Rockwell Sonicrafter Oscillating Tool Review
Reviewing the Rockwell Sonicrafter
Choosing The Sonicrafter Oscillating Tool From Rockwell
I had seen oscillating tools on the shelf before, but didn't see a lot of use for them and wasn't very interested. Until the day I watched a carpenter in a new building trim the edge off of a difficult to reach crown molding that had been put up in error. The alternative would have been to remove it all and replace it correctly, a very time consuming and expensive task that was resolved by simply trimming a ½" from the bottom of it.
Then my son got one and promptly found several uses for it. I was hooked, and began looking at what was available and reasonable. One of the first things I found was that attachments are necessary for any use, and that those accessories can be quite expensive. Better to find a kit with lots of accessories already included, and my final choice was the Sonicrafter. The results of that purchase, along with personal observations from actually using the tool, are given here.
This is the Rockwell kit that was purchased and is featured in the photos here.
Tasks Accomplished With the Sonicrafter
Cutting door molding
One of the first things the new oscillating tool was used for was to trim the bottom of door molding as new hardwood flooring was put down. I have done this in the past with a small handsaw, but it is very difficult to get the work done without gouging the wall badly.
Using the smaller saw blade the sonicrafter made easy work of the task. Taking only a few seconds, the cut was made to the perfect height without any damage to walls or flooring. This cutting blade is obviously not designed for heavy or long term use, but for quick shallow cuts it can't be beat.
Removing old caulking
The next opportunity came a few days later when the exterior of the house needed some new paint. The old caulking had to be removed and replaced as it was crumbled and nearly worthless; it seemed the perfect chance to try out the scraper function of the Sonicrafter. I have done this job before and while some of the caulk always comes off very easily, some is quite difficult to remove.
The results were great! The oscillating tool took all the caulking off in nothing flat, and did a good job of not digging into the wood. True, some care was necessary to accomplish this, but far less than using a screwdriver or hand scraper. Overall it was much quicker, easier and did a better job than doing it by hand.
The tool has been used several times for sanding/grinding projects. An old toolbox, given to me as a gift by my children needed cleaned out, sanded and re-finished. One workbench surface had a corrosive substance spilled on it and left and some grout needed cleaned out for brick replacement.
The toolbox sanding job was done with a sharply pointed sanding accessory that got right into the corners and edges with no problems. What would normally have taken a couple of hours was done in half an hour and was done quite well.
The workbench was sanded with a larger, triangular, sanding pad that again made quick work of sanding the metal surface clear of rust. While this could have been done with any type of sander, the Sonicrafter was handy (and I wanted to test it out anyway) and was used to good effect.
The grout was chipped out with a hammer as well as possible, which meant chunks left behind, and the brick work ground clean and flat with a carbide blade designed for grout. Again the work was done quickly, just a minute or two for one brick, and produced a nice surface ready for more grout and a new brick.
Although there are several different Rockwell kits, I recommend either the one higher in the article. As an alternative, a set of attachments is also shown should you choose a smaller kit.
Overall Impressions and Review of the Rockwell Sonicrafter
After using the tool for several projects I am very pleased overall. I was impressed when it first arrived, with a very nice canvas bag and a small plastic box to contain the accessories. The bag turned out to be just too small to hold the tool with some of the accessories attached (it would fit, but sharp saw blades or corners might puncture the bag as it was very tight), which means that attachments need to be removed before storage, but that isn't the end of the world. You probably won't use the same attachment next time anyway.
I initially thought the tool was too heavy, that it would be awkward to use, but that turned out not to be the case. The weight is just enough to sand with without having to press the tool down too hard, and isn't too heavy to use for a reasonable period of time.
Operation is smooth, extremely so for a tool that operates an oscillating manner rather than a circular motion. The variable speed function is not only handy, but necessary when using it on a variety of materials from soft wood to metal. This control is in the rear of the tool, where it cannot be easily bumped and changed; a good thing.
Attachments are a necessity as noted above, and this particular kit came with 72 pieces. True, it is mostly sandpaper, but there is also a decent number of actual accessories as well. Others are available, and attachments from some other manufacturers will fit - rather unusual in these tools.
The tool is reasonably ergonomically designed, fitting the hand well. There are no safety guards, but such guards are not practical with the small attachments and the hand is far enough away that safety should not be a major concern of itself when using the Sonicrafter. Although attachments are mounted with the use of an allen wrench, there is a holder for that wrench on the cord, well out of the way and where it won't get lost.
In conclusion, I can highly recommend the Rockwell Sonicrafter oscillating tool for anyone wanting one. The pricing is better than most, it can be purchased with a large number of attachments and it is well designed and operating tool. It would make a great gift for the handyman (or handywoman) in your life. Or even for yourself!
© 2012 Dan Harmon
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