This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. Quick! What comes to mind when I say the words “cut-off saw” – especially “concrete cut-off saw”? Since it’s really hard for me to hear your responses (especially before this review is published), I’ll just share a short list of words that come to my mind. Loud. Dusty. Fumes. Heavy. Unwieldy. Smelly. Gas-guzzling. OK, you get the idea. The prospect of a cut-off saw lacking many of these traits got us very excited when we saw the Milwaukee 9″ Cut-off saw at Milwaukee’s HQ last year. If you ever wished for a cut-off saw that could cut concrete or rebar cordlessly, join us as we review the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 9″ Cut-off Saw.
Are you looking to trim off the end of a small, protruding bolt? If so, grab the Milwaukee M12 Cut-off tool. The Milwaukee M18 Cut-off saw is designed to wield enough power to slice and dice reinforced concrete, brick, block, rebar, cast iron and some beefier varieties of PVC.
It does all these cuts while being up to 50% lighter than many of the gas-guzzling cut-off saws commonly seen on job sites. More specifically, the bare tool weighs in at 10.4 lbs – for a cut-off saw that can cut up to 3.4″ of concrete, this beast is downright nimble.
The Milwaukee M18 9″ Cut-off saw also features a “rapidstop” or as Milwaukee likes to call it, “RAPIDSTOP” blade brake. This brake stops the blade within three seconds, which is a boon to both productivity and safety. No one wants to wait 30 seconds for their concrete blade-of-doom to come to a slow stop before putting down their tool.
Milwaukee 9″ Cut-Off Saw Mission One – Seek and Destroy Concrete
Whenever the founding fathers/mothers of our home decided to hardscape, they went with the “more is better” approach. The walkway in our backyard attempted to leave room for plants, but was so narrow only the smallest of plants made sense there. Unfortunately, we need enough space to plant a nice privacy hedge. Since privacy hedges don’t grow well in concrete, it was time to do a little concrete trimming with the Milwaukee 9″ Cut-off saw. I also needed to cut out a section of concrete to make room for a channel drain installation that’s coming soon.
As luck would have it, the concrete I needed to cut was around 3.5″ thick – right about the max the Milwaukee Cut-off Saw can handle. As luck wouldn’t have it, this was some hard concrete! After adjusting the blade guard (super easy) and getting the saw hooked up to the its handy Milwaukee Switch Tank water source (more on that later), it was time to get to work.
The saw powers up effortlessly with a trigger pull, and easing it into the concrete is drama-free. I did find there was a learning curve to the tool though. One feature most users will notice pretty quickly, particularly under more heavy-duty use, is the load indicator light. This light comes on as soon as the tool starts to experience too much load. I found that limit repeatedly and managed to overheat not one, but two Milwaukee High Output batteries as a result.
Should you foolishly follow my initial approach, you’ll be greeted with a stopped blade and batteries that blink at you unhappily until they cool off and are recharged. After letting the lithium cool down and recharge, I decided a kinder, gentler approach to cutting concrete was needed.
My goal with round 2 of cutting was to not let the load indicator light come on at all. This approach requires patience. A cut through this much concrete will crawl along at a relatively slow pace. However, by letting the blade retain its speed and letting the tool do the work, battery run time was significantly longer and I didn’t overheat the tool. Slow and steady definitely wins the race with this tool.
Vibration was minimal and the Milwaukee 9″ Cut-off saw was easy to manage with a nice grip on the rear handle, and an easy to hold front handle. It’s all very civilized. The front of the fully adjustable blade guard also has a nice little bump in the middle to indicate your blade position. That’s handy, because your cut line is likely to be virtually invisible through the slurry under and behind the saw. Some wheels at the base of the saw would have been handy for this particular job, but the saw really isn’t intended to replace a walk-behind or heavier duty concrete saw. I was at the outer limits of what you’d likely want to use this tool for in terms of concrete cutting.
Making the Switch to the The Milwaukee Switch Tank
The Milwaukee 9″ Cut-off saw comes with two options for silica dust-destroying water. Option one is an adapter that lets any garden hose quick-connect to the saw’s water inlet. While this can be handy, adjusting water flow can be a little tricky and you’ll likely be trailing 25 to 50′ of water-filled heavy hose behind you.
Since we were also sent the M18™ SWITCH TANK™ Water Supply for this review, we did our concrete cutting using that instead of a hose. The Milwaukee Switch Tank runs off a regular M18 battery. We plugged in a 3.0 M18 that came with the kit and it powered all the concrete cuts we did, plus a few minutes of spraying off slurry with the included spray nozzle. Runtime on the Switch Tank is solid.
The Milwaukee Switch Tank has a weather-sealed on-off switch and a dial to adjust the flow rate. I settled on one of the lowest flow rate settings which kept the dust at bay without pumping through the tank too rapidly. Although the Milwaukee Switch Tank is designed to be worn like a backpack (a heavy one), I just sat it nearby, outside the range of the river of slurry from my cutting.
If you’re looking for OSHA compliant concrete cutting on the same M18 battery platform, the Milwaukee Switch tank with water supply tank and hose is worth considering. That’s even more true if you have other uses for the Switch Tank System, like hooking up the optional pesticide sprayer. Or, prepping for next Halloween’s Ghostbusters costume. However, if you’re not feeling the Switch Tank love, you can still knock down that evil silica dust by connecting your Milwaukee M18 Cut-Off Saw to a standard hose.
Avoiding Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
One very notable problem with gas-powered cutoff saws is that they spew noxious fumes. While using them outdoors, those fumes are more a nuisance than an immediate health threat, but trying to use one indoors would be a very BAD idea. The kind of bad idea that ends with you being a cautionary tale shared by OSHA.
This Milwaukee cutoff saw not only avoids spewing carbon monoxide, its volume levels are more civil as well. You still need hearing protection and PPE of course, but you can use the Milwaukee cut-off saw indoors. All it takes to get this beast going is a pull of the trigger rather than a yank (or several yanks) on a pull-start cord. Also, the battery engineers at Milwaukee have thoughtfully mixed the lithium in the M18 batteries that power this saw, so you don’t need to worry about mixing fuel, oil, or (lithium)!
Milwaukee 9″ Cut-Off Saw Mission Two – Let the Sparks Fly!
No self-respecting review involving a cut-off tool can go without photos and video of sparks flying. After putting the Milwaukee M18 Cut-off saw through its paces on concrete, we swapped out the diamond blade (49-93-7025) and popped on the abrasive blade (49-94-9000). The blade swap was quick and painless.
We tested the saw on both 3/8″ and 1/2″ rebar, although it could certainly handle thicker metal if you wish. Performance cutting rebar was pretty fantastic. Despite my initially heavy-handed testing with cutting concrete, not once did I trigger the load indicator light while cutting rebar. Even with a little pressure to make a faster cut, the Milwaukee 9″ Cut-off saw breezed right through.
Speaking of speed, we could easily make a cut of 3/8″ rebar in less than 2 seconds, and a cut of 1/2″ rebar in less than 5 seconds. If you let the tool do almost all the work, your cut times may be slightly longer. If you have previously used a manual rebar cutter, you’ll find using the Milwaukee Cut-off saw about 200 times easier.
Needless to say, this tool is capable of throwing some serious sparks, so don your protective equipment and don’t cut metal anywhere prone to ignition. Anytime I’m creating a lot of sparks, I also like to keep a charged fire extinguisher a short distance away.
Battery Life and Usage
The Milwaukee 9″ M18 Cut-off Saw is designed for Milwaukee’s HIGH OUTPUT batteries. The kit provided to us came with two HD12.0 varieties.
I made about 12′ of cut through 3.5″ thick-ish concrete using a total of four full charges on the Milwaukee HD12.0 batteries. Again, I could have gotten more mileage using a lighter touch initially. Due to the power-hungry nature of this tool’s work in concrete, I would not recommend trying to cut using your standard M18 batteries you may have lying around.
While cutting concrete with the diamond blade was power intensive, cutting rebar with the abrasive blade barely caused the tool to break a sweat. I did a quick check of charge and after blazing through about dozen 3/8″ rebar cuts and then another half dozen 1/2″ rebar cuts, the 12.0 battery still showed a full charge. You’ll need to cut a LOT of rebar to burn through the High Output batteries.
One-Key to Rule them All
The Milwaukee M18 FUEL 9 in. Cut-Off Saw also has ONE KEY integrated. Aside from a sexy blue light on your tool, it enables you to wirelessly connect the tool to your smartphone. Your tool tracking and management just entered the 21st century!
Strengths and Potential Improvements
As someone who has observed massive plumes of silica dust from workers using concrete saws without regard to OSHA silica standards, the dust control on the Milwaukee 9″ Cut-off saw is outstanding. You may still experience some dust depending on your cutting position. However with our blade buried in concrete most of the time, and a steady flow of water from the Milwaukee Switch Tank, dust was extremely minimal. The adjustable blade guard is also excellent.
Although we didn’t have any issues with it, I would have liked to see a more robust battery compartment. While you might expect a heavy duty latch like you’d see on a Milwaukee Packout (or even the Switch Tank battery compartment), this tool’s battery compartment has a relatively thin lid and push-button latch. That setup makes for a smooth, easy to clean exterior, along with quick access, but the door mechanism did not feel robust.
While we applaud having onboard storage for the hex key utilized during blade changes, we found it to be not as secure as we would have liked. The key managed to pop out mid-cut and I found it in a pool of slurry. The onboard scrench storage seemed to do just fine though.
The Milwaukee 9″ Cut-Off saw is easy to transport, easy to use, and downright civil when compared to its noisier, smellier brethren. The only significant issue we had using it was pushing it a little too hard on an extended concrete cut. If you’re mostly making cuts into concrete block or cut-offs of less massive materials, (and you’re willing to let the tool do the work, unlike certain impatient people), this Milwaukee cut-off saw really shines. If your cutting strays into more heavy-duty use, then it may be time for you to check out the impressive Milwaukee MX lineup, including their Milwaukee 14″ MX Cut-Off Saw.
Find the Milwaukee M18 9″ Cut-Off Saw at The Home Depot:
The Milwaukee Switch Tank Kit:
Includes: one 2786-20 cut off saw, one 49-93-7025 diamond blade, one 49-94-9000 abrasive blade
I acknowledge that The Home Depot is partnering with Home Fixated in sponsored content. As a part of the sponsorship, Home Fixated is receiving compensation for the purpose of promoting The Home Depot. All expressed opinions and experiences are our own words. This post complies with the Word Of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) Ethics Code and applicable Federal Trade Commission guidelines.