Bosch PS50-2A Multi-X Multi-tool Kit Review
Anyone who uses power tools will respect the Bosch name. When they make a product it typically falls under the category of “hard core professional tool”. That’s a lot of pressure. We (along with their competitors I’m sure) keep waiting for them to slip up and let something squeeze by that doesn’t stand up to the Bosch name. The Bosch PS50-2A Multi-X multi-tool kit is not that product. It satisfies and does so without wires – a feat uncommon in the world of cordless oscillating multi-tools. Yes, this is a battery powered oscillating multi-tool. Better still, they are 12V lithium-ion batteries so they last longer, weigh less, and recharge quite quickly. When the typical multi-tool job often involves work on the floor or perhaps cutting away something overhead, not having to deal with a cord can be a tremendous asset. It makes the Bosch PS50-2A a true go-to tool. I loved working with it. I’d say it’s become an integral part of my tool kit… In fact, they will have to pry this tool from my cold dead… well, you get the idea.
Bosch PS50-2A Multi-X Multi-tool Kit Build Quality
The Bosch comes packaged in a nice blue case that matches the colors of the tool. Inside there is plenty of room to hold the secondary hard plastic accessories case and a big open area to store even more goodies. The tool can fit into the case with most blade attachments still attached and the battery charger, spare battery and cord all have a spot. Unlike its cousin tool, the Dremel Multi-Max, the Bosch PS50-2A Multi-X multi-tool seems made to be used with either one or two hands and can be guided into very awkward positions very easily. The tool itself is the expected “Bosch Blue” and has black overmolded rubber grips that will hold your hands steady even if they are “first date” sweaty. The grips seem to work well no matter what angle or position the tool is held – they always seemed to fit. Additionally, the fact that the front of the tool has a soft rubber overmold means that you won’t mess up your work piece should you accidentally run into it with the front of the tool.
The Bosch Multi-X itself weighs just over 2 pounds, making it one of the lightest oscillating tools on the market – a good attribute if you’re talking about a cordless tool. On the left side, just next to the Bosch logo, is a 3-LED power meter that shows the current battery life. While a neat idea, the people who implemented it are apparently Herculean lumberjack men with fingers powerful enough to pin-fire raw ammunition… since that’s what it felt like I was trying to do every time I pressed down the “On” button to check the battery status. I found that using the tool for only a minute or two caused the battery indicator to drop from three bars down to just two. When the battery is depleted the indicator will show a single flashing green bar. Don’t start the tool up again as it’s now running on reserve and you need to charge the battery. Just below that is the oscillation speed dial which goes from 1 through 6 but is actually adjustable in 19 individual steps. Be aware that this multi-tool goes from 5,000 to 20,000 oscillations per minute. There are two things I learned from this. One is that you’ll never use the lowest speed for anything unless you are doing some VERY fine detail sanding. The second is that if you step through the speeds from low to high you’ll feel like the tool is going to explode in your hand by the time you get to 20,000 OPM. Don’t worry… it’s called contrast and the tool is just fine.
The 12V “Litheon” (lithium ion) battery (BAT411) is rated at 1.3Ah (ampere hour) which is a capacity rating that measures how much current a battery will discharge over a specified period of time. Regardless of the specs, the batteries seemed to last about 15 and a half minutes unloaded. When you actually start cutting into wood, plastic or metal expect that time to drop by up to one third, meaning you’ll have about 10 minutes of battery time on average depending on what type of material you are working with and how you are using the tool. Be advised that the tool will start up again (briefly) when the battery shuts down. This is normal as the battery reserves a little bit of energy to keep it in prime shape and ensure you can get a full recharge. Stick it in the BC430 charger and you’ll be ready to go in 30 minutes. Since these are lithium ion, storing the batteries, even for months at a time, won’t really deplete them at all.
The Bosch PS50-2A 12V Max Multi-X Cutting kit comes with only a few accessories. These include a HCS (high carbon steel) 1-5/8″ x 1-1/2″ plunge cut (wood) blade, a triangular sanding pad and a selection of sandpaper. There is also a Carpenter Kit sold by Bosch which adds a set of three 3/8″ x 1-1/4″ plunge cut blades and a 3-1/2″ x 7/8″ BIM (wood & metal) flush cut blade. The Bosch plunge cut blades have a ruler on them to aid in getting the correct depth when using them. These, and the Dremel blades, are the only ones who don’t use writing that rubs off easily during moderate use. Of the kits we’ve tested, the Bosch comes with the least amount of accessories – beat out even by the generic Chicago Electric Tools model. It does, however, have the coolest and most ergonomic removable accessories case, providing storage for even the hex wrench and the adapter plate. The wood blade and sanding pad seemed to be of good quality, though we noticed that the hook and loop sanding sheet liked to “drift” over time during use, leaving the pad below exposed. The blade accessories can be adjusted in 30 degree increments to achieve the best possible angle.
Of particular note, the Bosch is unique in that it comes with a universal accessories adapter. This is a VERY cool little washer that provides a solid anchor to the Multi-X and provides a friction plate for attaching anyone else’s accessories. That means you can use the accessories from Dremel, Fein, Craftsman, Chicago Electric or Rockwell. They will all work and you don’t have to worry about compatibility. The only disadvantage is that the accessories are going to fasten via friction fit and not be locked in as securely as a Bosch accessory. This means that if you ever force the tool you might move the angle of the accessory and/or cause it to slip out of alignment (a fact that is especially true for Rockwell accessories which have a rather large opening compared to the competition). While the Dremel and Bosch accessories may look directly compatible at first glance, they are not (the Bosch pin diameter is larger).
Testing and Use
We abused the heck out of this tool. Why? Well, because we could. This included using it to cut across old growth heart pine that was well over 80 years old. They don’t make that kind of wood anymore (literally). The grain of the wood was extremely tight and dense and yet we sliced through it a reasonable amount of time with the included HCS blade. This seemed to work whether we were cutting right into flooring to replace a board, or slicing off a bad part of the same wood prior to fitting it. The Bosch consistently cut through even the toughest wood while allowing us to easily guide the tool through its path and let the tool do the majority of the work. Vibration was not excessive though using gloves provided an even better experience.
For a more detailed job, we used the Bosch 12V cordless Multi-X to cut away a section of crown molding while we installed an electric drop-down projector screen in an office room. What was nice here was that the tool provided a way for us to avoid having to pull down the entire piece of crown and cut it using a miter saw. Instead, we just measured our cut positions and brought up the Multi-X to plunge cut directly into the crown. After we made our two (unbelievably straight) cuts it was simply a matter of removing the unwanted material. We gathered a crowd as we did this and everyone was dumbfounded by how this tool made the job look easy.
Bosch has a winner in the Max Multi-X oscillating tool. It’s cordless, it’s lightweight and it handles like a professional Bosch tool should. Its only downfall is the dearth of accessories provided and the relatively low battery life. It also wasn’t the fastest cutter on hardwood of all the tools we tested, but we feel the accessory is typically more to blame for that deficiency. If you pay attention and recharge as often as you can, this tool should provide years of excellent service. The included accessory adapter also means that you won’t be stuck buying one brand of blade or scraper. If you see a deal – buy what you want that’s on sale. The Bosch will make it fit. We can recommend this tool wholeheartedly to anyone looking for a multi-tool and craving the ultimate convenience. Look for a sale as you can frequently find this tool at as much as half off the MSRP making it half as expensive as the Fein MultiMaster Top and twice as much as the Dremel Multi-Max.