Oscillating tools are a must-have piece of equipment for every wood workshop. This tool can saw, scrape, polish, and has many different applications that can surprise even the most experienced craftsman. What makes this tool so unique is the various attachments that can fit into nooks and crannies that other tools can’t reach.
Today, we’re going to look at two different brands and make of oscillating tools – the Makita XMT03Z and the Rockwell RK515K. Both of these companies are highly regarded for their professionalism is manufacturing, distributing, and offering after-sales services on their various power and bench-top tools. Between the two models we will discuss today, their differentiating features will tell you which provides better bang for your buck. Without further ado, let’s just right into our comparison.
Speed and Speed Variable Dial
The speed of the oscillating tool can be an indication of how powerful the tool is. Basically, we want a tool that has a high OPM rating with a speed variable dial that gives us control on how quickly or how slowly to work, depending on the material we’re cutting or polishing. The Makita has an OPM range of between 6,000 and 20,000.
The Rockwell also comes with a speed variable dial that lets users adjust how quickly or slowly the attachment will oscillate. It has an oscillation speed range of between 10,000 and 19,000.
Conclusion: Between the two models, there is hardly any difference in oscillation speed. The 4,000-minimum OPM and the 1,000-maximum OPM disparities are rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
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It’s important to find a power tool that performs well while offers extreme comfort to the user. The weight and feel of the Makita is definitely for people who don’t mind working with a brick of a tool. It’s rather bulky and might be a bit awkward for some new users.
The Rockwell is perhaps in the middle of the spectrum. It’s large and has some weight to it, but it won’t weight your arm down when working overhead areas or vertically. In the end, it’s somewhat lightweight but far from being free from inducing fatigue when used for long periods.
Conclusion: Neither of these tools has that wow factor in terms of appearances and weight. The Makita is a bit chunky for our liking while the Rockwell is just a basic, vanilla ice cream of an oscillating tool.
Vibrations and Noise Production
One of the worst things to deal with is a handheld power tool that wakes up your neighbors living two houses over while creating a mini earthquake in your home. The Makita comes equipped with a powerful yet calm motor that reduces vibrations while operating at only around 68 decibels on high speed.
The Rockwell’s anti-vibration technology does an excellent job at preventing shocks running up your arms and rattling your teeth. In terms of noise production, we’re sorry to say that this is among some of the loudest oscillating tools we’ve ever tried. When running on its highest 19,000 OPM speed, it produces roughly 105 decibels.
Conclusion: Both of these devices have built-in technology to keep accuracy-reducing and fatigue-inducing vibrations at bay. However, the Makita produces much less noise while working at its fastest. When considering sound production, the Makita is the clear winner here.
Cordless vs. Corded-Electric
Going cordless or otherwise is completely up to the user, but it’s important to note that the Makita XMT03Z is a cordless device. Without wires, your mobility and range of movement are limited by what your joints and arm muscles can do. Its runtime on a full charge is up to 20 minutes long (battery and charger not included).
The Rockwell comes with a short 10-foot power cord so you may need to get an extension cord if you plan on rocking the Rockwell. The good thing about corded power tools is that you don’t need to count down the minutes before recharging and replacing batteries, but without an extension cord, your movement is extremely limited.
Conclusion: We can’t make the decision for you, so you’ll have to weigh the pros and cons of going cordless or corded-electric on your own. However, for a cordless tool, we find that the Makita’s 20-minute runtime is extremely limited so we recommend purchasing additional batteries if you choose this model.
The ability to increase visibility in dark areas is a must-have for such an important tool designed to fit in all sorts of hard-to-reach areas. Unfortunately for the Makita, the large blade lock lever located at the head of the unit takes up so much space that an LED light would be impossible to install.
As for the Rockwell, it features a handy LED light found at the head of the tool, just above the flip-up lever to change blades. This is somewhat surprising considering it’s a corded-electric model.
Conclusion: The Makita loses by default in the battle of LED lights, simply because it doesn’t have one. This is also a shocker since as a cordless model you’d expect supreme convenience which eliminates the need for an external source of light.
The one unique feature that the Makita has going for it is that it’s cordless. Of course, this could be a pro or con to some people. Personally, to us, with only 20 minutes of juice per full charge, you might as well get a corded model, especially if you need a tool to get work done without frequent downtimes.
The only downside of the Rockwell is the loud noises produced with operating the unit. If you have a good pair of ear protectors and your neighbors can tolerate loud noises from your home, then you’ll be much better off with the Rockwell RK5151K. The Makita XMT03Z is basically a cordless oscillating tool without any bells and whistles. This doesn’t mean that the Rockwell is anything special, but you’d definitely get much more value out of it.