Dremel Multi-Max Review, A Poor Man’s Fein Multimaster?



Before I dive into the Dremel Multi-Max review, allow me to provide a bit of disclosure. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the Fein Multimaster. With that said, I’m not a big fan of monopolies. That’s partly why I’m happy to see companies coming out with competing oscillating tools, and the Dremel Multi-Max is one of them. I’m also happy to report Dremel is sponsoring this month’s free stuff giveaway, with not one, but two free Dremel Multi-Max’s! These will be given to two lucky winners at the end of this month!

If you haven’t owned an oscillating tool like the Dremel Multi-Max, go get one now! They are the kind of tool you are not quite sure you’ll have a use for until you get one and realize how incredibly handy they are. They’re great for everything from flush-cutting door trim, to removing grout. Because they oscillate (rather than having a spinning blade) they also tend to be relatively safer and far less dusty to use on many types of projects. Great for cutting into wood or drywall to make electrical outlet cutouts, sans a Sahara-like dust storm.

So how did the Multi-Max fare in general, and how did it stack up against the cherished Fein Multimaster? Overall, I was impressed with the Dremel. At around $100 for a basic kit, it comes in about $100 less than a comparable Fein setup. Does a cheaper tool mean 1/2 the performance of the Fein Multimaster? Not in my opinion.

The Fein Multimaster I own is an older model without the quick-change accessory setup. So in my case, both the Dremel and Fein require the use of an included hex key to change accessories. When compared to the old Fein Multimasters, the Multi-Max actually has the advantage in this department. The Dremel accessories feature little holes that line up with spurs on the tool itself. This helps insure your accessory won’t start rotating while you’re working with the tool. On my old Fein, I have had many projects interrupted by the need to adjust and re-tighten the accessory bolt. The Multi-Max accessories also have a slot cut into them, which means you don’t need to completely remove the bolt to change accessories. A real time saver, and another advantage over the older Fein Multimasters.

I tested out the Dremel Hook and Loop pad and sandpaper, a small flush cut blade for wood, and the flexible scraper blade. I found the included sandpaper wore down a bit faster than the Fein paper I’m used to. However the sanding function still performed well on the Multi-Max. The flush cut blade for wood performed very well, and managed to work it’s way through several clean cuts I needed on some wood shelving I was working on. The blade bogged down a couple times, but a quick little shift in tool angle got things back on track. The wood blades cleverly feature a printed depth ruler on the blade itself, which is very handy in certain types of cuts where you know the material thickness and don’t want to cut into the material behind it.

The Multi-Max also boasts a 1.5 amp motor, which did feel like it had slightly less juice than my Fein (which I think runs at slightly over 2 amps). If you’re doing what the tool is designed for, I don’t see the 1.5 amp motor being under-powered though. Lastly, I removed some old adhesive with the flexible scraper blade, and it worked like a charm, except then I had to get the adhesive off the Dremel blade. I thought about getting out the Fein Multimaster with a scraper blade to clean the Multi-Max blade, but I was worried the Multi-Max and Multimaster might get in a fight and I’d lose control of them both in the ensuing melee.

All in all, I think the Dremel Multi-Max held its own against the Fein. The one glaring difference I see between the two tools is that the Multi-Max is far more affordable than the Fein (both in terms of tool cost, and in terms of accessories). Fein accessories are high quality, but also notoriously expensive. According to Dremel, their accessories will also fit both the Fein Multimaster 636 and the Bosch Multi-X PS50. Check out this article for a detailed breakdown of which oscillating tool accessories fit specific tools if you’re into oscillating tool accessory swapping.

You can pick up a the Dremel 6300-01 120-Volt Multi-Max Oscillating Kit for about $102 at Amazon.

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Comments

  1. I have a dremel multimax. It died after sporadic use over 3 years. General warranties aside I did expect it to last longer for the $100. I paid for it. I spoke with a factory rep they said send it back and they will see if they can fix it.
    Kind of inconvenient.

  2. I’ve always wondered if the Fein is worth all that money. Way out of my reach but nice to see a good review on the Dremel. Sounds like it’s worth the money to me! Thanks for the article. May be on my list for Christmas!

    • Glad the review was helpful Carla. The Fein is still worthing checking out even if you’re on a budget (their prices have come down, and the thing that used to be the biggest budget killer. . . Fein accessories. . . are now more readily available from other brands). Hope Santa is good to you! ; )

  3. Liz Stocker says:

    I’ve never used the Fein, but I’ve used the dickens out of the Dremel Multimax. This is a great tool for the money.

  4. Yesterday I received a Dremel Multi-Max (this was an additional review tool Dremel provided to HomeFixated for me to supplement Marc’s Multi-Max review above). The first thing I noticed was the case. Rigid construction, plenty of room for accessories, extra sanding paper, and easily identifiable. This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to me it is. If I have a tool box full of cases I want to grab the tool I need the first time. It’s probably just my own time management (or lack thereof), but during projects or jobs it seems time is always at a premium.
    I don’t want to cover too much that Marc already did but–Dremel’s attachment system is superior to any oscillating tool I have used. Less He-Man on the arbor bolt and the slot on Dremel’s attachments really are handy for switching.
    I tried out the flush cut blade on some old fir trim I had around, and props to Dremel for the markings on the blade denoting depth. I was sure I could wear these off rendering them useless—but even really cranking on the tool, the best I could accomplish was loosening up the blade causing me to tighten the arbor bolt again. (I was purposely trying to bog the tool, and heat the blade up—normal people wouldn’t do this—or shouldn’t).
    Another thing I noticed about this tool was the noise level. It is fairly quiet—even at the “10” level. (To my disappointment—it does not go to 11. If I owned a tool company, I would have 11, just because it is awesome). Obviously—hearing/eye protection should be used. I will just say that professionally, there were plenty of times where I did neither. Using a tool that screeches all day can be just plain taxing. Would I want to listen to the Dremel for hours with no hearing protection? No, but the few cuts I made with it without were not headache inducing.
    All in all—the Dremel performed just how I had hoped it would. As an oscillating tool capable of doing its job, and everything I would expect from Dremel.

    To Reader Greg: According to the Janka Hardness Scale, Brazilian Cherry is roughly two times as hard as White Oak. A few of the woodworking sites I’ve checked out are claiming it is pretty darn tough on saw blades. Without actually ever having my hands on it—try to score a line with a really sharp utility knife blade to cut the fibers of the top layer of wood. Next, being careful to not mar outside of your score line—take a sharp chisel and use the corner of it and give it a few raps with a hammer. This should make a bit of a “pocket” to get your oscillating tool blade into—and will help prevent it from chattering outside your line as you start your plunge cut. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

  5. Richard Kurth says:

    I was pleased to read your review of the Dremel tool which is similar to the Fein Multi-Master. I have had a Fein for a number of years, and really appreciate the unique applications for which it can be so effectively used. But, on the last job I had for it, I was disappointed in it’s performance. I was attempting to make a straight finish cut on already installed 3/4? Oak flooring. This is an old tool that came out before the star spindle was introduced. I was able to run not much longer than 10-15 seconds before the blade rotated out of position and I had to stop, reposition and tighten it. I would not encourage anyone to think they are getting a bargain if they find a used one of these older tools at an attractive price.

    Then before I finished the job, which amounted to cutting less than 2 feet of material, the blade cracked. My local hardware store did not carry a replacement so I had to go to a tool supply store in an adjoining town to find one (my fault for not having a spare on hand and a tight schedule). The price was shocking – Roughly $36 for one. I am sure they are cheaper on the Internet. This was not a brazed carbide grit coated tile blade, but a simple steel wood cutting blade.

    Having decided maybe I was pushing it too hard with the first blade, and out of consideration of the price, I slowed everything down with the new blade. Even with going slowly, avoiding heating and torquing the blade, and taking a shallow cut, this blade also cracked in less than 5 minutes. Fortunately I had made a very clean cut all the way across on the surface (which it did a beautiful job of) and finished the unseen part of the cut with a wood chisel.

    Maybe there is something I do not know about using the multimaster, but I have not been disappointed with it’s performance on previous jobs. Other than less, I do not know what a similar blade for the Dremel tool would cost. But, with a $36 price tag on Fein blades, it would seem it might not take long to pay for a Dremel tool and less expensive attachments. Hopefully competition will cause Fein to reconsider their attachment pricing structure.

    • Thanks for the insights and commentary Richard! I moved your comment from another page since it was posted to the wrong article. I’ve definitely shared your frustrations with the rotating blade issue on the older Fein MultiMasters. And my wallet has cried bitter tears when buying Fein accessories (although I haven’t experienced a cracked blade).

      As to accessory cost, I just did a quick check on Amazon for a frame of reference. Both Fein and Dremel make a very similar semi-circle shaped wood cutting blade (the most noticeable difference being the Fein blade is offset slightly for flush cutting). One Fein blade currently runs $25.89 on Amazon. A pack of 3 similar Dremel blades runs $15.40. So about $5/blade on the Dremel and about $25/blade or Fein. The price differences are less dramatic on certain other blades, but from what I could tell, the Dremel blades were always cheaper. So is a Fein blade 5 times as good as a Dremel blade to account for the price difference? Although I love my Fein, I’m not convinced.

  6. I have a need to enlarge a bunch of HVAC vent holes in 3/4 inch Brazilian Cherry hardwood. So far the hard flooring has been laughing at my attempt to cut at it with circular, jig, and reciprocating saws.

    Do you think this one or the Fein will plunge cut hardwood in more or less a straight line?

    Thanks!

    Greg

    • Hi Greg,
      I’ve done that very task with the Fein on white oak flooring and it worked great. I’m guessing either the Fein or the Multi Max would do the trick, and they should be much more surgical than a circular saw. You do have to keep a steady hand on the tool, especially when you first plunge the blade, as it can bounce out of line and cut where you don’t want it to if you’re not careful. But even if that happens, any stray marks would like be covered by your vent register flange (or you can also protect the area before cutting). I’d also get one of the wider blades to help make a fairly straight cut and speed the process. If I were enlarging a vent opening in flooring I’d definitely reach for one of those oscillating tools first before any other tool. Good luck with the project and let us know how it goes!

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