Oscillating Multi Tool Guide: 10 Uses for Your Multi-Tool
Here at SGS Engineering, we believe that an oscillating multi-tool is an essential part of any DIY tool box. It’s a versatile tool that you'll find will often be your "go-to", all-purpose fix-it tool. From cutting to scraping, sawing or sanding, the convenience of a multi-tool often wins out over more specific power tools. And, don’t forget, our experts can help you choose the best multi-tool for the job at hand too.
Once you have the right electric multi-tool, you’ll be able to slice through a range of materials with ease – wood, metal, drywall, mortar, fibreglass and plastic. You can even find heads with multi-tools such as the Milwaukee C12MT-0 that are specifically for polishing and grinding.
Woodworkers, plumbers, contractors and do-it-yourself-ers all find unique purposes for these superb multi-function tools. So, we thought it’d be worth sharing some of the ingenious ways that you can put your new oscillating multi-tool to use. Read on to discover 10 of our experts’ favourite multi-tool uses – and then check out our comprehensive buying guide to see which option from our extensive range is the perfect fit for what you need and want it to do.
What is an oscillating multi-tool?
First, it’s a good idea to know just what these superb multi-purpose tools are. It’ll give you a better understanding of what they can do – and what makes them such a useful addition to a professional or DIY toolbox. As the name suggests, a multi-tool is a highly flexible power tool that can perform a number of tasks to the standards you’d expect.
It means you won’t need to invest in different tools for different tasks if your space or budget doesn’t allow it. And you won’t lose any time looking for that specific tool you need either.
Oscillating describes the movement of the multi-tool attachments and accessories that you’re using – whether that’s a multi-tool metal cutting blade or a wood sanding pad. The oscillating movement is a rapid rotation back and forth. This creates the friction you’ll need if sanding or quick cutting motions if you’re using something like a Milwaukee 63 mm multi-tool metal blade.
Oscillating multi-tools: Features and functions
At SGS, we supply high-quality oscillating multi-tools from renowned manufacturers including Ryobi and Milwaukee. Many of the multi-purpose tools in our product range come with similar features and functions to help you complete your next job.
In addition to uses such as cutting, sanding, polishing and grinding that we’ll explore in more detail below, oscillating multi-tools come with other standard features that make them such a great addition to your toolbox:
- LED lighting to illuminate your workspace
- Long-lasting battery times for cordless use
- Variable speed settings up to 32,000 RPM
- User-friendly design for safety and comfort
What is an oscillating tool used for?
Not sure if one of these multi-purpose tools is the right choice for your toolbox or next project? Here's a list of our 10 favourite uses for an oscillating multi-tool. We hope they'll give you a bit of inspiration for your own DIY projects – and show just what a multi-tool is truly capable of:
1. Trimming pipes and screws
Fitted with the right oscillating multi-tool blades, your multi-tool can soon become a plumber or labourer's best friend. Set up as a multi-cutting tool, it can slice through plastic, copper or even galvanised metal piping with ease.
Yes – multi-tools such as the Milwaukee M12FCOT-0 Cut Off Tool can cut through metal.
This means you can easily slice off excess screws that are otherwise unsightly, if not dangerous. And, because oscillating multi-tools are compact and portable, awkward angles and tight spaces are super simple to navigate. This means you can trim off pipes and screws inside cabinets, in the ceiling, behind the wall and under floorboards, as well as many other hard-to-reach places.
2. Plunge cuts in your decking
Plunge cuts can be difficult, dangerous and almost impossible to get right with a standard power tool. A good multi-tool and the right blade – like the Ryobi ONE+ RMT1801M-0 18V sanding and oscillating cutter tool – makes the job much easier and safer.
This also includes those times when you’re working on harder materials such as decking boards.
You could be looking to cut out holes for some clever under-step lighting, make cuts for support railings or simply tidy up the edges for that professional finish. The lightweight and easy-to-use nature of these multi-function tools makes them ideal for use outside and in tighter areas.
3. Trimming wood and floorboards
Trimming isn’t a task that’s limited to outdoors. There are hundreds of woodworking projects that you can use an oscillating tool for. Chopping out excess material from a frame, adjusting pieces of furniture or even altering stud walls – these are all tasks that a versatile power multi-tool can complete with outstanding results.
With oscillating multi-tools, the focus is always on portability and ease of use. So, it can make trimming tasks easier than a standard jigsaw. Even better – using battery-powered multi-tools such as the Ryobi ONE+ RMT1801M cordless multi-tool takes away the need to be near a power outlet or to trail cumbersome cables around behind you.
4. Cutting out openings in drywall
This is an easy one, but – honestly – there’s no better alternative than cutting drywall with an oscillating tool. That’s because you’re sure of a perfect square cut that’s simple and accurate.
To do this, first mark an outline onto the surface of the drywall and use a wood or metal plunge cut blade to chop straight through the surface. Don’t forget to check for pipes and cables first!
This is the easiest way of installing power outlets, switches, light fittings or removing damaged patches of drywall. And don't limit yourself to just the walls. An oscillating cutter is simple to use on the ceiling too. No matter how tricky your angle is, you'll have no trouble making it with the right oscillating multi-tool blades.
5. Removing rust from metals
Using a fine pad with a multi-tool sander means you can clean rust from almost all mistreated metalwork. You can use an oscillating tool, for example, to remove rust from old garden tools and restore them to their former glory. Or take the base of rust off an old garden gate, before repainting it for that professional finish.
6. Sanding down furniture
Using a multi-tool to cut wood is one potential function – and so is sanding wood to a smooth finish. In fact, sanding is an integral function of any high-quality oscillating multi-tool such as the Ryobi R18MT3-0 ONE+ that comes with a sanding pad as standard.
But the question is whether you’re using this function to its full potential? Nice furniture tends to be an awkward shape. So, using a traditional palm sander or orbital sander might not cut it.
With the right attachment and narrow oscillating tool angle, you can tackle those tricky areas with ease. It’s another job where a cordless power multi-tool can save extra time and effort.
7. Scraping adhesive
There’s probably no power tool in your toolbox that’s better suited for scraping than your multi-tool. High-strength mastics or vinyl floor adhesive can be a real nightmare to get rid of after it's hardened. But you don’t need to resign yourself to a long, tough job by hand.
The Makita DTM50Z multi-cutting tool is just one example of how easily it can be done. Just get yourself a steel scraping attachment and put all those OPMs to good use. Slip the blade under a patch of adhesive or a vinyl floor tile, scrape and pull. The job will be done before you know it.
8. Removing mortar
Attach a triangular carbide-grit rasp to your oscillating multi-tool and now you've got yourself a convenient mortar grinder. It means you can remove hardened thin-set mortar from a floor tile that you're trying to salvage. Set mortar, cement and dried adhesive can be taken off in only a few seconds by using an oscillating grinder attachment for your multi-tool.
9. Get rid of grout
Yes, you’ll even find accessories for options like the Milwaukee C12MT-201 multi-tool that you can use specifically for removing grout. To do this, buy a grit grout-removal blade either on its own or as part of a pack. Then, cut out the grout from the joints between wall and floor tiles.
The blade moves backwards and forwards – rather than spinning. If it’s a decision between an angle grinder and a multi-tool, one upside of a multi-tool is that you won't spread anywhere near as much dust. The accessories come in a range of thicknesses and shapes that you can use on wide or narrow grout joints – whichever best fits the task at hand.
10. Remove old paint
Looking to scrape paint from a dilapidated windowsill? Or maybe you’d like to sand a salvaged piece of vintage furniture? Being able to quickly swap around multi-tool attachments means it’s easy when you only need to use one tool on a project.
You’ll have fewer trips in and out of the shed to fetch and carry different tools for a start. Tools such as the Milwaukee M18BMT-502B multi-tool are also available from SGS with a handy carry case. So, you'll have all your multi-tool attachments wherever and whenever you need them.
More uses for your oscillating multi-tool
Still not convinced that an oscillating multi-tool is a must-have for your toolbox? Or were our 10 ideas not quite enough? Here are some of the other jobs that we've used our multi-tool for:
- Cut back a baseboard
- Repair door jambs
- Setting hinges and door knob plates
- Trim paintings
- Sand down coarse metal
- Remove old ceramic tiles
- Pull up carpet
- Cutting acrylic panelling
- Make perfect notch cuts in a wooden shelf
- Chop the end off nails
- Cut out basic mitres in trim
- Remove rotted wood
- Open tough casing and packaging
- Trim plastic piping to shape
- Add a non-slip texture to concrete
- Sand flush a baseboard or skirting
The only limits to what an oscillating multi-tool can do is your imagination. By getting to grips with these versatile tools, you can be the best do-it-yourself-er you can be. Inspired to begin a new project – but don't have an oscillating tool yet or know which multi-tool blade to use? Our handy Multi-Tool Buyers Guide is on hand with all the expert advice you need today.
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