Milwaukee M18 FUEL Multi-tool 2836 vs. DeWalt 20V MAX DCS356

Multi-tools use a variety of attachments in an oscillating motion for sanding, cutting, and scraping. They are commonly used to remove grout, trim door jambs, cut nails, notch out drywall and wood, etc. A great addition to any pro kit.

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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.

Quick Specs

Both tools have brushless motors, a work light, a tool-less blade change, and a top speed of 20k OPM. With a 5amp hr battery the Milwaukee weighs 4.3 lbs. vs. the DeWalt’s 3.6 lbs. The Milwaukee costs more retailing for $229 compared to the DeWalt at $129. Both can be found on sale for less.

Speed

To test the Milwaukee I ran it against the DeWalt DCS356 and my 3 amp corded Makita. I ran all three multi-tools at their shared top speed of 20K oscillations per minute (OPM), all used new blades, and both cordless tools had fully charged 5 amp hr batteries.

On nails, copper pipe, and 1×6″ wood trim they were all pretty close. It was the plunge cutting and sanding that separated the tools from the toys. The M18 plunge cut nearly 3x faster than the DeWalt and 2x the Makita. And it sanded the paint off a baseboard 2x faster than the DeWalt.

Some say the M18 FUEL multi-tool’s speed is due to its 4.2° angle of oscillation. DeWalt lists the angle for its multi-tool as 1.6°, which I take to mean 1.6 left or right of 0° for a total arc of 3.2°.

I think part of the reason the DeWalt and corded Makita plunge cut so much slower is, for whatever reason, they do not clear dust as well as the Milwaukee. The DeWalt especially, requires a lot of stop and start action to clear the dust so it can dig deeper.

One reason the Milwaukee sanded faster 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’s much worse than the Milwaukee and corded Makita.

Control

The Milwuakee speed dial is located in a spot where you will touch it if you hold the tool by the lower grip, which will cause the speed to change as the tool vibrates under your finger. But, to get better control over the tool, 99% of the time I keep one hand on the battery and one hand up front, so the speed dial location isn’t an issue for me.

The only issue I have with the DeWalt, as far as control, is the trigger and the blade-change bar interfere with the upper grip.

Don’t get me wrong, I can kill it with the DeWalt grip, but the Milwaukee upper grip is free of clutter and I find it much nicer to work with. And I almost always use the tool locked on high speed anyway so the trigger isn’t much use to me.

Blade Change

The DeWalt’s blade change is 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 fast blade change for universal blades and is much better than the DeWalt when using regular accessories.

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.

The DeWalt has served me well but I’m due for an upgrade. So I’ll be carrying the Milwaukee with a battery adapter. Some fear this will burn out the tool or over-discharge the battery. But you can feel for overheating and have to watch that your DeWalt batteries don’t rundown anyway, so I’m not too worried about it.

Bottom Line

The Milwuakee cuts like a reciprocating saw and sands like an orbital, which is a huge improvement over the DeWalt. I also prefer the feel and control of the Milwaukee grip.

The Dewalt has served me well over the years and I can highly recommend it, but I have to give this new M18 FUEL tool a shot.

If you get one of these oscillating multi-tools I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll update this post with Milwaukee update clips to 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 remodel houses and write tool reviews. Enjoy the website. :)

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