This post is sponsored by The Home Depot. As an avowed tool junkie, I’m always excited when a new tool comes along that’s well designed, well made, and most of all – useful. I especially like tools that are versatile, and capable of doing several tasks. The new Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool ticks all those boxes; join us as we take a sharp look at it.
The Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool comes with three 3″ blades, enabling it to cut a wide variety of materials. Included are a metal cut off blade, a carbide abrasive blade, and a diamond tile blade. Milwaukee replacement blades are available, and using the included adapter, the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool can also use an assortment of Dremel blades.
The Milwaukee M12 cut off tool is very compact, and weighs only 1.52 lbs. without a battery. It will run on any Milwaukee M12 battery; obviously, bigger battery = longer run time. The beauty of using such a lightweight, easy-to-control tool is that it leaves your support hand free to hold or maneuver whatever you’re cutting. It’s powered by an efficient brushless motor, which spins the blade at 20,000 RPM. We’ll delve into the features in a minute; meanwhile, here are the specs from Milwaukee, followed by a short cutting-edge promo video:
• POWERSTATE brushless motor delivers maximum power and long motor life
• REDLINK PLUS intelligence provides optimized performance and overload protection
• Tool free guard adjustment for convenience and ease of use
• Includes accessory guard and shoe with vacuum port for dust mitigation and cut depth adjustment
• Accessories includes: 1 metal cut off wheel, 1 carbide abrasive blade and 1 diamond tile blade
• Compatible with common 3 in. cut off wheels with 3/8 in. arbor
• Includes 7/16 in. flange adapter for compatibility with 3 in. Dremel Saw-max accessories
• LED light for improved visibility in confined spaces and low light situations
• Product Weight: 1.52 lb.
• Maximum Speed (rpm): 20,000
• Includes: M12 FUEL 3 in. compact cut off tool, 1 metal cut off wheel, 1 carbide abrasive blade, 1 diamond tile blade, accessory shoe and guard, blade wrench, 7/16 in. flange adapter
• Kit includes all of the above plus 1 M12 XC4.0 battery, M12 charger, contractor bag
Dissecting The Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool
The Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool may be small, but it looks and feels very solidly made. A rubber overmold covers the handle, providing a good grip and a bit of comfort. A battery level indicator on top of the tool uses four red LEDs to let you know how much juice you have, before you slither into the crawl space to play with that ductwork.
The tool is powered by a Milwaukee FUEL brushless motor, spinning at 20,000 RPM. The blade gets up to full speed in less than a second, and when the trigger is released, it stops immediately. A bright LED light comes on when you pull the trigger; it may or may not be helpful, depending on the orientation of the tool.
Switching blades is pretty fast and straightforward. The spindle lock button is easy to access and depress. A hex wrench removes the arbor bolt; it’s a left-handed thread, so turn the bolt clockwise to loosen. Pop out the bolt, pull off the top flange, pop out the blade, slide the new blade onto the spindle, replace the flange, and tighten the bolt, going counter-clockwise. Then find somewhere safe to stow the wrench.
The guard on the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool can be adjusted by simply rotating it forward or back; it stays firmly where you put it. When you move the guard, it’s possible your hand will contact the blade. Unless the look you’re going for is scorched, shredded fingers, it’s not a bad idea to use a glove, especially if the blade has just been used and is glowing red. And while we’re talking safety, eye protection is a must when using this or ANY tool with a rapidly-spinning blade.
For even more protection, snap the accessory guard and shoe into place. It goes on easily, with no tools required, and provides almost complete protection around the sides and top of the blade. The shoe has a knob that lets you adjust the depth of cut, and lock it into position.
The accessory guard also has a vacuum port. It accepts a 1-1/2” inside diameter hose, and swivels 360 degrees so you can go free-ranging. A snug-fitting cap is included, for your disconnected cutting enjoyment.
The control switch on the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool has three positions: Forward, reverse, and lock. Bidirectional blade capability is an excellent feature. It lets you direct sparks and other flying crap in the opposite direction of your face, as well as giving you better control by letting you either push or pull the blade through your material.
An easy-to-read white bar indicates which position the switch is in. Excessive foul language and bandage usage can be prevented by setting the switch to the LOCK position when you’re finished.
The Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool – Bad To The Bone
The versatile Milwaukee M12 cutoff tool can cut a wide variety of materials, including Hardee plank siding, tile backer board, threaded rod, rebar, sheet metal, PVC pipe, galvanized pipe, and tile. For its initial spin-up, the tool got a taste of something that’s not on the menu of recommended materials: Meat. Leg of lamb, to be precise.
We were staying with one of our daughters over the holidays, and she had bought a gigantic leg of lamb. So gigantic, it wouldn’t fit into the crockpot. She asked me to right-size it, and since the tool happened to be in my truck, I grabbed it and got ready to do some surgery.
Since the bone was about an inch in diameter, I couldn’t get all the way through it from one side. I used one hand to rotate the meat, while the other hand held the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool, and started slicing. It dug right in and made a nice clean cut, and about 15 seconds later we were ready to get cookin’!
A couple of observations, if you’re inclined to use the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool as a kitchen appliance: Cutting through bone doesn’t produce an appetizing smell. It’s sort of like getting drilled at the dentist. Also, unless you like a stripe of bone marrow and chips on your shirt, make sure the blade is rotating away from you, with the guard in position to catch the debris. And be prepared to do some cleanup; if you leave raw meat in the guard, it’ll be pretty fragrant after a few days. It should also be noted that neither The Home Depot nor Milwaukee Tool likely endorse the use of this power tool in the kitchen.
The Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool Makes The Cuts
Once the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool had tasted meat, it was time to introduce it to some less-tasty materials. Using the metal-cutting blade, I made cuts in several materials. The blade had no trouble slicing through perforated hanging straps, steel drywall corner bead, threaded rod, and ½” type L copper pipe. To give it something a bit more challenging, I cut a piece of 1-1/2” galvanized pipe. Rotating the pipe at a moderate speed, the tool had no trouble making the cut.
Switching to the diamond tile blade, I made several cuts through 8” x ¼” ceramic tile. As long as I took my time and didn’t force it, the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool had no trouble making the cuts. I used the dust port to connect it to my Milwaukee Backpack Vac, and the hose fit perfectly. It did a pretty good job sucking up the debris, although it still kicked up a bit of a dust cloud underneath.
Next up was the very handy abrasive blade. It easily cut through drywall, Schedule 40 PVC pipe, and plexiglass. By far my favorite use for it, though, was cutting cement tile backer board. That stuff is a real PITA to cut, and the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool made it so much easier, both for straight cuts and cutouts.
The key to using the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool is Slow and steady. It seems to be able to cut through whatever comes its way, as long as you take your time and don’t force the blade. The other thing to be mindful of is rotation direction. I found it usually worked better with the blade in the reverse direction; when in Forward, it would frequently try to climb over the material. Start out easy, and it will be obvious pretty quickly which is the way to go.
One other thing to keep in mind, especially if you’re working around finish materials, is that the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool has no blade guard. The blade stops almost immediately, but it may be hot, and could scratch delicate finishes.
With the larger square-bottomed M12 batteries, the tool will stand on end, and be pretty stable. Otherwise, be careful how and where you set it down.
Final Observations Before We Cut This Off
We received the bare tool version of the Milwaukee M12 cut off tool to evaluate. If you already have an M12 battery and charger, this is a great way to add a sweet tool to your collection at a reasonable price. The kit version adds a 4.0 Ah battery, a charger and a contractor tool bag. I bought a bag for mine, to keep the blades, blade wrench, and extra adapter together.
If you have realistic expectations, I think you’ll find the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool to be a very handy tool to have around. Just come to terms with the fact that it’s designed for use as a cut-off tool. Period. It’s not a grinder, and it’s not intended to be used with a saw blade. This makes sense – I mean, come on – it’s a 1-1/2 pound 12V tool! Additionally, there’s no retracting blade guard, a required feature for bladed tools.
The Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool is likely to appeal to pros and DIYers alike. It’s very well made, easy to control with one hand, and it can make fast, smooth cuts in a wide variety of materials. HVAC techs will probably love it for doing ductwork cutouts, and it will likely be a tool most renovators will be happy to have. Is it going to replace your angle grinder for cutting rebar, or your tile saw for cutting tile? Nope, but it’s capable of doing those tasks, plus a lot more.
There are two small improvements I’d like to see. The first is onboard storage for the blade changing wrench. It’s small, and small things tend to get lost. At least my small things do. The second would be a slightly larger blade; the Milwaukee M12 Cut Off Tool has a cutting depth of about 5/8” with a fresh blade. As the blades wear, especially the abrasive blades, some depth is lost. More power would be nice, but I think it’s as powerful as it can be without increasing the size of the tool, which defeats the whole purpose of a compact tool.
The Milwaukee M12 cut off tool is backed by a solid five-year warranty. To give you a risk-free opportunity to slice and dice your cement backer board, duct work, or holiday roast, the tool is returnable for 90 days.
Milwaukee M12 cut off tool bare tool from the Home Depot for around $129:
Buy the Milwaukee M12 cut off tool kit from the Home Depot for around $199:
Metal cutoff wheels:
Carbide abrasive blade:
Diamond Tile 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.