Fein Multimaster - Do You Really Need The Fein Multimaster Tool?
What is the Fein Multimaster?
The Fein Multimaster is a German power tool designed for interior fitting and renovation work. Like all good things German, it is solidly built, well-finished, does well what it says it does (see their infomercial at http://www.fein.de/fein-multimaster/us/en/media/multimaster_video.php) and is expensive. Did I say it was very expensive? If you need to ask how much it costs, you probably can't afford it. Although the marketing material says that the Multimaster tool can be used by both professionals and DIY hobbyists, the price makes it impractical for most weekend DIY home remodelers or one-time jobs. Mind you, if someone gave one to me for Christmas or my birthday I wouldn't say no.
So, what does it have? Let's start with the Fein Multimaster power tool itself. When you get your hands on it, the first thing you notice is its weight. This thing is a solid, well-engineered piece of equipment. It will last you a long time. And the 16-foot power cord means you can go a lot of places with the Fein Multimaster, and use it without worrying about running out of power at critical times, unlike battery-powered tools.
If you have ever used power tools, you know they shake and vibrate a lot. However, the weight, balance and solidity of the Fein Multimaster tool helps you to maintain control over your cutting and other activity. That said, it's like any other power tool - you do not want to use it carelessly ... not if you don't want to cut a large chunk off some important part of your anatomy.
Nevertheless, the very weight that helps with control makes it difficult for most casual DIY-ers to use for long periods of time - your arms will quickly get tired.
Those who have never used power tools before should not start with the Fein Multimaster. But if you really have to, then remember to wear hearing protection. Like all power tools, Fein Multimaster tools are noisy. You will also need to wear gloves since it produces a lot of heat.
Fein tools come with an E-cut blade, a rigid scraper blade, a segmented blade, a carbide blade, a carbide rasp and sandpaper. If you have to ask what these things do, or how to use them, the Fein Multimaster probably isn't for you.
What can the Fein Multimaster do?
Besides the obvious of remodeling your home, the Fein Multimaster has also been used on boats. Its ability to make precise cuts is highly valued - no boat owner wants to punch a hole through the wrong part and sink his boat. Basically, you want to use the Fein Multimaster tool for all the small things which take too long to do or are too difficult to do with other tools. It is not a jack-of-all-trades tool for large scale work like grinding and polishing all the floors in your house. For large-volume jobs, the Fein Multimaster should only be a supplementary tool.
This Multimaster tool works by moving the blade (or whichever other attachment you are using) in a random orbital motion. (*Ahem* So I learned some new words from the salesman.) Anyway, unlike normal rotary tools, Fein Multimaster blades won't pull you through the material you are cutting - you can easily control the depth and speed of the cut very precisely.
Something not mentioned in my promotional brochure is that there are threaded holes on the body of the Fein tools. These holes are meant to be used as hard-mount points for you to attach small stuff like fences, depth gauges, rail guides, etc. This is in addition to bench-mounting the multimaster tool for really small, delicate work.
Some shops selling the Fein Multimaster also include a DVD which demonstrates how to use the various Multimaster tools. Even if you are a professional or experienced DIY-er, it pays to watch this DVD and learn which Fein Multimaster blades are best used for which jobs. Ignorance will cause you to wear out the blades prematurely, and replacing them can get pretty expensive very quickly.
These accessories are included when you buy the Fein Multimaster Top:
- The E-cut blades are good for doorjambs, baseboards, and flooring work. Use it when you have to cut wood, plaster, drywall, synthetic materials and plastic. You can work this Fein tool in tight areas to make 90 degree cuts to flooring.
- The Fein Multimaster's rigid scraper blade easily lifts linoleum, carpets, adhesive residue, scale, paint, tape, etc. Considering the price of replacing most of Fein's blades, you'll be glad to know that the scraper can be re-sharpened.
- The segmented blade is for cutting fiberglass, carbon fiber, thin sheet metal, and harder wood. All the stuff on a boat, eh? Anyway, the segment of the blade lets you cut these materials into corners at right angles.
- The carbide blade is used to cut out damaged tile joints and carve out grooves in plaster and porous concrete.
- The carbide rasp is for rough grinding work, while the sanding kit is for finer work. There is a dust extractor for removing dirt when grinding with the rasp, and the sanding kit includes profiles for common shapes like quarter circles and coves.
Depending on what you want to do, this may be sufficient. However, some people with more specialized needs prefer to get the Fein Multimaster Basic and buy more blades with the roughly $150 they save.
Switching between different Fein tools is extremely easy. Flip a lever at the back up, remove the mounting bolt, remove the blade/attachment from the shaft, place the next tool you want to use on the shaft, replace the mounting bolt, flip the lever down.
All these Fein Multimaster blades and accessories are very expensive to replace. Many people have accused Fein of gouging their customers. However, at this time, there is still a lack of good OEM parts made by other manufacturers. The few alternatives that can be found still seem inferior to the original Fein-manufactured accessories. If you want perfection in the projects you take on, you'll just have to grit your teeth and pay the price for it. Mind you, this isn't such a big deal for the professionals who can pass along the cost to their clients. But it is something the DIY-er needs to think about ... save time or save money?
When using the Fein Multimaster, you need to be gentle. If you want the blades to last longer, you cannot force them into the work material, you need to allow them to work through the material at their own pace. This will greatly minimize wear and tear on the teeth and you won't have to replace them as often. The Fein Multimaster tool is powerful, and works fast enough at its own pace. There is no need for you to be impatient.
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What have customers done with the Fein Multimaster?
What do professionals say about Fein Multimaster tools?
Many professionals use the Fein Multimaster. They use it for precision work in limited spaces where other tools can't readily fit. They do not use a multimaster tool (whether Fein or one of its knock-offs) for large volume work. For example, they would not cut large amounts of plywood subflooring with a Fein Multimaster - they would use a circular saw. They would not use the Fein Multimaster scraper blade to remove a long line of grout - they would use a dry cut diamond blade in a circular saw ... at least until the saw hits a wall, then it is time to pull out the multimaster tool.
Precision cuts ... limited room ... awkward angles. Under such conditions, normal power tools can't fit while doing the job by hand would take hours of tedious work, plenty of muscle strain and skinned knuckles. Contracts like installing decorative returns on a house where you had to cut out the old returns and moldings up against a 12/12 pitch roof. Or installing new roofs - where being able to cut off nails by sliding the blade under the siding is an important consideration. These are situations where the Fein Multitool excels.
There are many situations where using alternative tools are just too inconvenient and take too much time. Tasks like scraping off old adhesive can be done with a torch and putty knife. Tasks like cutting out the aluminium frames of old windows for replacement, various kinds of repair work or finishing work, work on materials which crumble easily, like plaster and limestone - these are all tasks which can be done with other power tools, only with more risk of accidentally damaging the surrounding areas. But the precision of Fein Multimaster tools enables these tasks to be done more quickly, more easily and with less damage to the surroundings.
Professionals use the Fein Multimaster to supplement their regular power tools, replacing jobs that would otherwise have to be done by hand. Instead of cutting corners, like window repainting jobs where a low-cost contractor would just slap new paint on top of old paint without first stripping away the old paint, a professional could sand and properly prepare the window frames to receive the new paint without sacrificing too much time.
How do DIY home remodelers say about using Fein power tools?
Sometimes, the old saying "If you want it done right, do it yourself" just fits the bill. When you know what needs to be done and how to do it, paying someone else to do the job just doesn't sit well. For example, paying a contractor $26,000 to resurface your kitchen cabinets when spending $400 on a Fein Multimaster and another $100 on extra accessories seems like a no-brainer.
Using Fein tools makes large nasty jobs end much faster. Being able to cut away old nails so that you can straighten up your wall without resorting to a sledgehammer is a good thing. Not having to pay the guy with the sledgehammer $150 is an even better thing. Not having to take the risk of him breaking something else important with his sledgehammer is an even better thing, and well worth the $400 Fein Multimaster which you can use for future projects.
Paying $2000 for a botched paint job sucks. Thinking of paying another $2000 to fix the botched paint job sucks even more. Spending $270 for the Fein Multimaster Basic, $30 for the rasp accessory, and another $100 for enough sanding kits to properly prepare the surface for the new paint starts to sound much better. Better still is borrowing a Fein Multimaster from a buddy, then you only need to buy the rasp and sanding kits.
Removing 900 square feet of water damaged old linoleum tile can be a thoroughly unpleasant experience if you try doing it yourself with a hoe or roofing tools. Paying a contractor to do it for you will set you back a large amount of money. Renting a normal power tool to do the job yourself can be a recipe for accident if you do not have any prior experience - the kind of accidents where you lose your fingers and toes. On the other hand, using the Fein Multimaster's scraper blade will let you cut the asphalt glue under all those tiles and peel them up in less than half a day.
If you find yourself constantly putting off the numerous odd jobs necessary around the home because it is just too troublesome using your normal tools, yet do not want to pay someone else a few hundred dollars several times a year to do it, it is probably time to consider buying a Fein Multimaster Top. This is basically the Fein Multimaster Basic (only the power tool) but with all the accessories most handymen would need for odd jobs around the home. It is not cheap, but if you are a man with moderately skilled hands, there is no reason to pay another man thousands of dollars to take care of something in your home that you can deal with yourself in your free time.
What are the flaws of the Fein Multimaster?
Having said all that, the Fein Multimaster is not for everyone. The power tool on its own costs $270 (at the time this is written). The accessories start at $15 and only get more expensive. The blades and sandpaper don't seem to last long enough for what you pay for them. If you are a new professional, or work minimum-bid contracts, and cannot pass on the expense of replacement blades to your customer, the Fein Multimaster is not for you.
For the casual DIY-er who doesn't own any other tools, the Fein Multimaster is probably not appropriate. Fein tools are not meant for large volume work, for example cutting up subflooring or refinishing/polishing large surface areas. The normal package comes with a few default blades, and it can be tempting to use only these blades for everything. For example, Fein's standard 'E' blades are good for moderate amounts of general purpose cutting. It works well enough for undercutting one or two door jambs. But if you are remodelling an old, large mansion, you should use a dedicated tool - a power driven jamb cutting saw. If you need to cut hardwood, you should replace Fein's 'E' blade with Fein's Hard Material blade.
Fein Multimaster blades wear out fast. To make them last longer, you need to be patient and let them cut their way through the material slowly. Try to force them, and the teeth will quickly become blunt or even be completely stripped off.
Despite Fein's marketing, these multimaster tools are meant for small-sized odd jobs where no other regular power tool will serve. It is the power tool for situations where the choice is either spend hours and days to do something by hand or not doing it at all. The Fein Multimaster is for professionals who handle premium contracts and for DIY-ers who are perfectionists. If you are the kind of person who accepts "good enough", you do not need Fein power tools. They are just too expensive for many people.
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