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Thread: What do you use a Oscillating Multi-Tool for?

  1. #1

    What do you use a Oscillating Multi-Tool for?

    So I just don't get Oscillating Multi-tools. However, they seem pretty popular with all the major brands have one or more in their tool line up, along with main stream tools like drills, sawzalls, circular saws, and the like. I understand they've got a bit of a niche when installing flooring, and getting under trim and the like. Otherwise I do not see people using them, and I watch a lot of youtube videos.

    So it seems a very niche tool to me, and some of it's operations I can do with tools I already own, like random orbit sanders, grinders, or even a Dremel.

    Is there some really awesome task these tools excel at that's common place, or at they more like those right angle drills, a perfect tool for it's niche, with high demand from pros doing that job?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Lewiston, Idaho
    When we had an expansion built for our kitchen and all the flooring in the kitchen, dining room and hallway replaced professionally, the flooring guy used the oscillating tool combined with a scrap piece of flooring to cut the bottom of the door moldings so they didn't have to be removed to install the new flooring. It worked well for him.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Kapolei Hawaii
    Flush trim door jams so you can lay tiles under. Or flooring as Ken says.
    Drywall cutting. Plunge the blade in, it will cut the drywall fast and slow when you hit the stud. Stop, move and repeat. When you cut between studs, if you hit a wire or pipe, the damage is real minimal. Can cut out a drywall patch and have enough stud to put the drywall back. Given time, I could think of more.
    Yup, a tool that has few things that it excels at, but those that it does, it does like no other. HD has a Dewalt cordless on sale now.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Denver, Colorado
    I had one of the early FEIN Oscillating Multitools when they first came out. They are great for making cuts that other tools cannot without having to destroy everything around it. I have used it for removing window stools only without having to take apart the entire trim set. Also like Ken mentioned they are great for undercutting door jambs for new hardwood or tile, and also for trimming protruding framing (think swollen or displaced knot in a sill plate) for a flatter drywall install.

    I was real happy to see the multitools become popular as that also meant more suppliers of multitool blades, which led to much better pricing, wider assortment, and improved quality. FEIN used to rape us so badly over the cost of blades that you almost wanted to cry if you hit a nail. Imagine $28-$35 each for blades and you will understand what I am saying.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    They excel at cuts in finish grade work. Think thin kerf,no tearout cleanup tool. I have one in my tool trailer and it is used constantly. Once you own one you figure out real quickly that it was a purchase that should of happened way sooner.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Palm Springs, CA
    In addition to the uses mentioned so far, I have used mine to make clean cuts in tall base molding in order to remove sections for retrofit cabinetry without having to remove the entire base moulding, cut and refasten. I have also used it to make precise openings in sheet rock for expansion of existing electrical gang boxes as well as openings for new retrofit boxes without the need to patch or paint afterward. In one case, I had to cut through an existing gang box behind finished sheetrock to remove it in sections without damaging the wiring. It worked flawlessly. The toothless scraper blade works wonders for removing caulks and silicones. My model is a 10 year old Fein MM250 and although it is a limited use tool, nothing else has come close to it when needed.

    Here are a few examples.

    Needed to remove double gang box and enlage to triple gang without damaging sheetrock or wiring. A few carefully chosen surgical cuts allowed the box to be removed in pieces. This then allowed a prybar to carefully pry the mounting nails and wings from the stud.
    Cut gang box for removal without damaging wires or sheetrock.jpg

    Opened wall with precise cut to replace with a triple gang box. No patching or sheetrock was needed.
    Gang box enlarged.jpg

    Needed to make a precise opening in wall to add an in-wall deep cabinet. No patching or painting required here either.
    Sheetrock removal prepped for in wall cabinet..jpg
    Last edited by Dick Mahany; 07-01-2019 at 1:31 PM.
    Dick Mahany.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Griswold Connecticut
    They are not a tool that you will use every day, but when you need one, you will be glad you have it. Mine had been sitting in it's case for a decade until a month or so ago.
    I have been slowly been replacing barn board and battens on my house these past few weeks. Being able to cut a batten, or a trim piece, to remove the barn board, without unnecessarily damaging every thing around it, has been a big saver for me. It's also enabled me to get behind trim pieces and cut nails, instead of using a wrecking bar to rip everything out.
    You can do some of the more "delicate" remodeling tasks with one.
    Last edited by Mike Cutler; 07-01-2019 at 1:34 PM.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    San Francisco, CA
    I think they're pretty crude tools. I have one, but don't use it very often. There is one operation I've found for it is which is worth the cost of the tool. When I'm installing built-in cabinets in a room which already has baseboards, the Fein cuts the baseboards without having to take them off.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    McKean, PA
    In addition to the jobs above you can cut sheet metal duct work, PVC pipe, cut nails, scrape of old putty or glue, sand hard to reach places, make openings in dry wall or panels, etc

  10. #10
    A couple of uses that haven't been mentioned: cutting off shims when installing doors or cabinets, and cutting through sheetrock inside corners when you need to remove a section from the wall or ceiling and don't want to disturb the adjacent surface. I've also used it to remove studs without disturbing the sheetrock on one side when installing a pocket door during a bathroom remodel. I removed the sheetrock from the bathroom side (since it was being redone anyway) but then used the multitool to separate the studs from the sheetrock on the opposite side of the wall by cutting through the sheetrock screws and the nails holding the studs to the plates. This let me install the pocket door frame without having to patch sheetrock and trim in the hallway. I had to touch up where the new screws went into the pocket door frame but that was trivial compared to having to replace a big section of sheetrock and trim.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Ogden, UT
    I've used it to make crude lap joints in a cedar fence I built. Used it to make a nice lap joint in a dining table (finish with chisels for high quality). I've also used it to cut a sprinkler pipe in order to fix it. And as everyone has mentioned, house stuff. Don't need clearance.

    I think it's a pretty cool tool.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Austin, TX
    Remove grout between tiles.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Many things. Current use is cutting 18th Century hand forged nails off behind the molded edge siding on a donor house, to be used as replacements on another 18th Century house. We didn't want to lose the nail heads, and each one is different, so it needs to stay in it's original hole. It will be nailed in place with modern siding nails, but hopefully those heads won't be as noticeable with the large wrought iron nail heads also visible.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    E TN, near Knoxville
    I have a Fein Multimaster. I don't use it every day but when I need it there is often nothing else that works as well.

    I use it most in places where other tools won't fit.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Prairie Village, KS
    While doing woodworking? Very little. I flipped a house last year and used it every single day. Easily the most valuable tool on the jobsite. I can't imagine not having it during that flip. We were constantly reaching for it.

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