Milwaukee M18 2836 vs DeWalt 20V DCS356 Multi-tool

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 was plunge cutting faster than the DeWalt DCS356 I had to check it out for myself. Not only did I find it plunged faster, it sanded faster too, a lot faster.

Specs

Both tools have brushless motors, a work light, a tool-less blade change and a top speed of 20k oscillations per minute (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.

On/Off Switch

worker holding dewalt multi tool

The DeWalt DCS356 uses a variable speed trigger with three speed settings: 0-13K OPM, 0-17K OPM and 0-20K OPM.

All three can be locked on high, which is almost exclusively how I use it because holding the tool by the grip to use the trigger has too much vibration and is not normally the best hand positioning for control in most situations.

The Milwaukee 2836 uses an on/off switch and a variable speed dial that goes from 10-20K OPM.

I find the FUEL grip much easier to use and with 1/3 the vibration of the DeWalt. I rarely used the DeWalt one handed but do it often with the FUEL.

I’ve heard people complain about the FUEL’s speed selector location getting in the way but for me it makes one handed operation easier.

Power and Speed

To test the new Milwaukee I ran it against the DeWalt DCS356 and my 3 amp corded Makita. I ran all three at their top speed of 20K OPM with new blades, and fully charged 5 amp hr batteries.

The FUEL plunges like a reciprocating saw, while the DeWalt requires a lot of push and pull to clear dust to plunge on.

On nails they are almost equal but the FUEL still won every time.

The M18 FUEL sanded the paint off this baseboard 2x faster than the DeWalt DCS356.

The Milwaukee grip design is much easier to use than the DeWalt giving the Milwuakee better control. The Dewalt grip is cluttered up by the blade change handle and the variable speed trigger.

Below see the FUEL pull 18GA flooring staples twice as fast as my 355, which is the same tool as the DCS356 a 3 speed selector switch.

So it’s not just a few seconds faster. It’s hours faster. It’s less back, knee and neck pain faster.

Blade Change

The Milwaukee blade change is fast but the DeWalt is faster for universal (open end) accessories.

For closed end accessories the DeWalt adapter is a washer and bolt that requires a hex wrench. So it’s not a tool-less blade change for Starlocks, etc.

The Milwaukee takes everything from Universal to Starlock with no adapter needed. This means you get the best selection to choose from as universals aren’t always the best choice.

Cut Quality

The blade attachment point on the Milwaukee has flex to it. As you push through a cut the flex allows the blade to pull away from the tool and off your line.

The head on the DeWalt is stiff making it easier to cut straight lines with less pull-away.

That said, If you’re capable with tools you can get the same straight cuts faster with the Milwaukee.

Bottom Line


The Milwuakee M18 FUEL is a next-level multi-tool that cuts like a reciprocating saw, which allows me to not carry a recip on most days.

DeWalt 20V Max Oscillating Multi-tool (DCS356B)

Milwaukee M18 FUEL Oscillating Multi-tool (2836-20)

Check out this review to see these tools in action.

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