Why are there so many different blades?

It can be confusing when you go to the store and look at the wide selection of blades for your Multimaster, Multi-X, Sonicrafter, or any of the many oscillating multi tools. There are blades for wood, blades for metal, blades for grout, and blades for scraping. There are wide blades, narrow blades, short blades, long blades, round blades, and half-round blades.

You go to the counter and ask for a blade. The salesperson will respond, ”Which blade?” You’re not sure. The clerk will again respond, “What are you cutting?” The confusion can start to mount as you look at which blade for which application. You purchased this tool to do multiple jobs, and now you have to be specific about your choice of blades? At this point you will be guided to an all-purpose blade, or a universal blade, good for wood, metal, and plastic.

Blades come in many different shapes and sizes. There are also different tooth patterns and configurations. The metal used to make the blades can also be different. The many choices are the result of years of trial and error in trying to find a blade that can utilize the short but rapid strokes of an oscillating multi tool.

Wood Blade: Many blades are designed to handle just wood and other soft materials. The teeth are like that of a handsaw or a band saw.

Wood/Metal Blade: These are also called Universal blades, and/or Bi-metal blades. The teeth on these will many times resemble a hacksaw tooth pattern. These teeth will handle nails and light gauge steel, as well as wood and plastics.

When in doubt always use a wood/metal blade.
But what shape should I go with?

There will be several sizes and shapes to consider. The best advice is to go with the one you are most accustomed to using. Although some blades have been designed with a unique purpose in mind, most of them are just there to give you options when you encounter various remodeling problems. Many people stay with the same blade that comes with their tool. It’s a comfort level thing. It is very similar to tires on a car. Just give me a good deal on the same type. The oscillating tools however are more like an off-road four-wheel drive vehicle. The tire selection becomes one of application and performance. This is where we are with multi tools. We want a good deal on the blades, but we also want good performance in specific applications.

After the wood and wood/metal choice, we now have to consider the shape of the blade:

Wide Blades: The width we’re looking at is around 2 ½”. It would seem the wider blades would cut more and cut faster since they have more teeth. This is not always the case with an oscillating multi tool due to the very short stroke. Wide blades are a good choice for cutting a doorjamb. The casing is easy to get to and the wood is most often soft and not too thick. The wide blades also will set up the most vibration. This is just the nature of the beast. Wide blades will almost always be for wood only. The teeth on these blades will be similar to a regular handsaw.

Narrow Blades: The long narrow blades will be anywhere from 3/8” to 1 ¾” wide. The depth of cut will vary from 1 ½” to 2 5/8”. These blades will be used when you need to make plunge cuts into flooring, precision cuts on molding, and flush cuts during cabinet installations.  They will allow you to get into tighter places than the wide blades. These will come in wood and wood/metal varieties

Long Blades: The side-to-side movement increases with the longer blades. At full speed they are a little harder to control, but if speed and depth of cut is what you need. Longer is better. These are used when plunging into the studs of a wall being renovated.

Short Blades: The closer the cutting edge is to the pivoting shaft, the shorter the cutting stroke becomes. This is advantageous when you need more control and precision in areas like chiseling around door locks, refurbishing furniture, and renovating old windows.

Round and Half-Round Blades: The round blades are mostly made of high speed steel (HSS). This is a brittle blade but the hardness makes it an excellent choice for cutting light gauge steel and fiberglass. The half-round are sometimes referred to as segment blades. These blades are good for fine kerf cuts in wood, straight cuts in sheet metal, and short cuts in composite materials.

 

Scraper Blades: The application for scraper blades is similar to what you would normally tackle with a putty knife. The difference is in the speed and power of the tool. The blade can also be sharpened and used as a carpet or linoleum knife.

If you’re not sure of what you might need, I would suggest you keep a long bi-metal metal blade, a long narrow wood blade, and a short narrow wood blade in your kit. As you develop more skill with your multi tool and as you run into different applications you can add blades to your kit. The main purpose of these tools is to get the job done quickly, accurately, and safely.

About russ_bransford

My experience with the Multimaster goes back some twenty plus years. Most of that time I was working with and for Fein Power Tools as a territory sales rep. A good bit of what I learned about these strange oscillating tools has come from customers. There have been many, many tent sales, and many, many projects with the Multimaster. Over time I became well acquainted with my customers, and I also go to know the orange oscillating tool quite well. Many times you will hear a salesman tout the features of a tool. My customers and I were more interested in the function of the tool. That's where we learned how to use the Multimaster in different situations, and that's where we tried to make the blades last longer. I heard it over and over, "Why are the blades so expensive and why don't they last longer?" Now I am with Imperial Blades and I have an answer for both of those questions.
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12 Responses to Why are there so many different blades?

  1. Kenneth King says:

    Russ,
    Will you be attending any local tool demonstrations in the fall in South Carolina to demonstrate the Imperial Blades?

    • Russ Bransford says:

      Ken,
      It just so happens I’ll be at a few places doing demonstrations in the Carolinas in the fall. One that you might like is the Metro Tool & Supply Sale in Charleston, SC, on October 3rd.
      See you there,
      Russ

      • Russ Bransford says:

        For others who might be interested we will be posting a list of all the tent sales we will be attending this fall. Stop by and see the new Titanium blade in action. Try out the Imperial Blades on different multi tools. We will also have tips on using oscillating multi tools.
        See you there,
        Russ

    • Jailen says:

      I can already tell that’s gonna be super helfupl.

  2. Alan says:

    Hi Russ,
    Re: the Rockwell Sonicrafter. I need to remove/replace some sections of old tiling grout… a job I’ll probably only be doing once in order to sell my property. Can you recommend an economical Sonicrafter blade option for the job, other than a diamond-cutting blade, suitable for the task? I’m in New Zealand & the attachments here are quite expensive for a one-off job.
    Thanks, Alan

    • Russ Bransford says:

      Alan,
      I am sorry for not responding. We have experienced some problems with the website. Your property has probably already been sold. You are correct, the carbide and diamond blades are a bit pricey. The diamond will last longer than the carbide and is used when you have multiple or on going applications. One carbide blade (half-round) should do a full bathroom with a tile floor, walls, and shower. Longer strokes and rocking (tilting back and forth) will reduce friction (heat) and make the blade last longer. You might also take a dry bar of soap and coat the blade several times during the application. Another tip on floors is to use a spray bottle of water and keep the grout line moist. Anything to reduce friction will help the blade and the machine.
      With all this said, there are many types of grout and the hardness will vary. Use light pressure and long strokes, sort of like ironing clothes. You know it’s hot, so keep it moving.
      Alan, you probably learned all of this by the time the project was done.
      Hope all went well,
      Russ

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  4. Jase says:

    Thanks for starting the ball rlloing with this insight.

  5. Cialis says:

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