When it comes to working in the construction and demolition fields, there are a fair number of multi-purpose power tools to choose from. Some allow you to efficiently cut through wood or plastic while others allow you to efficiently remove paint or rust from metal surfaces.
Several of them also let you perform both of those jobs at once, which has led to considerable confusion between the oscillating multi-tool and the angle grinder.
These two power tools look a lot alike, and even both utilize a versatile system of attachment-based operations. However, they’re still distinct in terms of their full capabilities. This guide will dig into their most noteworthy differences as well as highlight instances when both tools can be best used.
This will ensure that you don’t confuse the two the next time you head out to the job site.
Oscillating Multi-Tools and Angle Grinders: The Basics
Before we can really understand the important differences between these two tools, let’s take a moment to examine the basics of both the oscillating multi-tool and the angle grinder.
What is an Oscillating Multi-Tool?
Though it goes by many formal and informal names, the oscillating multi-tool is a mainstay in the arsenal of nearly every contract construction and demolition team.
That’s because this so-called “master tool” is able to equip a variety of add-ons and accessories that allow it to accomplish tasks across the spectrum. In particular, a single oscillating multi-tool unit can be used to saw, sand, scrap, cut, polish, and rasp – all without the need to do more than change its attachment.
As their name implies, this tool’s motor engages an oscillating motion that powers all of its assorted attachments. This allows it to create the friction necessary for sanding and the torque needed for cutting.
In terms of price, oscillating multi-tools are fairly accessible to professionals and DIYers alike. That’s because they are available at a variety of price points, based upon each unit’s core power and durability.
What is an Angle Grinder?
Angle grinders are designed to, as their name suggests, grind materials down with their disc-based blades. This grinding function is primarily used for smoothing out metal, including fresh-cut metal pieces and newly-welded slabs.
However, these units are actually more multi-functional then their name suggests. In fact, these units can polish, cut, and clean metal with a high degree of efficiency. Not only that, but an angle grinder can be used for some carpentry and masonry jobs as well.
To that end, these units can be equipped with optional disc blades that make cutting into wood or tile fairly easy. In either capacity, these units are modestly maneuverable.
They do require added safety measures to be taken, however. This is especially the case when cutting metal, which can cause sparks and debris to spray off of these units’ rotating blades.
Oscillating Multi-Tool vs. Angle Grinder: What Are the Differences?
With the basics out of the way, let’s jump into the differences.
While both the oscillating multi-tool and the angle grinder are known for their versatile attachment portfolios, each respective tool uses fairly different types of blades to accomplish its primary tasks.
For example, an oscillating multi-tool is often equipped with a straight blade attachment that can be used for everything from cutting wood to removing mortar. An oscillating multi-tool can also be equipped with a variety of other attachments, including scraper tools, toothed saw blades, and even sanding pads.
As it turns out, an angle grinder can also be equipped with sanding pads (they are different in shape and style, though). However, most other angle grinder attachments are entirely different.
They include the eponymous grinding discs as well as wire wheels, which are designed for scouring a metal piece’s surface. Angle grinders can also utilize purpose-made cutting discs for wood, metal, and even masonry materials.
Between these two tools, oscillating multi-tools are generally accepted as the more maneuverable option. This is primarily because their thin blades and attachments allow them to slot into tight spaces and perform framing tasks with ease.
Angle grinders don’t require too much work to manipulate, either. However, their arsenal of attachments mostly has to be used out in the open due to the blades’ propensity to throw off debris.
When it comes to prices, oscillating multi-tools are usually favored.
That’s because a basic oscillating multi-tool will cost you between $80 and $150. Their attachments are relatively cheap, too, and come in cost-saving sets.
An angle grinder, meanwhile, usually cost between $100 and $180, with some cost added for their more expensive disc attachments.
Neither of these tools represents as much of a safety risk as, say, a table or circular saw.
However, an angle grinder does require its users to always wear snug-fitting clothing and full PPE. That’s because they tend to throw off a lot of debris and even sparks (when working with metal). An oscillating multi-tool will also throw up its fair share of debris, particularly when trying to cut out old mortar.
Which of the Two Should You Use?
Well, if you’re shopping for a new multi-purpose power tool and want to save some money, opt for an oscillating multi-tool. These units are often cheaper up front and cheaper to maintain when it comes to accessories.
They may not last as long as an angle grinder, but they can also be replaced fairly cheaply.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for cutting capacity, an angle grinder is a clear choice.
These units have stronger, disc-style cutting blades that can do more than just chop through wood and thin metal. Indeed, an angle grinder can cut through medium-gauge metal stock if necessary, so long as you have the right blade equipped.
However, if you are trying to make cuts in tight spaces (such as when framing a door), then an oscillating multi-tool may still be warranted.
If you’ve ever mixed up an oscillating multi-tool and an angle grinder before, you’re not alone. But with the information you’ve learned in this guide, you should now know the practical differences between the two.
These differences are crucial to understand, whether you’re simply choosing which tool to bring to the job site or choosing which tool to purchase for your team’s arsenal. Either way, this guide’s insights should lead you to making the right decision in the end. As a next step, you should check my oscillating multi-tool and angle grinder recommendations.
How Do Angle Grinders and Multi-Tools Compare with Other Tools?
See how angle grinders compare with: bench grinders | circular saws | cut-off tools | die grinders | Dremels | polishers | reciprocating saws | sanders
See how oscillating multi-tools compare with: Dremels | jigsaws | reciprocating saws