.Oscillating power tools
A CHOICE home test
is not the same as one of our comparative tests. For a more detailed explanation of the difference between a comparative test and a home test, please click here
We recruited a serious DIY renovator, CHOICE member Sean Wain (right), to test four popular multi-function power tools for us.
Ideally, Sean is looking for an easy-to-use and lightweight tool with minimal vibration and a good range of supplied quality accessories. An extensive range of optional accessories is also on his wish list.
How do they rate?
Bosch Green PMF-250 ($149)
This has a very good, detailed manual that’s easy to follow, and a simple quick start guide. Its unique and easy-to-use lock-in mechanism for attachments makes changing accessories a breeze – no hex key or other tools are required. There’s no kickback on start up, and vibration is minimal on high speed. The noise level is tolerable.
It’s excellent for sanding and cutting wood – the side handle helps to stabilise when sanding, with a good range of sanding paper grades included. Performance is very good using both suitable blades on the 1mm aluminium, and reasonable on the 3mm aluminium. But only one (the “wood and metal” blade) does a good job cutting steel. All blades do an excellent job on plastic.
Sean rates this product as very good overall and says he would buy it. He’d rate it excellent if it came with a square metal cutting blade (this is an optional extra). He thinks the accessory locking mechanism is “fantastic”, appreciates the quality and performance of the attachments, finds the unit lightweight and easy to handle, and likes that the blades are all labelled for suitable uses. Sean was able to use Makita accessories on this unit but not Ryobi’s or Ozito’s.
Ozito MFR-250 ($75)
The Ozito comes with good, clear instructions, and changing accessories is easily done with the supplied hex key. There’s some vibration and noise on the lowest speed setting, and a lot on the fastest speed. It’s not too heavy and the side handle provides extra support and control. It’s very good at sanding wood, and 15 sanding papers are supplied. It also comes with a heavy-duty rasp tool.
Three cutting blades are included but weren’t adequately labelled (two identical square blades and one circular). The circular saw blade is OK on wood, but although the square blades cut well on high speed it vibrates too much. Both blade types perform very well on 1mm aluminium and 1mm steel. The circular blade is good at cutting 3mm aluminium, but the square blades struggle. Both blade types cut plastic easily. Sean rates this product good overall. It’s good value for money given the number of accessories supplied and the relative low cost. However, the noise and vibration is a problem, so it won’t suit someone who will use this tool frequently.
Makita TM3000CX7 ($197)
The Makita's instructions are minimal. A hex key is needed for connecting and disconnecting accessories (this is supplied). There’s no vibration or kickback on start up on low speed, but it’s very noisy on the higher speeds. Sean says that it’s a very well built unit, and he likes the long lead. He rates it as excellent on sanding wood, but found it heavier than the others on test. He would have liked some 240 grit paper in the box too. Two wood/metal blades are included – square and circular.
Sean rates it very good overall at cutting wood – the square blade struggle at low speed but is great at top speed, whereas the circular blade is only OK. Both blades are “fantastic” on 1mm aluminium, “reasonable” on 3mm aluminium and good on 1mm steel. Both blades are also excellent for cutting plastic. Sean says the included accessories are limited, it’s relatively expensive, and its instructions are poor. It’s heavier than the others, and doesn’t come with a side handle for support – Sean found it too heavy for continued use. While he says it generally performs well overall and he found the blades very good, he’s unlikely to buy it.
Ryobi RMT1801 Cordless ($79) / RBC18L15 battery and charger ($99)
The instructions are very minimal – Sean wasn’t sure what one of the accessories was for. A hex key is used to connect and disconnect the accessories. The Ryobi is the only cordless model on test, with only one speed and little vibration. It’s easy to hold, and not too noisy. Sanding performance is good, but you need to hold down the trigger to operate it, which isn't ideal. Sean would have preferred it if some 240 grit paper had been included. It takes some time to cut through wood using the wood/metal blade. Using the circular blade on wood results in a poor-quality cut that takes a longer time to execute. This model is poor for cutting aluminium, only OK on steel and excellent on plastic.
Overall, Sean says it’s a nice-looking unit, but it doesn’t have the power or speed to undertake most tasks. However, it may be OK for some very small, light-duty jobs. No other branded accessories fit onto this unit. The total cost with battery is just too much, but if you have other Ryobi tools that share the battery, the cost is more reasonable.
If you frequently DIY, the Bosch is your best option. It performs very well overall and is easy to use. For the infrequent odd job, the Ozito is great value for money.
What is a home test?
Often we turn to CHOICE voting members to do some small-scale, qualitative testing on a product category that we cannot justify a full test on – whether it be because of low demand, prohibitive test costs or a number of other reasons.While a home test does not have the same scientific rigour of our normal tests, they do have the benefit of being conducted in a "real-world" environment that may uncover things a lab test may not. Plus, we have absolute faith in our CHOICE membership and trust them to give an honest and lighthearted assessment of the goods we've asked them to test.
If you'd like to take part as a home tester, please sign up to be a voting member.