When I heard the new Milwaukee M18 FUEL multi-tool model 2836-20 was plunge cutting faster than my DeWalt DCS355 I had to check it out for myself. Not only did I find the FUEL tool plunged faster, it sanded faster too, a lot faster.

Some say the M18 FUEL’s speed is due to its 4.2 angle of oscillation. DeWalt lists their angle as 1.6°, which I take to mean 1.6 left or right of 0° for a total arc of 3.2°. And I have wondered over the years if it would run faster with a wider swing.

Whatever the reason for the FUEL’s speed, I can tell you it cuts like a reciprocating saw and sands like an orbital. It’s so fast that some who saw my YouTube review comparing it to the DeWalt DCS356 thought I was sandbagging the DeWalt or just didn’t know how to use it.

But I’ve been using the DeWalt 20V DCS355 regularly for the past 5 years. It finally tapped out last week after suffering late stage vibrationitis. It was an honorable death.

So I’m thinking about carrying the Milwaukee with a battery adapter. Some fear this will burn out the tool or over-discharge the battery. But you can feel if the tool overheats and you have to watch that your DeWalt batteries don’t rundown anyway, so I’m not too worried about it.

Speed

The Milwaukee uses an on/off switch and has a speed dial that runs from 2k-20k OPM (oscillations per minute). The DeWalt DSC356 has a variable speed trigger, that goes from 0-20K OPM, and three speed settings that go from 0-13k, 0-17K, and 0-20K. Each setting when bought to full speed can be locked on high with the trigger itself being the release

To test the Milwaukee I ran it against the DeWalt DCS356 and my 3 amp Corded Makita. On nails, copper pipe, and cross cutting trim they were all pretty close. But it’s the plunge cutting and sanding that separates the tools from the toys. And the M18 delivered plunge cutting nearly 3x faster than the DeWalt and 2x the Makita.

I think part of the reason the DeWalt plunge cuts poorly is it doesn’t clear dust well. It requires a lot of stop and start, push and pull, action to clear the dust so it can dig deeper. The M18 FUEL doesn’t have this issue.

The Milwaukee also sanded a section of painted trim board twice as fast as big D. One reason may be the DeWalt’s sanding pad has no dust clearing holes and the Milwaukee pad does. Still, I wouldn’t chalk the Milwaukee’s double speed up to dust clearance alone.

Vibration

worker holding dewalt multi tool

Even though the Milwaukee has a looser battery (the terminals float more than the DeWalt) it still has less vibration than the DeWalt. That said the DeWalt vibration is also good. Unless you hold it by the pistol grip, in which case it has noticeably worse vibration.

Control

The Milwaukee 2836 has an auto speed setting that starts a cut slow and then ramps up to 20K as you get into a cut. I guess this is supposed to help you hit your line as you start off a cut. It works ok for that maybe, but I like it because it’s less annoying than listening to the tool blast away on high speed from start to finish.

The Milwuakee speed dial does not have clicky, positive stops. Meaning it easily floats off one setting to another if you touch it. And it’s located in a spot where you will touch it if you hold the tool by the lower grip.

Lucky for me I usually keep one hand on the battery and one hand up front. If I do hold the lower grip it’s more for guidance and I don’t wrap by hand over the speed dial. It would actually be uncomfortable to fully grasp the lower grip, in certain cutting positions, because you’d have to bend your wrist over the battery.

The only issue I have with the DeWalt is the trigger and the quick release bar for the blade change interfere with the grip. I almost always use the tool locked on high speed so the trigger hasn’t been very useful. But that could change down the line with some new application.

Blade Change

The DeWalt’s claim to fame is it’s quick release spring mechanism for the blade change. It’s much faster when using universal (open end) accessories, which I prefer for any multi-tool because they are easier to install and adjust.

That said, the Milwaukee has a pretty fast blade change for universal blades and is better than the DeWalt when using regular accessories. Actually, it’s much better.

One reason being, the adapter that comes with the DeWalt has face pins that do not line up with the holes on regular accessories from Makita, Bosch, or Milwaukee, are the ones I’ve tested. The Milwaukee can take all of these brand’s accessories with no adapter needed.

Bottom Line

Both tools have brushless motors, a work light, a tool-less blade change, and a top speed of 20k OPM. The DeWalt has a faster change mechanism for universal accessories, but the Milwaukee has a fast-enough change that works with all accessories.

With a 5amp hr battery the Milwaukee weighs 4.3 lbs. vs. the DeWalt’s 3.6 lbs. So switching over would mean carrying more weight. The Milwaukee also costs more retailing for $229 compared to the DeWalt at $129. Both can be found on sale for less.

For me having a multi-tool that cuts like a reciprocating saw and sands like an orbital seems worth the extra cost. I also prefer the feel and control of the Milwaukee grip over the DeWalt. That said the Dewalt has served me well over the years and I can highly recommend it.

If you get one of these oscillating multi-tools I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll update this post if I go with the Milwaukee and let you know how it’s going. See ya.

Check out this review to see these tools in action.

Hey, I'm Alex and I love tools. Having worked in carpentry and as a painting contractor I have a great appreciation for tool innovation. The freedom of cordless is amazing. These days, when not traveling with my wife Zhou, I flip houses and write tool reviews. Enjoy the website. :)

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