Below, we outline:
– What rotary tools, multi-tools, and oscillating tools are
– And, what the main difference between each is
(*Friendly Disclosure – links to retailers or brands on this page may include affiliate links, and we may receive a commission when you purchase through these links)
What’s A Rotary Tool?
A rotary tool is a tool with a rotating/spinning tip, which accessories or attachments are inserted into or attached to.
One of the most established and common brands of rotary tools is Dremel.
Dremel has such a share and position in the rotary tool market, that when many people generally refer to a ‘rotary tool’, they refer to it as a Dremel.
We explain what a Dremel rotary tool is in a separate guide.
What’s A Multi Tool?
Multi-tool is short for ‘multi-function tool’, meaning it can be used for a variety of tasks (and to perform a variety of functions)
‘Multi-tool’ can be used to describe several types of tools that can perform different functions – such as non-powered knife, screwdriver, and all-in-one type tools, but also powered tools
Multi-tool is also commonly used as another phrase for an oscillating tool.
For the purposes of this guide, we will refer to multi-tools as oscillating tools (that can perform different functions)
What’s An Oscillating Tool?
An oscillating tool is a power tool that involves the movement of an accessory or attachment at the end of the tool, in a back and forth (or side to side) motion.
What’s The Difference Between A Rotary Tool, Multi Tool & An Oscillating Tool?
The major difference between a rotary tool, and a multi-tool/oscillating tool is:
– The accessories on the end of a rotary tool spin/rotate
– The accessories and attachments on the end of a multi-tool/oscillating tool on the other hand move side to side (or, back and forth)
Some other differences between the tools might be:
– Some Dremels might generally be able to accept a wider range of accessories and attachements than some oscillating tools, meaning they might be able to carry out a wider range of tasks
– Some oscillating tools might be for heavier duty or more intensive work than Dremels which are more so for lighter duty and crafting type activities
– Some oscillating tool models might generally be bigger in dimensions, and weigh more
– Some cordless oscillating tool models might have higher voltage batteries, at for example 18 volts or 20 volts, compared to 12 volts
– Plus potentially other differences, depending on the model of tool
Are There Any Similarities Between Rotary Tools, Multi Tools, & Oscillating Tools?
A major similarity between a rotary tool, and a multi-tool/oscillating tool is:
– Both tools can be used for a range/variety of activities and uses because they can each have different accessories/bits and attachment inserted into/attached to the end of the tool
For example, they might each be able to take accessories for cutting, sanding, grinding, scraping, and other uses
Examples Of Some Of The Most Popular Rotary Tools, Multi Tools, & Oscillating Tools On The Market
Read more about some of Dremel’s most models right now in these guides:
Dremel 4000 Series (Corded Dremels)
Dremel 8000 Series (Cordless Dremels)
Best Overall Dremel Rotary Tools
Multi-Tools & Oscillating Tools
DEWALT 20V MAX* XR Oscillating Tool Kit, 3-Speed (DCS356C1) (on Amazon)
Makita XMT03Z 18V LXT® Lithium-Ion Cordless Multi-Tool, Tool Only (on Amazon)
Tooljuice.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc., or its affiliates.
Additionally, Tooljuice.com participates in various other affiliate programs, and we sometimes get a commission through purchases made through our links.