When Germans square off against each other in battle, expect some serious engineering to start flying. For years Fein dominated the oscillating multi tool (OMT) market, but those days came to an end when their patent on the oscillating tech expired a few years back. Initial entries in oscillating tools often came up short on power. They also needlessly hassled users with the lack of a tool-free accessory change mechanism (which Fein has been sporting for many years now). Accessory changes are so frequent on oscillating multi tools, the lack of a quick change made me insane, or more insane. Bosch recently sent us their latest entry in the OMT market, the MX30E, which we’ve had a chance to test on several projects.
Tool Free Accessory Change Lever
I still remember the frustration of using one of the original Fein MultiMaster tools which tortured me with a hex key for every accessory change. The key was also needed regularly to tighten accessories that would inevitably come loose at the most inopportune times. Fein resolved these issues with a tool free accessory change lever (and star shaped accessory mounts), and I’m happy to report Bosch has had similar success with the MX30. This Bosch oscillating tool features a lever that extends horizontally from the tool. While some other tool-free accessory change devices, like the one on Porter Cable’s oscillating tool, require continuous pressure during the accessory change, the MX30E’s lever locks open when fully extended. This makes accessory changes a breeze, and with the OIS accessory interface, returning the lever locks accessories in tightly while still offering the ability to rotate them easily as needed. The only downside to the tool-free design is that the lever can be a bit hard to get open if you’re wearing thick gloves. The tool free accessory change is unobtrusive, quick and effective, just as it should be.
Power and Performance
With a full 3 amps of power, the MX30E is unlikely to ever be referred to as underpowered. 3 amps doubles the power of some of the more consumer-oriented models on the market, and it even out-muscles Fein’s popular MultiMaster. If we did our Watt to Amp conversion properly, the Fein MultiMaster delivers a little over 2 amps. To outgun the MX30E, you’d need to step up to the very spendy ($700+) Fein SuperCut, which delivers over 3.5 amps. All that power comes at a bit of a cost in terms of weight. While the Fein Multimaster weighs in at around 2.4 pounds, we weighed the MX30e at close to 3.75 lbs. So while you can power through just about anything with the Bosch oscillating multi tool, you’ll be hanging on to more weight in the process.
Cutting and Sanding
As with other oscillating multi tools, one of the selling points is the ability to cut, sand and grind a wide variety of materials with minimum hassle and minimum dust. Thanks to the narrow range of motion, an oscillating tool doesn’t fling dust around like a whirring circular blade tends to. Like other OMT’s, this tool also excels with minimum effort; it functions best with very little pressure applied to whatever surface you’re working with. We tested the MX30E cutting lag bolts and cutting down a metal pole that has been a random and unsightly fixture in our yard for way too long. While cutting down the pole might have been better suited to a full size reciprocating saw, I turned the MX30E loose on it just for kicks. I worked my way around the perimeter of the pole and Bosch’s powerhorse blasted right through the metal.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the base of the pole where I was cutting was also filled with concrete. On a side note, if you ever want to instantly destroy a nice bi-metal cutting blade, try cutting concrete with it. Luckily I had cut most of the pole perimeter by the time I made that accidental slip into concrete, rendering the blade about as sharp as oscillating butter knife. Despite my obliviousness to the concrete, the Bosch MX30E performed admirably. As you can see, it also made our patio look a little more respectable. I also used the tool for some detail sanding around a large window I was replacing. As a sander, the MX30E felt remarkably smooth and powerful. In fact, it was so effective sanding that I had to dial back the power substantially. Sanding performance was great, but if you plan to be doing much of it overhead, the weight of this tool is a factor to consider.
The last thing Bosch wants is for you to buy an oscillating tool from them and then have no accessories to deploy with it. As a result, the various kits Bosch offers contain a nice range of accessories to get you oscillating. Our hard case kit contained everything from various wood and metal cutting blades to carbide rasps to a scraper blade and sanding pad. Bosch also included a nice assortment of color-coded sandpaper. Red for wood, metal, fiberglass and plastic, and white for paint, varnish and filler. The only thing we really would have liked to see included in our kit or one of the other two kits is the optional dust collection accessory. Granted, most OMT tasks don’t generate a ton of dust, but for sanding in particular the dust collection attachment would definitely be handy for larger projects.
This Oscillating Tool Still Doesn’t Go to 11
We previously balked about select Bosch tools going from 1-6. We’ll continue our campaign for power settings that go to 11 in this post. Yes, we know, the number has absolutely no effect on performance. This is purely a marketing strategy here. Do you want a tool that only goes to 6, or do you want a powerful beast-of-a-tool that rocks your world with a power setting that goes to 11? Of course, the answer is clear. While we’re still stuck with 1-6, I should at least point out that the settings on the MX30E roughly correspond to speeds measured in oscillations per minute (or OPM). While setting 1 starts at a mild 8000 OPM, setting 6 delivers a full 20,000 OPM. Lower settings are typically adequate for most soft woods, with the higher settings coming in handy for hardwoods and metals. You’ll find the volume of the tool changes pretty significantly depending on speed, with the high settings producing a pretty significant whine (hearing protection recommended). While the top speed is just shy of Fein’s 21,000 OPM, we found 20k plenty of oscillations to work with. I personally can’t detect the difference between 20k and 21k OPM.
If your idea of a great OMT project is cutting balsa wood dowels for your daughter’s doll house, then the Bosch MX30E is probably not for you. However, if you’re like most HomeFixated readers, you don’t cut much balsa. If you’re looking for a high power, take-no-prisoners multi tool with hassle-free and secure tool-free accessory changes, the MX30E delivers. All that power doesn’t come from a cordless toothbrush motor though. The MX30E is the heaviest and bulkiest oscillating tool we’ve tested, making it poorly suited to tasks like overhead sanding, tight quarters, or repetitive / longer duration projects where the tool is held with outstretched arms. On the flip side, the tool’s gusto powers through most cuts quickly and with minimal effort. So should Fein be worried? Let’s just say that Bosch and others have been rapidly closing the gap between Fein and everyone else in the OMT market. It’s another example of of the benefits of competition. While OMT’s were once a niche tool that only select tradespeople and hardcore DIY /tool enthusiasts would purchase, now, even the relatively high-end Bosch MX30E is downright affordable to both pros and homeowners. Viva OMT!
Prices for the Bosch MX30E range from $199 – $289 depending on kit/case configuration, all well below the $400 Fein MultiMaster 250Q Top kit (which, in fairness, includes a dust collection accessory that is about a $30 accessory with Bosch). You can find the Bosch MX30EC-21 Multi-X 3.0 Amp Oscillating Tool Kit with 21 Accessories and the other Bosch MX30E kit configurations via Amazon: