I think my Oscillating tool is over 10 years old now, and I bet it doesn't have 3 hours of work on it, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world. I bought at the time I was installing new vinyl windows in my home and embedding them into the old aluminum frames so that I would not have to have the stucco siding re-done. It saved me thousands, the windows went in flawlessly and the whole reno easily passed the energy audit.

Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/prW2QdElZzg

The oscillating tool was used to cut away the aluminum rails on the old windows so they were flush, right into the corners, so the new windows were a good fit going in and without it, I would have spent countless more hours trying to cut and trim that aluminum away ...

 Since then, the little oscillating tools have not had much work, a bit here and there, but not much, until I got my CNC machine, and now it is used constantly for cutting away the "tabs" in each cut that holds the workpiece in the frame while the CNC router is cutting it out.  But since I started using it more, I began to think or more ways we could be using these tools for our woodworking projects. 

I even went out to get some new blades and was pleasantly surprised at the variety and the much better quality of blades that are available now, that was not available when I purchased the tool. Now you can get Carbide blades, Diamond Tipped blades, and of course all sorts of different metal and bi-metal blades for all sorts of different jobs. 

I never worry about the blade is compatible with my tool because my tool came with a built-in adapter plate so no matter what blade I purchase, they will fit, I just need to but the right blade for the job, and that is really the key to using these tools and getting the job done.

Milwaukee Oscillating Tool

Since most of my blades are fairly old, and not the sharpest any more, I decided it was time to "refresh" them with some new ones and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and the quality of Oscillating blades and accessories that are now available.

I decided to purchase a carbide-tipped blade for cutting metals, like screws and nails, and it will cut wood as well, but slowly. Where I would use this blade is where ever I need to cut off a screw that is protruding through some wood, or if I need to trim some wood and I think there might be a nail or part of a nail embedded inside the wood, this blade is great for that.

Oscillating Tool cutting nails
The best blade for cutting wood is a coarser blade and this one is designed to give a fairly clean-cut too. It's a quick cutter and is useful for trimming off bits of wood, dowels, overhangs, even some molding jobs. Sometimes I find myself trimming dowels that were inserted to fill holes on the surfaces of the furniture to where screws, nails, or even knots have been. These restoration jobs can be made worse if you are not careful so sometimes using spacer like a cardboard "U" template, or even better I round is some of the hard plastic that is used for packaging. You can cut a hole or a "U" in it and place the blade on top to help prevent or reduce any marring of there surface, then use sandpaper or a sharp thin chisel to finish the job.

Oscillating Tool Cutting Dowls
While doing a bit of experimenting, I wondered if the tool could be used to either make, or at least cleanup mortise slots, and to my amazement, with the better quality blade I had, it made very clean edges that would easily make mortise holes cleaner on the edges and even help to size them if needed.

Oscillating Tool Mortise

An oscillating tool is not a tool I would recommend as a "joinery tool" it can help, but there are much better alternatives available for quick, accurate, and strong joints, like the dowelmax jig for example, easily my favorite joinery tool.

   Here is an example of a budget oscillating tool from Amazon

oscillating tool

What I was really interested to see was how well the oscillating tool could make slots in plywood for example. For years people have said "I don't have a router and router table, how can I make slots for jigs as you do?" and have told them, the table saw is one way, but not everyone is comfortable with that, but using an oscillating tool is safe, quick way of making really good slots I discovered. 
If you do not have an oscillating tool, it may be something to consider and I even checked out Harbor Freight and found they have a few options from $30 to $70 which, for a tool most people will not use a lot, is probably worth looking at. If you are doing a lot of home reno and really using the tool, you may want to look at some of the brand name tools that may come with a better warranty.
Whatever you do, make sure you pay close attention to the blades, they are really the key to using these tools and getting good results.
Getting cheap, inefficient blades often makes us blade bad cuts on the tool when really it's the blade that does all the work. 

Regardless of what you decide, it's always nice to have options and an oscillating tool is one option that might solve some of your woodworking problems, and who knows, maybe some day when you replace a floor, you can even use it for trimming door jambs ...

Copyright Colin Knecht



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