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Old 22-08-2011, 10:25   #1
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Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

I am at the stage of my project that will require a multi-tool for cutting through tabbing and such. The first multi-tool that comes to mind is Fein of course but I balk at the price of the tool as well as the replacement blades etc.

I know that there are other oscillating tools out there, like Dremel for instance, but are any of them worth a crap. If any of you have experience with any of the other brands and dont mind making some recommendations I would really appreciate it.
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Old 22-08-2011, 10:54   #2
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

while i agree they are expensive, Fein is worth the money. dremel is garbage. i cant speak to any of the others. if dewalt makes a multi, i would expect it to be of good quality.

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Old 22-08-2011, 10:56   #3
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

If you are cutting fiberglass would worry more about the cost of the blades. Fiberglass dulls cutting edges pretty quickly so you will probably need a number of blades if you are cutting much glass.

Assume the patent ran out on the Fein design as we are suddenly seeing a ton of these tools from almost every tool maker. I'm not sure about Dremel for heavy duty work as they are primarily a tool maker for fine work on small projects. Bosch, Porter Cable and probably everyone nowe makes one of these. Would expect them all to be decent and way cheaper than the Fein. Not saying anything against the Fein, just that it was pretty spendy tool when I bought mine.
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Old 22-08-2011, 11:19   #4
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

the cutter designed to remove grout will also cut fiberglass--they look like a minature diamond masonry blade--i think they are carbide tipped--the fien are worth the money--the blades are very high quality--i guess it depends on how much you are going to use it--for 1 job probably any brand will work--if you use it as much as i use mine,fien is the way to go.
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Old 22-08-2011, 11:46   #5
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

DeWalt and Makita are well spoken of here. But maybe only because of their over the top pricing.

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Old 22-08-2011, 11:51   #6
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

I like my Dremel, no problems with it so far, and I've put it through some abuse.
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Old 22-08-2011, 12:22   #7
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

I have Dremel kits for small stuff, including a Dremel plunge router attachment (a great thing for small work or repetitive hole drilling). I also have a cheap knockoff ($9!) I use for essentially cleaning up and polishing. I have a brutal Makita 4.5 inch angle grinder I use on the steel boat and a $19 Canadian Tire knock-off (I think it's a DeWalt, actually) that I consider a rust/paint remover and bolt-slicer.

I also have a Fein multitool knock off ($99) made by a company called King that I bought for very specific tasks. It came with spare brushes, and I keep it clean. I will hopefully never kill five of this type of tool that would've justified laying down $500 for the equivalent Multimaster.

You see where I'm going with this. I have "expendable" knock-offs that I use for light work and "the real deal" when I'm going to spend hours making sparks. That said, some retail outlets have "house brands" of surprising durability. I have a 10 year old Mastercraft 6 amp sabre saw that is still going strong having cut about 20 steel portlight holes, and helped to take apart several dozen walls' worth of hemlock studs. I have worn out about 40 high-end blades on the thing and it looks like it's fought in Afghanistan. A great tool.
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Old 22-08-2011, 12:39   #8
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

I have a Fein and love it. However, if you are just going to be cutting tabs, have you considered a 4 in angle grinder with an angle grinder? We just had pavers put down around our pool and the contractor used one with a concrete blade to shape the stones. It worked well and he told me that the Hitachi, despite it's low price, was the best he's found. I'm considering adding one to my stash of tools along with an assortment of blades and grinders. In his case he removed the guard for getting into smaller areas.

Amazon has them for around $36.

Amazon.com: Hitachi G12SS 4-1/2-Inch Angle Grinder: Home Improvement

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Old 22-08-2011, 12:46   #9
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

i have been working on my steel boat for about a year now. in that time i have worn out two dremels but a cheaper version available at machinemart here in the uk (made by clarke) has held up. i've broken a black and decker jigsaw. but it was cheap. i have broken two makita 9" angle grinders, two sanders and one chop saw. these tools just don't seem to be made to be used all that much. makes me think that along with a lot of modern boat builders who know that most boats don't get used, the same goes for toolmakers for the non-professional market. these days i buy the cheapest brand i can get and expect it to last not very long. these expensive brands like makita don't seem to last any longer than the cheaper stuff. and the funny thing is that the cheaper stuff generally has more powerful engines in them than equivalent model expensive tools. i have friends who like to admire their expensive brand name tools and talk about how great they are but i don't see them using them all that much.
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Old 22-08-2011, 12:59   #10
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

Maybe it's because my Makita 1/2 in hammer drill and Makita 7.5 inch circular saw and Makita 4.5 inch angle grinder are all well over 10 years old that they still give good service?

In other words: Welcome to China.

I will buy an older power tool at a yard sale if I can shine a light into the vents and see if the windings look bright and functional. I will run it at slow speed to judge (if possible) the state of the bearings and brushes. Sometimes you will find a construction-grade tool that's been very well kept and lightly used going for a song, because the old fella died leaving a spotless workshop. I got a brand new dovetail jig that way for very little recently.

I have a digital multimeter, but most of my power tools are otherwise very basic and, uh, "seasoned".
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Old 22-08-2011, 13:00   #11
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

Rockwell SoniCrafter. When my Fein gave up the the ghost, I replaced it with the Rockwell. Same durability, half the price.
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Old 22-08-2011, 13:06   #12
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

I have two from Harbor Freight. If you shop right you can get one for $20. Regular price $40. Works like a charm and I haven't worn one out yet. If it breaks I'll throw it away.

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Old 22-08-2011, 13:27   #13
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Pluta View Post
I have two from Harbor Freight. If you shop right you can get one for $20. Regular price $40. Works like a charm and I haven't worn one out yet. If it breaks I'll throw it away.

Dick Pluta
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I have to admit that some of the stuff from Harbor Freight lasts and works pretty well, despite being cheap. I bought an airbrush compressor from them to spray gelcoat and it works like a champ. Actually, I don't dare go into their store much, my garage is already overfull.

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Old 22-08-2011, 13:47   #14
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

The big question is whether you want a corded model or a battery-powered one.

For corded it is hard to beat the cheap Harbor Freight (HF) models. If you buy one of these, buy quality blades elsewhere as HF blades don't last (it seems the quality of the tool steel at HF is sub-par, including taps and drills). Most blades from name brands will work with the HF Multi-tool. IIRC the Rockwell Sonicrafter uses different blades so if you go that way your blade choices will be restricted.

I researched the cordless battery-powered multitools, and went with the Milwaukee M12. (I have other M12 tools and have had good experiences so far.) It should go nearly half an hour before a quick recharge. Many of the other cordless models only make it for 10-12 minutes before recharge. It is best to look at the reviews on Amazon before buying. Again, most blades and attachments will fit the M12 tool.

If you plan on using the multi-tool as a corner sander then you may want to buy a Bosch sander attachment. The HF tool has a badly designed sander attachment (it has vertical sides with an aluminum plate - great for scarring adjacent surfaces). The Milwaukee tool has a well-designed sander (beveled sides) but paper to fit correctly is hard to find. The Bosch paper is easy to get (e.g. at Home Depot, Amazon) and the attachment is well designed. I bought the sander attachment from Amazon for about $7 plus shipping, plus several 25-packs of paper for about $9 each.
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Old 22-08-2011, 14:01   #15
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Re: Best Alternative Multi-Tool ?

I used my 10 year old Fein with one of the standard, segmented toothed blades with the dropped center to cut the old engine mounts down during my repower recently. I cut the 1/2" fiberglas like a hot knife through butter. I started out with a big angle grinder, but quickly switched to the Fein, as it was almost as fast, easier to control, and left almost no dust compared to grinding, which was very important as we were living on the boat.

I haven't used any of the alternatives, but I wouldn't bother shopping if my Fein died tomorrow. It's paid for itself many times over, and is of superior quality to most of the other power tools I have aboard.
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