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on May 15, 2011
I had to install baseboard hot water into a log home. This required removing (squaring) out a section of the bottom logs so the baseboard would sit flush. I decided I needed a multi-cut tool to help with this project. I looked for alternatives to the expensive Fein and found the Craftsman 2.0 Amp Compact A/C Multi-Tool and the new Porter-Cable PC250MTK 2.5 Amp. These are both corded models which I compare below.

Features: The PC comes with a plastic case and the CR with a bag. I like the case better although too many compartments. I like a case with one area for the tool and another large area for attachments. This makes it much easier to shut the case without having to line everything up. The CR comes with a power indicator on the tool and a small built in light which may come in handy. Both tools have an easy to use variable speed dial. The CR has a vacuum port although I found it pretty useless in practice since the suction does not get close enough to the business end. The PC has a more flexible (rubber) power cord than the CR. I bet it would be less stiff in the cold as well. I really liked the quick change system on the PC compared to the hex key on the CR. Since the PC is relatively new the CR has more attachments options. In addition, I believe the CR is compatible with the Fein which has a very large assortment. Due to the quick change system on the PC other manufacturer's accessories will not fit. Besides the connection point on the blades they seem to be very similar in quality from both manufactures. The blades come marked for identification and depth of cut. These marking are painted and wear off just about on first use. Both manuals had very little useful information once you get past the pages of safety instructions. I liked the fact that the CR manual did not come folded like an old map you pulled from the glove compartment. You can actually lay it flat on a table and read it.

Ergonomics: The CR was smaller and felt good in the hand. You could certainly fit it into tighter spaces than with the PC. Vibration in the tools were about the same with a slight edge to the CR which I imagine can be attributed to smaller motor and less angle of oscillation. Both tools have good balance and seem well made.

Performance: The PC is the clear winner here for several reasons. The angle of oscillation and speed of oscillation is greater with the PC. This allows a similar blade to cut faster and the PC did seem to cut faster. My test was plunge cutting to the stops (1.5-2") into a pine log. Note: as you start to penetrate into an interior piece of wood, use GENTLE pressure which will allow the blade to work. If you try to force the tool the blade will stop oscillating with the energy transferring back into the tool; i.e. the tool with shake and it will not cut. In extended runs the PC does not get has hot at the CR. Changing the blade on the CR after an extended run can be a real pain with the hex nut, receiving housing and blade becoming super hot. In addition it takes time to back the hex nut out, install new blade or change angle, and re-tighten. On the PC you simply squeeze a spring loaded lever, change blade or adjust angle, and release lever to lock in place. Another advantage with the PC's blade change system is the blade stays connected. On the CR, I found the hex nut would loosen with extended use, especially if you try to force the tool to cut faster. I am sure this will lead to over tightening and stripping of that hex nut over time. In the end I kept the PC with the quick change system winning the day. I would have given the CR 3 stars. Hope this helps.
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on June 7, 2011
I have both this tool and the Rockwell Sonicrafter. Overall, I like the PC better simply because of the quick change blades. The chuck is well designed using a heavy, trigger actuated spring that locks the blades in place. So far, I have had no problems with blades slipping and I don't envision any.

The Sonicrafter is a well-made tool and seems fairly heavy duty. Mine has taken quite a beating. The only complaint I could have with it is the chuck, which requires removing and replacing an allen bolt in order to change blades. This can become tiresome, especially when you are working under very dusty conditions, when the dust can get into the bolt threads and make the bolt difficult to remove and tighten.

The PC has a tough plastic gear housing as opposed to the Sonicrafter's metal housing. I don't know what the gears are made out of in either tool, though both tools are about the same weight. The only other difference I notice is that the fan in the Sonicrafter seems to push more air than the PC's. In actual use I have not noticed that either tool runs cooler than the other. Both tools seem to cut at about the same speed. I haven't noticed any other differences.

Overall, I prefer using the PC because blade changes are so much faster.

UPDATE 11/30/11
Some people have mentioned that the Velcro on the sanding pad has a tendency to melt. This occurs with all brands of oscillating tools and is not unique to the PC. Here is a Youtube link for the Fein Multimaster which explains how to sand properly in order to avoid the problem. I hope this helps.

[...]

Well, it appears that Amazon won't allow Youtube links. If you go to Youtube and search for "Fein Multimaster Sanding" and select the video with the same title you should be OK. The bottom line is, there is no design flaw peculiar to the PC's sanding accessory. All of the oscillating tools exhibit the same problem when used incorrectly. Fein should know - they invented it. Again, I hope the video helps.
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on August 21, 2011
I ordered this multitool based on favorable reviews here on Amazon, and am surprized that nobody mentioned the problem that I have encountered. I wanted this tool primarily for sanding small and awkward to reach parts of some window frames. After less than an hour of light use, the plastic hooks on the sanding platen, to which the sandpaper attaches, would no longer hold the paper properly. Those on the tip and sides of the triangle had completely fused from the heat of sanding. Apart from this problem I do like the machine - I am a woman with average size hands, and can use this tool with one hand. The tool change mechanism works well, but does take some strength to depress the lever. However, I can manage with some effort. The cord really is a nice length, and I also like the molded plastic case, which has places to hold the tools neatly. I have emailed the manufacturer to ask whether they have a more durable sanding platen, but if not, I will most likely return the tool, as I really need a tool for sanding, and the original platen just does not last.

Update: Porter-Cable responded that their multitool is a new product, and they had not yet received any other reports of this issue - and asked whether this response had solved my problem! I have returned it, and will be buying a Sonicrafter instead.

Further update: Some comments suggested that this could be a problem with all such tools, that the sanding technique might need to be adapted, and fixes to work around the problem were mentioned. However, I feel that one should not have to improvise to make a tool work properly. I have since used my Sonicrafter in exactly the same way, for several hours at a time, and never encountered the slightest problem, so I guess I will have to stick with my original assessment!
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VINE VOICEon July 21, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've had the PC250MTK for a few weeks now, and so far I'm loving it.
For reference, I've used it to cut drywall for some low-voltage remodel boxes, and it's worked flawlessly. Previously I'd used a handheld drywall saw, which worked fine, but came with a greater risk of snagging the wires in the wall. The Porter Cable tool practically eliminates that risk, which makes me more confident when making these cuts. I'm starting a tile project and plan on using it to cut some door jambs and oak trim, I'll try to update my review when complete.

Noise:
Previous reviewers have noted the noise level. I think it carries about the same noise level as my RotoZip drywall tool - loud, but manageable. If you're going to be using it for a long time, I'd suggest hearing protection.

Durability:
I own a few other Porter Cable power tools (reciprocating saw, drill) and I have to say they're built a bit better than this tool. That said, they're also more serious construction tools, while this multi-tool is for light-duty finish work projects. Based on my limited use, I expect the tool to last a long time (provided I take care of it). The included molded plastic case protects it well during transportation and storage, should help the tool have a long life.

Other thoughts:
The quick change chuck works well, holds the various bits securely. It's nice not having to keep a tool around to change attachements, one less thing to lose! I haven't yet had the chance to use the sanding attachment, but I think it'll come in handy based on the shape of the sanding head. My concern with this is the availability of sandpaper for it. I went to the Porter Cable website to find the appropriate product, (PC3001 & PC3002 6-pack sandpaper) and found that Amazon doesn't carry it (yet?). The sanding attachment won't be of much use if I can't get replacement paper - affordably. Something to keep in mind.

Overall, a useful tool for odd jobs. Highly recommended.
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VINE VOICEon June 28, 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I believe the first time I encountered one of these devices it was on a late night infomercial. Needless to say, that by itself kept me prejudiced against this type of tool for many, many years. Even as their popularity grew, and respectable publications like Fine Woodworking gave nods to them, I remained uninterested. I considered them to be a sort of Swiss Army Knife tool, OK in a pinch for a variety of tasks, but not particularly outstanding at any one in particular- more for hobbyists than contractors.

The fact that it is a P-C has a lot to do with my selection, one of my other favorite saws is probably the exact opposite of a "multi-tool", this being the decidedly single purpose Porter Cable plate (or biscuit) joiner. If you have to ask, you should look it up. Porter-Cable 557 7 Amp Plate Joiner Kit.

I was always impressed by the quality of construction, precision and performance, so I thought I'd finally break down and try their MT.

Impressively housed in a custom plastic case, this ensemble has a blade or cutter apparently for just about any task. The tool itself is sturdy and solid, a lot more so than some of the other light plastic ones I have seen. It's truly a fairly complete starter kit, housed in a sturdy plastic case- not like the seriously rugged double walled box as the joiner- but since I consider this is a medium-duty tool, it will serve just fine. Compartments enough for all the included cutting heads, which are:

(1) 1-1/2-Inch by 1-5/8-Inch precision wood end-cut blade,
1) 1-1/2-Inch by 1-5/8-Inch wood end-cut blade,
(1) 1-1/2-Inch by 1-5/8-Inch wood/metal end-cut blade,
(1) 4-Inch half-segment wood blade,
(1) carbide rasp,
(1) sanding platen,
(9) sheets 60 grit sandpaper,
(9) sheets 120 grit sandpaper,
(9) sheets 240 grit sandpaper,
(1) rigid scraper,
(1) flexible scraper.

As I was looking at other manufacturers' models, I noticed they all had a relatively common threaded arbor for tool mounting, while the PC boasts a very stout quick-release clamping system. A drawback to this is that the tools need to have a slot cut in the backside to slip over the arbor- no big deal unless you want to take advantage of the dozens of other manufacturers' tools, which use a closed circle mount- with the exception of Dremel. Unfortunately, they do not have a very large variety or cutters that are that different from the P-C. The only one I see that looks interesting it the Yoke Cutter Dremel MM720 Yoke Cutting Accessory Kit but it appears it wouldn't work with the P-C mount. I imagine you could cut a notch yourself in other tools, (maybe with the included carbide cutter!) but if not, or is not your thing, the user is then locked into purchasing only tools from P-C.

In use, it's actually about like I expected- more of a hobby tool than for commercial use. I can see it filling a gap between a Dremel Moto-Tool and whatever big iron you'd need in real life. Without a doubt, the triangular sanding attachment will prove to be the most useful, they even include a generous assortment of abrasives. It is tinier than my dedicated detail orbital, and the 360° positioning is a plus.

In any case, while the tool itself is a fine machine, the weak point is truly the blades, as I feared and suspected. The descriptions as quoted are overselling at best. They're just too lightweight for anything but, well, lightweight work. I popped in the one marked "wood/metal" and chose a fairly benign test piece- a piece of ¼" mild steel rod. It seemed to dig right in just fine, with very light feed pressure, then I could smell it getting warm. I stopped, half the teeth were gone after cutting about 1/3 of the way into the bar. Metal blade? Keep it for aluminum.

As far as the "carbide cutter" goes, I'll stick with the "grout removal tool" version should that need ever arise. On the same piece of rod, about all it could manage was to remove some of the surface scale. I didn't feel like savaging my kitchen tile just for a review. Maybe it works great, but I bet it's really, really slow.

I tried the fine wood blade to see how cleanly it would flush cut a dowel, it made short work of it with a nice clean cut, but the set of the teeth was still enough to scratch the surface beyond acceptability and not much better than other methods.

One tool fascinated me- a rather peculiar coarse-toothed cutter looking more like a hand fan than a saw- a full 180° semi circle. The manual calls it a drywall blade, the product description calls it a " 4" half-segment wood blade". The box calls it a "1/2 segment wood-drywall blade". The blade itself has the final word: "Flush Cut Blade- Wood/Metal/Drywall". This will take some research. Or at least trying to imagine a scenario where this would work the best - great for plunge cuts, probably.

The scraper blades make fairly useful light chisel like cuts, I can see that being handy someday- but then so is just reaching for a chisel.

Overall, it's a nice box to keep around for when you encounter a situation requiring a light duty but versatile cutting or scraping tool. The machine is excellent, but cutters just seem a little too delicate for anything but the lightest of service. But judging by the popularity of multi-tools these days, they have certainly found their place, and this is one of the better ones out there..
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on July 11, 2011
I have had the Porter-Cable oscillating multi-tool for a while now. I decided to buy this because I had used a friends high dollar name brand multi-tool and really liked it, but I couldn't see paying triple the price for the big name. I have used this every day for many different things including cabinet and deck work. The "no tool" blade change is great and time saving. The 10' cord is a good length. The Porter-Cable is very comparable to the Big Name Brand. The only down side is that the blades are a bit pricey and don't last very long.
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on December 6, 2012
Precise control and strong performer, it easily cut a section of Hartco oak laminate flooring and was great for making flush cuts to replace a cabinet base bottom. The only downside is that it uses proprietary blades, but now I see Rockwell makes universal blades that fit it and are available at Lowe's.
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on June 3, 2011
This is one of two of these that has a tool less tool changer. The other is the FEIN oscillating multi tool. This also has 2.5 amps like all the other ones. Granted the dremel one is 1.5 amp and the craftsman one is 2 amps.

Though there are not many third party tool suppliers for this one. It will change it has only been out for two or so months. I am looking forward to getting a few more of the tool attachments, especially the wood rasp attachment.

I testing it out and was surprised how fast it cut the 3/4 pine I had sitting around. It is amazing to make straight plunge cuts. It will be neat to make small mortise and tanner joints.
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on May 1, 2012
This tool was used once with no problems. It's easy to use.
Next time I try to use it, wouldn't work. After a quick troubleshooting I found the switch was defective. It is going to the Porter Cable's representative to be repaired.
Not a good start.
It's a nice tool but could be better built.
Tool was sent to Porter Cable's representative for the repair on June 1st 2012 and after 45 days I still don't have it. I've called Porter Cable's representative many times and the explanation has always been "next week we will receive the switch and the tool will be ready for you to pick-up".
Tired of the same promise week after week, I called Porter Cable's support and was told that the part was on it's way and in about 20 more days the tool would be ready. Asking about the ridiculous amount of time that this tool was waiting for a simple switch, the explanation was that because this is a new model, they wouldn't have parts in stock because new tools are not suppose to break.
Well, to start with, if they didn't have the part, they should have sent me a new tool but no, it seems that they don't care about the customer. I've paid for the tool but basically I didn't get it!
I'll never buy another tool from Porter Cable or any of the other brands that are part of the same company.
If I could give zero stars, that would be my rate.
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on May 14, 2012
UPDATE (5/17/12):
Received my exchange from the story below. Not happy because the replacement is used or refurbished. Housing is well worn and 2 of the scraping blades were chewed up. Seems to function well (no more blade shaft rotation), but I paid for a new tool, I want a new tool. This one is going right back to Amazon. Refund this time. Going to get the Fein and be done messing around. Amazon has been great with their quick shipping throughout, but a bit miffed they sent me a used product.

Initial review begins here:

I really wanted to like this tool. I researched extensively and read reviews upon reviews of all the different multi tools available out there. Other than the Fein, this tool was getting the most consistent good reviews on this and other sites and the price is amazing!

The quick blade change, strong motor, nice cord, hard carry case (albeit small) and large blade assortment are all nice features.

Now for the bad. After only 3 uses my tool is broken. The central blade shaft (the shaft the actual blade attaches to) has a fault. While I was using the tool today the blade started slowly rotating during use. The blade can start at 12 o'clock and end up at 4 o'clock in mere seconds.Turns out it is the entire drive shaft that is rotating (spring and all) not just the blade. There appears to be no serviceable way to tighten the shaft without opening the housing which would void the warranty.
Additionally, the quick release spring mechanism itself for gripping and releasing the blades is a bit over - rated. The spring trigger is sometimes hard to depress fully and get the blade out. Also fine dust from working gets onto the blade gripping teeth making it difficult to put a new blade in.

I have ordered an exact exchange through amazon, so hopefully the new one will function properly. As it stands now I cannot recommend this product. So if it fails a second time I will be purchasing the Fein.
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