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Reciprocating Saw Vs. Oscillating Multi-Tool (6 Differences) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs.   We may earn from qualifying purchases.  (Learn More).

When it comes to the choice of picking between two power tools suitable for cutting through materials, the oscillating multi-tool and reciprocating saw comes in handy. They are powerful tools used on plastic, wood, and metals.

The importance of both tools at homes and workshops cannot be underemphasized. As both are strong, reliable, and used by professionals and experts in the workshop as well as DIYers at homes. But what are the differences between reciprocating saw vs. oscillating multi-tool?

Majorly, the oscillating Multi-tool comes in handy when making cuttings at tight angles on woods or metals. While the reciprocating saw is best for demolition and remodeling. It can also be used to cut through any material of your choice.

Both powerful tools can cut through any material. That’s why people are always caught up between which to use for their projects and works.

It is evident both are powerful tools and their major difference is that one is just a saw and the other a multi-tool. This makes their builds and structural designs unique compared to one another.

However, in this article, both products will be reviewed with respect to their respective features. If you wish to know more about the differences between these two tools, their features, and what makes them different from each other, read through this guide.

What Is a Reciprocating Saw?

If you have ever been to a construction site and you saw already cut building materials, there is a high chance the material used for cutting was the reciprocating saw.

A reciprocating saw is a very used saw that people mostly use to cut wood and metal. It comes with a blade that goes back and forth.

It is a very efficient tool for cutting thanks to its thin end-mounted saw blade that lets out fast motion in a push-pull way.

This blade makes the tool cut and slice seamlessly and efficiently through the wood, plastic, and thin metals like nails.

Most users prefer this tool because of its stout, strong build for construction purposes. The portability of this saw is second to none as it can be squeezed into tight spaces.

You can read our review for reciprocating saws by clicking here:

What Is an Oscillating Multi-tool?

Oscillating multi-tools are also called oscillating tools and most people simply refer to them as “multi-tool.”

Regardless of the name you chose to call it, this tool is one of the most popular power tools on the market because of its versatility. The Oscillating multi-tool can be attached to a couple of other driven tools and used to saw, cut, grind, and perform a host of other activities.

Perhaps that is why it is called a multi-tool.

The Oscillating multi-tool is preferred and used by most professionals and DIY enthusiasts because of its flexibility and ease to control, especially when operated with one hand.

Reciprocating Saw Vs. Oscillating Multi-tool

Some of the features common to both tools will be discussed in this section based on the characteristics, similarities, and differences between them.

1. Size and Handling

Merely looking at both tools you would easily note the differences between them. Carrying each tool would further confirm the difference in their sizes.

Considering the weight, the reciprocating saw is quite heavy and bulky, though its heaviness depends on the person operating or using it. For instance, it would be heavier in the hands of someone operating it with one hand than it would be in the hands of someone operating it with both hands.

Most reciprocating saw requires the user to place one hand on the rear grip and the other hand on its far end. This is to prevent the material from being cut from moving out of place.

As for the oscillating multi-tool, it is less heavy and bulky. However, whether it would be easy to handle or not depends on the kind of tool attached to it. Regardless of the tool attached to it, the oscillating multi-tool is best operated with one hand as it provides stability.

To have more control over the oscillating part of the machine, a second hand might be needed to grip it while in motion.

2. Life-Span

When it comes to durability, these two tools also differ but unlike the differences in sizes, it cannot be detected by merely looking at them. Oscillating multi-tools appear to be more brittle and breakable between the two.

A reciprocating tool, on the other hand, is more durable in terms of comparison as only its blades require replacement- and that is like after a very long time of usage.

3. Flexibility

Both tools are greatly flexible as they can be used to carry out more than one task, they, however, offer varying degrees of flexibility.

The reciprocating saw is a straight-forward power tool perfect for slicing and cutting through plastic, woods, metals as well as other materials. One factor that makes it offer a desirable degree of flexibility in slicing and cutting is the uniqueness of its blade.

On the other hand, the flexibility of the Oscillating multi-tool is derived from its name. The tool is one to which other tools can be attached.

This allows it to be used to cut any surface. It can also be used to grind, saw, finesse, etc. There is however no gainsaying that a perfectly functioning oscillating multi-tool will replace a reciprocating saw.

To round it up, the oscillating multi-tool offers more versatility compared to the reciprocating tool as it can be used for activities beyond cutting. Although, the reciprocating saw can be used beyond cutting activities but has to be coupled with another tool before usage. If you are looking for a cordless reciprocating saw then make sure to read our review.

4. Operational Routine

This refers to the method or mode of operation of both tools. Although, their method of operations is similar, however, there still exist a few differences.  The differences in them can be attributed to the inconsistencies in features of their respective units.

Regardless of that, there are a couple of ways they could be used.

  • Make it a point of duty to read instructions that accompany the pack upon purchase.
  • Be in protective wear before using any of both tools.
  • Ensure the batteries are powerfully charged before setting out to use them.
  • To avoid over-usage, endeavor to have little breaks between periods of usage.
  • Use compatible tools with each as they are not both compatible with the same tools.

5. Design

The similarities in both devices are such that they are both attached to other tools from the tip to enable a stress-free working session and they have a similar structural design. Also, both tools are designed in such a way they can be easily clutched with a trigger close to them.

The main difference between them, however, is the reciprocating saw consists of a fewer number of variables unlike the oscillating multi-tool with a higher number of variables. Invariably, this means it is easier to make precisions using oscillatory multi-tool than reciprocating saws.

Nonetheless, the reciprocating saw is more comfortable to operate than the oscillatory multi-tool as it can be held with a single hand, unlike the latter which is designed to be handled with both hands.

Related Read — Sawzall vs Hackzall

6. Maintenance

Both tools differ greatly when compared across a number of features, however, like other tools; they both have the same maintenance method. Differences in maintenance patterns could only arise when external tools are attached to one or both of the tools.

Hence, the mode of maintenance listed here will relate to the durable and reliable features of both tools. To start with, both tools are easy to maintain. However, a determining factor in the ease of their maintenance depends largely on how you use it.

The activities you carry out with them, how often you use them, and so on.

Another pointer in the ease of their maintenance is to pay attention to the user manual that comes with the pack when you purchase either of the power tools. Basically, below are the maintenance actions that suit both tools perfectly.

  1. Inspect the LED light indicator while operating these power tolls as it’ll serve as an alarm and notify you to charge the battery when the need arises.
  2. Always endeavor to carry out a full drag when using force against friction.
  3. Apply oil/grease regularly on the blade’s tip to keep them lubricated.
  4. After use, ensure the tools are disassembled especially when you do not keep them in a separate place like the barn or garage.
  5. Keep in a cool place, out of the reach of children.
  6. Keeping it safe is important, but never put it away immediately after use. Allow it cool before putting it away for storage.


This guide has explained a few details about the oscillating multi-tool and reciprocating saw. Likewise, it has given a brief overview of both power tools, their uses, and the differences between them.

Furthermore, about five features common to both power tools have been reviewed with emphasis laid on some of their differences and similarities.

In summary, this guide has provided you with inarguable facts about the oscillating multi-tools and reciprocating saw and we’re sure it will guide you towards choosing a suitable tool for your need when making a purchase.

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