Kieran Nee takes a visit to Fein’s company headquarters in Schwäbisch Gmünd-Bargau, Germany, where the company is displaying its latest developments in oscillating tools.
You get what you pay for. This is the message I came away with when I went to see ﬁrst-hand what was happening over at Fein’s headquarters in the heavily industrialised Swabian area in Southern Germany. And perhaps, with just under 150 years’ worth of experience – having invented the world’s ﬁrst electric hand drill and holding over 500 patents, it might be worth taking the brand’s advice.
Fein takes its tools seriously, that much is clear, but it is oscillating multi-tools that really sets the company apart from its competitors.
First invented by the company in 1967 in the form of a plaster cast saw, Fein soon took oscillating technology to new levels, including the automotive industry where the company’s close work with Porsche led to the development of its celebrated multi-tool. Fein has continually updated and improved upon its original design over the years, to the point that the recent explosion in the oscillation market (due to the expiry of the original patent) has done little to dent its conﬁdence in its core product.
“The company’s new Starlock mounting system is fully compatible with the vast majority of oscillating tools on the market as well as with previous models from the company, many of which are still knocking around.”
Rather than ﬁght the market, Fein has sought to cooperate with competitors, notably Bosch, creating a new standard for mounting accessories. The company’s new Starlock mounting system is fully compatible with the vast majority of oscillating tools on the market as well as with previous models from the company, many of which are still knocking around.
The new mounting system incorporates a rigid, 3D design for the accessories which allows the maximum possible power transmission.
The accessories are laser welded, ﬁred and given a corrosion resistant coating. This helps ensure they last as long as possible and are fully matched to the power of the tool being used. In that respect, there are three classes of Starlock to look out for: Starlock, StarlockPlus and StarlockMax, with the lower performance accessories compatible with the higher performance tools but not vice versa.
Time is money
Launching in April, Fein’s MultiTalent, MultiMaster and SuperCut Construction multi-tools are being given the Starlock treatment. At a presentation on the new mounting system in Bargau, we were told that the average time it took to ﬁnd an Allen key was 45 seconds – which sounded like something only a German power tool company would know. The good news is that the new system doesn’t need an Allen key: changing accessories, we are told, can even be completed in less than three seconds. Determined to prove them wrong, we took up the challenge ourselves. Lo and behold, they were right.
Each of Fein’s oscillating tools, all of which come in mains powered and cordless versions, are designed for different levels of work. The MultiTalent is designed for entry level work and the MultiMaster for intermediate level work, whilst the Supercut is at the higher end of the workload.
The level of research going on in Bargau was astounding. Every person we met there knew everything there was to know about power tools. We were given demonstrations of each accessory (and
given a go ourselves, but the less said about that the better) and had the engineering explained to us behind the anti-vibration system used in their tools; we were shown the production of brushless motors which are 30% more efficient, and the thorough safety procedures every tool and accessory is subjected to were proudly demonstrated to us.
In short, the engineers at Fein are not leaving anything to chance. The company’s commitment to progress and to solid, reliable engineering is perhaps something lacking in companies offering the admittedly cheaper options. Oscillating tools are a big deal in Europe and Fein has long been a household name in Germany; whether they will come to conquer the UK market in the same way only time will tell, but what is sure is that those who do opt for the orange won’t regret it.
Designed as an entry-level tool for small time users and those new to the game, the new 250 watt MultiTalent is, the company claims, faster than most other oscillators on the market despite the cheaper price tag. This tool is available as a cordless version with 12v lithium-ion batteries, and weighs just 1.5kg.
The most popular oscillating tool in Germany, this tool packs more of a punch with a 350 watt compact high power motor. With a high amplitude and a tacho generator in the motor, the tools aims to provide sustained work progress. It is available as a cordless version with 18v batteries with a capacity of 2.4 Ah.
At 450 watts, this is the most powerful oscillating tool in the Fein stable and, indeed, in the oscillating market as a whole. This new generation tool features an anti-vibration system which reduces vibrations by up to 70% by decoupling the motor from the housing. In doing this, the company has also halved the tool’s noise. The tool is available cordless with 18v batteries and a brushless motor.
The Starlock accessory range is designed to provide something for the vast majority of multi-tools out there, and to specify each performance class of accessory to the right tool to prevent overload. With over a hundred accessories in production, many of which are only available from Fein, there’s probably an accessory for any job you can think of. With the accessories’ stepped design, you can easily make cuts near edges without the tool getting in the way.
● Fits all three classes of Fein oscillating tools.
● Fits a wide range of other companies’ oscillating tools.
● Fits all three classes of Fein oscillating tools.
● Fits the Fein SuperCut Construction only.