An OMT operates by high-speed oscillation, rather than rotating or reciprocating motion. Oscillating motion moves in a side-to-side, arced motion, like a clock pendulum. It’s this narrow angle of movement (from about 2° to 5°) and fast speed (up to about 22,000 oscillations per minute) that provides you with an unmatched degree of control. There are professional- and hobbyist-grade models in corded and cordless formats, available as a tool-only or in a kit with various accessories. The attachments (a.k.a. accessories) that do the work include various blades for sawing, cutting, scraping and grinding, and sanding pads that are typically triangular but can also be round. A clamping mechanism secures the attachment to the tool. Manufacturers use various clamping mechanisms (a.k.a. mounting systems). Some, like the Fein/Bosch Starlock system, are hands-free. Others require you to use a tool to change the attachment. While attachments are not always interchangeable across brands, there are some universal adapters that fit onto a tool’s clamping mechanism that enable it to accept attachments from different brands. An OMT is not a replacement for a conventional sander, jigsaw or grinder, but a complementary tool. Benefits include ease-of-use, the wide array of functions it carries out and its ability to reach into constricted spaces.
Price: $60 to $260 (tool only)
$60 – $530 (kit)
Power: 12V and 18V (cordless), 120V (corded)
Speed: 0 – 22,000 OPM (oscillations per minute)
Oscillating angle: 2° to 5°
Weight: 3 to 4.5 pounds
There are dozens – if not hundreds – of specialty attachments available. To get the best performance from your OMT use the attachment that’s recommended for the task at hand.
OMTs vary in size and weight. While some can be used with one hand, most require a two-handed grip. Tools with a large circumference can be tiring to hold for extended use. Choose a model that best suits your hand size and how frequently you’ll likely use the tool.
Not all OMTs have variable speed. Being able to reduce speed makes the tool more manageable and helps you increase precision. A soft-start function prevents the tool from jerking when started, delivers smoother speed acceleration and reduces motor stress.
There is a wide price range in OMTs. If you will be using the tool on a regular or daily basis, then opt for a higher priced, pro-grade tool. They typically have better ergonomics, less vibration, tool-free mounting systems and longer warranties.
While kits are generally more economical than purchasing a bare tool, make sure that most of the items in the kit are ones you will likely use.