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OT Multifunction Tool Review

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by ehsjr, Jul 12, 2009.

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  1. ehsjr

    ehsjr Guest

    Joerg asked that I review the tool if I got it, so here's
    the review.

    Harbor Freight Multifunction Tool
    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=65700

    This is not a comparative review, as I have not used
    a Fein or any other brand multifunction tool. It is
    based on my brief testing and inspection of the thing.

    Overall impression:
    Thumbs up. If the tool is for occasional light use, it
    is $40.00 well spent, in my opinion. Performance was
    better than I expected from a forty dollar tool and
    quality seems adequate at that price.

    If you have a need to use the tool on a regular basis, spend
    more for higher quality. While this seems to be the
    "standard disclaimer" for any cheap tool and is often said
    by the poster to protect himself from the scorn of others,
    I am posting it based primarily on the findings under
    inspection, below. My impression is that it is well enough
    made for occasional light use, but is not a high quality
    tool.


    Performance
    Sawing:
    My testing was similar to "Flush cutting to install flooring" at
    http://www.dremel.com/en-us/projectsandcommunity/VideosOfProjects/Pages/Video.aspx?vid=48

    o Perfect for small plunge cuts.
    o Time to cut through 3/4" thickness of 1 1/2" fir: 25 seconds
    o Nice smooth cut.
    o Also tested on a 2x4. I cut through the thickness of a stub
    of 2x4 about 3" long and made 3 2x4's about 1 inch long each.
    Cuts easily, and the cut surface is smooth.

    Sanding:
    o Perfect and fast. For the very small job I tested,
    faster with 180 grit on the multifunction than my
    Bosch ROS with 120 grit would have been. If you
    ever have to sand an inside corner of a cabinet, this
    is probably the perfect tool.

    Vibration:
    o No noticable vibration while sanding or sawing

    Not tested:
    Grout removal, caulk removal, scraping,
    cutting sheet rock.

    Ease of use:
    High marks for sanding.
    High marks for accomplishing a cut
    High marks for smoothness of cut
    Low marks for keeping the blade perpendicular to the work.
    Some discussion of the above: Some people have the
    "woodworkers eye" and can make a perfect 90 degree cut
    in a board at 20 paces with a blunt rock. Not me. I have
    to use a square or a jig or some kind of guide to keep
    the blade perpendicular with any hand held saw. All
    my cuts with the tool were perfectly straight, but angled.
    The tool did nothing to help me keep it perpendicular.


    Engineering:
    Current - 1.05 amps no load at 122.7 VAC
    1.2 amps sawing 3/4" fir
    1.67 amps peak sawing through 2x4 and pressing hard
    1.35 amps average sawing through 2x4 normal pressure

    Heat - the gearbox metal housing got hot (estimate 130 F)
    after cutting the 2x4 stubs. Not alarmingly or
    uncomfortably hot, but evidence of friction, which
    we obviously do not want.

    Noise - it's loud - loud enough that the instruction
    manual should make a bold point of the warning
    to wear hearing protection. Sort of sounds like
    a vacuum cleaner on steroids.

    Inspection - I took the thing apart. The groves on the armature
    are not cut as sharply as they could be. Ball
    bearings support the armature. I was unable to
    pull the armature out of the gear housing and
    I could not inspect the gears. I was unwilling
    to use more force to try to get the armature out.
    The armature has a nylon (?) gear looking thing
    press fit on it that functions as a fan. Doesn't
    create a lot of wind - but seems enough in use
    to prevent overheating. When spinning the armature
    by hand, which of course moves the gears in the
    gearbox, a slight roughness can be felt. That
    roughness might be caused by the reversing, don't
    know. The instruction manual includes a parts
    list and exploded view, but it is not clear
    enough to see how the thing reverses. The air
    vent cuts in the gear housing do not have the
    look and feel of high quality.

    Ed
     
  2. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Thanks for the review, Ed, very nice!

    So it seems this tool is up to par for the occasional user. Noise, gear
    box heat and such would be ok. There are situations even for lay people
    where you need more quality, like when I removed tons of old tiles from
    a floor, there I bought a professional grade Bosch. But this
    Multifunction tool would have helped me greatly doing jamb cuts and
    floorboard trim-back and I could have done a better job with it than by
    hand.
     
  3. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    Won't the Bosch tool do that?

    ...Jim Thompson
    --
    | James E.Thompson, P.E. | mens |
    | Analog Innovations, Inc. | et |
    | Analog/Mixed-Signal ASIC's and Discrete Systems | manus |
    | Phoenix, Arizona 85048 Skype: Contacts Only | |
    | Voice:(480)460-2350 Fax: Available upon request | Brass Rat |
    | E-mail Icon at http://www.analog-innovations.com | 1962 |

    I love to cook with wine Sometimes I even put it in the food
     
  4. krw

    krw Guest

    At 5x the price. If you want to spend another 2-3X, the Fein
    MultiMaster is supposed to be a nice tool too. I plan on buying the
    Bosch, though.

    OTOH, for floor tile it may be worth getting the HF version as a
    throw-away.
     
  5. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    My Bosch Bulldog? It would knock the whole base board off the wall and
    leave one hellacious hole :)
     
  6. krw

    krw Guest

  7. Joerg

    Joerg Guest


    Yes, that looks like a nice tool. But one has to also mind the cost of
    spare blades, disks and whatnot. The Harborfreight inserts are probably
    not the most durable but at least they don't cost an arm and a leg. And
    I am pretty sure the more posh mfgs make the mounts incompatible so you
    must use their inserts.

    For the occasional home or small biz user the Harborfreight version
    might be good enough.
     
  8. Jon Kirwan

    Jon Kirwan Guest

    Turns out I just happen to need one!! Since a store is just a couple
    of miles away... buying it right now. Bye!

    Jon
     
  9. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    Yep, That's what I thought Joerg was speaking of.

    Is the HF just a cheapened version of the Bosch Multi-X?

    ...Jim Thompson
    --
    | James E.Thompson, P.E. | mens |
    | Analog Innovations, Inc. | et |
    | Analog/Mixed-Signal ASIC's and Discrete Systems | manus |
    | Phoenix, Arizona 85048 Skype: Contacts Only | |
    | Voice:(480)460-2350 Fax: Available upon request | Brass Rat |
    | E-mail Icon at http://www.analog-innovations.com | 1962 |

    I love to cook with wine Sometimes I even put it in the food
     
  10. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    Will it cut metal, or is it strictly for wood?

    ...Jim Thompson
    --
    | James E.Thompson, P.E. | mens |
    | Analog Innovations, Inc. | et |
    | Analog/Mixed-Signal ASIC's and Discrete Systems | manus |
    | Phoenix, Arizona 85048 Skype: Contacts Only | |
    | Voice:(480)460-2350 Fax: Available upon request | Brass Rat |
    | E-mail Icon at http://www.analog-innovations.com | 1962 |

    I love to cook with wine Sometimes I even put it in the food
     
  11. krw

    krw Guest

    I haven't seen the HF version up front and personal but the Bosch is
    12V Li-Ion battery powered (same battery as their *excellent*
    "Impactor" impact screwdriver), where the others (Fein, Dremmel, and
    HF) are AC powered. AIUI, the blades are not quite the same and the
    HF version has problems with the blade coming loose. Of course the HF
    price is 40% of the Dremmel, 20% of the Bosch, and 10% of the Fein. As
    is often the case with these tools, the details are in the details.
     
  12. krw

    krw Guest

    I believe that is the case, though easily could be wrong here. Yes,
    these bits are expensive, though I'd expect the others to last a lot
    longer than the HF. I use HF's smaller utility drill bits and such,
    but they certainly aren't Colt Five Stars.
    Sometimes (usually) the aggravation of cheap tools isn't worth the
    money saved. I learned long ago to stay *far* away from Crapsman
    power tools. The only one I have left is a RAS, but it hasn't been
    plugged in for over a decade. It may never be again (bought a Delta
    Unisaw earlier this year ;) and I have a HF SCMS (which will likely be
    replaced by a Bosch within a year or so).
     
  13. ehsjr

    ehsjr Guest

    They show it cutting copper pipe at the link I posted, but I didn't
    try it on metal.

    Ed
     
  14. ehsjr

    ehsjr Guest

    I'm not sure what you have in mind. Do you mean the
    armature shaft that is supported by the ball bearings,
    or the shaft (they call it "spindle") that comes out
    of the gear housing to which you attach the blade?

    Ed
     
  15. krw

    krw Guest

    No, I haven't. I live in sort of a backwater, so haven't seen the
    Milwaukees. We have one of their 4.2V drivers at work; junk.

    In addition to the PS40A, I have also have the PS20A (came as a
    "rebate" item with the PS40A) and just recently bought the PS30A.
    Cordless tools have sort of a hook. Once you bite on the
    manufacturer, you're kinda in for the whole worm. ...though I also
    have Dewalt, an older PC, and even older Makita cordless tools.
     
  16. krw

    krw Guest

    A report from rec.woodworking was that it is impossible to tighten the
    HF screw tight enough, though wasn't enough of a problem to put the HF
    tool into the junk category.
    Very clever. Patent the tool, then after that runs out patent the
    chuck that makes it usable. ;-)
     
  17. It appears to be an oscillating, not rotating, tool. How did they eliminate
    vibrations?
     
  18. Joerg

    Joerg Guest


    On stuff that you use a lot I agree. The best is my Metabo drill (a very
    reputable German brand). I really tortured that thing, stuff like
    sanding off the paint of >1000sqft of decking in 10h Marathon-sessions.
    The only thing that ever went kaputt in 35 years was the strain relief
    area of the power cord, fixed in five minutes.
     
  19. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    Happened to be in Lowe's this morning for other reasons, but I checked
    out the Dremel... looks like they've fixed the blade holder to be like
    Bosch et al.

    I'll listen here for awhile longer before making my choice... I mainly
    need grout clean-up, but wish they all could do metal.

    ...Jim Thompson
    --
    | James E.Thompson, P.E. | mens |
    | Analog Innovations, Inc. | et |
    | Analog/Mixed-Signal ASIC's and Discrete Systems | manus |
    | Phoenix, Arizona 85048 Skype: Contacts Only | |
    | Voice:(480)460-2350 Fax: Available upon request | Brass Rat |
    | E-mail Icon at http://www.analog-innovations.com | 1962 |

    I love to cook with wine Sometimes I even put it in the food
     
  20. krw

    krw Guest

    So it is. I've never seen one. I note that it'll take 12V batteries
    too. Maybe...

    The Milwaukee is a broken cylinder type. I hate them. I'd rather use
    a manual screwdriver.
    I have the 18V Dewalts, if I need them. I got them for decks and
    such. BTW, if you're in the market for a circular saw, the rear-pivot
    Dewalt DW364 is really nice. Another tool I was very pleasantly
    surprised by. I got fed up with my old Ryobi (which was a large move
    up from a Crapsman).

    http://www.dewalt.com/us/products/tool_detail.asp?productID=3027
    I'm not familiar with the Sonicrafter. It looks like another one of
    the multi-tools, perhaps a light weight one?

    I use a cordless Rotozip[*], then spend hours cleaning up. ;-)
    Actually, I'm looking to replace it too, since I've just about blown
    the bearings doing particle board, cement backer board, and tile. It
    makes a horrible sound now.

    [*] Which reminds me. I gotta find it so I can get its batteries out
    of the garage. It's often over 120F in there.
     
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