Milwaukee M12 Rotary Tool Review – Dremel 8200 Competition?

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milwaukee rotary tool vs dremel 8200

Back almost a year ago we provided a hands-on Dremel 8200 Cordless Rotary Tool review. Spoiler alert – we liked it. We’ve alway liked Dremel rotary tools for that small but still vital niche of projects that would take ten years with hand tools and 1 minute with a rotary tool. While there are other rotary tools out there, the Dremel is to rotary tools what Kleenex is to tissues. So who’s coming out slugging at the Dremel cordless rotary? That’s right, Milwaukee Tools!

A couple months ago I heard Milwaukee was putting out a new cordless M12 rotary tool, and I knew I needed to check it out. Milwaukee sent us one to put through the tool test “rotation.” Since then, we’ve been playing with it whenever rotary tool tasks pop up. We also devised one of our usual highly unscientific tests to put the new Milwaukee M12 Cordless Rotary in a fierce head-to-head battle with the Dremel 8200 Cordless. First, I’ll cover a few observations on the M12, followed by the spin-taculous results of the rotary cut-off competition.

milwauke m12 rotary embroidery
Milwaukee takes the HomeFixated Tool Case Embroidery Award
Embroidery isn’t something we typically focus on here at HomeFixated. . . ever. But there’s a first time for everything. Let me start my coverage of the M12 rotary with an informal award: HomeFixated’s “Best Embroidery on a Tool Case.” Yup, it’s true. Milwaukee just won our first ever Embroidered tool case award. Sure, Dremel’s 8200 has a nice plastic case that’s less likely to be crushed by something. But Dremel just doesn’t have any embroidery. Unfortunately for Milwaukee, this award comes with nothing other than bragging rights. Bloggers can’t afford trophies, sorry.

M12 rotary accessories
No Milwaukee accessories for polishing your dollhouse parts
Inside that finely embroidered Milwaukee case you’ll find an M12 Charger, M12 RedLithium battery and a few accessories. It’s those accessories, or lack there-of, that first caught my eye. Accustomed to Dremel’s rotary kits, which tend to come with a little birthday party’s worth of rotary accessories, I was a little disappointed to only see a mandrel and cutoff wheels with Milwaukee’s kit. I was pleased to see the five cutoff wheels they did include were full 1.5″ diameter wheels, and not the fragile, penny-sized cutoffs that have previously tormented me in other kits.

I asked Milwaukee about the omission of other non-cutting accessories and they replied:

Milwaukee will always relentlessly focus on our core trades, who have little or no use for carving, sanding and polishing accessories. The discs included are reinforced and designed for cutting metal. This accessory package will be far more satisfying to our customer because it has more of what they need, and less of what they don’t want.

So there you have it. More metal cutting, no fluffy stuff like carving and polishing. If I had to guess, I’d say about 50% of my use of rotary tools involved a mini cut-off wheel. With the remainder being mostly metal grinding, wood carving and sanding. I think I once polished something metal too. Of course, since both these tools use a standard 1/8″ collet, you can always swap in Dremel accessories, even if you’re using the Milwaukee M12 rotary.

m12 accessories and wrenchThe Milwaukee kit also includes a handy-dandy wrench/flathead screwdriver, which I promptly lost to the chaos of my workbench, and then later found. I actually used the screwdriver end more than the wrench (the screwdriver comes in handy for unscrewing the mandrel/cutting wheels). I do have to hand it to Dremel for their tool-free EZ-Lock spindles and cutting wheels. That system is far easier than monkeying around with nearly microscopic washers and a screw every time you need to change the cutting wheel. Although accessory changes on a rotary tool can often be done hand-tight, it’d be nice to see some innovation with the 1/8″ collet (such as button operated quick-change mechanism). Using your hand or a wrench to tighten accessories is so early 2000’s! Even so, Milwaukee has a nice rubberized spindle lock button to help ease accessory changes.

Speed dial vs speed slide
So what about this epic, unscientific cut-off battle? Wait no more, here come all the rotariffic details! First, I grabbed a couple random metal scraps in the shop. One hollow 3/8″ steel tube, another 5/16″ solid aluminum rod. The goal was simple: to time cuts on both materials using both the Milwaukee M12 and the Dremel 8200. Both tools were setup with freshly charged batteries for each cut, and each also got a fresh cutoff wheel (all wheels were Milwaukee, for uniformity). Both tools we’re set at their max RPM. “Six” which equates to 32,000 rpm for the Milwaukee and “30” which equates to 30,000 for the Dremel. Like the Bosch MX25 Oscillating MultiTool, we were disappointed to see the M12 only go to “Six” instead of Spinal Tap’s and HomeFixated’s recommended “11.” We’re still waiting for the first tool company to come out with the HomeFixated edition cordless that goes all the way up to “11.” C’mon tool companies. . . eleven is a way cooler max setting than six!

I clamped the bars in my bench vise and timed each cut, in each material. I’d like to tell you that I cut through each bar with the perfect precision of a CNC machine. Instead, I slipped off each cut briefly, in each material, once with each tool. On the solid aluminum using the Dremel 8200, I actually slipped three times. Impressive, I know. Keeping a rotary tool on track for a round piece cut-off task isn’t as easy as you might think. When cutting the solid rod, the Milwaukee seemed to power through more smoothly than the Dremel. I don’t know whether to attribute that to the extra 2,000 rpm Milwaukee boasts, or the mysterious torque stat that neither Dremel nor Milwaukee seem to broadcast. Or maybe just my unscientific setup. While I couldn’t detect any real difference on the hollow tube, I have to give the edge to to Milwaukee on the solid aluminum rod. But keep in mind this test was at max speed, on limited material types and at max battery charge. Both the Dremel and Milwaukee scored 10 seconds on the hollow tube. Dremel scored 16 seconds (with slips) on the solid rod, vs just 11 seconds for Milwaukee.

M12 rotary vs 8200 front closeup
Slightly varying ergonomics
Despite the differences I felt on the solid rod cutoff, I think the Milwaukee M12 Cordless Rotary Tool and the Dremel 8200 Cordless Rotary Tool are both excellent choices. We didn’t do a runtime test on these, but battery preference may also play a role in your decision (although it’s often more about what battery line you’re already using than the exact stats of a competing battery in the same voltage). If you’re already using other Milaukee M12 products, then the decision to go with the M12 rotary is a no-brainer. Other minor differences include Dremel’s speed adjustment slide was easier to adjust on the fly. And, Milwaukee’s slightly more slender profile felt better to me in terms of ergonomics.

You can pick up the Milwaukee M12 Rotary Tool 2460-21 for a bargain $100 from our sponsor Ohio Power Tool (about the same as the Dremel 8200, by the way, although minus the extra Dremel accessories). Just don’t expect to polish your silverware with it, unless you pony up for some non-Milwaukee accessories!

Buy Now - via Ohio Power Tool

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About Marc Lyman

Marc grew up under a brave single mom who "encouraged" home improvement on the family home. Early toddler gifts included a tool set, and even a cordless Bosch drill when cordless drills first came out. In grade school (give or take a few years), Marc's mom said, "We need to cut down some trees. . . . here's a chainsaw." A father figure also involved Marc in many home improvement projects, including a summer of home remodeling in Palo Alto, CA. Toss in some Obsessive Compulsive personality traits researching everything home improvement related. The end result: a genetically pre-disposed, socially sculpted home improvement machine! For his complete profile, please visit our About page. Really, it's worth it.

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10 thoughts on “Milwaukee M12 Rotary Tool Review – Dremel 8200 Competition?”

  1. I own an old (corded) Dremel which, after decades, still works great.
    I also own an old (corded) Proxxon, which would probably go up in smoke if I used it for the “heavier” work the Dremel is great for, but for the “fine” work the Proxxon beats the Dremel hands down.
    What I’m trying to say is that, for the fine precision work, you should buy a Proxxon anyway, and once you have one of those having only heavy duty cut-off wheels with your Milwaukee isn’t that much of an issue, because that’s where you’re going to be using it for mostly anyway.

  2. Here in Richmond, BC Home Depot has the 8220 for 139CAD and the M12 for 69CAD. I’ll be buying the M12 and whatever Dremel accessories I need. Appreciate your review. That and the comments here confirmed my leanings.

    • Oops, sorry… I had the price on the M12 wrong. It is 99CAD. Because of the accessories and quicker accessory change in the Dremel I will go for it. Doesn’t sound like there is enough difference in performance to justify getting the M12 (
      unless I were to switch to Milwaukee tools).

  3. I was amazed that you found no problems in the milwaukee M-12.When in fact I own one and not real pleased with it.Starting with the battery packs.When I have four different packs for the simple reason.You dont get a great deal of run time depending upon what your doing.Since milwaukee states no fluff only metal.Then why did they make this tool cordless?? Ive not been able to use it on cutting anything but the most thin and easy cut.Without the battery packs running out of juice.When I first got this tool.I was just disgusted as all I did was recharge batterys period.Before anything was at all done.The collect wasnt real friendly ether always sticking and hanging up.Till it broke and came out in pieces! And Ive owned about every dremel which I hated and why I went to this.After having all great milwaukee power tools till this one! Then again I like a corded tool and for just this very bad reason! NOT to mention when any tool turns the rpms this does.Will need ALOT of juice and consent supply.So I also carve antler and wood.And metal and this is only good on the lighter carve needs.AS for cutting antler forget about it.This tools worthless at best.For as much as I thought I hated dremels there better than this tool for the short time one only will last.

  4. You never did mention anything about the Milwaukee taking all of the Dremel attachments, like the flex extension and all the others that screw on the head, the Milwaukee has a little black cap on the end there which is the exact same as the Dremel and can accept all the Dremel attachments. I know Milwaukee doesn’t make these but they clearly made it so the user can use all the attachments they are use to with a Dremel. And install a Dremel quick change chuck and it makes life easier.

  5. Thanks for the review. I am also in a similar boat, grew up around Dremels (father) but own many other Milwaukee tools. Thanks to your review and to show my appreciation, I just purchased the Milwaukee Rotary tool through Ohio Power Tool instead of the usual big box store.

  6. My company has recently started to switch to the Milwaukee rotary tool from Dremel, they seem to have more torque under high speed load, also we use several other 12 volt Milwaukee tools so the battery issue favors Milwaukee. We are a locksmith company and use this tool as a light duty die grinder, cut off for padlock shackles, and cut in strikes.For the record Dremel has been the leader in this field for a long time but they stress their tools are primarily for home crafts, I note this seems to be changing lately, perhaps they see an opening in a segment of the commercial market.


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