This manufacturer's "beauty shot" shows how the integral LED light illuminates the immediate work area.
Doug Mahoney This manufacturer's "beauty shot" shows how the integral LED light illuminates the immediate work area.
Like nearly every current model OMT, the F50 has a tool-less blade changing clamp. One of the few downsides to this tool is that the clamp lever (shown here in the open position) does not lay flush to the body when closed.
Doug Mahoney Like nearly every current model OMT, the F50 has a tool-less blade changing clamp. One of the few downsides to this tool is that the clamp lever (shown here in the open position) does not lay flush to the body when closed.
Rockwell Hyperlock accessories can be installed on the tool without removing the holding pin. Other (un-notched) accessories can be used but it will be necessary to unthread the pin.
Doug Mahoney Rockwell Hyperlock accessories can be installed on the tool without removing the holding pin. Other (un-notched) accessories can be used but it will be necessary to unthread the pin.
The F50 is equipped with dual LED lights—one on either side of the front housing.
Doug Mahoney The F50 is equipped with dual LED lights—one on either side of the front housing.

I recently had the opportunity to test two new oscillating multitools (OMTs) from Rockwell, the 4.0 amp Sonicrafter F50 and the cordless RK2863K. This story is about the corded model; I’ll cover the cordless tool in a separate review.

Before using this tool I assumed it would be just another mid-level OMT. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong; the F50 has a ferocious cutting ability that exceeds anything I’ve experienced using an OMT. While there are some areas where my Fein MultiMaster is the better tool, the F50 is unquestionably a worthy machine—especially when you consider the price tag (only $150).

According to Rockwell, the F50 has an oscillating angle (the amount of back and forth) of five degrees. Most other tools have an angle of just over three degrees. With the wider angle comes faster cutting—in this case, it’s a lot faster. Using identical blades, I performed some tests comparing the F50 to my MultiMaster. The F50 took 12 seconds to cut through a 2x4 while the MultiMaster took 30 seconds. It is very impressive how fast this thing blazes through wood.

Starting a precision cut with the added blade movement is a little more difficult, but not by much. The tool has a variable speed dial, so it’s possible to slow the blade a little while cutting along a line, making it easier to begin the plunge.

I like the LEDs (one on either side) because they light up the nose of the tool. They were a help when I had to cut an outlet into wainscoting and I could see them being beneficial to someone undercutting door casings. Since oscillating tools are so good at precise cuts, it’s nice that the cut line is lit.

The blade interface—which Rockwell refers to as Hyperlock— takes some getting used to. It’s similar to the Fein in that you first need to flip up a clamping lever. With the Fein, this releases the holding pin from the tool, but in the Rockwell, the pin stays in place. Once you start spinning the lever counter clockwise, the pin begins to unscrew and separate from the body of the tool. The Rockwell accessories are notched (like Porter-Cable’s and DeWalt’s), so you can take them on and off without ever fully releasing the pin. You just need to loosen it enough to get the blade in. If you are using competitor’s blades that don’t have the notch, you just keep spinning the lever until the pin fully releases and then you can put the blade on. According to Rockwell, the F50 is compatible with all major brands of OMT blades.

It’s nice not having to release the pin every time I swap out a new blade, but there are a couple things I don’t like about the system. First, it’s tedious having to spin the lever and then tighten it up again. I reminds me too much of the old Bosch jigsaw blade release with the spinning piece at the top of the tool. Second, the lever is large and doesn’t sit flush with the tool. This makes the F50 less comfortable to hold when gripped at the head. The lever on the Fein is much smaller and is set into the tool.

There is also a good deal of vibration with the F50, which isn’t surprising considering how aggressively it cuts. For extended work, I definitely recommend wearing gloves. If you don’t, you’ll end the day with tingling hands.

But none of these issues are fatal flaws. I got use to them once I’d had the tool for a while. The bottom line is that the F50 is that it’s a good, solid OMT that cuts like a champ.

Sonicrafter F50 (RK5141K)
Oscillating angle: 5.0 degrees
Motor: 4.0 amp
Speed: 11,000-20,000 OPM
Max. cutting load: 35 pounds
Weight: 3.3 pounds
Cord length: 10 feet
Interface: Universal accessory
Kit includes: tool, four 1 3/8-inch end-cut blades (one metal, two precision, one standard), one 3 1/8-inch HSS semicircle saw blade, one rigid scraper blade, one sanding pad, 26 sanding sheets, hard case.
Country of origin: China
Price: $139
Available: summer 2014