Canadian Woodworking

Oscillating Multi-Tool

An OMT operates by high-speed oscillation, rather than rotating or reciprocating motion. Oscillating motion moves in a side-to-side, arced motion, like a clock pendulum. It’s this narrow angle of movement (from about 2° to 5°) and fast speed (up to about 22,000 oscillations per minute) that provides you with an unmatched degree of con­trol. There are professional- and hobbyist-grade models in corded and cordless formats, available as a tool-only or in a kit with various accesso­ries. The attachments (a.k.a. accessories) that do the work include various blades for sawing, cutting, scraping and grinding, and sanding pads that are typically triangular but can also be round. A clamping mechanism secures the attachment to the tool. Manufacturers use various clamp­ing mechanisms (a.k.a. mounting systems). Some, like the Fein/Bosch Starlock system, are hands-free. Others require you to use a tool to change the attachment. While attachments are not always interchangeable across brands, there are some universal adapters that fit onto a tool’s clamping mechanism that enable it to accept attachments from different brands. An OMT is not a replacement for a conventional sander, jigsaw or grinder, but a complementary tool. Benefits include ease-of-use, the wide array of functions it carries out and its ability to reach into constricted spaces.

Price: $60 to $260 (tool only)
$60 – $530 (kit)
Power: 12V and 18V (cordless), 120V (corded)
Speed: 0 – 22,000 OPM (oscillations per minute)
Oscillating angle: 2° to 5°
Weight: 3 to 4.5 pounds

Mysteak lumber

Get the Most Out of Your Oscillating Multi-Tool


Use the Right Attachment

There are dozens – if not hundreds – of specialty attachments available. To get the best performance from your OMT use the attachment that’s recom­mended for the task at hand.

Get a Good Grip

OMTs vary in size and weight. While some can be used with one hand, most require a two-handed grip. Tools with a large circumference can be tiring to hold for extended use. Choose a model that best suits your hand size and how frequently you’ll likely use the tool.

Consider Variable Speed and Soft-Start

Not all OMTs have variable speed. Being able to reduce speed makes the tool more manageable and helps you increase precision. A soft-start function prevents the tool from jerking when started, delivers smoother speed acceleration and reduces motor stress.

Spend More, Get More

There is a wide price range in OMTs. If you will be using the tool on a regular or daily basis, then opt for a higher priced, pro-grade tool. They typically have better ergonomics, less vibration, tool-free mounting systems and longer warranties.

Make the Kit Fit

While kits are gener­ally more economical than purchasing a bare tool, make sure that most of the items in the kit are ones you will likely use.

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