How to Use Oscillating Tools for Optimum Results and Safety

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An oscillating tool is just as good as its accessory.

Since Fein’s patent expired slightly over ten years ago, ending the nearly four-decade-old monopoly, oscillating multi-cutters have never been more affordable.

And the prices keep dropping as new players, not to mention Bosch, Rockwell and Dremel, enter the market.

There’s something for every DIY enthusiast’s budget and needs.

With as low as $25, you can get a decent multi-tool with a powerful motor and a wide accessory oscillating angle, but the key takeaway is whether your tool is quiet and comfortable to handle.

Higher-cost alternatives have the finest engineering going into reducing vibration and noise to improve comfort, stability and precision.

More importantly, accessories wear out frequently, requiring replacement. Diamond-tipped accessories seem longer-lasting than carbide counterparts.

And, choosing the right accessory for the relevant job is important to preserve life and cut replacement costs.

That’s why learning how to use oscillating tools can help you select the right accessory for sanding, trimming, grinding, cutting, polishing or sawing.

There’s so much you can do with your oscillating multi-tool.

Continue reading this post to learn more.

Safety First:

You want to use your oscillating tool safely and efficiently, preserve its life and, most importantly, your life and health.

Moreover, you want to minimize wearing out of accessories, given they’re pricey to replace.

While tools are your best friends, they can become your worst enemies if you use them incorrectly or irresponsibly.

When you sand, saw, trim or plunge-cut, mists and clouds of dust arise. Friction between the tool and material surfaces causes a release of heat, which melts and vaporizes materials.

Toxic chemical gases from carcinogenic materials such as asbestos can cause lung irritation, asthma, respiratory illnesses, etc.

Material pieces, chips, fluids or electrolytes can fly, entering and damaging your eyes.

Jobsites are busy, noisy and inhospitable places. There’s the emission of particles, including toxic fumes, mists and specks of dusts.

It’s important to protect your eyes, ears, face and lungs from harm’s way.

High noise can damage your eardrums, causing chronic deafness in the long-term.

Sweaty or wet hands can place you in danger of electrocution with live wires.

Furthermore, oscillating tools vibrate a lot; shocks and impacts of vibration can cause discomfort. Some substances can even burn your skin.

  • Before you operate a multi-tool, read a user manual.
  • Protect your lungs by wearing disposable (P1 or P2 dust mask) or half-face respirators.
  • Safeguard your ears by wearing either an earmuff or an earplug.
  • To prevent foreign particles from entering your eye, wear either a face shield, a safety goggle or a safety glass.
  • Wear work gloves, safety boots, bump caps and safety helmet to protect your hands, feet and head, respectively.
  • When operating your power tool, keep away children and bystanders from the worksite.
  • Avoid exposing your multi-cutter to water and electricity.
  • Illuminate your jobsite sufficiently and keep it tidy.
  • Don’t plug in your power tool when the switch is on.
  • Don’t use the power cord to drag, carry or unplug a multi-tool.
  • Change accessories after unplugging the oscillating multi-tool.
  • If your multi-cutter isn’t tool-free, don’t turn it on before removing a bolt, a screwdriver or a wrench during adjustment.
  • Keep your power tool in good condition.
  • Use your tool only for purposes it was built for.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing.
  • Don’t wear jewelry.
  • If you’ve a long hair, fold it and ensure your gloves don’t make contact with movable parts of a machine.
  • Use the tool while sober and fresh.
  • Use clamps or vices to hold the work-piece in place.
  • Grab your power tool by an insulated handle.
  • Clear your worksite of any inflammable, liquid or dust.

Following are oscillating tool tipsand tricks to consider:

  • Push the multi-tool forward, applying uniform and gentle pressure to maximize working performance.
  • Make sure you check whether your accessory is able to cut through materials with bolts, screws or nails.
  • Perform plunge-cutting on soft work-pieces, including drywall and wood.
  • Press the sanding plate gently and uniformly when sanding to prevent the velcro from wearing out prematurely. This increases efficiency for a better finish.
  • Choose a high rate of oscillating for scraping and press surfaces lightly at a slightly flat angle.
  • Once you finish up sanding metal surfaces, don’t recycle the pad for non-metals.

What can you do with Oscillating Tools?

Whether you want to sand, polish, saw, grind, cut or scrape a material, you need an all-in-one tool: an oscillating multi-tool.

What makes the power tool versatile is the option to attach different types of accessories to suit your purpose.

And, best of all, oscillating multifunction tools penetrate areas, angles or spaces where other power tools can’t.

What can you do with Oscillating Tools

Whether you’re a carpenter, a tradesperson, a cabinet and flooring installer, a contractor or a serious hobbyist, an oscillating multi-tool is a must-have.

An oscillating multi-cutter, like any other power tool, has a motor, which draws power from either an alternating current (AC) or a direct current (DC) source, or both.

An AC source is usually a 120-Volt mains supply and some types of batteries. DC sources from a battery, whether it be an AAA or a Lithium-ion battery.

If your tool is battery-powered only, then it’s cordless.

However, if you require a cord or a cable to plug it to a mains power supply, then it’s corded.

Corded multi-cutters are usually longer-lasting than cordless models. If you’re an occasional user, like you want to complete a short DIY project during a weekend afternoon, then a cordless multi-tool is a great option.

Most batteries are often short-lived, lasting between 10- and 45-minutes. Some manufacturers have engineered batteries to charge faster, so you can spend more time working – not waiting for batteries to charge.

But if you’re a heavy user, performing a constant-draw job like grout removal, then you require an uninterrupted supply of power; a corded model is a great go-to.

What’s captivating about an oscillating multi-cutter is that its motor oscillates or vibrates when you switch on current.

When the motor vibrates, an accessory vibrates sideways at a slightly flat angle, which usually ranges between 1.6- and 5-degrees.

The greater the accessory oscillating angle, the wider the sideway travel of the accessory.

That means faster cutting and more vibration and noise but less stability and precision.

Fortunately, higher-cost models have the finest engineering to reduce vibration and noise, improving stability, precision and handling comfort.

As a professional DIYer, consider more expensive models if you want to enjoy greater comfort.

How to Use an Oscillating Tool in various Purpose?

You can perform a number of jobs with an oscillating multi-tool. Consider the following DIY projects:

How to Use an Oscillating Tool in various Purpose
  • Grinding adhesives of tiles
  • Cutting fiberglass, plasterboard, metal, wood and plastic
  • Trimming wood flooring and baseboards
  • Cutting off bolts and nails
  • Cleaning or removing grout
  • Scraping away old caulk or glue
  • Plunge-cutting lumber flooring
  • Flush-cutting doorjambs


An HCS accessory with large teeth is suitable for cutting wood. But if you want to cut both wood and metal, use a bi-metal accessory.

A half-moon or semi-circular accessory is suitable for cutting straight. Apply uniform and gentle downward pressure such that your multi-tool doesn’t plunge deeper in the material than ¼-inches.

Pressing hard increases temperature of the contact surface between the accessory and the work-piece. Excess heat and pressure can damage accessories.


You require straight accessories to plunge-cut, stabbing them against the surface and creating cut-outs on drywalls and woods.

But if you want to create long and straight cuts, use round or half-moon accessories.

Straightedge blades lack the maneuverability to make long and straight cuts.


If you want to remove coatings, paint, silicone or adhesives, you require a scraping accessory.

Use a rigid scraper for removal of varnish, paint layers, vinyl and carpets. But if you want to remove adhesives, caulk and paint, use a flexible scraper.


Sanding and grinding hard materials like concrete, plaster,thin-set mortar, stone, wood, tile or grout require rasping accessory. Carbide-tipped rasping accessories seem durable and precise.

However, diamond-tipped accessories can serve you faster and better on harder materials, and are more durable.


You require a hoop-and-loop sanding pad to attach as an accessory to your multi-tool.

Larger-grit sanding pads cover more area while finer-sized grits leave a smoother, more detailed finish.

Some polishing pads come with diamond grits to remove marks on stone surfaces.

Cutting Flush

Cutting a flush against surfaces is useful for trimming doorjambs, flooring, cutting protruding screws or nails for a straight and clean cut.


Learning how to use oscillating tools helps you to make the most out of them.

More importantly, correct, efficient and responsible use ensures safety and durability of the accessory and the tool.

Now you’ve an understanding of the safety precautions and what blades are suitable for grinding, cutting, sanding, polishing and sanding.

You’ve also learned what kind of DIY project your multi-tool is meant for.

The bottom line is, correct and responsible use of an oscillating multi-tool can help preserve your life as well as that of the tool and accessory, translating to cost savings.


This is Abraham. Professional power tools mechanic with years of experience. Writing is my hobby. So I decide to share my experience with people by writing about all types of power tools review and buyers guide that I'm using.

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