Though "It sands, it scrapes, it saws!" sounds like an infomercial, these nimble tools actually perform those tasks and others, thanks to their rapidly oscillating heads and numerous interchangeable attachments. We asked contractor Craig Tolmie to put five models through their paces. Here's what he had to say.
(Prices based on manufacturer-approved online distributors.)
Model FMM 250Q
Used it to: Demo copper baseboard tubing.
My two cents: "Plenty of power and a 16-foot cord. You don't need an Allen wrench to change blades, a real time-saver. This is the tool I reach for again and again."
Comes with: Straight and semi-circular wood-and-metal-cutting blades; two triangular sanding pads; assorted sandpaper; carbide grout-cutting blade; carbide rasp; scraper blade; vacuum adapter.
Tool stats: 2.3 amps; 11,000–20,000 opm (oscillations per minute) with soft start; 3.1 pounds
Manufactured by FEIN; about $400
Craftsman Nextec Multi-Tool
Used it to: Sand a picture frame.
My two cents: "The vacuum attachment minimizes dust, but having only one battery means lots of downtime. Its single speed can be overpowering for some jobs."
Comes with: Straight and semicircular wood- and-metal-cutting blades; triangular sanding pad; assorted sandpaper; carbide grout-cutting blade; carbide rasp; scraper blade (shown); 12-volt lithium-ion battery; 30-minute charger; vacuum adapter.
Tool stats: 15,000 opm without soft start; LED; 1.8 pounds
Manufactured by Craftsman, about $100
Used it to: Cut out the grout around a broken tile.
My two cents: "Worked very well, but hard to find accessories."
Comes with: Straight and semi-circular wood-and-metal-cutting blades; triangular sanding pad; assorted sandpaper; carbide grout-cutting blade (shown); scraper blade.
Tool stats: 2.3 amps; 11,000–20,000 opm without soft start; 10-foot cord; 2.8 pounds
Manufactured by Rockwell SoniCrafter, about $150
Used it to: Trim pine doorjambs.
My two cents: "This unit lacks the power of the other corded units, but the accessories are inexpensive and easy to find at home centers."
Comes with: Wood-and-metal-cutting blade (shown); triangular sanding pad; assorted sandpaper; scraper blade.
Tool stats: 1½ amps; 10,000-21,000 opm with soft start; 6-foot cord; 1.9 pounds
Manufactured by Dremel; about $100
Used it to: Cut shingle siding when replacing a window.
My two cents: "I liked its light weight and the battery-life indicator, which shows how much juice is left. It cut for 15 minutes straight before quitting."
Comes with: Wood-and-metal-cutting blade; triangular sanding pad (shown); assorted sandpaper; adaptor for other brands' accessories.
Tool stats: Two 12-volt lithium-ion batteries; 30-minute charger; 5,000–20,000 opm with soft start; 2.2 pounds
Manufactured by BOSCH; about $180