Aimed at:- Pros and Canny Amateurs who need the cordless convience of a good multitool.
Pros:- The Cordless verision does what the corded one does alongside a good control of vibration and noise.
I know that there is a lot of brand loyalty out there when it comes to power tools, and manufacturers now have a big advantage because the major brands of cordless tools mostly have a battery platform that fits all the other cordless tools in their ranges. But, in my chats to people in the trade, there seems to be common consent that Fein still has the advantage when it comes to making oscillating Multi Tools. There is still something in the “Original and Best” slogan that apparently makes sense to end-users.
With Fein’s launch of a new version of the corded MultiMaster a while ago, that had noticeably much less noise and vibration, the goalposts moved significantly. And now that the cordless AFMM18 is on the market Fein MultiMaster users have a significant choice. Perhaps a difficult choice to make?? Corded or Cordless?
Left to myself I would have both versions, but then I am greedy and could be accused of being fussy too. In truth, there is a fraction of difference in the weight, handling and size of the corded and cordless models – the Fein Engineers have done a great job ensuring that the balance and ergonomics of both tools suit their power sources. In my view, either tool is a good choice, but if you have any other cordless Fein tool, then perhaps the cordless AFMM18 would be a good choice to take advantage of the battery platform.
The “working” end of the AFMM18 is almost identical to the corded Multi Master and therefore includes Fein’s rather good system of isolating the oscillating movement, and its accompanying vibration, from the body and the hand of the operator. My own experience of the vibration and noise levels from this tool are very positive. I have no official measures, but I did feel comfortable doing several hours worth of sanding of exterior window frames. The stop/start nature of the work means that your hands don’t ever really feel uncomfortable.
I am always a little chary of the “Quick-in” lever on the top of the machine. The “Quick-in” idea is a good one, because the old system of hex keys was very slow, but some users have complained to me that it can trap an unwary finger as you snap it down to hold the working cutter in place. This is no longer the case. Although it still sounds very snappy, in fact the composite lever has lost its spring loading as it reaches towards being at right angles to the body, so fingers are not really in danger as the system snaps firmly onto the cutter.
On the body, the black rubber overmould that provides good grip and some protection from vibration is sparing but well placed so that the palm of the hand is where the grip is. There is a simple thumb operated slider switch for off/on that is perfect to use, and a few centimetres behind that is the 6-position knurled wheel switch for selecting oscillating speeds. Again, simple and efficient. With an oscillating speed range of 11,000 to 18,500 /min there is enough of a range to sand and cut effectively, as well as work carefully at low speeds on sensitive operations. I would say that in my experience of the tool, this speed control was one of the key features of the tool that added to its usefulness.
Placed carefully for balance on the rear of the machine, is the battery pack. The kit I was sent for review had two 2.5 Ah packs with it, and frankly I found that they lasted long enough for me not to hanker after a bigger 5Ah battery that would last longer, but also be heavier. Fein has one of the simplest and most robust battery pack mounting systems on the market which I like a lot, as I hate fiddling with buttons that you have to squeeze in on each side to release the battery. The new battery packs are very slick looking with a black base colour and Fein Orange stripe, but more importantly the right side of the battery pack houses a system of four lights that indicate the state of battery charge. Also important in avoiding deep discharge, the enemy of Lithium Ion, a continuous red light will show when the battery needs a charge urgently and a flashing red light says “charge me NOW! although the electronics will not allow the tool to operate on a dangerously uncharged battery.
The charger is compact and the series of lights indicate very clearly the state of the battery. A fan will cool the pack if it is too hot to charge and it usually takes about 40 minutes or so for a full charge.
As is recognized by oscillating tool users, they can do jobs that other tools can’t, and although I do use the delta sanders sometimes, the things I have found that they are best at is blind cuts through surfaces, slicing the bottoms of door frames when fitting flooring, cutting out old grout from between tiles and scraping off old adhesives. This cordless Multi master does not disgrace itself performing any of these functions. For some reason, maybe because I am developing a steadier hand, I found the tool easier to control especially when plunge cutting. The correct choice of cutters is vital and there is now a huge range of accessories available. Included in the kit is a scraper, a delta sander and sanding sheets, a semi-circular wood blade, a straight wood blade and a straight wood and metal blade, but in my view the carbide coated cutters are also a must for me.
A quick word about the box – like all Fein boxes they are well laid out, have ample space for bits and pieces and the moulded polystyrene inner will hold the tool safely and firmly while in transit – easy to pack too and carry too.
When I compared noise and vibration levels between mains and cordless they were so similar that I am sure that a blindfold test would not be able to tell which is which. Suffice to say, working up a ladder for example or on mains-free worksites, the AFMM18 is a perfect solution.
For more information on the Fein Multimaster, please visit www.fein-uk.co.uk