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Surprise me

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We woodworkers are known for wanting tools, tools and more tools. If it's new and it's cool, you gotta have the tool. But have you ever stumbled across a tool you never new you wanted?

I've recently started working on a magazine article reviewing oscillating tools. Don't know what these are? Not surprising, because until recently only one manufacturer – Fein – made one. In the last year, however, several other makers (Bosch, Craftsman, Dremel, Rockwell, Proxxon) have come out with their own versions. As a result, my editor wants me to do an article that describes these tools and what they do for an audience largely unfamiliar with them.

An oscillating tool is a cylindrical tool roughly the shape and size of an angle grinder; a bit smaller, maybe. Instead of a spinning arbor on the business end, it has a mounting that oscillates up to around 20,000 times a minute. (If you've ever had a plaster cast removed after a broken bone, the doctor used one of these to cut the cast off.) So far, not very impressive, right? But once you add a range of attachments, this tool can do a lot of jobs.

Put a triangular pad on it and it's a detail sander. Add a flat blade and it can peel up vinyl flooring like cake icing. A serrated attachment turns it into a saw. An abrasive cutter allows it to slice through ceramic tile like Swiss cheese. And that's just getting started.

The Fein MultiMaster oscillating tool has been around for several years, and I've played with one from time to time at the various woodworking shows. It was pretty cool, but without really putting one through its paces I didn't know just how universally cool and useful it was.

There aren't all that many of these tools out there right now, but I'm betting the field will grow quickly in the next few years. And now that I'm working on this article and have had a chance to really put these guys to work, and I'm absolutely hooked.

Turns out it was a tool that I've wanted for years. I just didn't know it yet.

Till next time,


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