Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 11/5/98

by Rob Carr (

The main function of the MultiMaster is definitely sanding. This would be where I believed I would get the most benefit. To test this application, I made half a frame from a fairly intricate molding, cut a rabbet into the bottom and glued a piece of luaun plywood in place. I purposely spread the glue too thick on all surfaces as I wanted to use the MultiMaster to deal with it. I also took a wide Magic Marker and drew a line in the edge where the frame met the plywood bottom. This would let me see just how close I was getting to the edge. I also hooked up the Turbo-Vac attachment as this was the perfect place to use it. More on that later.

I have used Ryobi's version of a detail sander and decided it would make a great paper weight. As far as I could tell, the whole machine simply vibrated and most times vibrated out of control. With prolonged use, it simply numbs the hand and fouls up the workpiece. I have to tell you, I thought I was going to get the same results with this one..the Fein. Nothing could be further from the truth. The tool handled like a dream. Again, I'll repeat. The tool handled like a dream.

First, the tool doesn't vibrate...the head does (or oscillates). This allows you to hold it for extended periods without feeling a numbness come over your hand. Though the unit is hefty (2.4 lbs.) it wasn't too heavy to hold for extended periods and is really well balanced. It can be used with one hand or two and like any other tool, you simply change hand positions when you get tired. The sanding action is delivered via a drive shaft. Accessories attach to the shaft with a washered bolt. The attachments oscillate at an amazing speed. The model I received (229 27 Msxe 636 II) has a knob on the side which controls the speed of oscillation from 12,000 to 21,000. I didn't see printed anywhere just how much movement there is in an oscillation, but it is minute as you barely can see it move and have a hard time seeing any trace of sanding marks. I used a 10x magnifying glass and could see small "V" shaped lines left from the 60 grit paper. Not too shabby, I thought. Back to the test.

I turned the MultiMaster on and placed the edge of the sanding pad into the mitered corner. I was looking for some "kickback" like I got from the Ryobi but didn't get any. I couldn't even force it to. This "kickback" I'm referring to comes from the motion of the pad hitting the vertical side of the workpiece. Because the pad which holds the paper is 3/8" thick rubber and is tapered from the bottom to the top...there was no kickback.. The rubber absorbs the shock. In fact there was no adverse motion at all. This was a breeze! I got serious about removing glue lines, glue beads, raised edges and the black marks I had put on the frame. I had a 60 grit pad on and swiftly sanded through the glue into the bare wood. The raised edge was corrected in a matter of seconds. The black line disappeared but not as fully as I hoped. I took the sanding pad off and re-attached it leaving just about 1/32" hanging over. Hah! That's the ticket! The sandpaper followed the vertical edge effortlessly and removed all traces of the Magic Marker. This was neat! I thought that I would see a line on the vertical surface where the edge of the sandpaper was rubbing. I think because I was careful and tilted the pad into the corner a little, nothing showed up.

Like any tool, the more you use it and get the feel, the better the results will be. The molding was painted white and it was easy to see the results of the sanding. I put the edge up against an 1/8" rise in the wood and it performed beautifully. This was pine mind you and the possibility of ruining a raised portion was easy. The MultiMaster was so easy to handle and control that if there were going to be any mistakes made, it would be from human error and not as a result of the tool.

I felt confident enough with the performance that I tried it on another project sitting around waiting to be repaired. I made an enclosed chessboard two years ago. It came out beautifully except for the finish. I made this right at the same time I purchased Bob Flexnors' book on finishing. Need I say more? I had made one big mess on this project by using too much and too many different types of finish. Hey, I bought the badger hair brush...I was ready for anything.

What I ended up with was severe drips and runs. These were on the edge of the chessboard top which fit into a framework via a tongue and groove configuration. I never got around to fixing this mess simply because I was not looking forward to dealing with it. The mitered frame is only 1/2" thick and 3/8" wide before it meets the chessboard panel so there is not too much room to move and any oversanding would show up. I didn't want to make matters worse. I held my breath and got ready to work on the board. Here goes...

To make a long story short; with little very little effort and hardly any experience, all areas of concern were repaired. I started with 60 grit paper and went through the grits up to 220. The chessboard is starting to receive a new finish and I couldn't be happier. The Fein MultiMaster allowed this to happen. This tool was made for tight spots that require precision. And because the sanding pads can be turned, you are able to get a lot of work from each pad.

I performed another test also. This was to see just how it would handle in a real tight area. I had an old hay rake that was pretty rusty. It's an antique and I want to make it shiny and new for some reason I'm not quite sure about. The MultiMaster was a blessing again. Rust came off with no effort (60 grit paper used) and I was able to get into narrow areas I couldn't have with any other power tool I own. A wire brush on a drill would come close but you would run the risk of catching the brush with the rake tines. Come to think of it, I have a lot of old stuff I put in a special place in the shop I call the "I'll get to that later corner". I'm not certain the MultiMaster will cause me to get to any of the stuff any sooner, but at least I know that when I do, I'll have a better way of working on it.

Turbo Vac II
Along with the MultiMaster, I received the Turbo Vac II. I have several small shop vacs and a Delta 2 stage which gets most of the work. There's a difference with the Fein. First, as I stated earlier, it comes with 16.4 feet of hose. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to finagle a shop vac around tools and over cut-offs. There is less of this with the Fein just because of hose length. Another feature I like and found a little strange is the lack of an exhaust port. You know the one I'm talking about. The one that invariably blows dust in your face as your bending over it to turn it on or place the hose in the suction port. The exhaust on the Fein exits through an indented ring directly below the motor housing where it meets the canister. The air is forced downward and is a real plus in keeping the dust from blowing around as you move the vacuum.

The best feature I found on the vac is a receptacle for plugging in other power tools. When a tool is plugged in and the switch on the vac is set to "auto", the vacuum turns on and off with the tool. Nice feature. I've never had dustless sanding before and it did a great job of keeping my sanding areas clear. The cfm on the vac is 116 with a canister capacity of 7.3 gallons. It is rated at 1000 watts and 9.5 amps. The vac has plenty of power for general cleanup and is more than adequate for taking care of sanding dust when attached to a sander. It is also one of the quietest vacuums in the shop. I could actually speak in a normal tone while it was running. I used it around the shop to take care of some dust and wood chips and it performed nicely.

The Multimaster came with a dust collection adapter kit which is a curved plastic tube that lies underneath the tool. It is held in place with a spring clip and has 2 different size fittings and a short piece of rubber hose so you can attach it to various exhaust port diameters. This was easy to install and remove and fits my other orbital sanders. Another plus was that of the "lock levers" which hold the
motor housing to the canister. They were large and easily clipped anywhere around the motor housing.

The vacuum is designed fatter at the bottom and narrower up top to decrease the chances of tipping over. It also has a rubber bumper around its mid section to protect things in the shop from damage. These little pluses in design are what make this vac a nice addition to the shop.

There are many accessories available for both the vacuum and the MultiMaster. Buffing pads, grout-removing saw blades, oscillating segment knife (for cutting linoleum and other rigid material like plastic, leather and carpet), a carbide coated rasp, along with PSA or hook & loop sanding pads are just a few for the MultiMaster. The vac offers a selection of hose attachments and filters to filter the air down to 1 micron. The "filter bladder" that comes with the vac protects against dust particles to 5 microns. There is also an "anti-foam filter" for wet vacuuming. Sanding pads are available (and come with the machine) ranging from 36 grit to 400 grit. There are enough attachments to keep a spouse or friend from guessing what to get you on your birthday for a long time.

I have no problem at all in highly recommending these tools to anyone. The MultiMaster did what it advertised and did it nicely. It was comfortable to use and is clearly designed and manufactured with quality in mind. I know I will be giving this a good work-out in years to come. I may not be using some of the attachments as much as the sander, but I know the sander is just what the doctor ordered for me and my woodworking. The Turbo Vac II is also well made with attention to detail. I like the little additions that make this a great vac. It will be nice to be able to not rely so much on my lungs anymore to rid the sanding dust from a project. Knowing what I know about both these tools, I would buy them for my shop. Though a little pricey, they are well made and a joy to use. Now if they would change the instruction booklets a little, I wouldn't have a thing to complain about. Thanks to all who made this critique possible.

Rob Carr
Hand Made To Hand Down
e-mail: robiec@dmv.com

Editor's Note: Todd Mogren of Coastal Tool and Supply along with Fein U.S. graciously provided the tools for this review. If you think you can use the detail sander AND Turbo Vac, Coastal offers everything in a kit for $409.00. Follow this link for details.

Separately, the three components generally are available for the following prices:

Multimaster Detail Sander: $169 - $199
Turbo Vac II: $199 - $249
Dust Connection Kit: $49 - $79

Also, it was pointed out the 9.5 amp Turbo Vac has the ability to attach a HEPA filter, making this vac inexpensively OSHA compliant for many applications.

Back to the Gazette

Contact Us
We encourage all our visitors to send us
their thoughts, suggestions and complaints.