Long Overdue: SKIL Multi-Tasker Oscillating Tool Review

January 12, 2012 | by Fred (email) |

We hate being tardy, but we’re awfully late to the game on reviewing this entry in the oscillating multi-tool category. Skil shipped us the Multi-Tasker several months back, and we just haven’t been doing many projects that require an oscillating tool. For the projects that have required one, we’ve been using our Rockwell Sonicrafter or Dremel Multi-Max, interchangeably. Getting around to a third (nay, fourth – not to forget about our Ridgid JobMax cordless model) hasn’t been top of mind.

Now, don’t go crying any tears for us. It is pretty cool to have multiples of these tools around. It definitely saves time on swapping out blades and/or sanding pads. The downside is that we have to pick which style blades to buy, since each manufacturer has their own take on the optimal blade attachment design. Even though all of these tools offer a universal adapter, the blades designed for each specific tool work best with that tool.

Since Fein’s MultiMaster patent expired in 2009, many of the major tool vendors have been releasing their competition for the MultiMaster. Given these tools have been common for two years, we expected Skil might bake in something unique to make the Multi-Tasker stand out from the crowd.

They did. It has a dust port. (We were hoping for tool-less blade change. Shucks.) The dust port is nice, though. It’s a passive channel to the front of the tool, so collection requires a shop vac or dust management system.

Beyond the dust port, the Multi-Tasker is similar in just about every way to the Sonicrafter, which served as our side-by-side comparison model. The only other noticeable difference is that the Sonicrafter has a 2.3amp motor, while the Multi-Tasker delivers only 2.0amps. As a result (and probably also due to some internal gearing differences), the Sonicrafter makes full speed in about 4 seconds, while the Multi-Tasker takes close to 9 seconds. The Multi-Tasker also slows down a bit more when encountering resistance. Both have roughly the same output range, climbing to 22,000 oscillations/minute. It’s worth noting that competing models from Bosch and Dremel boast a full 2.5 amp motors, 25% more than the Multi-Tasker.

For a quick test, I grabbed a nearby piece of plywood and used both the Multi-Tasker and Sonicrafter to cut divots in the wood. Neither saw a big performance advantage, although the Multi-Tasker tended to slow down a bit at lower speeds (likely do the lower power).

Given the tools are very similar (save for the dust port), the real competition comes down to price. And here, Skil has a slight advantage. The Multi-Tasker commands $80 for a 12-piece kit. The Sonicrafter costs about $115 for a 37-piece kit, but the extra pieces in the Sonicrafter kit are primarily sanding pads. The blades are the most expensive parts of these tools, and the Multi-Tasker actually comes with three, while the Sonicrafter includes only two (but also adds the scraper attachment and grout remover).

Interestingly, Skil chose a larger sanding pad for the Multi-Tasker, bigger than any of the other models we have on hand. It’s about 30% bigger than the Sonicrafter’s by our estimation. Whether or not a larger pad is better depends on the application.

The Sonicrafter does feel a little bit more solid, and the motor is heftier. Still, if we were paying for one of these tools and not planning to use them on a wide variety of projects (which we are), we’d be really tempted to buy the Skil. It is a savings of about $35, which gets you at least four more blades at the big box stores.

We figure that in this case, most folks will make a decision based on price and brand loyalty. Dust port notwithstanding, there’s just not very much new or interesting in the Multi-Tasker.

Where to Buy

The Multi-Tasker, Sonicrafter, and Multi-Max are available at a wide variety of stores. Amazon serves up all three with free shipping. Here’s the links @ Amazon:

11 Responses
  1. I used the Fein a few times prior to 09 but have owned the Craftsman multi-tool for two years now and if there is one piece of advice I can give, get one with tool-less blade changes. It makes your life better. Cordless is pretty great too.

  2. Stephanie Phelps says:

    We have a Dremel and although I love it for sanding larger projects and things of that nature it is not the best. I love the Skil has the larger surface

    • Fred says:

      Thanks for the comment. I don’t recall seeing you around before, so welcome! (If I’ve said that before and just forgotten you, my apologies 🙂 )…

      The larger pad does solve just that problem. Obvious downside is that in very tight locations, it might be a slight disadvantage.

  3. Icarus says:

    I use the Craftsman 12 Volt NEXTEC Multi-Tool which I bought at Sears. I highly recommend buying the extended warranty. I had to return a unit because the sanding velco pad melted. I wanted to just swap out the part but they insisted on giving me an entire new tool kit. This worked out because I ended up with an extra battery.

  4. Joe says:

    How well does the dust collection work? Porter Cable has an interesting looking tool-less attachment changing system.

    • Fred says:

      Joe, I don’t have the right adapter for our shop vac to try it. But here’s my observations: It’s a passive channel to the front of the tool, but the channel opens directly around the tool connection. The sanding pads don’t have holes in them to allow dust up the center of the pad into the dust vacuum. Further, most cutting blades end up with the business end a good distance away from the vac. So, overall, I wouldn’t expect too much action on the collection… I hate to pass judgment without trying it though – maybe there’s something I’m missing. At some point we will get the attachment and I will update and re-run this review with the results.

      I didn’t know any tools other than the Fein had the tool-less change capability. Good to know about the PC model. If we get a chance to review it, we definitely will.

  5. Fred! Thank you so much for stopping by my little blog. I am a cyber stalker of One Project Closer and feel like I was just acknowledged by a celebrity! I miss all of my big girl power tools, which include a few in the Skil series. After owning for 8 years and renovating 3 1/2 homes in the US we decided to try something new and move to Curacao and we are now renting. And, I’m too cheap to put any real money into this place so I find myself a crafter (blasphemy!) and doing some smaller projects that we’ll be able to take with us when we move.
    I don’t know if you saw our little challenge button on my blog, or checked it out? A few blog friends (all new-ish and small-ish blogs) and I collectively introduced a challenge on Monday – we’re trying to encourage people to tackle their most daunting tasks, whatever it is. I am attempting to make a gallery wall with only one screw in the wall, for all those renters who love the look but can’t riddle their walls with holes. If you have a second it’d be cool if you could check it out,, and (of course) I think it would be the bomb diggity if you guys wanted to participate somehow.
    Thanks again for the comment! You made my weekend, well, the Patriots have a chance to make or break it again tonight. We actually moved here from Cambridge, MD. I’m not sure if that Pats thing is a conflict of interest for you. 🙂

    • Fred says:


      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. We’d love for you to chime in more often (maybe create a project rewards account?… While we don’t ship to Curacao, we could send you gift cards?) The Patriots are no conflict for me, although they are for Ethan 🙂 I don’t follow too many sports (unless the Ravens make it to the Superbowl, and even then, I’m more watching for the commercials :-))

      I will check out the link. We have some tough projects ahead (two bathrooms come to mind), but I’m not sure we’re ready to take the plunge on paying for the materials…. We’re thinking we might go after one of them this Summer when the kids are done school!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


  6. Excellent wortk ! i have never seen such Blog excellent work !

  7. HANDYMAN51 says:

    The Dust Port on the Skil Multi-Tasker is a great idea. My son calls me the ” King of Intermediate Clean Up”- I can’t stand dust going over everything, then having to clean it up. This could help with Father- Son bonding!

  8. HANDYMAN51 says:

    Purchased a PERFORMAX oscillating tool at Menards. The accessories were reasonably priced.

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