It’s a bit scary that I have been around power tools long enough to sound like a grumpy old man when discussing oscillating multi-tools. “Back in my day sunny. . . ” I’d proclaim, “if you wanted an oscillating multi-tool you could only buy a Fein, you’d have to save up for years just to be able to afford it, and you’d have to hike hundreds of miles in the snow to find an actual store that carried it.” In those early pre-Internet days and before the Fein patent expired, owning the tool was just half the financial battle. Tool accessories were priced as if a $500/hour lawyer had put them in a rucksack and personally paddled them across the ocean. Worst of all, the accessories attached with only an allen bolt, making them prone to accidental rotation. We’ve come a long way from there, and it would have been hard to imagine a name brand oscillating multi tool for $59. Let alone one that sports 2.3 amps of power and even comes with some of the more essential basic accessories. All for what I used to spend on a blade or two back in the day. But can the $59 Dremel Multi-Max MM20-07 kit really deliver performance and utility at a price point that would bring a smile to any tool bargain hunter’s face?
I have been using oscillating multi-tools a lot lately. In fact, before we received the Dremel MM20 for this sponsored post, I spent three gruelling days on my hands and knees scraping up, inch-by-inch, some of the most stubbornly glued/stapled down, decades-old flooring ever. An oscillating multi-tool, or OMT, was the only tool (believe me, I tried several) that could wiggle its way under the glued-down layers of this ancient floor of doom. I had a buzzing Bosch MX30 in my hands for much of those 14 hour days of eternal scraping. At one point I think I vowed never to use an oscillating multi tool again. . . but they’re so handy I just couldn’t stay away.
I got my hands on the Dremel MM20 Multi-Max featured in this review towards the tail end of the hardwood flooring project that followed the demolition marathon mentioned above. I used the OMT for jobs like completing notched cuts from the table saw precisely, and for sanding an “ooops” moment where I accidentally left a small ocean of finish where it proceeded to wick away the stain.
At 2.3 amps, the MM20 Multi-Max isn’t a current-devouring powerhouse. But does it really need to be? Most name brand oscillating multi-tools are in the 2.5 to 3.0 amp range. The reality is you really don’t need that much juice to swing a small blade back and forth 3 degrees, at least not for most OMT jobs. I found the the MM20 to have very acceptable power. At one point, when cutting some white oak flooring with the tool, I had forgotten I left the power dial on 10 (the tool delivers 10,000 – 21,000 oscillations per minute, on par with most rival OMT’s). The MM20, set way too high for that task, almost caught the wood on fire thanks to some serious oscillating friction. When dialed back to a more reasonable speed for the task at hand, the MM20 did the job very respectably. I didn’t feel quite the same smoothness and precision I’ve felt from $150 – $250+ rivals, but I also didn’t experience bad performance. From sanding finish to cutting hardwood, the 2.3 amp MM20 performed competently, even more so when you consider its ultra-low price point. It’s pretty hard to imagine many typical tasks suited for an OMT that its 2.3 amp motor wouldn’t be able to handle.
While we’re on the topic of performance, let’s talk performance tips. Regardless of the specific tool you’re using, there are two things I’ve learned about OMT’s:
1) Secure the workpiece well, or it will move with the accessory and you’ll become the part of the equation that does the oscillating. You’ll know this is happening when the workpiece/tool suddenly become very loud, the tool will stop making progress, and your arm will feel like it’s about to wiggle out of socket.
2) Let the tool do the work. Oscillating tools are the scalpel of the tool world. The power is in the tiny oscillations rather than your brawny biceps. Keep muscle power to a minimum and you’ll let the tool give you its best performance.
Quick-Fit Multi-Max Accessories
Anyone that has read my other material on oscillating multi-tools knows that I am a big proponent of tool-free accessory changes. It’s probably because of my early years spent constantly re-tightening the allen bolt on my original Fein MultiMaster. Having the accessory start to slip mid-cut was really a drag and a near-constant annoyance in the old days. I’ve been told by other brand managers (including Dremel) that adding a tool-free accessory swap is not an inexpensive job. That’s largely why many of the early entrants into the oscillating tool world lacked tool-free changes. But that shifted quickly to tool-free being the norm. While I wish I could say the low cost MM20 sports tool free accessory changes, alas, it does not. The simple economics of it would mean a substantially higher price point for this tool.
On the plus side, many Quick-Fit accessories are readily available for it. So what’s Quick-Fit? Basically these are accessories that only require you to loosen the bolt that holds the accessories rather than remove it entirely. This makes the MM20’s lack of tool-free accessory swaps less painful. Thanks to the dozen-ish pins around the accessories, I am happy to report I did not experience a single slip of a blade, nor did I have to do any re-tightening mid-project. Keep in mind, with the MM20, you’ll want to keep the included allen wrench handy.
Multi-Max MM20-07 Kit Accessories
As you might expect with a budget-minded kit, the Dremel MM20-07 kit isn’t going to equip you with a half dozen variations of every accessory type on the planet. You won’t find a Titanium bi-metal circular cutting blade, or a diamond-coated delta rasp. You will, however, find some key essential accessories for some of the most common multi-tool tasks. Included in the kit:
- MM480 – Wood Flush Cut Blade
- MM450 – Wood & Drywall Saw Blade
- MM14 – Hook & Loop Pad
- MM70W – (3) Sheets Sandpaper
Both cutting blades are the Quick-Fit variety, while the sanding pad does require the complete removal and reinsertion of the accessory bolt. While these can all probably get you through several small tasks, expect to supplement with more accessories in the not too distant future, particularly if you’re doing much sanding or any metal cutting tasks.
If you’re still one of the hold-out’s that wonders why in the world you’d need an oscillating multi tool, your excuses have dwindled. The first time you use one to near-instantly and precisely undercut door trim, or to detail-sand some far-flung corner no other powered sander can get to, or to effortlessly remove grout, you’ll wonder why you ever tried any of those tasks any other way. With a tool like the Dremel MM20 MultiMax, you’ll go from “What can I use that thing for?!” to “What CAN’T I use it for?” Spoiler alert on that second question, the MM20 is not recommended for cutting down trees or rip-cutting sheets of plywood.
Pricing and Where to Buy
With the Dremel Multi-Max MM20-07 kit, if high pricing was keeping you from owning an oscillating multi-tool, then you’re officially out of excuses. The MM20-07 will barely lighten your wallet at a low price of $69 at The Home Depot. There are a few other oscillating multi-tools that manage to come in less than that, but none of them are brands you’ve likely heard of. Several of those likely fall into the “one-time use” or “semi-disposable” tool category, not a category we typically recommend here at HomeFixated. If you’re looking to get into the oscillating multi-tool world, the Dremel MM20-07 Multi-Max kit is a hard value to beat for the price-conscious tool buyer.