We’ve been on the Oscillating Multi-Tool bandwagon for a while now. We’ve talked about the Fein Multi-Master, the Bosch MX25 Multi-X, and the Dremel Multi-Max, just to name a few. Inevitably, one complaint with almost every new Oscillating Multi-Tool is the lack of a tool-free quick-change for accessories. Not so with this review of the PC250MTK Oscillating Multi-Tool Porter Cable sent us a couple months ago.
The Case For and Against The Case
At first glance the case for the PC250MTK looks solid, the kind of case you could toss into the back of your truck and not worry too much about. It’s not a man-purse. Plus, it’s black, which always scores extra points with me. Unfortunately, that’s where my love for the case ended. Porter Cable made the odd choice of having tall, thin plastic dividers on both the top and bottom of the case. While that may sound like a nifty way to keep your accessories on-hand and well organized, the design also means that if you have any accessories not standing straight up in just the right spot, they can then interfere with the fins on the top lid of the case. The result is either bending or damaging the top fins (making alignment even harder the next time around), or having to carefully make sure you’re closing the lid just right. It seems to me this problem could have been avoided with either a deeper bottom tray (although that might have made the accessories harder to ID), or a top lid that doesn’t have tall divider fins. The included case does the job, but we’re not feeling much love for the divider design.
In addition to the tool-free feature we’ll get into below, the Porter Cable PC250MTK Multi-Tool has some good stuff going for it. Porter Cable includes a nice batch of accessories to get you started in the Oscillating Multi-Tool (OMT) world, if you’re not already accessorized. The kit comes with a generous helping of sandpaper, a sanding pad, flush cut blade, two scrapers, wood & metal blades, and a grout removal blade. Unfortunately, depth markings on certain cutting accessories rubbed off on the first cut through wood. There’s not much point to having a depth gauge on the accessories if the printing rubs right off on the first use. We’d like to see laser etching or just a more permanent printing technique used on these.
The body of the tool feels a little rotund closer to the head of the tool (yes, I said “rotund” in a tool review), and a bit more ergonomic towards the back where it went on a diet. It definitely felt a bit bulkier in my hand than say the Fein Multi-Master or the Dremel Multi-Max. It has a nice heft to it though, which helps you stay on track during precise cuts. It breezed through this cut of white oak hardwood flooring smoothly and precisely.
Variable Speed Dial
The PC250MTK had a solid amount of power in the various tasks we put it through. It’s spec’d at 10,000 – 20,000 OPM, that’s “oscillations per minute”, not “other people’s money” for any Wall Street types that happened to stumble onto this article. The speed/power adjustment dial was a bit clunky with rigid clicks and what seemed like unnecessary turning resistance. Plus, it only goes to six! The first tool company to make a HomeFixated edition tool go to “11” gets my eternal admiration! I don’t care of it’s the same amount of power, it’s the psychology of an “11” power setting at stake here.
Tool-Free Accessory Change
Dear Porter Cable product manager, thank you, thank you, thank you for not cheaping-out on the accessory change mechanism (see rant below). The tool-free accessory change design on the Porter Cable is about as efficient a design as you can get. A quick squeeze of the tool change lever is all you need to either swap out an accessory, or rotate the angle it’s set at. The spring is a little on the stiff side, but the design seems solid and well thought out. I dig the efficiency of the design. You don’t even need to flip down a handle to lock things in place.
Tool-Free Accessory Change Tool Company Rant
Why oh why do so many tool companies penny pinch on a feature like tool-free accessory change?! I know, I know. . . a tool free mechanism costs more. So what! I swap out accessories on my oscillating multi-tools almost as much as I swap out drill bits, and we don’t still use those annoying keyed chucks for those. We’ve also got tool-free changes pretty much standard on tools like reciprocating saw and jig saws. With the Porter Cable PC250MTK priced at just over a Benjamin, clearly they figured out how to do a tool-free design without breaking the bank or exceeding Fein in price. Seriously, if I have to fumble around with one more allen wrench just to swap out an accessory I’m going to start foaming at the mouth (more so than usual). Consider this an open and public plea:
DEAR TOOL COMPANIES. PLEASE DO NOT RELEASE ANY MORE MULTI-TOOLS THAT DON’T FEATURE A QUICK AND RELIABLE TOOL-FREE ACCESSORY CHANGE MECHANISM. WE DON’T NECESSARILY WANT THE CHEAPEST TOOL, WE WANT A TOOL THAT MAKES OUR LIVES EASIER AND MORE EFFICIENT. WE ARE OFTEN WILLING TO PAY A FEW MORE CENTS OR DOLLARS FOR SUPERIOR DESIGN. THANK YOU!
OK, regaining composure here.
Summary & Purchase Info
If you read through this whole review, you might think we didn’t like the tool. After all, we griped about the case design, accessory printing wearing off, and a power dial with a psychologically weak setting of “6.” Most of the concerns were fairly superficial though, and not issues likely to trouble you with the actual performance of the tool. When it comes right down to using the tool, it performed quite well. Combine that solid performance with the tool-free accessory change, and the Porter Cable PC250MTK Oscillating Multi-Tool might just get grabbed for action a lot more than it’s non-tool-free cousins. You can find the Porter-Cable PC250MTK 2.5 Amp Oscillating Multi-Tool Kit for right around $115 at Amazon.com.