that you have a hex wrench handy if you plan on changing out the blade or to a different accessory. Where a lot of manufacturers have moved toward tool-free blade change designs, Harbor Freight chooses to lag behind, likely as a cost-saving move. If it isn’t apparent yet, this design is our least favorite of the available options. Sure, wrenching the blade into place will keep it secure, but the process of changing blades becomes time-consuming and requires an additional tool. Quite frankly, it’s a pain, and it’s a deal-breaker for our Pro team.

Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool

Performance

Cutting Speed

To see what kind of cutting speed you can expect, we put each model through a series of plunge cuts in untreated 2x pine and got an average. We experienced some slow cut times, but the Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool took the cake with the absolute slowest time we saw unless you count Porter-Cable’s 20V Max model that failed to complete the test.

Just how slow is it?

Its 46.8-second average is more than 40 seconds behind our speed winner. With just a 2.0-amp motor, that’s not a surprise.


Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool

Vibration

The Chicago Electric oscillating multi-tool has a ton of vibration – there’s no getting around it. While it is a couple of levels up from the worst offender, a score of 60 in this category puts it well below what we expect from a Pro-level tool.

Design Ergonomics

Chicago Electric does pretty well in the design ergonomics category. The Harbor Freight oscillating tool feels reasonably comfortable in the hand with its slimmer housing. It’s very light at just 2.64 pounds. Of course, any tool that’s considerably lighter than its peers brings up a few questions about the quality and durability of the build. But we also give credit where it’s due – this is the lightest multitool of our finishers.

Overall, Harbor Freight earns 88 points for its ergonomics, good enough for a 3-way tie for 4th place.

Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool

Noise

Nobody has come up with a truly quiet multitool yet, which would actually be a pretty big task. Just by virtue of how these tools operate, we expect a lot of loud chatter. However, some models make a good bit more noise than others, and the Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool is one of the worst offenders. Measured at the ear, Chicago Electric generates 102 dB(A) while cutting in an open field. It’ll be louder inside where the noise can resonate.

At 102 dB(A), Harbor Freight is in a 4-way tie just 2 decibels from the loudest.

Understanding Hearing Protection with DeWalt

Value

Hands down, the Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool wins in this category, owing to the fact that it costs a mere $40 – even less if you snag a 20% coupon from their flyer. The next model up (Worx) will set you back $50 and the most expensive is the Fein Supercut cordless at nearly $600. Of course, you ought to be advised that this multitool only comes with a 90-day warranty. But at $40, at least this model is cheap to replace if it fails after the 90-day mark.

The Bottom Line

Here’s the thing: we recognize that there’s a big niche in the market for DIY/Homeowner grade tools. A $40 Chicago Electric Oscillating Tool won’t beat up your pocketbook too badly, and if you don’t intend to use a multitool too heavily, something like this might work for you. Of course, that statement assumes that you don’t mind some exceedingly slow cut times, questionable build quality, a miserable blade change system, a ton of vibration, and a warranty that inspires zero confidence.

However, we can’t recommend this product to anyone at the Pro level unless you just need a tool to get you through a few cuts in a pinch. Even intermediate DIYers will quickly wish for something better if they use it with any regularity.

Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool Features

  • Delivers 10000-20000 OPM (oscillations per minute)
  • Precision control over tough jobs and detail work
  • Over 30 attachments available for a variety of jobs
  • Sealed bearings for long life
  • Comfortable over molded grip

Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool Specs

  • Model: Harbor Freight 63113
  • Motor Size: 2 Amp (220 watts)
  • Oscillations: 10,000-20,000 OPM
  • Oscillation Angle: Not listed
  • Weight: 2.64 lbs. with battery
  • Warranty: 90 days from the date of purchase
  • Price: $40

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David

I purchased this tool from Harbor Frieght and I used it to do a small renovation project for cutting through some sheetrock and wood. I had to do several walls so it got some good use and I was pleased with it. I was using it this weekend cutting on some metal under the dash of my van and it stopped working. The switch will not engage any more. Just like that, it’s done. I had this tool for about 7 months and have probably 3 hours of use on it total, and now the switch won’t stay engaged. While… Read more »

Bluesfish

Purchased mine on sale for $20 5 years ago! At that price, if it lasted long enough for the job I purchased it for I considered it a win which it did. Originally blades were hard to get unless I got the crap from HF but now I have adapters that let me use just about any blade and most new ones fit all the tools. I’m a home gamer not a pro builder so for me, it was a winner. If you’re a pro you have no business sniffing around HF but it should be fine for a hobbyist.… Read more »

Brandon Santillie

3 plus stars? 2 star tool would be generous. How bad would a tool have be to get a 1 star review. I’m blown away you gave this Harbor Freight Oscillating Tool an above average rating. I read the review I used this tool. You are called PRO TOOL REVIEWS you said “we can’t recommend this product to anyone at the Pro level unless you just need a tool to get you through a few cuts” but it is worth 3 plus stars.

Wes

I bought my multitool from H.F. in 2010? when I was still a pro remodel contractor. I have used the **** out of it, and the only problem I’ve had was the time I loaned it to a friend and it came back with the little pins that hald the blade in place pushed back up into the circular mount. I think he tightened the blade when it was not properly alligned. I found a way to push them back down, and although they are now worn and rounded to the point that I have to get the bolt really… Read more »

Joel C. Rayman

I purchased one a few years ago. And discovered how beneficial it can be.The vibration was so strong it kept loosening the blade. It was a great introduction to the tool.
I’ve since purchased Ridgid multi tool with multiple heads ie, right angle drill/ driver head, auto hammer, reciprocating saw.

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