Which oscillating multi-function tool to buy?

Page 1 of 3  
I know that the Fein Multimaster is supposed to be the gold standard but at $200+ for even the base model (and $400 for the Top with quick change, case, and attachments), the tool seems quite overpriced. Plus, they charge a fortune for blades at about $15 a pop.
At the other extreme, Harbor Freight (yes, I know all the "bad" about Chinese made/plastic/knock-offs etc.) offers a Multi-Function power tool that seems to be perpetually on sale for about $39. Perhaps even more importantly, the blades are $6 for a set of 3!!!
In the middle perhaps is the Dremmel Multi-Max Oscillating kit for $100 with blades going for about $10 a piece.
Has anybody had experience with these or other oscillating multi-function tools? If so do you have any perspectives on the cost/benefit ratios of these different models?
i.e., Is it worth paying almost 10X for the Fein and its blades? Do the blades really last 10 times longer? Is the tool itself significantly more powerful or durable or comfortable to use or quiet, etc.?
Now again please spare me the general rantings about Harbor Freight. I am asking *specifically* about this tool. In fact, I usually subscribe to the principle of buying high quality tools and "paying and crying only once" but the difference here seems to be so substantial and because of the high price of Fein blades the pain and crying is not just a one-time thing. Also, I have in general had good experiences with Harbor Freight for buying occassional use tools that I otherwise couldn't either afford -- and if it's a tool that I find I really like, then I consider the $20-50 spent as the cost of a home trial and don't mind upgrading to a name brand. On the other hand, I wouldn't trust Harbor Freight for heavy duty precision power tools such as a sliding compound miter saw.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My son just purchased the Dremmel Multi Max. Amazing tool. Had to make a flush cut against a panel (thick plastic pipe) and this worked great. It is sorta like the tool a doctor uses to remove a cast. Cuts the cast but not the skin. I could put saw against my finger and caused no harm. WW
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Whatever you do, don't waste your money on a single speed unit. My brother but a Fein but cheaped out and got the single speed. He's been kicking himself for over 5 years now!!!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote in wrote:

Seeeee! Good reason to buy HF. If it was a HF it would have died long ago and he would not have to kick himself for 5 years...and counting. :-)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
blueman wrote:

The blades are (as far as I know) interchangeable between the units - I've used Dremel blades in my HF (and Dremel says their blades fit the Bosch and Fein). You can buy a Fein and use HF blades (or vice-versa). Know this: there is nothing special about the blades. They are simply a flat bit of steel whose working part has been cut with the metal equivalent of pinking shears. They do not have sharp edges, they have no set to the teeth.
The blades do not dull, they only wear down. Working it over with a small triangle-file and you're back in business.
The Fein blades may last 15% longer [they're made of Cobalthorium-G], but longer than what? If all you're cutting is wood or PVC, a single blade will last almost indefinitely. Cutting copper pipe is a different story and sawing stainless steel may burn up a blade fast enough for you to notice. I wouldn't use the tool to cut concrete or brick.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have a multi-Dremmel and use it more than I thoght I would. One reason I decided on the Dremmel was the availability of parts. Plus, it is reasonably priced. I have heard stories about the motor burning out--I'm sure that happens, but I have stressed the motor for 10-15 minutes with no problems. I bought mine (plus a few accessories) at Amazon.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
My dremel was from Home Depot, about $65. I've used it many times since then, and it's paid for itself. Never used one of those oscillating things.
--
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
blueman wrote:

I'm just going to discuss the blades briefly. You can buy them anywhere, but based on my experience with HF's reciprocating saw blades I wouldn't bother buying them there. When I got my reciprocating saw I got a package of the cheap blades and they were just about worthless. In fact I am happy with the saw, since I am not a professional and only use it occasionally. But I buy good blades, wherever I happen to be. The blades are definitely the biggest expense for a saw. I expect for the multi-tool it will be just about the same. You can shop around for less expensive blades, but don't go too cheap.
Bill
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
BillGill wrote:

"Blade" is a bit of a misnomer for these multi-function tools. They're not really "blades" in the sense we're used to thinking about. They're not sharp, they don't really "cut" (more like gnaw). You can't really "dull" them, since they're "dull" to begin with. You CAN wear the cutting blade down to where it has no teeth, but then you have a brand-new "scraper" blade!
Conversely, you can take a "scraper" blade and notch it with a Dremel rotary tool and have a brand-new "cutting" blade.
It's so confusing.
About the closest thing to which I can compare the cutting blades is a stiff, thin, wire brush.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
HeyBub wrote:

The shape of the blade may not make a difference, but the material might. I figure that was the big problem with the blade pack I got at HF.
Bill
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
BillGill wrote:

Possibly, but the blades you got for your reciprocating saw are not the same kind of blades as those for the multi-function tool. For example, the MF blades don't get dull.
For the MF tool, you could probably make your own blades out of beer-can metal and they'd work just as well.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You're just flat out making stuff up and/or extrapolating from little use/experience and basing your advice on that.
There's almost nothing in the tool world where "all steel is created equal". If you're starting with crap blades, I'd bet that they work as crap blades and die like crap blades, so maybe you could cut up beer cans to make blades and not notice a difference.
I've tried aftermarket blades on the Fein, and there's little doubt the Fein blades are better quality steel. The blades are also sharp - at least the E-cut blades are - so I really don't know what you're talking about. There's a guy online who posted about making his own MF tool blades from Japanese saw blades. I haven't tried that, but the Fein steel is in the same ballpark as your standard Japanese saw blade steel.
The Bosch blades I've used are pretty good, but not as good as the Fein. The Harbor Freight blades aren't worth the shipping charge. I keep trashed blades on hand for trash work, but sometimes you have to sacrifice a blade.
Blades are consumables and are a cost of doing business - even if you're not getting paid for it, it's still the cost of doing business. I had to cut off an old brass steam radiator valve that was stuck in the corner of two walls. It was in a bathroom and access was very limited. I couldn't get big ass wrenches on the thing, tried a torch to loosen it up, nothing worked. If I got too heavy-handed I'd end up breaking loose the nipple somewhere down in the floor, and I'd have never known it until there was a big problem with mold or other rot. I wasn't about to rip up tile or rip out the ceiling below.
Out came the Fein and a good metal cutting blade. I cut through the valve vertically (perpendicular to the threads) in two places and made a horizontal cut along the top of the two cuts. I had to cut through ~3/8" of old brass and it did take a while, but it worked and worked beautifully. I had a strong light on the cut and I could see just where the nipple threads started to telegraph through the brass in the kerf. I took off the valve with the wrench and was _very_ pleased to see that there was not a single mark on the nipple threads.
The MF tool took a little longer but was far more controllable than any other tool. The variable speed was indispensable, as was the quality blade. I essentially killed a $25 blade, but I would have burnt through five or six of the crap blades, maybe two or three of the Bosch blades. Still, for $25 I got a factory job and peace of mind.
You are happy with your HF MF tool to cut pumpkins and the like, and that's great, but you have no experience with a higher quality tool, so you shouldn't go making blanket statements based on nothing more than your emotions. That's some sort of advice - certainly not good advice.
R
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
RicodJour wrote:

Thanks for playing "Guess the posters attitudes and experiences." Unfortunately, you didn't win. Better luck next time.
I have used quality tools. In fact, I own TWO Stanley screwdrivers! (I used to have three, but one grew legs. I suspect my worthless brother-in-law was somehow involved since he has a screwdriver that looks suspiciously like the one I used to have.)
You are correct about varying quality in steel. The usual trade-off is hardness vs. brittlness. Harder steel lasts longer but is prone to shattering - more malleable steel won't break, but won't hold an edge. Think carving knive vs butter knife.
In your experience of using up a $25 dollar blade vs five or six $2.00 blades (HF 3 for $6), I'm sure there's an economic lesson there we should all consider.
I'm glad it all worked for you.
P.S.
Just finished another experiment.
I took a "scraping" blade about 2" wide and notched it with a rotary dremel. Cut about 20 notches, each about 1/16" deep.
The resulting modified blade cuts wood.
Not as fast as if it had pointed teeth instead of notches, but it DOES cut.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Chuckle, Chuckle. Have you used any other MF tool besides the HF? Other blades?

Think metallurgists who actually know what they're doing, and a company that isn't trying to cut every conceivable corner in costs.

Yes indeedy. The lesson is I'm not going to take the time dicking around with a slower cutting blade and having to change it every three minutes.
The $25 blade is not dead, it's been sacrificed - think of it as maimed. I still use it where I might run into nails and for cutting into drywall and stuff. I'm just as concerned with making my dollar go as far as possible as you are. I just don't think my time has no value.

Me, too. Thanks. I actually took pictures of the cut off valve and emailed them to my brother. I knew he'd get a kick out of the surgery.

So would anything that vibrates at 20,000 RPM.
It's not a question of if the blade will cut, but if it will cut efficiently and not create problems for me. I happen to think that wasted blade changes, slower cutting and limited longevity are problems. I don't think spending money for something of better quality is necessarily a problem. I have many ways to save and make money. I don't usually worry about squeezing blood out of my tool dollars - there are better places to do the squeezing.
R
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
RicodJour wrote:

No to the "other MF" question. I HAVE used other tools (undercut saw, angle grinders, rotary drills, etc., to do the things that the maligned HF MF tool does easily) and I HAVE used Dremel blades in my HF tool. As an aside, I saw a Dremel-brand MF tool at Home Depot last night for a mere $199.99. 'Course it was probably for a "kit" containing stuff you'd never use like a blade for shaving Yaks in advance of branding ...

Could be. At a nominal cost of 65 per pound for plain steel vs. $1.00 per pound for high-tensile strengh steel, the savings on millions of one-ounce blades could add up.

Agreed. It's the difference between doing hobby work around the house and getting paid for it on a job site. In a golf tournament, 10-under par wins the pot, but playing for fun, at 40-over par, means you get extra time on the course and get to hit the ball a lot more. Same with league bowling. In a perfect game, you only get to chunk the ball twelve times, whereas I, when bowling for fun, get at least twenty throws! My method usually means more beer, too.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HF had a coupon online about a month ago, I used it to buy the HF multi-tool and an extra package of hook and loop sandpaper sheets for about $30 out the door. I would describe myself as a "very occasional" user of the tool. Have used it for one or two things, no complaints so far. I couldn't bring myself to spend the money for the Fein, as little as I plan to use it.
The main reason I bought it was to do a little bit of patch work on a damaged area of a wood floor. Seemed like the right tool for the job. If I remember, I'll let you know how it worked out, when that job bubbles to the top of my honey-do list.
Jerry
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I bought my HF multi tool about a month ago and it already has many hours of heavy duty use on a rehab project. Compared to the hours of use other tools get in comparison to the HF, it seems silly to spend any more than $40 or so on any multi tool. One thing about them, they are SLOW! For digging up old linoleum and tile they are very effective, but for trimming wood in a saw mode, if anything else will do the job, forget the multitool. I anticipate using it for electrical box cutouts in drywall where it should be better than a RotoZip. Regardless, used within its limits, the multitool is fairly handy. You just won't be needing it for many hours a day on a construction site or major project.
Joe
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Joe wrote:

Agreed. Each tool has its optimum use, although I see you've found "many hours of heavy use" for the little feller.
Yesterday I used the tool to cut down two trash trees that were too big for shears (about 2") and too small to dig out the chain saw. Can't wait for Halloween to see how it works on pumpkins...
It's nice to have options.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I got the Harbor Freight machines.
It's works quite well. You the blades are kept on with a allen head cap screw and you have to really tighted it to keep it from slipping but ...
The problems are:
1) The blades are 'ok' for wood but don't think about using it as a "saws all" to cut nails.
2) Harbor Freight doesn't seem to ever have the replacement blades on hand.
It's starting to "smell" like HF might have violated some patent or another and the tool will become an orphan.
Don't know this for a fact; it's just my opinon.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
John Gilmer wrote:

You can use Dremel blades, available at Home Depot and Lowes.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.