Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool Review – Making the Cut

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milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool

When I bought my first oscillating multi-tool, the Bosch MX25, a few years back, it was one of those “Eureka!” moments. (This should give you some idea of what constitutes excitement in my life). It’s one of those tools that “fills in the gap,” great for doing jobs that nothing else is quite right for, or making them a LOT easier to do. Need to cut down some door jambs to slide flooring underneath? Cut a neat hole in a piece of trim or siding to install an outlet box? Perform some low-budget surgery? Multi-tools to the rescue! (Although using one as a surgical tool may void the warranty, and is definitely NOT a HomeFixated-recommended use!)

The original multi-tools all came with plugs attached, and there are several good corded models available today. With improved technology, though, several cordless versions have appeared, including the Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool Kit, model 2626-22ct, that recently oscillated its way into the HomeFixated Megaplex from Milwaukee for our evaluation.

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool

It’s In The Bag

The Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool comes with everything you need to get started. Included in the kit:

  • (1) M18™ Cordless LITHIUM-ION Multi-Tool (2626-20)
  • (2) M18™ Compact REDLITHIUM™ Battery (48-11-1815)
  • (1) M18™ & M12™ Multi-Voltage Charger (48-59-1812)
  • (1) Adapter
  • (5) Assorted Sanding Sheets
  • (1) Contractor Bag
  • (1) Sanding Pad
  • (1) Wood Cutting Blade

The bag is a decent size, and has plenty of room for the tool and other included contents. There’s a good bit of space left over for additional blades, which you will want to stock up on. I always carry an assortment of straight and rounded blades, both wood and metal-cutting, a scraper blade, and some sanding sheets. Milwaukee doesn’t make replacement blades, for some reason; that’s too bad, because the one it comes with took a pretty fair amount of abuse without failing (more on that later!). The kit comes with an adapter, allowing you to use accessories from most major tool makers. The tool accepted my Bosch blades and my considerably cheaper Rockwell Universal Fit blades perfectly, with no adapter needed.

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
The stock blade and one from Rockwell; both fit fine.

The Milwaukee’s motor delivers 11,000 to 18,000 OPM (Oscillations Per Minute). The speed is controlled by a variable-speed dial that you can crank up to 12 (for those times when 10 just ain’t enough!) It has a beefy all-metal gear case, a built-in LED light, and is set up for tool-free blade changes. The tool also features Milwaukee’s Constant Power Technology, to maintain cutting speed under load. Two optional accessory attachments will be available – the Dust Extraction Kit will, as you might suspect, extract dust, and the new Depth Stop Kit will allow you to complete plunge cuts without damaging hidden materials.

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
When 10 just isn’t enough…!

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Wrenches!

I hadn’t used a tool-free blade-changing system before, and had never really given them much thought. What’s the big deal, right? Grab the Allen wrench and twist out the bolt! Of course, this assumes you actually have the Allen wrench with you, and can find it in the jumble at the bottom of the tool bag. If, however, it’s on the floor at your previous job location, on your workbench at home, or in some undetermined location, you’re S.O.L.

Anyhow, the setup on the Milwaukee M18 Multi-Tool is sweet. Just flip the top lever 180°, twist out the retaining bolt by hand, and swap out your blade. Now twist the bolt back in by hand, flip the lever down, and fire that bad boy up. It’s quick and easy, the blade stays securely in place, and it doesn’t matter WHERE your Allen wrench is. I LIKE this tool-free blade changing!

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
Position the blade over the pins…
milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
Hand-tighten the locking bolt…
milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
Flip the lever up…
milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
You’re locked and loaded!

The Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool Makes Some Holes!

Shortly after the Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool arrived, I took it on a job and used it to cut through ¾” wood siding and Insul-board to install a workbox for a new porch light. The wood-cutting blade that came with the tool cut through quickly and cleanly, and was pretty easy to control. When using any multi-tool, be aware you should always start a bit off to the side of where you want your cut to end. This is because the multi-tool oscillates from side to side, and if you start right at the end, it will cut outside the line, so to speak.

Next, I wanted to give the Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool a little workout. My goal was to find out if it was beefy enough to make repeated cuts through fairly thick wood, and to see how long the compact 1.5 amp-hour battery would hold up. A leftover piece of 5/4X6″ pressure-treated lumber served as the test material, and I used an old-work electrical device box as the template. I traced out three outlines, put in the wood-cutting blade from Milwaukee, set the dial to 12 (naturally!) and fired it up. With the 1.5 AH battery, power set to maximum and thick test material, this creates a baseline worst-case scenario in terms of run time.

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
The challenge: 5/4″ pressure treated wood

Since the blade oscillates, it can be a little tricky to get it started on the line. I took it in slowly, at a steep angle, and stayed mostly on target. Once the cut was started, I got it closer to a 90° angle, and let ‘er rip, working the tool up and down slowly. The 1- 1/8″ wide blade made good progress through the first cutout, and the tool was going strong.

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
The LEDs light up the glide path
milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
Plunged and cutting

Partway through the second hole, little clouds of smoke were wafting from the cut; apparently, that little blade was getting a tad hot. Here at HomeFixated, though, we show no mercy; when we start a test, we forge through ‘til the dust settles, the smoke clears, and the batteries can’t take it any more. I brought the fire extinguisher a little closer, blew the smoke out of my face, and plunged on.

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
Caution: blade may become warm with extended use…Note this is the blade smoking, NOT the tool itself

I finished up the second cutout, and began the third. After finishing one side, the Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool seemed to be slowing marginally, but it managed to finish the second side before abruptly quitting. This is normal; the circuitry in the Milwaukee RedLithium batteries is designed to cut out before the battery is completely drained, to optimize battery life. The tool was warm, but not overly so; the blade on the other hand, had to rest a while. A note: when cutting, the Milwaukee, like most multi-tools, gets pretty loud; grab some hearing protection.

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
Two and a half holes; almost made it!

It may not seem like 2-½ holes is much work to get out of one charged battery. Normally I’d agree; in this instance, though, there are extenuating circumstances. The wood was a full inch thick, and being fairly new pressure-treated lumber, was still pretty dense, with a high moisture content. With each hole measuring 3-¾” X 2¼”, the Milwaukee made it through a bit over 30” before the compact battery crapped out. The tool was much happier cutting through the ¾” siding and Insul-board, which is more in line with what it’s intended to do. I would guess it would be able to trim the ¾” casings on several doors, or make numerous cuts in drywall or any softer material, before nodding off.

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
The compact battery got through 30″ of 5/4″ wood

You also have to take into account the intended use of this type of tool. Even though the Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool can deal with occasional heavy use, it’s designed for medium-duty or intermittent use. It’s great for jobs where using a corded tool may be difficult or impossible, or where you just have a few cuts to make, especially when using the compact battery. There is an extra-capacity 4.0-Ah battery available for the M18 tool line, which should greatly extend the amount of work the tool could handle. Better still would be a brushless version, we’ll have to wait and see on that.

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
The 4.0-Ah XC battery should greatly increase working time
milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
The Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool meets a baseboard

For my final trial, I attached the sanding pad. It fits onto the head, and the securing bolt fits into the recessed area and is covered up by the sandpaper.  I slapped on a sheet of the provided sandpaper, which attaches like a piece of Velcro, and attacked my piece of pressure-treated wood. The triangular shape of the head, common to most multi-tools, allows you to get into corners or right up against a wall. This is typically the sort of sanding job you grab your multi-tool for; if you have a whole floor or table top to do, you’ll want a somewhat larger sander, unless you have a LOT of time on your hands. The Milwaukee did a nice job of smoothing things over.

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
Sanding pad on. Paper just presses on.
milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool
The M18 gets right to the edge

Does It Make The Cut?

The multi-tool is one of the most versatile tools out there. I’ve used mine countless times: on door jambs, to scrape old mastic and tile remnants off a floor, cutting through old BX cable in a crawl space, cutting off old corroded toilet hold-down bolts, cutting a hole in an aluminum gutter for a new downspout, on all kinds of trim work, and whenever a decent-looking plunge or flush cut is needed. My corded Bosch MX25 is one tool I always have in my truck, just in case, and there have been several times it saved the day.

If you’re a flooring contractor with a whole day’s worth of cuts to make, you’ll probably be breaking out the corded multi-tool. For the average remodeler, electrical contractor, plumber, HVAC tech, or DIYer, though, the Milwaukee should easily handle most day-to-day tasks. The Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool comes with a five-year warranty on the tool, and two years on the batteries. It’s available from Home Depot for $229, or in a kit with two extended-capacity batteries for $299. The Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool will likely be the one I throw in the truck now, unless I know I have a LOT of trimming to do, just because it’s so much easier not to have to mess with the power cord. (And the tool-free feature doesn’t hurt, either). What is YOUR favorite use for your multi-tool? Let us know in the comments below and you’re automatically entered into this month’s Giveaway!

milwaukee m18 cordless multi-tool

Photo of author

About Phil

Phil’s path to the pinnacle of success as HomeFixated’s Senior Writer was long and twisted. At various stages of his life, he worked as a framing carpenter, attended motorcycle mechanics school, served as an Army MP, did a hot and itchy stint installing insulation in Phoenix, owned and operated a small contracting firm doing residential renovations, and worked as an employee of a major airline (Motto: We’re not happy ‘til YOU’RE not happy). He is currently semi-retired, but continues to take on little projects, such as the total renovation of an old farmhouse. Yes, he is a slow learner. Future projects include a teardown restoration of his 1965 BMW motorcycle, and designing and building a kick-ass playhouse for his grandsons. Phil loves spending time outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, cool tools, and a cold IPA when beer o'clock rolls around.

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6 thoughts on “Milwaukee M18 Cordless Multi-Tool Review – Making the Cut”

  1. It saved the day when i helped my brother with a flooring job. It scraped away the gunk that the old carpet left with ease and helped with door jamb cuts.

    • Hi, John –
      You’re right; this is a tool that pretty much every flooring contractor uses. It gives a nice, clean cut on the jambs, and is a whole lot faster than using a manual flush-cut saw. Add in all the other things you can use it for, and you see why this type of tool is a favorite of workers in pretty much ANY trade!

  2. I do remodeling and flooring and nothing is better than a multi tool for undercutting jambs and cutting holes in drywall for outlet boxes or switches. I have a Bosch corded version with the tool free blade change and nothing can beat it. I could see where a cordless version would really come in handy for smaller jobs, and really dig Milwaukee cordless tools.

    • Hi, Steve-
      I agree; it’s a huge time saver. My older Bosch corded model works great, but the cordless model is very handy, and now that I’ve used the tool-free feature, I’ll be looking for it on any future tool purchases.

  3. These oscillating multi tools are a great addition to anyone’s tool collection. I use mine more for the grout removal feature. It makes re-grouting a breeze or replacing cracked tile. The other feature I found I am using more and more is the sanding pad attachment. I deal with quite a bit of termite damage repair and that sanding pad comes in very nice in hard to reach spots.(I have also used my grout removal blade to shape Bondo edges to match existing trim) I buy my sandpaper in bulk, it seems to be cheaper. Look for the boxes with 4-5 different grits. Like pictured above, installing the blue existing construction electrical boxes is a breeze as well. Over-all a great tool. Mine is corded but I have been in the market for a cordless model as well.

    • You’re right, Gregg – pretty much everyone can find a use for this type of tool. I’m constantly finding new uses for mine; most recently I used it to scrape all the old glazing compound off of several large wooden window sashes (and managed to do it without raising any plumes of smoke!). If you’re in the market for a cordless unit, I recommend you go check it out somewhere; there’s no substitute for a hands-on evaluation. I think you’ll be impressed; it really has the heft and feel of a well-made tool, and the fact that they offer a five-year warranty tells you something. And thanks for the tip on the sandpaper.


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