December 14, 2009

Fein Orbital Sanding Attachment for the MultiMaster - Review

Fein_sanding.jpgFein had told us they were sending out a new accessory that they had just released, but when we saw that it was an orbital sander attachment we began to wonder about the move. Was this one of those times when a company just releases something just to release it? Was Fein in the process of jumping the shark? Multi-tools are a bit problematic; there's a certain tipping point where the disparity between the job that the multi-function tool does vs. the job that the traditionally purposed tool does gets so great that it renders the multi-tool somewhat pathetic. To put it in the terms of the situation at hand, if the Fein orbital attachment isn't anywhere near as good as an orbital sander, then what the hell good is it at all? Orbitals are basic tools and they really haven't changed much over the years because they're great at what they do. Now here comes Fein with a matching accessory? the train wreck potential here was huge. These were the thoughts we had when we packed up the attachment and brought it to work where we had just been tasked with a large sanding project.

Once we got the Fein up and running with the attachment, it really didn't take long for those thoughts to disappear. Using it head to head against our new Ridgid orbital, we could hardly tell any difference. We spent all day switching between the two tools struggling to discover some problem with the Fein, but we really couldn't. The orbital attachment is fully compatible with the tool's dust collection system, so it even matched the orbital on that front.

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We then brought it back to the shop and did a more scientific test to compare the two tools. We found a board with a 2-3/4" stripe painted on it and marked out 2 12" lengths of it. We outfitted both tools with 80 grit paper (the Fein with the included paper and the Ridgid with a piece of Norton paper) and then timed how long it took each tool to sand off the paint. The Fein got through to bare wood in 21 seconds and the Ridgid did the same in 15 seconds; faster, but not by all that much. After the test, we put a piece of 180 on the Fein to see how smooth we could get the board, thinking that regardless of the grit, the oscillating motion would always leave marks on the wood. The Fein had to have an Achilles heel, right? Nope, after a few moments with the 180 grit, the piece of wood was smooth as Tool Snob Jr's rear end.

Fein_sanding_w_r.jpgSo where does this leave us? Are those six seconds from the timed test crucial? Depends what you're doing. If you're setting up for a full eight hours of sanding, it probably is. But if you're taking on a small or even medium-sized project, it's pretty insignificant. The end result here is that your Fein can now double as an orbital sander. If you're a carpenter, it means one less tool that you have to lug around and if you're a DIYer, it's one less tool you have to own. Fein's multi-purpose tool just gained another purpose.

The only real drawback to this attachment is that it doesn't easily fit into the MultiMaster case. It's hardly worth mentioning, and we're really only saying it because we don't think we've ever said anything negative about the Fein MultiMaster or any of their accessories so we thought we'd give it a shot. So that's us sticking it to Fein: "we have to take the accessory off the tool in order to fit it in the case." Pretty sad on our part.

The orbital sanding attachment costs about $32 and comes with six sheets of sandpaper (2 each of 60, 80, 180 grit). It should be available where other Fein accessories are sold. We can't find it anywhere online, so it might be too new.

Read More in: All Reviews | Bits and Blades | Oscillating Tools

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at December 14, 2009 5:25 AM

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