Just how many brands of Oscillating Multi Tools are there?
Whatever answer I give today will be wrong by tomorrow. Every power tool company has or will have an oscillating multi tool at some point. Every major hardware brand and or retailer of tools will have one also. A Multimaster, a Multi Tool, or an Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool is just handy to have around. It fits into the power tool lineup somewhere between a jigsaw and reciprocating saw.
With the sudden rush to market by so many companies, a customer can be overcome by choices. What are you looking for? Well here’s what some people are looking for:
- A good deal. (lowest price)
- A good tool. (good quality, favorite color/brand)
- A good deal on a good tool. ( quality brand on sale with some extras thrown in)
- A good dealer with a quality tool deal. (favorite tool at favorite store on sale)
- A good excuse to buy another tool. ( therapy or addiction)
- A good ______________________. (fill in the blank)
Choosing a tool has become more complicated by the increasing number of entries in the oscillating arena. Many of you are guided by some criteria similar to the examples above. We each have our own reasons and motives for accumulating power tools. For me, I have used and sold oscillating tools for some twenty plus years. This gives me a wealth of experience with the tools, a wealth of relationships with people who use the tools, and a certain bias from using and selling a certain tool. I am not here to thrust a certain tool upon you like the special of the day. My wish is to lay them before you cafeteria style where you choose what you like.
Here is a little background information on oscillating tools. Fein brought them to market in the mid 80’s. A few patents held other companies at bay until just a few years ago. In a rush to market, many companies tried to clone Fein’s second generation Multimaster in looks, power, and accessories. In the meantime Fein tried to distance themselves by bringing out their third generation tool with boosted power ratings and a new patented quick-release mechanism for attaching the accessories. At this point in time many of the competitors, such as Bosch are bringing out their second generation tools which also show an increase in power. Porter-Cable has waited until now to bring out their first generation, but it has its own version of a quick-release mechanism. The advantage is to the consumer. The disadvantage is “Buyer’s Remorse”, because as soon as you get your new tool a new and improved one comes on the market.
Here is the list of companies with an Oscillating Multi Tool, or their version of the Multimaster:
Fein Multimaster ( the units with a Q in the model # have a quick release, ie; FMM 250Q)
Dremel Multi-Max ( corded and cordless)
Bosch Multi-X (corded and cordless)
Rockwell Sonicrafter (corded and cordless)
Milwaukee M12 Multi Tool (cordless)
Craftsman Nextec (cordless)
Harbor Freight (corded and cordless)
Genesis GMT (corded)
Ridgid Jobmax (cordless)
Porter-Cable (corded and cordless, both with quick release)
Skil Multi Tool (corded)
And here are some more names that will appear on the side of some oscillating tools:
Northern Tool-Klutch, Lowe’s-Task Force, Cibtek, Secco, ProLine, Einhell, Westfalia, King, Draper, Rok, Tool Mate, HTC-87, Power Craft, Top Craft, MEEC, Millarco, Falke, Cougar, Rock Worth, Dur, Work Best, MasterCraft, and the list will continue to grow,
It’s a long list and maybe I’ve lost you, but let’s go back and look at few of them. Whenever we anticipate a tool purchase these days we often want to know what the owners of that particular tool have to say. I have done the same with these tools, but I have also personally used the Fein Multimaster, the Dremel Multi-Max, the Bosch Multi-X, the Rockwell Soncirafter, the Craftsman Nextec, and the Ridgid Jobmax. I have talked with many people who own the Chicago Electric tool. From all of this oscillating information I will ask you to look upon these tools as you would a pickup truck. Do you want a Ford Ranger, an F-150, or an F-250 diesel? They’re all good trucks. It just depends on what you are going to haul and how often. The same goes for these Multi Tools.
Light Work Category
At this point any of the cordless models will go in this category. It’s just due to the sustained speed and power to be produced by the 12 volt systems. You can still do a heavy cutting job. You just don’t want to do it all of the time. I would also put the Dremel in here.
Medium Work Category
In this group I would put the Rockwell Sonicrafter and the Harbor Freight Chicago Electric tools. For all the bashing HF takes, their multi tools seem to perform very well for the price.
Heavy Work Category
The Fein Multimaster and the new Bosch Multi-X would be my go to tools for heavy duty work.
Now before you voice your disagreement, let me say this, everyone will have a little different feel for these tools. It will vary from professional to DIYer and from experience to application. Many have a Dremel and are happy. Many have a Sonicrafter, a Harbor Freight, and are satisfied. If I look in your garage and I see John Deere, Kubota, Husqvarna, or Stihl, I’m going to say go with the Fein or the Bosch. That’s just the kind of tool person you happen to be.
Another key component to being satisfied with your tool choice will be the performance of the accessories. Many of these tool accessories are not interchangeable with other tool companies. A few like Bosch have addressed this with a universal adapter. Some other companies like Imperial Blades have chosen to just make blades and accessories that will fit any tool. One of the best solutions is to go to a local tool dealer when they have demonstrations and sales where you can try out some of these oscillating multi tools. You don’t realize how often you will use an oscillating tool until you have one. It will help you finish a few of those projects you promised you would do. And best of all, it will get you out of trouble when no other tool can help you.
Master of the Multimaster