What is an Oscillating Tool?

Varvara November 11 2021

The first-ever stone-made tool used by humans dates around 2.6 million years ago. And it probably belongs to the first-ever humans who appeared on the surface of the earth with the ability to think critically. The tool was simply a hammerstone with a sharp end.

But one thing is clear from this discovery. We have been using tools in our everyday life from the very first days of our species. 

Let’s talk about the modern era. The 1900s is widely considered the ‘industrial era.’ Industries began to start their operations. Machines were introduced to make work easier, infrastructures that no one ever imagined before were built.

And in the completion of all these remarkable projects, there was one tool that was a must—the oscillating tools.

Originated from Germany in 1967, the oscillating tool was developed to efficiently aid surgeons and hospital staff in removing the plaster casts. The tool's oscillating blade can break the plaster without causing any injuries to the patient.

How does an oscillating tool work?

There’s one question that frequently pops up. Which one will win between an angle grinder vs. oscillating tool? In terms of functionality and working mechanism, both are different. But still, each device is a must for major construction projects.

In terms of usage, there’s no possible limit to what an oscillating tool can do. That’s the main reason why these tools are also referred to as multi-tools.

Oscillating tools can adapt blades of all shapes and sizes suitable for cutting, sanding, and scraping almost every possible construction material. Mainly, these tools are used to work with PVC, metal, wood, and more.

Due to their diverse mode of usage and machine dynamics, the oscillating tool has a slight advantage over angle grinders, especially when comparing angle grinders vs. oscillating tools.

In terms of the body, both tools have the same body with a difference in diameter. The real difference comes between the blade shape and movement.

An oscillating tool comes with a flatter and precision-based blade. The motor installed at the end of the tool allows the blade to move up and down super-fast around a fixed line of motion. Hence, replicating the effect of oscillations is what makes the tool work.

This effect allows the tool to cut through multiple surfaces but doesn’t damage or injure fragile objects, which is a great safety feature when used by construction personnel.

Things to consider before buying an oscillating tool

Types of Accessories Used

With different models of oscillating tools, the set of accessories are also different. This doesn’t have to do with anything with the working principle or efficiency of an oscillating tool.

So, how does an oscillating tool work? Each oscillating tool comes with a set of accessories that are designed specifically for each model. 

Some well-known accessory designs include star lock models, regular blades, and the Festool with an entirely different propriety system.

Blade Oscillation Rate

Undoubtedly, there’s no rocket science involved behind the whole concept of blade oscillation rate. In scientific terms, the blade oscillation rate for an oscillation tool means the number of oscillations made by the blade in one minute.

The unit used to measure blade oscillation rate is OPM (oscillation per minute). Greater OPM of a tool means a smoother and easier cutting experience and vice versa.

Greater OPM also allows the tool to work more efficiently, providing better results in a short period of time. Generally, experts suggest choosing an oscillation tool with a minimum of 18,000 OPM.

Noise Control Options

Working with much older tool models can be a nuisance. They all will be very noisy, especially if you’re using an old model oscillating tool.

Relatively, an angle grinder is a much better option when it comes to noise. Most of the angle grinder models come with an added noise reduction feature as much newer and advanced technology. Making angle grinders a clear choice between angle grinders vs. oscillating tools.

According to verified reports and experiments, the cutting noise levels generated by even the latest oscillating tool ranges from 92 dB – 104 dB, which can be pretty uncomfortable for most of us.

Multiple Speed Options

More commonly known as the speed trigger, a multiple speed option dial allows the user to set the oscillating blade's speed manually.

When working with different kinds of materials, the oscillating speed of the blade does need to be maintained to get the perfect cut you were looking for, especially when you’re working with PVC or wood, which requires more intricate design and details.

Generally, oscillating tools do come with multiple speed adjustment options. The speed adjustment of the device also depends significantly on the shape and size of the blade used.

Vibration Ratio

The term “vibration” doesn’t mean the blade's ability to vibrate to cut down something constantly for an oscillation tool.

In this case, vibrations mean the reverse effect of the oscillating blade that causes the body of the oscillation tool to vibrate. And without careful calibration, this vibration can also cause a lot of unwanted damage.

When experts talk about angle grinder vs. oscillating tool, this is one of the significant factors that decide which tool is better. As the oscillation tool is already well-known for the oscillating blade, the tool's vibration ratio is relatively high compared to an angle grinder.

Ability to Change Accessories

As much as it is essential to understand how an oscillating tool works, it is also crucial to understand how you can change the accessories of your oscillation tool.

Several oscillation tools manufacturers have their separate tool designs and models in the market. As a result, the accessories set that comes along with these tools can also be different.

Most of the tools have plain-edged or star-shaped accessories that are perfectly compatible with the original tool. But still, it is a good idea to check whether the tool and its accessories are something that you can efficiently work with.

Some oscillation tools design require added equipment and gadget to install or mount the accessories on the tool. This may require some extra effort and expertise if you’re doing it for the first time.