Perhaps the best way to present some of the capabilities of an oscillating multi-tool is by describing the various attachments and their functions.
Oscillating Tool F.A.Q
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I improve my technique for general wood cutting?
Using your multi-tool do a score cut along the length of the desired cut. This shallow cut will serve as a tracking groove for your subsequent tool passes. On each new pass, progressively work the blade deeper and deeper along the full length of the cut.
Why is the wood smoking when I try various cutting applications?
Friction caused by your high speed oscillating tool blade rubbing against the wood face is a common cause of burn smoke. Trapped sawdust in your cut zone is another cause of burning. To reduce the occurrence of smoking on your plunge cuts try adding a little pendulum style swing into your cutting motion. Pulling your blade out of the cut a few times will also help to get some of that trapped sawdust out. You may also need to check your blade cutting teeth for sharpness. Dull worn teeth are another culprit for smoking. Not only do dull teeth contribute to friction heat generation but multi-tool operators tend to press down too hard on their machine when using dull blades, possibly doing harm to the internal mechanics. Get yourself a set of new sharp blades.
Should I use a Coarse or Fine tooth blades for deep plunge cutting?
Whether you are plunging into hard or soft woods it appears that the deeper you plunge the more of an advantage coarse blades have over fine. The larger teeth of the coarse blades flare outwards (or set) from the blade face a little further than on the fine. This flare-out will cut a thicker path (or kerf) into the wood. As you plunge deeper into the wood the coarse blades are better able to deal with the sawdust buildup without binding because there is more blade clearance available. Also the level of smoking associated with plunge cut friction should be less with the coarse over the fine blades.
Can I use the 2 ½ inch wide blades for deep plunge cutting?
Not really. Regardless if you choose fine or coarse teeth, the wider 2 ½” blades are not recommended for deep plunge cutting situations where the blade is trapped within its own cut zone. Plunge cutting in general puts an extra load on your multi-tool motor and using a wide blade in a plunge situation will really tax your motor so badly that you’ll hear your motor bog down under the load. Generally speaking try to use blades no wider than 1-1/4” for deep plunge cutting.
Can I rely on my multi-tool to do the bulk of my renovation/construction project work without the need for most other power tools?
Not really. Even though these multi-tools can do a multitude of valuable jobs around the worksite this tool cannot replace the speed and efficiency of your circular saw, miter saw, reciprocating saw, orbital sander etc. in general. So, when working on a project, think of your multi-tool as the tool to reach for when the others just aren’t practical. There may also be situations where your multi-tool will be needed to finish up the work you couldn’t complete with your main tools because either they were too bulky or weren’t portable enough. Regardless of its role, I promise you a multi-tool will be the one that gets you out of that show-stopper jam when it happens.
What is the main difference between a dedicated wood cutting blade and a universal bi-metal blade?
The teeth on a wood blade are specifically designed for cutting wood, plastics and other soft applications. The universal bi-metal blade can be used on these same materials but can additionally be used to cut non-heat treated metals such as nails, bolts, sheet metal etc. However please remember, if you’re solely cutting wood without any chance of nails getting in the way, use a wood blade for the job instead of a bi-metal. Universal bi-metal blades are significantly slower at cutting wood than a good dedicated wood saw blade.
What’s our pick for cutting through plaster & lath?
Our universal bi-metal saw blade will be a good choice to cut through plaster, lath and all those little nails along the way but the lifespan of your blade will be reduced due to the abrasive qualities of the plaster. If this job is eating up too many of your blades try using our diamond blade attachment. It is designed to cut plaster, lath, backer board, tile and other hard materials.
Which blade works best for cutting drywall, coarse or fine?
The larger teeth pattern of the coarse saw blades will not clog up as quickly as the fine blades and your multi-tool will whip along your cut pretty quickly. However, using fine saw blades create less dust than the coarse, which may actually be preferred by you over speed. Either way please keep in mind that the soft gypsum in your sheet rock is actually very abrasive on your cutting teeth, if your going to be doing extensive drywall cutting order extra blades.
When do I use the circular style multi-tool blades?
We generally use the circular blades for thinner stock materials and panel cutting. The circular blade is very good for those longer cutting spans in wood, plastics and thin sheet metal.
Which scraper blade works best at removing caulking with minimal surface damage, such as on a window?
The flexible mushroom scraper blade is great for removing window caulking. The flexibility of this blade will minimize on any damaging. We can also use the springy nature of this blade to press against our work surface while the blade slides under and separates the material we’re removing.
When cutting thicker Plexiglas panels how can I reduce or avoid surface melting?
Try to keep your multi-tool moving along at an adequate speed taking shallow cuts with each pass. Slowing down or stopping with your tool running will surely lead to melting of the plastic. You can even try the added benefit of using a water spray bottle. Get a helper to spray a water mist in front onto the cut zone as you run the multi-tool along, this will dissipate some of the heat build-up that leads to melting plastic.
How can I extend the life of the sandpaper and sanding pad attachment?
Using a lower speed setting on your multi-tool will extend the performance of your sandpaper. Lower speeds reduce surface heating and material loading onto your sandpaper. However the real issue I see with sanding is a need for operators to properly hold their multi-tool sanding pad flat to the sanding surface. There seems to be a tendency by users to press a little too much towards the front tip of the sanding pad. Pressing into the pad tips will not only wear out your sandpaper prematurely at the tip but could possibly have you wearing right through the paper to the Velcro hooks of your pad attachment. Consciously make an effort to hold your sanding pad flat to your work surface.
So What Can an Oscillating Tool Do?
- Woodcutting blades are likely to be the ones you use most often. Wider blades are easier to keep straight in a long cut. Narrow straight blades are the ones to use for a plunge cut. Because the blades are offset from the tool, flush cutting—under baseboards and beneath doorjambs, for example—is one of the things this tool does best. For faster cutting, blades with Japanese-style teeth do the job nicely.
- Bi-metal blades are the smart choice if the wood you are cutting may include nails. Bi-metal blades with their finer teeth cut more slowly, but hitting a nail won't destroy them, as it can with regular wood blades.
- Grinder blades and their tougher sibling carbide grinder blades are great for removing thin-set mortar, tile adhesive and grout. Rather than teeth, grinder blades employ abrasive particles embedded along their rim.
- Scraper knives come in various widths and are available with either rigid or flexible blades. Use scraper knives to remove old carpet or linoleum, floor adhesive, caulk or loose paint. Hook scraper attachments are great for getting into crevices.
- Sanding pad attachments and rasp attachments enable you to use your multi-tool like a detail sander to smooth and shape. Matching sandpaper sheets come in a variety of grits