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Bosch 12V Max Multi-X Carpenter Kit
A small tool with a big list of uses
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted - 7-17-2010
Multi use tools have been around for a long time but when Bosch came out with the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X, and made it cordless to boot, I had to take a look. Once again, Bosch developed an impressive tool for woodworkers and handypersons alike.
The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X Carpenter Kit (PS50-2B) is featured in this review. It includes a bit Adapter, Triangular Sandpaper Set, Sanding Pad - SDP001, HCS Plunge Cut Blade (1-5/8x1-1/2) - OSC112, HCS Plunge Cut Blade (3/8 x 1-1/4) - OSC38 and a BIM Flush Cut Blade (3-1/2 x 7/8) - OSC312F. The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X is also available in the PS50-2A Cutting Kit which includes the bit Adapter, Triangular Sandpaper Set, Sanding Pad - SDP001, and the HCS Plunge Cut Blade (1-5/8x1-1/2) - OSC112.
Both kits include a pair of Bosch Litheon battery packs and a 30-minute charger, both described later in this review. A hard, molded plastic carry case that keeps the tools and accessories in good shape is also common to both kits.
The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X is a high-speed, small arc oscillating tool that makes many tight quarters cutting and sanding jobs possible or at least much easier. The fact that Bosch made this tool cordless only enhances its versatility.
The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X is only 10.9"-long and weighs a trim 2.2-LBS which essentially removes fatigue from the workday excuse list. The tool has a precisely made "Bosch blue" casing augmented with rubber overmolds in the gripping areas that cushion the operator from the surprisingly light vibrations of the high-speed oscillating cycles. These overmolds also give the operator a better sense of grip and control because of their slip-inhibiting surface.
The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X has two simple controls. On top you find a logically placed slider On/Off switch that is easy to reach and operate. A positive detent at each end of the throw makes it difficult to start the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X by accident.
On the left side we find a speed control dial with six numerical positions. The dial has no detents or preset positions so it is truly infinitely adjustable through the 5000 to 20,000 oscillations per minute range. Because wood is such an inconsistent medium Bosch leaves it to you to choose the right speed setting for the job. While that may seem a bit daunting at first, using the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X demonstrates that with very little experience, recognizing the right speed for the job is easy.
Batteries & Charger
The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X comes with two of the potent Bosch 12V Litheon battery packs. These batteries are surprisingly small for the power they contain. The packs have a keyed stalk type connection that makes installing them in the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X or the charger incorrectly virtually impossible. The packs also have a snap-in, finger operated lock that makes changing them very fast and tool free.
The actual life of each charge varies depending on what you are doing but throughout the evaluation, I was only surprised by how long the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X kept cutting on a charge. Your performance probably will be somewhat different than mine but the Litheon batteries are the best thing going in cordless tools these days insuring that you get the longest run time available. I can say that I never felt like I was running back and forth to the charger too often while making all sorts of cuts during this evaluation.
A pushbutton battery "fuel gauge" uses a series of three LED's to keep you informed on the state of charge of the installed battery pack.
The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X kit also includes a smart 30-minute charger (110V) that takes the worry out of freshening up depleted packs. Plug the battery pack in and the LED lights tell you what is happening and when the pack is done. A graphical chart on the front of the charger explains what the LED lights are telling you.
The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X Carpenters Kit contains a selection of sanding and wood cutting bits that make sense for use in the woodworking world. Plus, Bosch offers a wide range of other bit designs for other materials, specialty cuts and jobs you might encounter. Using the mounting adapter that is included with the kit enables using the bits from many similar tool competitors on the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X without modification.
The multi-position mounting system allows installing the bits in the best of 12 positions for the job at hand. Because of the small arc through which the bit moves installing it at an angle other than straight ahead can make it much easier to get at a cut or to make the cut more accurately. The bit mounting adapter that is included gives Bosch 12V Max Multi-X even more angle options with many compatible bits.
The bits are retained with a bolt and washer for maximum security. This mounting system, using the included hex wrench is very easy and quick as well.
In the Shop
There really is no trick to using the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X other than learning to let it and the bits do their work. As with virtually any cutting tool, try forcing the action does nothing but slow it down. Learning to let the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X do its work is easier because of the speed with which it works.
I expected an oscillating tool to have far more vibration than I experienced with the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X. The surprisingly smooth operation can only come from a well designed, precisely made operating mechanism that lacks vibration-inducing play. Crank the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X up to 20,000 oscillations and it is virtually as smooth as when running at 5000 oscillations. That means using the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X is less fatiguing and more accurate.
The rate at which the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X cuts soft and hard woods was also surprising. Hold the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X steady and let it do its work and before you know it, the cut is complete. While the cutters I used during the evaluation never seemed to lose their cutting edge, sooner or later physics says they will degenerate. As with any cutting tool, keeping a clean, sharp bit will maintain the cut performance. The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X seems to maintain that performance for longer than I expected right out of the box.
Sanding is also surprising in how effective the triangular pad and papers are. The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X turns out to be very effective for sanding in tight spots and even 90-degree corners where no other sander can move sufficiently to be effective.
The Bosch 12V Max Multi-X is a handy tool for those occasional but important jobs most of us encounter. More often than not, we were forced to use much slower hand tools to get at some of these odd cuts but the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X is often able to reach those cuts and make them way faster than we did before - with far less frustration.
With a street price of $171.95 (7-17-2010) for the Carpenters kit reviewed here the Bosch 12V Max Multi-X is not an overly expensive tool. For most of us this will not be an "every day" tool but when we do need it, the purchase price will be of little consequence. Solid performance and effective cutting makes it way easier to spend a little money to get a good tool.
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