The Oscillating Tools
Buyers Guide Questions
How Does an Oscillating Tool Work?
These tools get their name from their side-to-side movement. The motion is slight, usually between 3 to 5 degrees, and incredibly fast, with most models offering up to 20,000 strokes per minute. When operated, the movement is so swift that it feels like a vibration rather than a sawing motion.
Capable of accepting a variety of attachments, they can be used in various applications, hence the nickname “multi-tool”. The accessory of your choice is fitted into the product thanks to a locking mechanism. Most models now offer quick, tool-free mechanisms that allow you to swiftly replace accessories with minimal hassle.
Once it’s locked in, the rapid back-and-forth oscillation movement creates the friction required for sanding (click here for our belt sanding review), cutting, and grinding applications.
Are Oscillating Tool Blades Interchangeable?
There’s a reason why some people call the oscillation device the Swiss Army Knife of hand-held power tools. With an assortment of optional blades, scrapers, and other attachments, these versatile tools are one of the finest options available for tackling various projects and applications.
While there are countless blades and accessories available, the thing you need to keep in mind is your particular tool’s ability to accept all of these options. These tools are designed with arbors which allow the accessory to be locked in place and perform the oscillation movement needed for performance.
Some manufacturers use their own, unique arbor. This means that while there is going to be a wide variety of attachments to choose from, they’re only compatible with that accessory that is manufactured by that specific brand.
Other brands like Rockwell, Craftsman, and Dremel offer some models designed with universal arbors that can accept almost any attachment available on the market. The good news is that whether you have an OMT with a proprietary or universal arbor, each manufacturer offers a wide array of tools to boost versatility.
Every manufacturer offers wood and metal cutting blades, sanding pads, sandpaper, rasping, scraping, grouting, and polishing accessories that open your product up to limitless uses.
Can an Oscillating Tool Cut Metal?
Oscillation tools work by vibrating back and forth so quickly that your eyes probably can’t track the motion. With variable speed dials, they allow you to fine-tune the performance so you can choose a faster speed for thin metal sheets or a slower motion for thick, copper pipes.
In order to achieve optimal performance, you simply need to purchase an appropriate blade that’s designed for the task that you are about to take on. The top blade for cutting metal is a metal cutting carbide-tipped blade.
These blades are now much more affordable than they used to be and they are designed to withstand the heat and pressure involved in cutting through metal. Capable of lasting far longer than tradition stainless steel blades, the carbide-tipped blade is the preferred option for metal work and will make quick cuts in any metal cutting application.
Oscillating Tool vs Jigsaw?
You might be wondering which product is the most convenient option for you—an oscillating tool or a jigsaw. Both are incredibly versatile power tools. But since they operate in different ways, each is most suited for different kinds of projects and applications. Deciding which is better really comes down to how you’re planning on using it.
Jigsaws are compact, hand-held power tools that are great for various applications (click here the full guide). They create a rapid back-and-forth sawing motion that allows the blade to quickly cut through the material of your choice. With various special blades available, the jig saw easily can cut through almost any material such as wood, metal, plastic, aluminum, and tile.
One of the greatest benefits that jigsaws provide is the ability to make smooth, curved cuts or make plunge cuts that allow you to make cutouts in the middle of your workpiece. While very versatile, jigsaws are limited in function.
Sure, they can make clean, precise cuts in a variety of materials, making them infinitely useful. But since these tools are designed only for cutting, they lack some of the extra versatility that oscillation tools provide.
Oscillating Multi-Tools (OMT)
An oscillation device works by making a rapid, short back-and-forth motion. At up to 21,000 oscillations per minute, this movement is so fast that most people won’t even see it. Designed with arbors, these tools allow you to attach various accessories, providing a limitless number of possible applications. The manufacturers of these models offer various attachments.
- Oscillations Per Minute ( )
Some of the most popular and useful accessories include flush cutting wood and metal blades that are perfect for cutting pipes or trimming door jambs prior to laying down a new floor, grout removal blades for grinding grout from between tiles, sanding attachments, and scraper blades that will chip away adhesives, flooring, and old paint.
Sure, all of these tasks can be done with specific tools but using an oscillation device simply provides better efficiency and speed. Plus, by taking the place of countless other tools, it will help prevent unnecessary clutter in your workshop.
So Which is Better?
Jigsaws are great. They’re versatile tools that are perfect for woodworking, cutting out countertops, and slicing metal. But if you’re only able to pick one of these tools, a high-quality tool is highly recommended. Not only will it allow you to make clean cuts in wood, but with the wide variety of attachments available, you can use them in a greater variety of projects.
Whether you’re looking to cut, sand, chip, grind, or trim, these hand-held tools are simple to operate, provide impressive performance, and are far more versatile than any jigsaw.
What is an Oscillating Tool Used For?
An oscillation device is one of the most useful power tools out there. Thanks to numerous interchangeable accessories, these dynamic tools are capable of taking on a wide variety of applications and materials. Here are just a few of the ways that these versatile machines can be used.
One of the most common uses of multi-tools is that of a sander. These tools can use sandpaper or sanding pads that are perfect for smoothing wood, finishes, and fillers. Plus, with pads that come in a variety of sizes, you’ll even be able to tackle edges and tight spaces.
Trimming Door Casings
Usually, when you’re about to install a new floor, you’ll need to trim the bottom of your door casings and door jambs so the floor will fit. Simply lay a piece of new floor upside down (so you don’t damage its face) next to the casing and attach a flush-cutting blade to your OMT. Then simply cut through the casing and remove it. Your new floor will now fit underneath the casing and jamb perfectly. If you are looking at doing some work on your door frame, you’ll need a great framing nailer, like these finish nailers here.
Removing Paint or Adhesives
Multi-tools makes removing old, cracking paint or adhesives far easier than it would be with a hand-held manual scraper. Simply attach a scraper blade to the tool’s arbor and let the motor do all the hard work.
Manufacturers offer special carbide-grit grout blades that can outperform almost any tool out there when it comes to grinding out old grout. With their rapid swaying movements, these blades quickly and easily remove stubborn grout from between floor and wall tiles.
Cutting into Drywall
If you’re installing a new electrical box in your walls or simply need to make an opening, an OMT is perfect for getting drywall ready. Simply attach a metal or wood cutting blade and make a plunge cut straight into the drywall. You can easily make rectangular cuts that are perfect for electrical boxes this way while reducing dust and minimizing fatigue.
Removing Old Caulking
If you’re taking on a kitchen or bath project and need to remove old caulk, put away the manual scraper and attach a metal scraping blade to your OMT. The motion of the blade will quickly and cleanly remove even the most stubborn caulk in seconds, making it one of the top options for this sort of project.
Making Flush Pipe Cuts
Doing some plumbing work under a cabinet or behind a sink? These tools are perfect. With a compact design and the ability to cut at an angle, they can get into tight spots that many other tools simply can’t. And with the right metal cutting blade, you can easily cut through various pipe materials including copper, galvanized metal, and plastic.
Our pick for the top choice of 2020 is the Rockwell RK515K 4.2 Amp Oscillating Multi-Tool. With reliable performance and durable construction, it’s simply one of the finest corded oscillation products on the market today.
Providing reliable performance and durability, this hand-held corded power tool offers a fantastic 4.2 amp motor capable of an impressive no-load speed up to 35 lbs. This impressive cutting load means you won’t get bogged down and it won’t stall, even during the toughest applications. With a variable speed dial, this model lets you choose speeds between 10,000 to 19,000 OPM, making it perfect for tackling almost any material or application.
What sets the RK5151K apart from the rest of the pack is that it’s the first tool of its class to offer the user two different oscillating angles. If you want fast, aggressive cuts, you can set the angle to 5 degrees. And for smoother operation with more control, you can adjust the angle to 3.4 degrees. This feature is great because it allows you to fine-tune the performance for just about any project, delivering the finest results possible.
At 3.3 lbs, the RK5151K is lightweight enough for prolonged use but it was built to take a beating. And with the addition of its impressive Hyperlock tool-less blade change system, it delivers 1 ton of clamping force, ensuring that your attachment never shakes and is incredibly stable even when working on the most demanding of projects.
Designed to be extremely versatile, this model was built with the Universal Fit System that allows it to accept accessories from any manufacturer, meaning that the uses you’ll find for it are virtually limitless.
The Rockwell RK5151K is durable and easy to use. It delivers exceptional power and performance, capable of tackling any material or project. And with its quick-change feature and ability to accept any blade or accessory, it’s one of the most versatile and impressive oscillation tools you’ll find, and one of the top buys on the market today.
The PORTER-CABLE PCE605K52 is our pick for the best premium OMT available on the market today. One of the most durable, well-built, and versatile models available, it was designed with the attention to detail and performance that we’ve come to expect from PORTER-CABLE.
The PCE605K52 was built with a powerful 3 amp motor and includes a variable speed dial that allows you to choose the optimum operating speed for any given project. It offers a range between 10,000 to 20,000 OPM, making it perfect for use in any application you can think of. Heavy and durable, it weighs 7.8 lbs, adding stability to operation while still being manageable enough for prolonged use.
This model also offers a tool-free change system that lets you speed up your work by allowing for quick accessory changes with minimal hassle. And with a 3-position overmold grip, you can hold it in various positions, allowing for greater control and mobility. And with a 10 ft power cord, it has offers great range, meaning that most projects won’t require the use of an extension cord.
The PCE605K2 Oscillating Tool also offers a depth and cutting guide that helps you perform plunge cuts and other cutting tasks faster and with more precision. And if you don’t need the guide, it comes off in seconds. Plus, the kit comes packed with 52 accessories including 3 wood/metal blades, 3 flush cut blades, 1 sanding pad, 35 sanding papers, 2 flexible scrapers, 2 rigid scrapers, and 2 grout removal blades. With power, versatility, and a ton of accessories, this model is one of the finest premium oscillating products available on the market today.
Our pick for the best value on the market today, the Genesis GMT15A can outperform many of its more expensive competitors. With a sticker price around $40, you’d expect an oscillating tool that skimps on performance or power. Luckily, Genesis has found a way to create an affordable corded oscillation tool that delivers exceptional results and durability. Constructed with a sturdy die-cast aluminum gear box, the GMT15A will hold up against years of heavy home repair and renovation use.
While the 1.5 amp motor is a bit less powerful that some of its more expensive rivals, it offers more than enough power to tackle any application you’d think of using it on including cutting, sanding, grout removal, trimming, and scraping.
With an operating speed of up to 21,000 OPM, this durable model offers performance that’s comparable to many higher priced models. And its 4-pin flange system is rugged and ensures that once a blade or other accessory is installed, it stays firmly locked in place, increasing precision and stability.
Lightweight but offering a heavy-duty feel, the GMT15A also comes packed with a variety of accessories to get you started. Inside the kit, you’ll find a sanding pad, sand paper, a scraping blade, and 2 saw blades. With these attachments and the power this model provides, you’ll be able to immediately tackle any project, making it one of the most popular buys available today.