Jon Eakes
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Oscillating Tools

<-- video list on the left

Oscillating tools were developed in Germany by the FEIN tool company as an auto body tool designed to cut, shape and sand sheet metal and plastic.   By the time it got to North America they had begun to add some wood cutting blades and in the last couple of years it has become an indispensable renovation tool. They have added fast cutting blades with Japanese style teeth as well as bi-metal blades for going through both wood and nails. They have straight blades, round blades, segmented blades (round blades flat on one side for working up against walls or other stops), knife type scraping blades, carbide grinders, sandpaper, even hook blades for taking out caulking between boat deck boards.

None of these blades spin around nor do they orbit as most sanders do, they simply oscillate back and fourth about 3 degrees and barely look like they are moving, but they cut so well and with so much control. It is like surgery in woodworking.  This remained a tool guarded almost as a secret by the professional tradespeople until the FEIN patents ran out recently and just about every tool manufacturer has now put out one version or another of the oscillating concept.  But there is a serious Learning Curve to using it -- and lack of power or durability in most of the explosion of newcomer tools has left the FEIN MultiMasterTM still as the head of the pack.  Other tools work well, but are generally relegated to small model or hobby use.  Even within the FEIN line, the trades level SuperCutTM model is the only tool for continuous extreme duty use.

I have asked Fein, the company with the most experience with this tool, to help me to help you with the fine points on how to use oscillating tools.  That has led to the production of a good number of video clips on just how to use oscillating tools and how to avoid working problems.  This is not a static list; as you ask for more information, more videos will be produced, or existing ones expanded to help you further.  The full list is in the drop down tree at the left.  Don't miss the blogs at the bottom of each video -- a good place to share your own experiences and to request further video development.

 

Learning Curve 74

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Jon on March 11, 2014 09:51

To keep sandpaper from loading up, you have to keep it cool. That can be done by slowing down the oscillations, or by moving faster over the surface to always be sanding cold finish.

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Daniel on December 19, 2013 14:38

Bonjour Jon!
Thank you very much for this series on the oscillating tool. This is the best tutorial for this tool that I have seen on the web! I particularly appreciate the clarity of the explanations and professional image shooting, where you look at the camera lense when talking to us, using different shot angles and zooming-in to details.

The Fein MultiMaster owner's manual does not give much info at all on how to use the tool. I have had to learn by trial and error, sometimes making costly mistakes... One interesting point is that he Fein reps suggestion of mid speed contradict the owner's manual instructions that suggest high oscillating speed for sanding. I agree that mid to low oscillation is better as it does not "load-up" the sandpaper as much. Merci beaucoup!

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Michelle Lee on July 22, 2012 03:09

Hi Jon,I came across your videos on Youtube when I was looking for Bosch Multi Tool ones. I found that there really weren't enough videos that went into this sort of detail. This is really useful and they are so informative, especially for a newbie such as myself. Excellent job!

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Jon on August 07, 2010 19:41

We tried producing and selling videos and that never got off the ground, then we produced DVDs and the free stuff on the web was just too strong (although one is still available at LeeValley.com) so we are now testing the commercial vialability of the web where you watch for free and we add in some advertising.  We will see how that goes.  But keep checking back even in this section as we have several more on oscillating tools in the works. - Jon

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Jundee on August 06, 2010 18:27

Excellent tips, very useful. I suggest you put out a DVD or perhaps FEIN might add it to their products.

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