Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Tool report, Fein Multimaster

 Nice case, plenty of room in it without being cumbersome.  Lots of space for tools, blades and various sandpapers etc. Secure clasps, good sized handles and a space for the service manual and parts list, just what you'd expect from a good quality manufacturer but so seldom actually get.

Tool report.                Fein MultiMaster

Very occasionally there comes a tool that has the potential to change the way you work, and think about the work.
I do a lot of close in detail work in my boatbuilding, and have for years wanted to treat myself to a really good multitool, one of those things that are descended from the saws that cut plaster casts from healed up broken limbs.
Fein were the first on the market with them, and since then there have been a number of similar machines from power tool companies.

A while back I bought an Ozito brand cordless one, mainly because I want to do a lot of detail sanding work on the outside of the ship prior to a repaint around the cabin windows and side doors, and do NOT want to be trailing an electric cord behind me with the boat afloat at its dock. That could be a shocking mistake!

The little Ozito,  cheap as it was to buy, has its limitations when it comes to anything other than  light sanding.  It does a fair job on that but has not the power to do much else, sawing and grinding, cutting tiles, plunge cutting with the narrow blade and so on are not really its forte.
But I have to say that its surprisingly good at sanding.
Ozito is the cheap “house” brand for Bunnings hardware which is one of Australia and New Zealands “Big Box Hardware” companies, and I have to admit that for very cheap tools they are not bad.
Do be aware that spares may take longer than you would like to get.

But the fact that the Ozito one performed pretty well as a sander working on small areas but not so well on the other functions really did point out to me that a good multitool would be a very useful addition to my tool kit.

So I went shopping, I’d a tiny bit of budget left for the workshop, and I figured that I might just about be able to scratch up enough to buy a midrange machine.

One of the things that I do to finance my boating habit is repair woodworking machinery, power tools among them which gives me a pretty good idea as to which are well designed and made and which are not. You’d be surprised at some of the things I find!  I know I am!

So, with a limited number of brands to choose from I went out to try some of them.
I wont go into what I found among some very prominent brands, I might find an unwelcome legal letter in my mailbox so had best not say too much about the ones I did not choose.
I will say though that a lot of the power tools you’ll find on display in most places are not suitable for continuous use such as a big job in a boat built or refurbishment. They are many of them DIY weight and if you are pushing them you’ll cook them or wear them out very quickly.

So I bought a Fein Multimaster FM250Q.  A serious professional grade tool.

The “Q” being for Quick action tool change. ( It’s the corded version by the way, more power and being the “shop” tool the cord and plug are not an issue.)

 There are cheaper choices, but this is the top of the range, superb to use, powerful, easy to change tools and it came not only with a heap of different tools including ceramic cutting blades ( yes I have a job coming up for those), sanding, sawing in several varieties, plunge cutting, and grinding.
The toolchanger is great, a lever on top, a very positive multi position locking mechanism and its very quick to use. Its changed the machine from one that is principally a single use unit that with some messing about you can fit another tool to one where swapping from one tool to another is about a 30 second task which requires no spanners or keys to facilitate.
This system does not seem to have the issues with tool security that the earlier models did.

Don’t likes? It’s a little heavy, but the way it fits my hand makes that bearable plus I think that the weight damps the relatively slight vibration.  Some sanders leave the operators hands tingling for a while after extended use but this is not one of them.
It’s a noisy darn thing, earmuffs!
I find that the on off switch is not that easy to use but then on the other hand its not going to be accidentally triggered when moving the hand to hold the machine at a different angle.

How good is it in use?  A multitool is not the tool for heavy use, it’s for fine detail and the areas into which you cant get your random orbital, your circular saw or your angle grinder. Its for the most part a finishing tool, and for that the Fein Multimaster  performs way beyond expectations.
I’ve used it for tasks that I am sure its makers would raise their eyebrows at, one was to grind hardened excess epoxy glue from overfilled seams and it did not flinch even when I had both hands leaning on it, I’ve cut plastic pipe, steel pipe, wallboard, fiberglass, solid and plywood, cleaned out glue, sanded inside tight curves and lifted ceramic tiles.  The tile cutting will come up soon and I am sure that it will perform there just as well as it has every other task I’ve thrown it at.
The variable speed is easy to dial up or down, and that makes quite a difference on some tasks.
Its changing the way I do things, I can cut where I could not, power sand where I had to do it by hand, chop off screws where I had to chisel them out (when the heads have stripped or twisted off) and I’m using it more and more.

Supplier, Roberson and Sinclair Ltd,  Hamilton branch. They’ll organise one over the phone and send it out to pretty much anywhere in NZ .  Talk to Andrew and tell him I said he’d do you a deal.

http://www.rands.co.nz   Click on the “Hamilton Branch” link.

It came in a really nice carry case with parts book, manual and user guide which was a bonus.

It’s a “10”. 

John Welsford

1 comment:

  1. The internet tells me there are 6 "250 Start Q" in stock at my local Home Depot for $179. It's pictured in a soft case. There are links to the "250Q Select Plus" at $299 in a hard case, but discontinued. Best to check that the version you are looking at has the accessories you need. - Peter