Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool Head to Head Testing
Oscillating Multi-Tools (OMT) have exploded in popularity and created a huge sector of the power tool industry. These versatile tools offer contractors, renovators and DIY’ers a go-to option for a variety of cutting, grinding and sanding applications where limited space is an issue. Recent developments in battery technology have allowed the tool manufacturers to produce cordless OMT’s with similar power and performance to the original corded versions.
We recently evaluated seven cordless models in a head to head testing battle in an effort to help you choose your next cordless OMT. The results of our head to head comparison are based on all day testing by seven carpenters/contractors. The testing involved cutting applications including: cutting plywood, pine trim, and 16d nails. These cutting tests allowed us to evaluate power/speed, precision cutting, noise level, ergonomics and blade change design.
In order to have a relative comparison between models with our cutting evaluation, we opted to use the same blades on all the models. The folks at Bosch were kind enough to supply all of the blades for our OMT head to head testing. We used the following blades in our testing:
- Wood – OSC114 (Precision)
- Hard Wood – OSC114JF (Precision Japanese tooth)
- Wood with Nails – OSC114F (Precision Bimetal)
- Metal – OSC114C (Carbide)
Models Featured In Our OMT Head To Head
- Bosch 18V Multi-X Oscillating Tool, MXH180BL
- DEWALT XR Lithium Ion Oscillating Multi-Tool Kit, DCS355D1
- FEIN MultiMaster Cordless, AFMM 14
- Makita 18V LXT Lithium-Ion Cordless Multi-Tool, XMT03Z
- Milwaukee M18™ Cordless LITHIUM-ION Multi-Tool, 2626-22
- Porter-Cable 20V Max Lithium Oscillating Tool, PCC710
- Ridgid JobMax 18V, R862004
The Bosch MXH180BL is sold as a bare tool in an L-BOXX2 storage container. It also comes with an accessory storage box, and one blade (OSC312F Segment Saw Blade). If you don’t own a Bosch 18V battery pack then you’ll also need to order a battery and charger to go along with this kit.
The MXH180BL offers an EC brushless motor, tool-free blade change design, variable speed dial, and a slider type on/off switch. It’s worth noting that this is one of the models that does not feature a work light. The tool-free blade change system on the Bosch is the simplest and most stream-lined of all the models we tested. It has no need for special blades and has no loose pins/bolts.
You can read our review of it here: Bosch MXH180BL Review
The DEWALT DCS355D1 is sold as a kit in a soft contractor style bag. The kit includes a nice accessory storage box along with a nice assortment of accessories including: DEWALT Oscillating Tool Guide System, wood with nails blade, sanding pad, (25) sheets of sanding paper, and a universal accessory adapter. This kit also comes with a fast charger and one 2.0 Ah 20V Max battery pack. The 20V Max in a nominal 18V platform.
The DCS355D1 features a variable speed trigger with a lock, LED work light, and a trade marked QUICK-CHANGE system for tool-free blade changes. However, the QUICK-CHANGE system requires DEWALT blades. This OMT can be set up with other blade systems using an adapter but you’ll have to change blades with an Allen wrench.
You can read our review of this tool here: DEWALT DCS355D1 Cordless OMT Review
FEIN AFMM 14
The FEIN AFMM 14 is also sold as a kit with a hard plastic carrying case. The kit includes the most extensive set of accessories of any of the kits we tested. The kit includes: (5) P60-Grit Sanding Sheets, (5) P80-Grit Sanding Sheets, (5) P120-Grit Sanding Sheets, (5) P180-Grit Sanding Sheets, Sanding Pad, Standard Wood Blade, 1-3/4-in Universal E-Cut Blade – 63502152010, 2-1/2-in Carbide Segment Saw Blade – 63502118016, 3-1/8-in HSS Segment Saw Blade – 63502106015, Rigid Scraper Blade, and the Carbide Rasp – 63731001014. The kit comes with a charger and two 14.4V, 3.0 Ah battery packs.
It’s notable that this is the only tool in this group that doesn’t use an 18V battery, this tool runs on a 14.4V platform. This is another one of the tools that does not feature a work light in it’s design. The FEIN AFMM 14 does offer a tool-free blade change (FEIN is the father of these tools and the tool-free design!), along with a standard on/off switch and variable speed dial. The tool-free blade change system uses a removable pin/bolt that holds the blades in position.
You can read our review of this OMT here: FEIN AFMM 14 MultiMaster Review
The Makita XMT03Z is so new it’s not in the stores yet, however, it will be soon so we included it in the head to head. The XMT03Z is basically the same tool as the Makita LXMT025 but this new version includes a tool-free blade change design. Considering all the cordless OMTs with a tool-free design the XMT03Z is a welcome refinement. At the time of this article it wasn’t clear if the tool will be sold in a kit form or as a bare tool.
The XMT03Z includes a standard on/off switch along with a variable speed dial. This OMT does not include a work light and the tool-free blade design includes a pin/bolt design similar to the FEIN.
The Milwaukee 2626-22 comes in a kit with a soft contractor style bag, charger and two extended run 4.0 Ah batteries. The kit also includes a blade adapter, one wood cutting blade, sanding pad, and 5 sanding sheets.
The 2626-22 features a tool-free blade change design that’s somewhat similar to the FEIN design with a pin/bolt that holds the blade in place. This OMT does feature a nice LED work light, on/off switch, and variable speed dial. The big bonus with this kit are the two 4.0 Ah batteries that come standard.
You can read our review of this OMT here: Milwaukee 2626-22 Cordless OMT Review
The Porter-Cable PCC710B is sold as a bare tool only and fits their 20V Max battery platform (the 20V Max is a nominal 18V battery). This tool is compatible with the DEWALT Universal Fitment style blades and features the same style tool-free blade change design that DEWALT uses. This OMT comes with an accessory box and a number of accessories including: (14) Sanding Papers, (1) PC3005 Sanding Platen, (1) PC3010 Precision Wood Blade, (1) PC3012 Bi-Metal Blade, (1) PC3020 Rigid Scraper, and (1) PC3030 Carbide Grout Blade.
This OMT features a LED work light, on/off switch, variable speed dial, and 2 Finger TOOL-FREE SYSTEM.
The Ridgid R862004 is sold as a bare tool and fits all of the Ridgid 18V batteries including their new 4.0 Ah pack. The R862004 accepts all popular multi-tool accessories with the included universal adaptor. This is the only OMT that we tested that does not offer a tool-free blade change. To change blades a bolt must be removed using an Allen wrench.
This OMT features a LED work light, variable speed trigger and a belt hook. It also has the ability to run other JobMax tool heads including several drilling and cutting heads. Because of the JobMax design the head can be rotated in 4 different positions with respect to the grip/trigger.
Oscillating Multi-Tool Head to Head Summary Video
If you’re the type that would rather watch a video then here’s a quick summary on the results below.
Blade Change Winner – Bosch
Changing blades on power tools can be really frustrating when you misplace the wrench or don’t have one with you. So tools that offer easy to use tool-free blade changes are very attractive to most users. Most of the models we tested offer a tool-free blade change system with the exception being the Ridgid JobMax. There are three basic designs including levers that release a pin/bolt, a lever system that requires special blades, or a lever that opens a jaw which clamps the blade.
The last design, used by Bosch, is the best design in our opinion because it’s tool-free and it has no loose parts (pin/bolt) to lose. It works very well and doesn’t allow the blade to slip or vibrate loose. FEIN may have started the tool-free trend but Bosch clearly developed an even better approach.
DEWALT and Porter-Cable have a really easy to use system that doesn’t need a pin or loose part as well. In fact, their system is even easier to use than the Bosch’s, but you have to use a DEWALT blade in order to use this tool-free design. While you can still use other brand blades, other blades must be installed using an adapter and bolt.
The FEIN, Makita and Milwaukee all use a lever and a removable pin to secure the blades. The FEIN and Makita work very well while the Milwaukee is a bit harder to release the pin.
Ergonomics Winner – DEWALT & Milwaukee
The ergonomics best in class was a tie for us between DEWALT and Milwaukee. Both tools have very comfortable grips combined with well balanced tool weight. Ridgid and FEIN came in tied for 2nd in this category. The smaller grip on the Ridgid combined with the variable speed trigger makes it feel a lot like the DEWALT (the only down side on this one is the cutting blade/head is further from the hands). The FEIN has one of the sleekest and most compact designs which all of us felt lent to a very comfortable tool to use. Both the Bosch and Makita feel very bulky and not as well balanced as the other models we tested so we ranked them both as third in the group.
The Porter-Cable finished off last in large part to significant vibration. With respect to vibration, the group felt that both the FEIN and Makita were best in class with respect to lower vibrations.
Noise Winner – Makita
Noise can be a significant factor both for personal safety and also the comfort of people in close proximity to a work area. We measured the decibel level of each tool at it’s highest speed under no load. The quietest OMT was the Makita at 68 decibels and the loudest was the FEIN at 81 decibels.
Metal Cutting (Power/Speed) Winner – Bosch
All of the guys testing these OMT’s agreed that power is a big deal when considering this type of tool as all of us agree that we use them for cutting more than any other task. Whether it’s cutting metal (nails, screws, and duct work) or cutting hardwood, power combined with a quality blade means speed and efficiency.
We put the cordless oscillating multi-tools to the test cutting 16d framing nails. This was a pretty extreme test that allowed each of us to quickly handle each tool cutting the same material. These results are subjective meaning we did not time the cutting, rather each of us ranked the tools based on our experience cutting 20 nails for each tool. This test was performed using the Bosch Carbide Metal Blade (OSC114C).
Best in class goes to the Bosch MXH180BL. Each of the guys testing the OMT’s had the same impression after cutting through the nails. The Bosch quickly cut through the nails with ease and had a noticeable advantage over all the other models. Both the DEWALT and Makita models tied for 2nd place with very impressive power and speed as well. Milwaukee wasn’t far behind the 2nd place finishers in 3rd place. 4th place was a bit of a surprise with Ridgid performing almost as well as the Milwaukee.
The FEIN AFMM 14 was a bit disappointing in this particular power test. However, in all fairness to FEIN, this model runs on a 14.4 volt battery platform compared to all the other models running on 18 volt batteries. I’d really like to see FEIN redesign this tool on an 18V platform and I feel it would do very well.
The Porter-Cable was in another class altogether with this extreme power testing. This isn’t all that surprising as we consider this more of a DIY option or very light contractor grade jobs. While it did cut the nails, it struggled compared to all the other models that we tested.
Precision Cutting Winner – FEIN
To test precision cutting applications we used the OMT’s to cut vertical lines in 1×6 pine baseboard to simulate a renovation application. The goal was to cut a straight line that has good enough precision to be left as a finished cut. The FEIN really excelled at this test compared to the other tools. The lack of power may be a big reason for this result as the tool seemed to have less vibration resulting in more user control.
Coming in second was the DEWALT model. Users felt the variable speed trigger and “drill style grip” made it easier to control with precision cutting applications. Milwaukee was the next pick in this category, users felt the grip contributed to better control. Overall both the DEWALT and Milwaukee performed very well in this application.
Bosch and Makita finished 4th and 5th with good smooth cutting but users felt that the bulky handle design hindered their ability to control the tools as well as some of the other designs with smaller grips. The Ridgid model didn’t score as well in this category due to noticeably more vibration and the configuration of the blade isn’t as close to users hands which makes control harder.
Rounding out the back of the pack is the Porter-Cable due to excessive vibration and lack of power.
Plunge Cutting Winner – Milwaukee
Plunge cutting is something that most of us use OMT’s for quite a bit. Whether it’s cutting drywall, siding, or sheathing material these tools are faster and easier than other saw options. To simulate this plunge cutting application we used the OMT’s to cut rectangular holes in 1/2″ plywood.
Best in class for this test was the Milwaukee based on a combination of power and comfortable grip. A very close tie for 2nd place included the DEWALT, Bosch, and Makita. All of these tools work extremely well in this application and the distinction between one and two was very small.
The Ridgid model was next followed by the FEIN (mostly due to the less power). Rounding out the bottom was the Porter-Cable again due to vibration and overall lack of power.
It should be noted that the results of this test would likely be much different if this tool was being used solely to cut drywall, or small pieces of trim.
Pricing & Value of Cordless OMT’s
Pricing is certainly one of the biggest considerations for most people when they buy new power tools. Comparing pricing in this category is tough as each tool is sold in quite a few different ways including bare tools and some with full kits. The table below summarizes current pricing at the time of this article (May 2014) along with basic info on what comes with the tool at that price.
Because none of the brands packages their tool the same way it’s pretty hard to compare costs. However, I created the table above with the name of each tool, the price I found the day of the article, information about cases, number of batteries and the battery size. Then I created a column at the end that includes an updated price that includes the tool, a charger, and two (2) full size batteries (4.0 Ah when available). This is the true cost that is needed to compare them side by side.
From this pricing I give the best value to Milwaukee and DEWALT. The DEWALT is a slightly better value as the kit includes a few more accessories and you would end up with 3 batteries (the 2.0 Ah that comes standard, plus the two extra included in the revised pricing).
Overall Winner Oscillating Multi-Tool Head to Head – Too Close To Call
When I starting researching the cordless oscillating multi-tools for this head to head I never imagined the competition would be as close as it was. All of these OMT’s performed the tasks we set up and several of them really surprised us. All things considered we are going to give a tie for the Best Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool to Bosch and DEWALT. These two tools finished in the top two slots for almost every category we looked at. While the DEWALT has an edge on value, the Bosch has an edge on it’s tool-free design. Both tools are excellent options for PRO users.
I’d be remiss to not mention that the Milwaukee OMT was next in line and frankly not by much. When you consider the price point of this tool many will likely find this to be their top choice.
Final Thoughts – Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tools
While we didn’t rank the FEIN AFMM 14 as high as many of the competing tools, the fit and finish, and long standing leader of this category shouldn’t be overlooked. I’m fairly confident that this tool will perform well on the job-site and it’s certainly backed by a strong history of performance. We’d love to see FEIN step this tool up with a larger battery platform to get it on par with the other 18V models.
The Porter-Cable ranked at the bottom of most of our testing. However, this tool is an excellent choice for DIY’ers, occasional PRO use, and users that already have the Porter-Cable 20V battery platform when you consider the excellent price point of the bare tool.
The big take away from my perspective is this. If you already own one of these Brands battery platforms, each of these tools will perform well. If you’re looking for a versatile platform the Ridgid JobMax is an excellent choice because it can be expanded to other cutting and drilling applications. If you’re still confused? Go check out another similar head to head at our friends site ProToolReviews Cordless OMT Shootout.
About the author
Product reviews on this site contain our opinion of a product or service. We will always strive for objectivity and transparency in our reviews. Our goal is to provide readers with honest, objective information based on our own experiences. We never have and never will accept payment in exchange for a positive review. Many of the products that we review are provided to us for free by a manufacturer or retailer. In some cases, we also have advertising or affiliate relationships with manufacturers and retailers of products and services we review. For additional information please visit our additional disclosure policies.
Since last year, when the patent expired on the Fein 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. We compared the Fein MultiMaster ($399), cordless Bosch 12V PS50-2A Multi-X ($190), Rockwell SoniCrafter ($180), Dremel Multi-Max ($99), cordless Craftsman 12V Multi-Tool ($99), and even the generic Chicago Electric Power Tools Multitool ($39).
After reviewing these six multi-tools side-by-side (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 in all categories, we can definitely offer helpful suggestions as to which tools cater to your particular needs (and which probably do not). The areas of focus include build quality (ruggedness), ease of use, performance and value. We’ll examine each of these throughout this multi-tool comparison shoot-out.
Build quality varied greatly from tool to tool. There’s a lot to talk about. Tools like the Dremel Multi-Max and Craftsman Nextec Multi-Tool were a breeze to hold one-handed and were light enough that even extended use overhead wouldn’t pose an issue. Other models, like the Rockwell SoniCrafter and the Fein were built like tanks and seemed perfectly suited for the professional jobsite, where dust and dirt and the occasional drop from a one-story roof might not mean the end of the tool. The Chicago Tools model suffered in the build quality here and really just came across as a cheap product – both in terms of its handling and the sound the motor put out (which reminded us of a vacuum cleaner, though it was only slightly off pitch from some of the others). Both the Craftsman Multi-Tool and the Rockwell SoniCrafter had a strange underlying metallic ring to their motors when they were turned on. I wasn’t sure if it was something indicating a rough bearing or if it was simply the ringing of the tool’s blade accessory. I assembled an interesting chart to outline some of the basic differences between the models in terms of their sound output, weight and motor noise.
While the above chart isn’t saying anything authoritative, it was interesting to note that the Fein was actually a few dB SPL louder than the others and that the cordless models had significantly less noise output than their tethered counterparts. It’s clear that if weight is a concern, the cordless models and the Dremel Multi-Max have a distinct advantage. The Dremel, in fact, was the lightest in the bunch and yet it seemed to still do very well in our subsequent cutting tests.
Check out our Best Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tools article
Motor noise was remarkably varied. Our only slight concern was with the slight metallic ringing that was present in the Rockwell SoniCrafter and the Craftsman Nextec 12V Multi-Tool. We’re pretty certain this sound wasn’t bearing-related and was simply the ringing of the accessory blade, however it wasn’t as smooth as most of the others. The Chicago Tools product simply sounded like a vacuum cleaner, which we thought was funny but wasn’t of any particular concern with respect to its performance as we saw later.
Best Build Quality: Fein MultiMaster and Rockwell Sonicrafter (2nd)
Storage and Accessories
Accessories ran the gamut for each of the tools, with some coming with tons and others opting for the minimalist approach – conceivably to reduce the overall cost of the tool. We quickly found, through repeated use and torture tests, that the accessories really make the tool. I’m not sure that manufacturers understand this, however. Since none of the tools really bogged down during our torture tests (pressure-treated lumber and old-growth heart pine boards) we quickly realized that the quality of the blade determined the cutting speed and overall satisfaction level of the tool in that area. Go figure. This made for some very funny (OK, so we have a weird sense of humor) results. We’ll talk more about cutting tests later.
Accessories also varied in both internal and external quality. By external we are referring to the use of either screen printing or laser etching on the surface of the blades. Dremel, Bosch (which more recent versions use the OIS Oscillating tool Interface System) and Craftsman all used laser etching and provided depth markings that didn’t scratch or rub off. Fein and Rockwell used some kind of screen printing that rubbed off just seconds after the blade was plunged into a piece of hardwood. The Chicago Tools blade, of course, looked like it had been stamped out of a piece of sheet metal, with no writing to be found anywhere (but of course it cut surprisingly well). Storage was also a concern and the tools ranged from having none (Chicago Tools) to sophisticated hard cases with multiple accessory storage compartments (Fein). For now, let’s examine the cases and accessories that come with each tool:
|Craftsman Nextec Multi-Tool|
Wood/metal blade, sanding, scraper, grout removal, carbide rasp, drywall blade
|Milwaukee M12 Multi-tool|
Soft tool bag
Wood blade, sanding
|Bosch PS50-2A Multi-X|
Hard w/accessories case
Wood blade, sanding
Wood blade, sanding, scraper, grout removal, carbide rasp, drywall blade, profile sanding
Wood blade, sanding, scraper, drywall blade
Wood blade, sanding, scraper, drywall blade
Soft tool bag
Wood/metal blade, sanding, mini-sanding, scraper, grout removal, carbide rasp, drywall blade, polishing
First off we have to say that the Craftsman Nextec 12V Multi-Tool has the worst case of the bunch. You pretty much should just toss it and buy a good quality zippered tool bag for use with this multi-tool. In order to use what they’ve provided you must remove the accessory (blade or sander) each time the tool is placed back in the case. Do this a few times and you’ll be as frustrated as we were. On top of the pile was the Fein, which had plenty of room for its 16 foot long cord and all of its included accessories (which it had the most of). There are two hard storage cases within the hard case of the Fein which offer perfect storage for the blades and sanding accessories (and this is basically how I divided them up). The Fein also came with a handy profile sanding system that allows you to match the profiles of many of the current wood siding existing in historic neighborhoods.
In terms of changing accessories, the Fein was again on top since it was the only oscillating multi-tool that offered tool-less accessory swapping. You didn’t have to worry about losing an Allen wrench or even a washer – the system was completely fool-proof. On the bottom of the pile we had the Chicago Tools Multi-Function tool which had a simple friction/washer system that felt any kind of detent or interlocking accessory would (apparently) be a waste of time… It was a nightmare to use and our first several times resulted in the accessory swinging loose after not much use. It inspired zero confidence and was a tragic mistake on the part of product development.
It surprised us that the Bosch and Dremel products didn’t share accessories – especially since they worked in such a similar manner (the diameter of the detents differ). In any case, the Fein, Dremel, Rockwell, and Craftsman are based upon proprietary accessories that don’t play well with others. Bosch provides a universal friction washer that allows the tool to use third party accessories (we tried it with several and it worked very well with no slippage). The Chicago Tools model is a plain washer system that apparently could work with nearly all accessories, but who in their right mind would buy accessories that typically cost almost as much as the tool itself when you can stick to the cheap ones at Harbor Freight?
Best storage: Fein MultiMaster and Bosch PS50-2 Multi-X
Most accessories: Fein MultiMaster, Rockwell SoniCrafter, Craftsman Nextec Multi-Tool
Performance Tests – It’s the Accessories, Stupid!
The ability to do comparative testing was somewhat hampered by the lack of identical accessories across all of the tools. It was also at this stage where we quickly noted how important having good accessories could be – especially for wood flush-cutting. Take for example the cordless Bosch Multi-X tool. Using its own blade the system never once bogged down on us – the motor operated smoothly and the tool cut through hard wood (heart pine) at what we determined to be a medium speed. When we flipped out the accessory to the Dremel, however (because with this system we could), the tool cut just as fast as the Dremel. This led us to two conclusions. First, it’s the accessory that largely determines the speed and effectiveness of the tool. Second, most multi-tool manufacturers don’t understand this and view accessories either as cash cows (a profit-making category) or throw-ins that simply raise the price of the tool to consumers and must therefore be cost-controlled. We feel both approaches are incorrect. The accessories make the tool – they should be of high quality and they should not detract from the true potential of the oscillating tool. If you don’t have a good cutting blade, this is really just an expensive mouse sander – and that’s not what you’re buying.
The sanding attachments and included papers were satisfactory on most of the tools we tried. Some seemed to sand a little faster than others, but mostly this was based on the grit and differences between tools were minimal. Since not all tools included a drywall blade we didn’t get much mileage out of testing drywall cutting, though we’d suspect the previous discussion would again play a role – better blades equal better performance.
Fastest Cutting (Best Accessory Wood Blade): Fein MultiMaster, Dremel Multi-Max, Chicago Electric Multi-Function Tool
Each tool seemed to have its strengths and weaknesses, though we’re not about to tell you that there weren’t clear winners in various categories. And of course you can view the individual in-depth review of each of the tools here:
To go through the roll-call we’d have to say that the Dremel Multi-Max was one of the best performers and had a tremendous value given its $99 retail price. It was fast, easily maneuverable and seemed perfect for non-professional use. It did not strike us as a tool you’d want to carry onto the job site and subject to any kind of serious shock or exposure. This is clearly the do-it-yourselfer’s choice.
The Bosch was the clear winner of the cordless models, though that is a lot like winning a race with only one other competitor. We also weren’t able to test Fein’s cord-free version which might give it a run for its money. It’s a durable tool that suffers mostly from an average wood-cutting blade and a surprisingly short battery life. Still, if you want cordless and you have the money – this is your tool.
Fein’s MultiMaster Top still holds the title – which we find extremely funny considering the other companies should have had years to plan on leapfrogging them (what were they doing while the patent was expiring)? The Fein is a solid performer, its build quality is superb and the whole package is polished and well-stocked (in accessories). The downside, of course, is price. It’s priced at over 2x the nearest competition. If you want the best, buy the Fein – it can be used on the jobsite and now has a space in one of our reference tool kits.
The Rockwell SoniCrafter is the workhorse of the bunch, but its cutting speed was middle-of-the-road (about equal to the cordless Bosch Multi-X). This is a tool you can throw in your truck and bring to the construction job. It feels like it will take some abuse and it’s a good two-handed tool for really getting in there and cutting. The large amount of accessories is impressive, though we heartily recommend you pick up a Standard End-cut Blade for $14.99 which will invariably provide much better performance with hardwood and plunge-cutting. For corded tools that can take a beating, this would be our choice for those who can’t pony up the dough for the Fein.
Craftsman’s 12V Nextec Multi-Tool was a bit of a disappointment. It’s got some great features like a decent battery life and an integrated LED work light. It was the slowest tool for cutting, however, and we didn’t see many options (online at least) for purchasing better accessories (just replacements at $12.99 a pop). This tool remains the least expensive cordless multi-tool, however and so it does have a draw for those who demand no tethering and aren’t taking on large projects. At $99 it’s got a lot going for it, though the Dremel Multi-Max will smoke it in terms of accessory convenience and performance.
The Chicago Electric Tools Multi-Function tool wins the award for longest, most boring name. It has the worst accessory system out there, sounds like a vacuum cleaner and doesn’t include a case. It’s boxy, feels cheap and will probably do a fantastic job if you don’t abuse it. For under $40 it’s really hard to resist not picking this up if you don’t plan on using it a lot. With one of those 20% off coupons I see at Harbor Freight every other week you can go through two or three of them before you hit the price of the Dremel. Mark my words, the other options are far more refined and sophisticated – and we don’t think the Chicago Electric tool will stand the test of time, but it’s a definite consideration if you’ve only got one job in mind and want a near-disposable solution.
Well that about sums it up. We came… we saw… you get the idea. If you’re shopping for an oscillating multi-tool we hope that this shootout article will give you enough guidance to make a solid decision based on your needs. It all comes down to budget and intended use. Will you be taking this on the job for years to come, or are you a casual user? Do you have a lot of money to spend on the best tool, or do you need to keep costs as low as you can? Do you need a corded or cordless solution? Consider your situation carefully and choose. No matter what you’ll be in for a treat as these are some of the most unique tools you will find.