The last couple years have seen so many new oscillating tool releases that I wouldn’t be surprised to find a press release saying that Starbucks was bringing one to market. They’d probably call it the Venti-Double-Decaf-Oscillatiatoccino. Catchy, huh? Rest assured if Starbucks starts selling it, we’ll review it. Imaginary Starbucks multi-tools aside, we’re actually here today to review Bosch’s new corded Multi-X oscillating tool, in particular, the MX25EC-21 kit. As an added bonus, we’re giving away our review tool and kit in this month’s free stuff giveaway! Since the new Multi-X is one of the more serious corded multi-tool contenders, we also thought it would be useful to make some comparisons with the original and still highly-regarded Fein MultiMaster. One disclaimer here, the Fein MultiMaster we used in our comparison testing is a bit old, and it’s pre “QuickIn” (Fein’s quick, tool-less accessory change mechanism). Since the MX25 lacks a quick-change feature (more on that later), it’s not a huge disadvantage however.
First, lets start with the unboxing. The MX25EC-21 kit includes a soft case (which also has a plastic box inside to safely house the OIS accessories). Soft cases, also known as a Man Purse to some, have both fans and haters. I’m secure enough with myself to say I don’t mind a good man purse. Take this one for example, it’s got velcro to keep your tool in-place, outside pockets for quick access to more tools, a metal rim that creates a wide opening to the bag, and a little accessory box inside to keep blades from chewing up your prized Multi-X. However, if you like hurling your tools into the back of your truck from a Trebuchet 300 yards away, you might be disappointed the Multi-X doesn’t have the heavy plastic case (or metal like my vintage model) that Fein uses.
Once out of the soft case, I found the feel of the MX25 to be extremely solid, not unlike the Fein 250 MultiMaster. However, with a solid feel comes some weight. I conducted one of our typically unscientific tests and weighed both the Fein 250 MultiMaster and the Bosch MX25EC while attempting to mitigate any weight from the actual power cords. The Fein weighed in around two pounds nine ounces, and the Bosch at around three pounds four ounces. If you’re doing a few plunge cuts or quick projects, the weight difference is unlikely to really matter. However, if you’re planning on sanding for long time periods, the additional heft of the MX25 might be noticeable to you. On the plus side, you’re arms will look more ripped. Part of the reason we didn’t want to weigh the cord is due to the length difference between the two tools.
In an era where tool companies try to minimize on materials used for tools, Fein bravely includes a 16 foot power cord with their MultiMasters. The Bosch MX25EC includes a more traditional length 8 foot cord. Even though using an extension cord is not the end of the world, I love the fact that I almost never need to use one with my Fein MultiMaster. Some might prefer the easier storage and less tangle with Bosch’s shorter cord. Although it doesn’t feature a Venti length power cord, the Bosch MX25 does have a unique ball-joint feature where the tool meets the cord. The little bit of play you get there makes the MX25 more nimble and easier to work with in tight spaces or simply when maneuvering the tool around.
From a numbers standpoint, the Fein runs at 11,000 to 20,000 OPM (Oscillations Per Minute) and the Bosch MX25 at 8,000-20,000. Since I pretty much never run my oscillating tools at the lowest setting (although I’m sure there’s a reason for it), I’ll go out on a limb here and say their OPM stats are pretty comparable. Interestingly, the power dial on the Fein runs 1-10 and on the Bosch runs 1-6. Clearly Bosch engineers/marketers did not study this critical scene from the movie Spinal Tap:
Speaking of volume, I also ran some tests on how loud these oscillating tools operate. The whine of an oscillating tool can get annoying, especially if you’re sanding or grinding for extended periods of time. I ran sound level tests on both the Fein and Bosch tools at their lowest and highest settings:
Bosch MX25E (No Load) – 60db to 73db
Fein 250 (No Load) – 73 to 80db
The Bosch was substantially less noisy than our vintage Fein, and, at low speeds, the MX25 was downright quiet. Of course actual volume in-use will vary depending on what you’re cutting, scraping, sanding or grinding.
Here’s the breakdown of available kits, straight from Bosch:
The Bosch MX25E will be [is] widely available at leading tool dealers and home centers in March 2011 in two different kits, the MX25EC-21 and the MX25EK-33. The MX25EC-21 includes 4 high-quality cutting, grinding and scraping accessories, 16 sanding accessories, an accessory box and carrying bag. The MX25EK-33 includes 6 high-quality cutting, grinding and scraping accessories, 26 sanding accessories, an accessory box and carrying case.
Once I got over the fact that I could only crank it up to “six”, I found the Bosch MX25EC-21 to be a very solid contender. The lack of a quick-change tool feature is a bit of a disappointment, despite the really fantastic feel you get with OIS accessories (they are rock-solid by the way, especially compared to old style accessories which always seemed to come loose). With so few oscillating tools offering a quick change (I can only think of Fein and Porter Cable off the top of my head), it’s a feature that could have really set the MX25EC apart from its competitors.
Performance-wise, these are great oscillating tools. Both the Fein MultiMaster and the MX25 handled plunge cuts in hardwood with ease and very minimal vibration. Random oscillating tool tip: As with many tools, you want to let them do the work. If you’re feeling strong vibration from the tool, take a deep breath, relax and lighten up on the pressure. The MX25 paired with OIS accessories has a cutting action that’s remarkably smooth and predictable, exactly what you want in an oscillating tool. An optional dust collection accessory is also available if you like to keep things tidy and breathable.
Our sponsor Ohio Power Tool always has a great stash of Bosch tools on hand. They’ve got the Bosch MX25EC-21 for just a hair under $150. Definitely a bargain for a high-end multi-tool like this.
You can also find Fein MultiMaster kits on Amazon starting at about $100 more.