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      • Published 15 Mar 2023
      • Last Modified 18 Apr 2024
    • 6 min

    What is a Multi Tool?

    Ensure you choose the most useful multi tool for your task with this guide on what they are and how to use them.

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    Reviewed by David Carmichael, Solution Engineer (September 2022)

    A multi tool can be used for a multitude of tasks at work or in the garage and is a must-have and helpful tool to have. Several types of multitools are available, ranging from the Dremel to versatile and more powerful multi-cutting tools. These bigger more powerful tools tend to use an oscillating rather than a rotational action.

    This guide will outline what is a multitool, the various multi tools that are available, how to use them, and what jobs you can use them for.

    What is a Multi Tool Used for?

    So, what can a multi tool be used for?

    • Delicate work including engraving, drilling, and polishing using the Dremel tool
    • Sawing and cutting various materials (wood, plastic, metal, pipes, screws, nails)
    • Sanding, levelling
    • Scraping (adhesive removal)
    • Grout routing from a tiled surface
    • Plunge cutting
    • Mortise cutting

    What Does a Multi Tool Do?

    You can use a multi-cutter in difficult-to-reach places where your regular saw, cutter or grinder cannot easily be used. The multi-cutters have extremely high-speed oscillating blades and many available attachments. They are extremely versatile and are an easy-to-handle tool, especially during inconvenient jobs such as:

    • Cutting through screws or nails
    • Plunge cutting
    • Sanding
    • Rasping and routing
    • Cutting close to edges and difficult-to-reach places
    • Scraping

    A smaller multi tool such as the Dremel has a rotary action like a drill. These are useful for engraving, fine drilling, grinding, and sawing.

    How to Use a Multi Tool

    There are many types of multi tool blades and accessories available. You can use a BIM (Bi metal) plunge cut saw blade for handling various materials. These blades are extremely rugged and designed to cut wood, plastic, and many non-hardened metals. Let’s look at how to use a multi tool:

    How to Cut Screws with a Multi Tool

    Screws and nails pose a bigger challenge for most saws but the multi tool fitted with a TC (Tungsten Carbide) or DeWalt Titanium saw blade will enable you to cut hard materials such as stainless steel, hardened screws, and nails. The extremely high-speed, powerful oscillating blade will enable you to apply light pressure whilst offering the edge of the blade up to the nail or screw to cut.

    What is the Best Multi Tool?

    Dremel Multitool

    It depends on what job you are wanting to tackle. If you simply need to engrave jewellery or work on small delicate items, then a Dremel will suffice. Many types of attachments can be fitted to a Dremel making it useful for drilling, sanding, polishing, grinding, engraving and light cutting.

    Shop Dremel Multitools

    Makita Multitool

    However, if you are looking for something more heavy duty then it would be best to use the more powerful cutting tools such as the DeWalt multi tool or the Makita multi tool. These tools can cut through screws or nails. They are also able to cut close to edges or in hard-to-reach places.

    Shop DeWALT and Makita Multitools

    Which Multi Tool Blade to Use

    Blades and attachments can be used for all sorts of jobs - from sanding to cutting. Here are the most common functions:

    • BIM segment saw blade - (separating and plunge cuts)
    • Sanding plate - (sanding surfaces)
    • BIM plunge cut saw blade - (sawing openings for locks, filigree adjustment work)
    • TC plunge cut saw blade - (cutting nails, screws, and hard materials)
    • Riff segment saw blade - (precise cutting and routing of tiles, plastics, and resins)
    • Multi-blade - (cutting carpets, flooring and roofing felt)
    • Riff plate - (rasping and sanding)

    How Long Do Multi Tool Blades Last?

    How long a blade will last will depend on many factors such as how they are stored, what materials you are cutting with them and what material the blades are made of. The TC (tungsten carbide) tipped blades and titanium blades tend to offer longer life than the regular hardened steel. The BIM (bi-metal) blades are longer lasting than the regular steel blades.

    How to Sharpen Multi Tool Blades

    If you have a multi tool blade that is blunt it can be sharpened using something like a slim taper saw file or another suitable hardened file. A diamond file set would be best suited when sharpening the harder blade materials.

    The aim is to file between the teeth of the multi tool blade until you re-establish sharp teeth tips. You must always ensure that the blade is detached and removed from the power tool when sharpening a blade. Clamp the blade firmly in a vice so you can easily work on it. 

    How to use an Oscillating Multi Tool

    Using Oscillating Multitool

    To understand how to use an oscillating multi tool or multi-cutter we need to look at how it works. So how does a multi tool work?

    The larger, more powerful multi-tools use a vibrating, oscillating plate, or mounting platform where the various blades and attachments are attached. These plates vary in oscillating speed and can easily reach speeds of 20,000 times per minute. Some tools will have a fixed speed platform whilst others will be variable speed.

    When using a multi tool make sure that you wear the correct protective gear such as ear defenders, goggles, and gloves. The tools can emit noise levels greater than 90 dB.

    Because of the ergonomically sophisticated designs of the grips and the small displacement but fast blade movements, you can use them in tight, difficult-to-reach places and for cutting unusual items such as sawing plunge cuts in plasterboard or sawing openings for locks and fittings. Once the chosen blade or tool is attached it can be offered up to the item that you want to work on. Applying gentle pressure to the workpiece will cause the fast, efficient oscillating tool to do all the hard work for you.


    Multi-tools are incredibly versatile and extremely useful tools to have in your tool bag. They offer vast versatility, largely due to the way that they are designed and due to the many different accessories available for them. You can view and read more about multi tools in our multi tool section.

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