July 13, 2011

Porter-Cable Oscillating Tool - Review


Porter-Cable is now in the oscillating tool game and honestly it's a tool that wouldn't have interested us a whole lot except that it has a funky quick change feature that looks to solve one of the key hassles with oscillating tool, the blade change-out. PC sent us one to check out and we've been absolutely pounding on this thing at work, trying our best to break its spirit. Here's how it did...


Actually, it did great. This is a really nice tool and we liked it a lot. For cutting and sanding, we didn't see a whole lot of difference between the PC and the Rockwell or any of the other pro-grade models we've used, but it's the quick change feature that makes this one a real keeper.

To this point, Fein has been the only company to evolve beyond the allen head machine screw method of swapping out blades. The current generation of Fein involves a piece that toggles up at the back of the head and releases the piece that holds the blade in place. By "releases" what we really mean is that it falls out. We've loved this system and have never had any complaints with it. But the PC does it one better and reduces the action to a simple trigger pull.


The trigger is located just under the chuck and when pulled it causes the locking mechanism to pull away from the back side of the chuck giving you enough of a space to remove the old blade and slip in the new one. The trigger is spring-loaded so when it's released, it goes back into the locked position. It's a great method and the only drawback is that it adds some depth to the head of the tool, something that only bothered us once during the month or so of heavy use.

Because of this new design, the PC can only use PC blades that have the notch cut out of them. We'd say this is a problem, but we also noticed a threaded hole at the end of the tool that looks like it's all set to accept the traditional method of blade attachment.


The tool comes with a nice case, injection molded, just how we like them and an assortment of blades and sanding pads. Amazon is currently peddling this product for about $115 which seems like a steal, given the prices of the other models.

At Amazon

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at July 13, 2011 5:13 AM
Recent Comments

Just bought one over the weekend to cut out the mdf sheeting that is over the plywood subfloor. We are putting down new wood flooring and for whatever reason there is a 3/8 inch of this over the entire floor making it impossible to use the floor nailer. Had to cut around all of the doorways and closets. I would still be using a hammer and chisel if I hadn't bought one of theses. Blades aren't cheap since you have to us PC blades because of the quick change option. You can find them online cheaper. There is a 3rd party adapter to use less expensive blades but you lose the quick change option.

Posted by: jdv at August 6, 2012 10:49 PM

I got the P Cable for Christmas. Used it twice and it quit working. Messing with the switch sometimes got it turn back on.

Took it back.

Posted by: DG at March 4, 2012 9:55 PM

I like it... but the case is terrible. Unpack the sealed bag of sanding sheets, and try getting it all stuffed back. The slot arrangement is just... well... terrible.
Also, cord storage is another problem. The case seems to be "universal" for both the Porter-Cable oscillating tools, so there's room for a charger there, complete with a case protrusion that prohibits cord storage.
Fortunately, with the oscillating tool, its a simple matter of cutting the @#$#@$ protrusion off the case lid, and it make storage a lot easier, although it still doesn't fix the slot tool storage issue.
Its a heavy duty tool. For just over a hundred bucks, you really can't go wrong with it. I'm impressed with the power and the oscillating stroke. Previously, I've been using the Dremel DIY unit, with good success for things like cutting out old shower valves (and the tile, and the wall...) Dremel all worked just GREAT for that, but finally died when using it to make odd finish cuts in synthetic deck planking. I think the Porter-Cable would have eaten that job for breakfast. Doesn't get hot either. First time out, I cut some protruding finish nails from a pocket door slot. Zero issues. Have also tested it on laminate flooring, lumber... it eats things that would have choked the Dremel.

Posted by: Charlie B at January 7, 2012 10:10 AM

Could have used one of these this past weekend. I was installing a new sink in our master bathroom. It was about 3/4" too wide for the original baseboard, so I decided to take a chisel to it and 'shave' the end of the baseboard back a little to make room for the cabinet the sink would sit on.

First hit from the hammer (a light one I swear!) and teh baseboard split into three pieces! I hit down on it against the grain. UGH! I've never seen anything like that, but I guess I asked for it. An oscillating tool would have made quick work of it and I wouldn't be taking a toilet out now to replace baseboard.

Posted by: Moose at July 14, 2011 10:02 AM
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