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The initial response to the proposition of doing 100-inch straight cuts with a cordless oscillating saw will be "are you mad?", but I still wonder.

I'm just starting out in DIY and decided to get a jigsaw for versatility. It can do flexible, it can do long straight cuts if you clamp on a guide (although it will be slow), etc.

And then a friend suggested I consider an oscillating multi-tool. It's far from ideal for the job, he said, but it adds a whole bunch of other features that a jigsaw can't do. And so it might be a much more versatile initial purchase. Even with 2x 100-inch MDF cuts needed in an upcoming project. Although he guesses it would be painful to do those long cuts, I would be left with a much more versatile tool he thinks I will end up using more than a jigsaw. And given the fact that I don't know how serious my DIY-ing will be in the future, it might be a better purchase.

I'm wondering what you guys think about this proposition. Does his rationale make sense?

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The oscillating tool is NOT the tool for the job that you describe. Neither is the jig saw. The proper tool for long cuts like you describe is a circular saw with a straight edge guide clamped onto the work piece. Even better would be a table saw but that is clearly not applicable here.

Get the right tool for a job. Why compromise the craftsmanship with shoddy crap cuts made by tools that are not made for the application. Invest in the right tools, do quality work and be proud of the result. If you cannot give it that then hire someone that can provide it for you. There is nothing worse than a kludged up mess.

  • Completely understand where you are coming from, I do. And if we were discussing something in my field, then I would probably make the same types of comments you are making. It isn't the right tool. But I've also used a screwdriver and even a ballpoint pen to open a box, not the right tools but they did the job. The long cuts I'm looking to make can be shoddy as all hell, because the cuts will be out of sight. – Rob de Jonge Aug 17 '16 at 14:38
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It is actually possible to use an oscillating saw for long cuts in a pinch.

If you are going to use an oscillating saw, make sure you get the best one that is available. The cheap versions are utterly horrible, and do not cut very well at all. They typically come with very cheap blades that get ruined during the first cut. The teeth on them are weak and basically wear or shear off, even on softer woods. All of the teeth eventually go, and you end up causing a fire because you essentially start to burn through the wood instead of actually cutting.

The best ones on the other hand, are quite good. I purchased one after owning a very cheap one from Harbor Freight, and there is no comparison. I did a fair bit of cutting with it, and the original blade is still in decent shape. It also has a universal design for the blades, so you can use a variety of different ones with it.

Obviously, the better tool for the job would either be a handheld circular saw, or a table saw. An oscillating saw does not make a very clean continuous cut. They are best used for small intricate cuts in tight areas such as undercutting door casings, etc. to install flooring.

  • Thanks for your answer. I think I've made up my mind and think I will get the oscillating tool, and if after the first 20 inches I really think it's not going to work then I will get a circular saw. I plan to get the DeWalt, as batteries would be interchangeable with my drill and a tool like this makes sense to have in a cordless version. I think it's a fairly decent one? – Rob de Jonge Aug 18 '16 at 2:41
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This is a very opinion based question and response, but whatever.

I rarely use either of my jig saws (one corded, one cordless). I might use it for a true curved cut in thin stock like an interior hole or a curved arc in plywood,.

For long straight cuts, I use a circular saw with a clamped rail to guide it. That's if I can't get the material to my table saw. If I felt rich, I would buy a track saw.

When I first found the multi-tool, I thought I had gone to heaven. For tight cuts, trimming moldings in place, shaving small excess, it can't be beat. For demolition, it is so much more precise than a Sawsall type machine.

While it can be used for long cuts, and can be slid along a track to guide it, I would be reluctant to use it for your project, especially if you need a fairly straight (unrippled) cut.

  • Thanks for your comment. The cuts don't need to be straight as they will be out of sight. How painful would it be in your view to do this? I just can't get over the idea that I don't see myself doing many long cuts in the future but would see using the multi-purpose tool for odd jobs around the house; the circular saw would just be sitting around after these cuts. – Rob de Jonge Aug 17 '16 at 14:42
  • In addition to how painful, any thoughts on how many blades I would go through on a 100-inch cut through half inch MDF sheet? I read people commenting about how fast they go through blades. – Rob de Jonge Aug 17 '16 at 14:43
  • You'll spend a small fortune on blades with use like that. – User95050 Aug 17 '16 at 17:23
  • How many DeWalt blades do you think I would need for a 100-inch cut through 10mm MDF? – Rob de Jonge Aug 18 '16 at 2:39
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Look, if you want to go at this inexpensively as your prime criteria, buy a handsaw and have at it. Unless you buy a pre-dulled one from the fleamarket and don't sharpen it, it will be faster than an oscillating tool, and despite MDF being miserable crap, you'll still have a usable saw after 200" of MDF cutting if you buy a new one from a store or a sharp one from the flea market.

Otherwise (if you are dedicated to "all tools must have a cord", or you want it done quicker - but you still want it cheap) find a decent 7-1/4" circular saw used from craigslist or a fleamarket, or buy a terrible one new from harbor freight (one of the options will probably last longer and thus be less expensive in the long run, but either should get the job done for a low starting price - keep the receipt from HF just in case if you do that.) If you never have a use for it again, sell it on CL.

  • No second hand market of anything here in Bangkok, I'm afraid. Thanks for your thoughts. – Rob de Jonge Aug 17 '16 at 15:14
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    Not quite true, though I don't see any circular saws today. There is a 4" disc grinder. bangkok.craigslist.co.th/search/tla – Ecnerwal Aug 17 '16 at 15:17
  • Second hand markets work well in societies where there is a decent middle class. Thailand has a very small middle class, although it is growing. Classifieds are up and coming, but most of the stuff being sold on there is absolute crap. I've tried it in the past. But let's not go off topic here. Welcome to come visit, I will buy you a beer! 😀 – Rob de Jonge Aug 17 '16 at 15:20
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If all you have is the oscillating multitool and jigsaw, The jigsaw would be the faster and easier choice for long straight cuts in MDF. Just clamp a guide on the board and use the coarsest shortest blade that can make the cut.

And depending on the saw, you may need a vacuum or blower to remove the dust from the cut so it does not clog the teeth of the blade as fast.

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