Tips for Using an Oscillating Tool
It’s a tool you shouldn’t be without
How Oscillating Tools Work
Use a Straightedge for Straight Cuts
Round Blades or Straight?
In any case, keep in mind that heat kills blades. Occasionally swing the blade back and forth out of the kerf to clean out dust. And don’t press so hard.
Cut Rusty Faucet Nuts
But you may be able to pull off the impossible by using an oscillating saw tool equipped with a high-quality bimetal cutting blade.
Angle the tool against the nut and start it off at slow speed until it cuts a groove. Then increase the speed and keep sawing until you’re about three-quarters of the way through. Then break off the remaining portion with pliers.
Remove Trim Without Damage
Here’s a better method of removing delicate pieces of trim: Gently pry the trim away from the wall just enough to slip in an oscillating tool blade, then probe for the nails and slice through them with a metal-cutting blade. Fast, easy and no more splits. Use a scrap of sheet metal to protect the wall.
Use a Bimetal Blade to Cut Metal
Beware: Most blades sold in stores are meant for soft materials like wood and plastic. Cutting metal destroys them in a few seconds. For metal cutting, be sure to buy blades labeled bimetal.
Grout Removal Blades
A carbide blade (about $25) is fine for small jobs. For larger jobs, a diamond blade ($40 and up) saves you money because it lasts two to three times as long. Both types come in 1/16-in. and 1/8-in. thicknesses to match grout widths. When you see sparks, you know that the outer edge of the blade is worn out, even though there may be plenty of grit left on the sides of the blade.
Trim Shims in a Jiffy
When you install a door, the usual way to trim the shims is to score them with a utility knife and then snap them off. It’s a slow way to go, and half the time, you push the shims out of place. Other times, they don’t break off cleanly. But an oscillating tool does the job perfectly. Quick, clean, no hassles.
Goes Where Other Tools Don’t
Oscillating tools are perfect for tight situations where no other tool will fit. Use it to cut pipe in cramped quarters, to section out dry rot in a beam where a router or saw can’t reach, to quickly cut out damaged flooring and more.
Extra-wide blades like this 2-1/2-in. version are perfect for cutting round stuff like pipe because they don’t slip off a curved surface the way narrow blades do. For other jobs, narrower blades are usually best: They plunge-cut better and put less strain on the motor.
Scrape Away Gunk
Get rid of stubborn patches of dried construction adhesive, joint compound and other gunk without spending hours on your knees hacking with a putty knife. With an oscillating tool equipped with a scraper blade, you can slice it off in no time.
Remove a Toilet
Trying to pull out an old toilet? Cutting off corroded hold-down bolts is a lot faster than trying to unscrew them. Ditto for the bolts that fasten the tank to the bowl. And if the bowl is caulked to the floor, you can switch to a scraper blade and slice right through the joint.
Adapters and Accessories
Adapters give you more blade options. Sometimes, blades of one brand will fit on a multitool of another brand. But not always. So pick up an adapter that’s designed to suit your multitool.
Most home centers carry only a small selection of blades and scrapers, but endless accessories are available online.
Remove a Towel Bar or Soap Dish
It’s easy to remove a broken or outdated surface-mounted towel bar or soap dish with an oscillating tool. Jam the blade into a corner about 1 in. deep. Then work it all around the fixture. Shove it in deeper and do a second pass around the fixture, cutting through all the adhesive and caulk.