Fein MultiMaster 250Q Top - Review
We've repeated the oscillating tool 'situation' in a number of articles here, but we feel the need to do a quick recap. Fein created the hand held oscillating tool and released the MultiMaster in 1986. At the same time, they slapped a patent on the creation, prohibiting other companies from using the same technology, giving them total marketplace dominance. What is interesting (and cool) about this is that they decided against making a variety of oscillating tools available at varying quality and price. Instead, they stuck to their guns and made the best tool that they could and refused to compromise any standards. Now, with the patent recently expired and a number of relatively inexpensive oscillating tools available, Fein is still at the top of the pack, refusing to enter the fray with anything less than perfect. Which brings us to their latest model, the Fein MultiMaster 250Q Top.
When we reviewed the new Bosch and Dremel oscillating tools, we looked at them in relation to an older Fein that we have. It's one of our favorite tools and it's as tough as a Sherman Tank. We've had it for years and it's reliable, powerful, and precise. We had heard that Fein recently released a new updated version of their tool, one with some sort of quick change chuck, but we didn't really know much else about the tool, so we jumped at the opportunity to check one out.
We hardly even know where to begin. If your stomach is going to turn by reading a pathetic tool love-fest, then you should just click away right now. We were just looking over our notes and, not only is there nothing even remotely negative about this tool, but there's not even anything that's simply good about the tool. It's all amazing. Every last bit.
First, the quick change chuck. With all of the older Fein's and the current competitors, accessories are changed out with a Allen wrench; just unscrew the center bolt, put on the blade, sander, whatever, and screw the bolt back in. With all the other quick-change chucks out there (recip saws, jig saws, etc), it always felt a bit archaic using this clunky method on an oscillating tool, particularly because the tool's multi-functions are dependent on the accessory, making it likely you'll be performing multiple changes during a single project. It's like constantly having to replace your circular saw blade. So anyway, back to the current MultiMaster. This one has a tab that you lift on the back of the body and in doing so, you release the entire bolt from the chuck (it's not exactly a bolt, but it's similar enough). Once the accessory is on, just replace the bolt and press the tab back into place and this pulls the bolt back up into the tool and locks it. It's very easy and cuts a lot of time off changing accessories. In addition, you no longer have to worry about the Allen head stripping out over time (which it will eventually do).
The Fein MultiMaster 250Q Top also comes with a great profile sanding kit. It's an ingenious little accessory that allows you to clamp, not only a piece of sandpaper, but one of six profiles into the nose of the tool (depending on what you're sanding). We tested it out and had great success with it. We easily sanded some tricky spots in this five panel door that we've been restoring for what seems like forever.
There is also the dust collection system. The Rockwell oscillating tool came with one and we thought it was pretty good; it got rid of most of the dust, but there was still some on the work piece and some getting into the air around the tool. The Fein, on the other hand, completely eradicates every last bit of dust created by the tool. Literally, 100% of the dust was taken into the system and not a speck was left floating in the air. We would feel comfortable using this with the sanding attachment in a fully-furnished living room. It's amazing how well it works.
We also tested it against the Rockwell, the Dremel, and the Bosch and it was by far the most powerful of the tools. It reminded us of the Cadex CPB23.50 23-Gauge Pinner in that it is built to such high quality standards that you can feel it just by holding it. If you made a chart of all the relevant numbers of all the new oscillating tools (speed, power, etc), the Fein would probably come out ahead, but you still might not think that it's worth the money. But, with the Fein, it's not about the numbers as much as it's about the quality, and this is one of the finest tools out there. The dust collection system is a perfect example and indicative of the rest of the tool; the Rockwell comes with a dust collection that's fine and it works, but the one that comes with the Fein is superior in all ways. The Fein is just simply better than the competition.
This idea of incredible quality bleeds over into the non-tool items as well. The case is top-notch, with a lot of storage space and the accessories are way more durable than the competitors.
Does it cost a lot more than the others? Absolutely. The 250Q Top (the largest kit with loads of accessories) runs about $400, but if it's a tool that you're going to use with any regularity and particularly if it's on a job site, it's worth every penny. We liked the Rockwell, the Bosch, and the Dremel, but the Fein is really in a class of its own.
There are a number of other kits available. If you click through any of these Amazon links, there is a chart telling you which accessories come with which kit. The 250Q Top is the only one that comes with the profile kit, the nice case, and the dust extraction kit, and for these reasons, it's the one that we recommend.
Fein MultiMaster 250Q Top ($399) at Amazon.com
Fein MultiMaster FMM 250Q Select ($309) at Amazon.com
Fein MultiMaster FMM 250Q Basic ($269) at Amazon.com
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at November 28, 2008 5:38 AM