Best Oscillating Tool For The Money – Reviews & Comparisons

Oscillating multi-tools are becoming an almost default addition to every DIY’ers tool collection. While they’re well-known for standard jobs like undercutting baseboards, their true value is in their ability to tackle all those tricky, odd little jobs where no other tool is really useful.

The good thing about them is that they’re a relatively cheap investment, and you’ll probably end up getting more use out of yours than you could ever imagine. The only downside is that there’s tons of different models, blade configurations, styles and sizes out there to choose from, and it can be a little daunting trying to find the right one.

Quick Look: Top Oscillating Tools

In this article, we’ll break the confusion down for you and review several of the most popular (and a few of our personal favorite) ones out there, and dish out our top overall picks.

The Porter-Cable 52-accessory kit is far and away our top pick for the best ‘cheap’ oscillating tool.

There are slightly more powerful and better-performing options out there, but none that come close in terms of price, considering the reliability of the tool and the amount of accessories/blade configurations that come with it.

As far as the overall best-performing, best-in-class option, it’s hands down got to be the 3-amp Makita TM3010CX1.

This is nearly double the price of the Porter-Cable, but my goodness is it a nice tool. Powerful, sturdy, and amazingly functional, it’s like a full-size sawzall but with a million more functions, and in a package less than half the size.

The Dremel Multi-Max is another really good choice, and is one of – if not the most – popular options out there.

Dremel’s made a name for themselves over the years with their iconic rotary tools, and it’s evident they put the same amount of thought and design consideration into their oscillating tool lineup. With three different options to choose from (MM20, MM30, and MM40), they made it a point to have something for a range of different budgets.

The DeWalt DWE315K is another slightly more expensive, top-shelf pick that’s in a similar class performance-wise as the Makita.

In our experience it doesn’t perform quite as well as the Makita, but the fact that it’s slightly cheaper and comes with more blades and accessories, makes it a serious contender for best-in-class.

Lastly, the 3.0-amp Rockwell Sonicrafter is more than deserving of a mention, and is another very good value pick.

It comes with a generous assortment of blades, accessories, and sanding pads, it performs well, and it’s actually a little bit cheaper than the Porter-Cable kit.

Reviews of the Best Oscillating Tools

Best cheap oscillating tool: Porter-Cable 3-Amp 52-Accessory Kit

Like we said, we chose this tool because in our mind there’s no better overall value in terms of price, functionality, durability, and the amount of included accessories.

People buy oscillating tools because of their multi-functionality, so it makes sense to get one with as many different blade configurations and accessories that you can – the more accessories you have, the more wide-ranging your tool will be.

The Porter Cable is more than sufficient for cutting, grinding, scraping, and sanding in awkward/hard-to-reach spots – everything that a good oscillating tool should be able to do.

In addition to the tool itself, the kit comes with 35 pieces of sandpaper (120, 60, and 36-grit), three wood-cutting blades, three wood/metal blades, three flush-cut blades, four scrapers (two rigid and two flexible), two grout-removal blades, and a tidy little box to keep everything in. Like we said, a pretty mind-blowing value for the price.

And make no mistake – the tool performs well. There could be a kit out there for 20 bucks with 1,000 different accessories, but it’s not worth squat if it doesn’t get the job done.

Things we liked

  • Price and overall value: Like we said, no better option out there in terms of what you get for the price
  • Durability. Usually you sacrifice a fair amount in terms of durability when you go with a ‘cheaper’ tool, but this thing will hold up admirably for years and years – even with pretty brutal abuse
  • Universal blade fit for blades/accessories from other manufacturers
  • Porter-Cable warranty: 3-year limited overall, 1-year free service, 90-day money back

Things we didn’t like

  • Some people say the included blades wear out a bit too quickly

Best performance oscillating tool: Makita Variable Speed TM3010CX1

Strictly performance-wise, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better than the Makita TM3010.

It’s got a more-than-capable 3.0-amp motor that’s equipped with a ‘soft-start’ feature, and a variable speed operation that truly comes in handy if you expect it to be functional for a range of different jobs and on different materials.

Because they’re relatively small, a lot of people don’t consider the fact that an oscillating tool can put some serious strain on your arm/wrist/hand. Makita, however, put an obvious emphasis on comfort and ergonomics when designing this thing – it’s got very little vibration, is super easy to control, and is one of the quietest tools we’ve ever used.

Aside from standard uses like removing grout and cutting trim/molding, a lot of users have found the Makita fully capable of larger jobs like cutting 2×4 studs in awkward, hard-to-reach spots behind drywall (one of the reasons why oscillating multi-tools are indispensable for renovation projects).

Things we liked

  • Not a more comfortable, better-performing, user-friendly oscillating tool out there
  • The included blades/accessories are really high quality… and it comes with a pretty sweet Makita case
  • Tool-free blade change system is awesome

Things we didn’t like

  • For the price, we think they could have been a bit more generous with the amount of blades and accessories that are included. (Only comes with one multi-purpose plunge blade, a sanding pad, a 10-piece assortment of sandpaper, and two adaptors for use with other manufacturer’s blades/accessories)

Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating Tool Kits

Because of the insane success and popularity of their rotary multi-tools, Dremel’s relatively new Multi-Max lineup was probably destined to be a success from the get-go.

However, after using the MM30 for quite some time now, it’s pretty clear that the tool is worthy of respect based on much more than the Dremel name alone.

There are actually four different models in the Multi-Max lineup: the MM20 is the cheapest and least powerful of the lot, and from there you’ve got the MM30, MM40, and MM45.

We’re not entirely sure what the difference is between the 40 and the 45, but basically there’s an incremental power increase with each successive model: the MM20 has a 2.3-amp motor, the MM30 has a 3.3-amp, and the MM40 is the most powerful option with 3.8-amp.

For the money, we don’t really size the point in opting for the MM40 over the MM30. Like we said, we’ve had the MM30 for awhile now, and have never felt it to be underpowered or under-gunned.

The MM20 is a good option that’s substantially cheaper than the MM30, but it’s much more suited for light use and would be a little too weak for remodeling projects.

Each model comes with a carrying bag, a scraper, four different cutting blades (including a grout-removal blade), and a sanding pad with a 12-piece assortment of sandpaper. Also, you can pick up additional attachments/replacement blades relatively inexpensively.

All models have variable speed operation, but what we found odd is that even though they use the same attachments, the locking tool/mechanism on each is different.

Overall, reviews for the Multi-Max have been super positive, but a recurring complaint among users is that the blades don’t seem to last as long as they probably could – or should.

All things considered, the ‘MM’ lineup is a really good choice that’s kind of intermediate in price between our value picks and the top-of-the-line options.

Things we liked

  • Three different models. Between the MM20, MM30, and MM40, there’s something for everyone as far as price and power considerations
  • The 3.3-amp MM30 is surprisingly quiet and smooth-operating for its size
  • Large blade drop makes it maybe the best choice of all for baseboard undercutting
  • Pretty minimal vibration

Things we didn’t like

  • Included Dremel blades aren’t the best in the world – they’ll wear out relatively quickly
  • Blade attachment mechanism doesn’t feel as solid as the Makita (or Porter-Cable for that matter)

DeWalt DWE315K Kit

The DeWalt 3.0-amp oscillating tool is another top-shelf pick that’s in the same class as the Makita.

It’s a great tool – not quite up to snuff with the ergonomics, design, or overall performance of the Makita, but definitely better quality-wise than our other picks on the list. And the fact that it’s substantially less expensive than the Makita makes it even more attractive.

One of the main things that you’ll notice between this tool and the Makita is weight. The DeWalt is plenty powerful and you’ll never have to worry about being under-gunned, but some people do complain about pretty intense arm/wrist fatigue when using it for hours at a time during renovations.

Nevertheless, this is one of the most popular oscillating tools out there for large-scale projects, and you can expect it to come out smelling like a rose even after running into some tougher material.

Things we liked

  • Love the power and durability – a great pick for full-size renovation/remodeling projects
  • Nice and smooth variable speed operation
  • Attachments/blades seem to be pretty good quality (kit includes wood/nail blade, ‘fast-cut’ wood blade, semi-circle blade, multi-brand adaptor, sanding pad w/ 25 sheets of sandpaper, and a contractor bag and accessory box)
  • Also includes a ‘Tool-Guide’ roller attachment, which allows you to set the height and depth of cut – a really nice feature for setting up repeated cuts

Things we didn’t like

  • Wish the standard blades were a bit longer
  • DeWalt brand accessories are really expensive (although you can always use the included adaptor and get off-brand accessories)
  • Can get tiring/fatiguing if you use it for a length of time

‘Second’-Best Cheap Oscillating tool: Rockwell Sonicrafter

Although we’re a little more partial to the Porter-Cable, the Rockwell Sonicrafter is probably the most popular value-priced oscillating tool out there. And we will say, you can’t really go wrong with it.

Both the Rockwell and the Porter-Cable have a pretty good size 3.0-amp motor, and are nearly indistinguishable in terms of power. (The Sonicrafter has a more powerful 4.0-amp model too, for only a little bit more money.)

A lot of people’s favorite thing about the Sonicrafter is its Universal Fit System, which makes it super simple and inexpensive to pick up additional or replacement blades/accessories from almost any manufacturer out there.

Reviews so far have been extremely positive for the tool – the only reason we prefer the Porter-Cable is because it feels just a tad more rigid/durable, and it includes more blades and accessories in the kit.

This is a really good option for ‘here-and-there’ type work, but unlike the DeWalt or Makita, don’t expect it to be a workhorse on larger jobs if you’re tackling tough material like nails and 2×4 studs..

Things we liked

  • Awesome price
  • Rockwell has great customer service and a solid 3-year warranty
  • Replacement/additional blades and attachments are cheap and easy to come by – Universal Fit System accepts blades from any brand

Things we didn’t like

  • Considering the price, we really can’t find much to complain about with the Sonicrafter

Things to look for in an oscillating tool

When considering different oscillating tools, you’ll want to pay more consideration to its cutting performance than it’s sanding ability.

Sanding is pretty straightforward – pop the sanding pad on and whatever grit sandpaper you need, and pretty much any oscillating tool out there will do a halfway decent job.

However, cutting ability is a little different story – there’s a lot of underpowered and underperforming oscillating tools out there that’ll give you a headache with even the simplest of jobs.

While some of the tools in our review obviously perform better than others in terms of power, blade quality, and cutting ability, you can expect each one to do a satisfactory job with all the things an oscillating tool should be able to handle: cutting trim, baseboards, molding, small pipes, etc.

Lastly, here’s a few more things you’ll want to keep in mind on your search for a good oscillating tool:

  • Comfort/Usability

There’s no sense in getting a tool that’s uncomfortable or (literally) a pain to use, and oscillating tools are known for being awkward and slightly difficult to control. This was one of our main considerations when coming up with this list – each one we selected is pretty good in terms of ergonomics, usability, and overall comfort.

  • Variable speed

This is another major one – you definitely want to make sure your oscillating tool has variable speed operation. Especially important for sanding and scraping.

  • Cordless Oscillating tools

For oscillating tools and saws in general, we typically prefer corded over cordless because of the additional power. However, something like the DeWalt 20V Li-Ion or the Porter-Cable 20V MAX are really good cordless options that are relatively inexpensive.

Conclusion: Roundup Winner

We’re going to stick to value here for our overall top pick, and go with the Porter-Cable 52-accessory kit as our roundup winner.

For the money, this is a great oscillating tool and the 52-accessory kit gives it a slight edge over the Rockwell Sonicrafter.

In addition to the boatload of blades and attachments you get, the tool itself checks off all the necessities you want an oscillating tool to have: variable speed operation, sufficient power, and comfortable design/operation.

In our opinion, the best oscillating tool out there for the money.

About Russ Thompson

Hey I'm Russ and I have been a contractor for over 20 years. I know what the cost of having the right tools and materials for the job. My passion for woodworking and helping others by workshops in my wood shop. I have beginner classes all the way up expert trade classes. Check out my bio for more.

1 thought on “Best Oscillating Tool For The Money – Reviews & Comparisons”

  1. I bought the Fein when they first came out and it still works like a champ. Their blades are second to none. Have to put the blade on with Allen wrench but that doesn’t bother me at all. It has a really long cord as well. Worth its weight in gold.


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