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Oscillating Tool Reviews: Learn How to Find the Best Oscillating Tool

Buying an oscillating tool? Read these reviews first.

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Why you need an oscillating tool

Oscillating tools are great for a few specific jobs like removing grout, making drywall cutouts and undercutting trim for flooring installation. But mostly, an oscillating multi tool is a problem solver for a thousand weird situations. As one remodeler told us, “I couldn’t list the last ten things I used it for, but I know I couldn’t live without it.” Several Field Editors told us something similar: “I couldn’t imagine any need for an oscillating multi tool—until I got one.”

Just a few years ago, oscillating multi-tools were rare, even in pro toolboxes. But with a wider range of choices and falling prices, more and more DIYers are using an oscillating too. And since they are endlessly useful, we predict that you’ll own one sooner or later.

We looked at dozens of them in all price ranges for this review, then narrowed the field to some of the most widely available models. We also drew the upper line at $130. If you’re a pro (or a serious tool junkie), you can easily spend more than that. But we think most DIYers will be more than satisfied owning one of the tools reviewed here. Read on to find the best oscillating tool for you and oscillating tool uses.

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Corded vs. cordless

Several of our Field Editors told us they love their cordless oscillating tool but wish they had bought a corded model. Depending on the job and the model, batteries last 10 to 45 minutes. So one battery, or even two, probably won’t keep you going during constant-draw jobs like removing grout. Also, a corded tool will likely survive decades of DIY projects, while batteries have a lifespan of a few years. We think a corded model is best for most DIYers and didn’t include cordless models in this review. Check out 14 ways to use your rotary tool that will have people buzzing.

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Look for useful features

Porter-Cable’s PCE605 has a unique roller guide that can limit the depth of cut or simply help to steady the oscillating multi tool. It’s removable and you’ll probably want it out of the way most of the time. But we found it a big help for some jobs: When removing grout, we cut perfect, consistent lines without stopping to check the depth. (We wrapped the roller with electrical tape to avoid marring the tile.) When undercutting the baseboard shown here, we avoided cutting into the blade-wrecking plaster behind the baseboard.

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Cost and Power Rating


Spend more—or less?
These oscillating tools cost from $25 to $130. Despite that huge price gap, we found only small differences in how well they cut, sand or scrape. The real differences are in convenience and comfort. Spending more will get you a tool-free accessory attachment system, less vibration and a tool that’s more comfortable to use for long periods. We also assume that higher-cost tools will last longer, but we didn’t test for longevity.

If you expect to use an oscillating tool regularly or have a big job planned, choose a more expensive tool. For occasional use, you’ll probably be satisfied with a tool with a low-cost model.

More power isn’t essential
More power is better, of course, but we don’t consider it a key factor in choosing an oscillating multi tool. We tested tools with motors ranging from 1.6 to 3 amps. And to our surprise, the performance differences were minor. Tools with lower amp ratings bog down if you press hard while cutting or sanding, but so do the higher-amp models. The tools with lower amp ratings work well under normal loads. Plus: See 23 more tools worth splurging on.

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Speed vs. control

The “oscillating angle” tells you how far the accessory travels from side to side. The tools we tested ranged from 2.8 to 3.2 degrees. More travel generally means a more aggressive tool. In terms of cutting speed, for example, we found that the oscillating angle generally mattered more than the amp rating; a greater oscillating angle cuts faster. On the other hand, models with less travel generally run smoother and offer better precision and control.

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Check the contents of the oscillating tool kit

An oscillating multi tool is usually sold as kits with varying assortments of accessories. Considering the high cost of blades, checking the contents of the kit is worthwhile. Don’t just look at the number of pieces, though: A 30-piece kit might include 25 low-cost sanding pads. Plus: These are the 5 must-have drill attachments all homeowners need.

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From Hospitals to Job Sites


In 1968, Fein patented the oscillating “plaster cast saw,” which could slice through a cast without harming the patient’s skin. That medical tool evolved into the do-anything tool we know today. Fein still makes pro-grade oscillating tools, and some of our Field Editors swear it’s still the best choice. The Fein 250Q shown (along with the Start Q kit) costs about $200 on Amazon through our affiliate program, other retailers and online.

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Tool-free systems: Craftsman

Just flip the lever forward on the Craftsman oscillating tool to loosen or remove the flange. This tool also works with Ridgid and Rockwell accessories. Add an adapter ring to use other brands like Bosch or Porter-Cable. The system adds some bulk to the front of the oscillating multi tool, making the maximum cut depth about 1/2 in. less than with most other models.

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Tool-free systems: Dremel

This fast, easy system is similar to the Craftsman system, except that the flange isn’t removable and doesn’t accept accessories from other major manufacturers.

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Tool-free systems: Porter-Cable/Black & Decker

Simply squeeze the lever and slip on the accessory. The lever protrudes over the blade, so you get about 1/2 in. less cutting depth than with most other models. They also accept Dremel accessories.

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Tool-free systems: Rockwell

Spin the lever to loosen, tighten or completely remove the flange. This system is a bit slower than the others, but it worked with every accessory brand we could find.

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Tool Review: Rockwell Oscillating Tool- Sonicrafter RK5139K


This oscillating multi tool tops our list in terms of smooth, quiet operation, and we love the accessory attachment system because it accepted every blade we could find. Its carrying case is also our favorite because it provides a place for accessories and a generous space for the tool and cord; no struggling to fit it all back into the case! Rockwell also makes a 3-amp model with electronic speed control (the Sonicrafter RK5140K; $150 through our affiliate program with Amazon) and a 2.3-amp model without a tool-free system (SS5120; $60).

Features

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Tool Review: Black & Decker BD200MTB


From the tool-free attachment system to the smooth, low-vibration feel, this Black and Decker multi tool is in the same class as those costing much more. A true bargain. The attachment system is identical to Porter-Cable’s and accepts Porter-Cable accessories. You won’t find this tool at most home centers, but it’s available online through our affiliate program with Amazon and at Wal-Mart.

Features

  • Cost: $80 (Wal-Mart)
  • Amps: 2
  • Oscillation angle: 2.8
  • Tool-free: Yes
  • Website: blackanddecker.com

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Tool Review: Harbor Freight Multi Tool: Chicago 68861


The price is irresistible, even if you don’t foresee any need for an oscillating tool. This bare-bones tool runs a bit rougher than most of the more expensive models but performed well in our tests. And we’ve heard from Field Editors who own it and are completely satisfied with it. It’s available at Harbor Freight stores and online. Chicago Electric also makes a 2-amp model with variable speed (available on Amazon through our affiliate program for about $45).

Features

  • Cost: $22 (and sometimes even less!)
  • Amps: 1.6
  • Oscillation angle: 3
  • Tool-free: No
  • Website: harborfreight.com

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Tool Review: Craftsman 35078

We like the tool-free attachment system and love the LED work light on the nose of this tool. Our only complaint is that the body of the tool is wide and less comfortable to grip than other models.

Features

  • Cost: $80
  • Amps: 2.5
  • Oscillation angle: 2.8
  • Tool-free: Yes
  • Website: craftsman.com

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Tool Review: Dremel Multi-Max


This is a smooth, comfortable tool and a contender for our best overall choice. The accessory attachment system is even easier to use than its competitors’ but accepts only Dremel attachments. Dremel also makes two other great models (without tool-free systems) that cost $90 (MM20) and $80 (6300). You can find these models on Amazon through our affiliate program.

Features

  • Cost: $130
  • Amps: 2.5
  • Oscillation angle: 3
  • Tool-free: Yes
  • Website: dremel.com

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Tool Review: Porter-Cable PCE605


A superb tool—smooth running and very comfortable to use. The roller guide is a plus, and we strongly recommend it if there’s a big grout removal job in your future. The accessory attachment system is instant but limits the depth of cut. Porter-Cable also makes a 2.5-amp model with the same attachment system ($95) but without the roller guide. You can buy the PCE605, through our affiliate program with Amazon.

Features

  • Cost: $130
  • Amps: 3
  • Oscillation angle: 2.8
  • Tool-free: Yes
  • Website: portercable.com

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Tool Review: Ridgid JobMax R28600


This is the starter tool for Ridgid’s multihead JobMax system. Unlike other oscillating tools, it has a variable-speed trigger rather than a switch. That lets you control the speed without stopping to make adjustments, which is nice for precision work. But the trigger doesn’t lock, and holding it constantly gets uncomfortable. The LED work light is a great bonus.

Features

  • Cost: $130
  • Amps: 3
  • Oscillation angle: 3
  • Tool-free: No
  • Website: ridgid.com

Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.