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The underdog of anyone’s tool chest is absolutely an oscillating tool.
I don’t see enough people that have one, and frankly, I wonder how they get any sizable projects done without tearing their hair out.
Oscillating tools allow you to remove grout, plunge cut, saw bolts off of rusted toilets, trim shims in doorways, and so much more. We haven’t even broken the surface of what they’re truly capable of doing.
We’ve gone through the best oscillating tool brands, found their top models, and kept budgeting in mind so you can enjoy a powerful tool without having to say bon voyage to your earnings in the process.
Despite having some of the most versatile usage out of anything in your tool kit, oscillating tools aren’t that expensive if you know where to look.
Best Oscillating Tool – Reviews & Buying guide for 2020
Best overall: Rockwell 3.0 Amp Sonicrafter Oscillating Tool
Rockwell just did it best, and without charging an arm and a leg for top-tier quality. This oscillating tool kit comes with everything you need, and up to 3.2 oscillating degrees of power.
That basically does all but ensure that you’ll have an easy, simple, worry-free time using all of this with most of your projects.
I say most, because I’m sure we can all think of a thing or two to put this through its paces at more than 3.2 oscillating degrees worth of work.
As the best oscillating multi-tool, it hit the right point between price and function.
The cloth carrying case that Rockwell gives you is actually super functional and holds the tool extremely well, so you won’t be forced to put everything here into a rolling tool chest and misplace half of the blades.
It’s not just blades that it comes with: you alsol get sanding pads, as well as sanding sheets (which work differently), all in a 31-piece kit. Now I want to mention that this is a bulky multitool, but it’s also not too heavy at 3.3 lbs.
Are you going to feel it while the blades are moving and the vibrations rock your arm? Of course, but you can’t escape that with any oscillating tool that you use.
It’s a bit more powerful than most, because it runs on a 120V connection, so you’re definitely going to feel that power in your hands while you’re using it.
If you look at it right now, you can see the different spots where heat rises from the unit, like right near the cord on the back. After using this for a bit, you’re going to notice that it doesn’t overheat that much.
It takes a lot of use to really hit that threshold, and even then, it doesn’t take long to cool down from the air temperature.
Runner up: DEWALT Corded Oscillating Tool Kit
You can’t really make a list of the best oscillating saw without talking about Dewalt. We know them, as anyone who’s bought tools before, we know Dewalt in and out.
You know what you’re going to get: reliability, a good warranty, great customer service, and durability beyond compare. There’s a reason that they usually head the industry standard for a lot of power tools.
You get a three amp motor, corded 120V connection and power source, and excellent power to handle most tasks.
You’ve got 3.0 oscillating degrees, which is just a bump under what Rockwell is offering in that other oscillating tool we just reviewed. Not too shabby.
So where’s the issue here? It’s mostly associated with the cost, because this isn’t going to be the cheapest oscillating tool you ever buy.
I weigh it as quality versus cost, and Dewalt is known for quality control, so there’s that peace of mind when you’re using it. In terms of the operation, I have to say that they really stepped it up here and provided us with some really cool little details.
For one, you get an LED light on the front of this tool right above the quick change accessory system, as well as a dual-grip variable speed trigger on the left side of your grip.
You can flick this with your thumb if you’re a righty, and just change the speed while you’re in the middle of whatever you’re doing.
The ten foot cord gives you a good amount of pull, which is always good, but it’s just one of the features in this 29-piece kit.
You get your sanding pads, your sanding brush of course, and two switch-out tools for cutting, one with a wider blade than the other.
Much like Rockwell, Dewalt includes a cloth carrying case that’s built to last, so you won’t have to make extra room in your tool chest for it. Not a problem.
Alternative: Rockwell RK5132K Sonicrafter
Rockwell took the top spot, and now they’re taking the third place trophy as well. This F30 oscillating tool kit comes with 32 accessories in total, from different gauge blades, to the sanding head and a plethora of sanding pads as well.
They’re keeping some brand continuity, because the cloth carrying case that you get with this is fantastic and works like a charm.
It’s such an awkward-shaped tool that it might be difficult fitting into your normal tool chest, so you’ll definitely enjoy the added benefit of this little bag.
When we were looking at oscillating tool reviews before making our decision on what to test out, one thing stuck out to us: overwhelming support.
I’m talking about Rockwell’s killer customer support that really just seems to outdo the rest, whether it’s answering community questions or answering everything you need to know about your warranty over the phone.
While we’re on the subject, they give you an awesome three-year warranty that covers just about everything you would need to worry about.
There’s enough power here to help you with hardwood cabinetry, flooring, shims and joists, and more. The main concern comes in at the noise level, which you’re going to run into with 4.0 degrees of oscillation.
It is noticeably noisier than the other Rockwell oscillating tool that we’ve just reviewed, but the noise difference isn’t the biggest deal in the world. You’re already going to have earmuffs on, you know?
Switching between tools/accessories is a breeze, making it a perfect tool for a newcomer or a seasoned professional.
Because of the lightweight build of 2.9 lbs, you’re not going to run into many difficulties regardless of the task at hand. Rockwell just fits the bill the right way.
ALTERNATIVE: WORKPRO 20V Oscillating Multi-Tool
This kit is huge. Your sanding pads are first-rate, the tools have wide measurements on either side and don’t narrow out (basically they’re built very sturdily), and the sanding attachment is a work of art.
I want to berate the flimsy nature of the cord that comes with your DC charger cable, but it’s pretty standard for medium-sized tools like this.
When we want to make the best electric tool review, we put whatever that tool is through its paces, and even though it’s a good buy, Workpro ended up here for a reason.
To start, the weight of this entire oscillating tool is 4.3 lbs, which is a bit on the heavier side for a handheld tool, so you’re definitely going to feel that in your wrist.
It’s not the only thing you’re going to feel in your wrist though, because it has 3.2 degrees of oscillating power, which can really send those vibrations spiraling through your hands, wrist, and your arm.
I will say that if the vibrations and noise were a bit more under control, this would have ranked higher on the list.
And that’s because it does what it’s supposed to do in a very effective manner.
You have a five-speed position you can mess with, a very hefty and long-lasting lithium-ion battery pack on the hilt, and the on/off switch is easily accessible, but not in a spot where you’re going to accidentally smack it while you’re cutting a shim.
So what’s the verdict? It’s powerful, a bit hyper, but it’s very fairly priced for what you get. I’m not ecstatic about the one-year warranty, but it does cover a fair amount, albeit it for a short time frame.
Enjoy all 15 accessories, the durable carrying bag, and get your use out of this.
ALTERNATIVE: Genesis GMT15A Oscillating Tool
Last but not least on this little oscillating journey is Genesis, with their budget-friendly pick that actually did a bit more than we initially expected it to. When you test dozens of tools, some of them surprise you past what their marketing suggested.
You get a whopping 21,000 oscillations per minute, which really helps out with sanding. I would say that this works well with the blade attachments, but it surpasses expectations with the sanding tool.
The pads that they give you are decent, but you only get three of them, so you’ll have to replace them if you plan on using this as a sander more often than not.
For most of these oscillating tool reviews you’ve read, I talk about the blade attachments either being good or at least decent, but Genesis gives you a couple of excellent blades here.
There’s no narrowing, so it’s just sturdy and stable while cutting, but there are also no measurements on the side, which can be an issue depending on what you’re trying to do.
At just 2.7 lbs, it doesn’t weigh too much, and the 3.0 degrees of oscillation doesn’t vibrate out of control. For budgeters looking for a replacement oscillating tool, or newcomers trying to get their first one, Genesis is a solid choice.
Oscillating Tool Buying Guide & FAQ
What is an Oscillating Tool?
An oscillating tool uses an oscillating motor to create a high RPM, where the motor vibrates and moves sideways after being connected to an oscillating blade or sanding sponge head.
The best oscillating multitool will have a versatile, universal blade that can be used for numerous purposes, though you will need separate ones for wood and for metal.
These tools can cut through metal, wood, saw bolts off of rusted toilet kits, help you trim your shims during door jamming, shave fractions of inches off of baseboards when you’re in the end of a renovation. The list goes on and on.
These handheld tools generally have a 120V power supply, and operate at a certain set of degrees, typically between 2.0 and 4.0, to add versatility. They can be used for multiple purposes, which we’ll get more into in a moment.
Are Oscillating Tools Worth It?
Are you a DIYer who wants to tackle problems around the house instead of calling a repairman to do them?
Congratulations – you need an oscillating tool. These inexpensive bits of mechanical wonder are used for so many little niche tasks around your home and throughout your projects, that you’re going to wonder why you ever used anything else.
I won’t say that they replace other tools in your kit… but, they are pretty awesome, and can replace certain tasks that you would use other tools for. They’re definitely worth it, and a must-have for any serious DIY warrior.
What is the Best Oscillating Tool?
It’s tough to stay because while we listed Rockwell as the best, Dewalt comes in a really close second.
Rockwell took the cake because they had two similar models that were both just so darn good, but Dewalt is also a really solid choice.
What Can You Do With Oscillating Tools?
These are always a pain unless you have an oscillating tool. Since there’s really nothing else like it, this hits the sweet spot in between being overly powerful and small enough to fit in the space.
Plunge cuts are something you’re going to do in a remodel where you’re replacing drywall and you need new entrances for power outlets, or cable conduits if you’re making a network-friendly office space or game room basement.
Gotta have that smart TV hooked up somehow, you know?
You can use these to create rather small, square holes that can be fitted with caps to keep everything aesthetic.
We all want to believe that we’re wizards when it comes to measurements, but there’s always room for error.
When you’re putting in door frames, there can be a bit of extra wood, or when you’re installing newer, higher flooring, you’re not going to have the luxury of taking one of the frame pieces to a circular saw and doing it that way.
Using a carbide blade here can help you our majorly.
Take a square from the flooring you’re putting in, position it near the jamb as if you were installing it, and use it like fodder by placing the carbide blade on top and cutting the door jamb appropriately underneath.
This might be one of the biggest, most niche things that this does. If you’re ever removed grout before, you know the headache that it brings.
It’s stressful, it’s time-consuming (just to destroy something), and the entire task would be a lot smoother if you had an oscillating tool. You can use the carbide blade to go in between tiles so you can safely remove them.
In a lot of DIY renovation projects, you want to remove the tiles carefully to either resell them if they’re in good condition, or clean them up and reuse them.
You can put them in a kitchen backsplash, or retile a shower. These also work for larger square floor tiles if you’re looking to remodel an entryway or kitchen.
In construction, in demolition, there’s going to be stubborn, stuck-on adhesive that you can’t get rid of on your own.
I’m talking about wood glue, rubber caulking, and like we just talked about, grout.
If you’re removing old flooring, you might find that there’s a ton of glue underneath from where the last guy relayered the new floor on top of the old. You’re going to reach for your oscillating tool every single time.
Can the Oscillating Tool Cut Brick?
We’ll get into the blade ends in a minute, but let’s first ask the question if the tool itself can provide enough power to cut through brick?
The short answer to that is yes. There’s a ton of power in these oscillating tools, and they can help you cut through brick, but you still need to have the right blades to not overwork the motor and make the process as easy as possible.
If you used a basic wood blade up against some brick, it’s going to be a pain in the butt to actually cut through brick.
You might be able to do it, but only by putting the motor through hell and back. You would want to use a metal saw blade on this one, even though we’re obviously not cutting metal.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should, by the way. Even with sharp blades, you’re running a high risk of stressing out the motor based on the sheer amount of time it takes to successfully cut through brick with an oscillating tool.
Are the Oscillating Tool Blades Universal?
They’re close to being universal, but a lot of these brands want you to only buy replacement blades from them and nobody else. As a result, they end up making the cuts where you connect your oscillating blades pretty unique.
Now, there are only so many ways you can do this before you end up inadvertently copying the same “unique” cut as someone else.
Actually, Dremel makes an oscillating tool that actually has universal multi-tool blades. It’s not just their wood blades, but their carbides and metal blades as well.
I don’t know why a lot of these companies don’t make their blades universal, probably because I don’t have their sales data to back everything up, but I just want to be able to go to the hardware store and pick up new blades without having to jump through hoops, or order from their website.
One thing I do before considering an oscillating tool, whether I’m recommending it to someone or looking at it for myself, is check the blade cuts to see if I can use universal blades there.
If not, I look at how expensive a box of new blades is, and depending on the cost of the oscillating tool, I will just pick up a box of extra blades that will last an additional five to ten years beyond what’s included in the initial kit.
Powerful and Situational
Finding yourself in the middle of a big renovation project? Buying a new home and doing repairs?
An oscillating tool works in tons of different scenarios, as long as you use your head and see how they can benefit you. You’ve seen the best of the best. Now all that’s left to do is make your decision.