Nathan Ford, Application Specialist at Fein, answers the questions every tradesman wants to know – what can you actually do with an oscillating multi tool?
As part of my job, I speak to lots of tradesmen, giving tool demonstrations up and down the country and answering questions.
One of the most common questions I get asked when it comes to oscillating multi tools (OMTs) is: What can it do?
Even when I speak to experienced multi tool users, I’m still surprised by how many people are unaware of the full capability of their tool and only use it for the most basic of tasks.
As a great advocate of power tools, it saddens me to think that many tradesmen have invested in OMTs and are not getting the most out of them.
From experience, I know that having the right tool for the job can make a big difference and there are so many situations in which the tool is perfect – it’s all about having the right accessory and a little bit of knowledge.
Fein has the largest range of multi tool accessories in the world (with close to 100), so I thought I would highlight 10 lesser-known but extremely useful accessories that can help tradesman use their OMTs to their full potential.
1. Profile sanding
As well as standard circle and triangle shape pads for generic sanding applications, the company offers a profile sanding set with six different profile inserts including straight, v-form, concave, convex and a special trapezium shaped profile for tongue-and-groove connections.
2. Under floor heating (UFH) pipe routing
Laying UFH pipework can be tricky, especially when you’re working in an oddly shaped room and have to adapt the pipe routes to fit round alcoves, fixtures and drainage points etc.
I’ve seen a lot of tradesmen struggle using a Stanley knife to cut new routes into rigid foam board / panels. It’s a messy way of working and poses unnecessary risks from cuts.
Specialist cutting blades for OMTs are available to cut pipe routes for ½ and ¾” pipes that work like a knife through butter, giving a very neat finish.
3. Rigid stopper knife
This accessory probably comes as standard with most OMTs but in my experience is woefully underused.
Not only is it great for removing adhesives and elastic sealants, if kept sharp, it’s actually extremely effective at cutting carpets and much easier than the Stanley knife alternative.
To keep the blade sharp, simply run the blade on a slow speed against a sanding sheet.
4. Composite material blade
From time to time, we come up against lightweight, yet extremely strong materials such as fibreglass or carbon fibre.
All very difficult to cut and they leave standard ‘jigsaw’ blades blunt in seconds. The toothed carbide teeth pattern on these blades is ideal for making cuts into these materials without delamination.
5. Precise bi-metal cutting blade
Bi-metal blades have to be for OMTs what the Pozidriv screwdriver bit is for combi-drills – the number one go-to accessory.
However, to get the most out of them it’s worth carrying a selection of profiles. For instance, one that I find particularly useful is a 10mm wide blade, which is perfect for cutting out notches and getting into recesses.
6. Boat deck sealant cutter
One of the most specific accessories in the FEIN range is a unique blade designed precisely to cut out the sealant on boats with panelled decking.
While it’s not for everyone, it goes to show just how versatile and niche manufacturers can be in the development of new accessories.
7. Carbide blades
While most tradesmen will be aware that carbide blades are well suited to removing grout, few will know that carbide blades are particularly effective at cutting plaster and porous concrete – handy for neat cuts around services such as light switches.
They also give a very clean finish when cutting carbon fibre and reinforced plastics without delamination.
This is a fantastic additional attachment to have with an OMT enabling tradesmen to accurately work at set depths.
It makes things like cutting floorboards, when you know you’ve got services underneath, stress free. It can also make long straight cuts much easier as it acts as a rest and guide to follow markings.
9. Dust extraction
Having an attachment to connect an OMT to a dust extractor is very useful.
Not only does it mean there is less mess to clean up at the end of the job but it can actually help tradesmen achieve neater cuts by clearing away waste material and allowing them to see markings more clearly.
10. Bench clamp
For ultra precision and control, some manufacturers offer bench clamps for their OMTs.
Keeping the machine firmly in place, work pieces can be moved around the blade or sanding pad more freely enabling greater control and intricacy.
OMTs are becoming increasingly popular – and for good reason.
Their versatility is unparalleled in the power tool market and they can become every tradesman’s best friend.
The question is, however, how truly multifunctional do we allow oscillating multi tools to be? Do you get the most out of them or are we guilty of being able to count the number of tasks we use them for on one hand?
For more information visit www.fein.com/en_uk