Oscillating multi-tools have become extremely popular in recent years for a number of reasons.
Oscillating tools are incredibly versatile, and you can do a lot with them. You can use multi-tools for cutting, sanding, grinding, and scraping tasks that would be harder to do with other types of power tools. All you need is the right attachment.
Multi-tools are also more widely available than ever before. Since Fein’s patent expired a few years ago, nearly every major power tool brand has come out with their own multi-tools. You can now buy an oscillating multi-tool for as little as $20.
While a lot of professionals prefer to use corded multi-tools, improvements in motor technology and higher capacity battery packs means that cordless oscillating tools are gaining popularity.
We have been testing the latest and greatest cordless oscillating multi-tools to help answer a question we are asked quite frequently these days: Which is the BEST cordless oscillating multi-tool? You wouldn’t believe how often we’re asked this.
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This was a tough comparison to make, as all of the cordless oscillating tools we have used and tested are built around drastically different designs. We are actually happy about this, as it means users are able to choose the design that better suits their particular needs or preferences.
Do you agree with our choices? Disagree? Is there another cordless multi-tool you would like us to consider or test for next time? Let us know in the comments!
Best Overall: Bosch 18V Brushless MXH180BL
We awarded the Bosch brushless MXH180BL as best overall cordless multi-tool for a number of reasons: great performance, long runtime, the best tool-free blade change mechanism we’ve used, the widest selection of high quality blades and accessories (OIS interface), and its user-friendly operation.
Ergonomics are good – but not great – and overall the tool does feel a little blocky. Overall, Bosch’s brushless oscillating tool is just a hair away from perfection.
Top performance and features come at a price. Expect to pay $229 for the bare tool and L-Boxx bundle. If you don’t have any Bosch 18V Li-ion battery packs, budget another $100 for a 1-battery and charger starter set.
Best Ergonomics: Dewalt 20V Max Brushless DCS355D1
There is just one thing you need to know about Dewalt’s DCS355D1 cordless brushless oscillating multi-tool – it feels GREAT. I didn’t think I would like it, but I do.
Performance is decent, and runtime is respectable, but it’s the ergonomics that really deserve recognition. Dewalt built their brushless multi-tool around design notes taken from their 12V cordless line and 20V compact drill handles. In theory it shouldn’t work, but it really does.
Despite the great ergonomics, there are three reasons why this would not be our pick for top cordless oscillating tool.
First, the tool-free blade change mechanism only works with Dewalt, Porter Cable, and Rockwell oscillating tool blades and accessories. To use Bosch OIS, or any other brand’s accessories, you have to pull out the included adapter and hex key. Even so, we do love the simplicity of the tool-free blade change design, which was carried over from the latest Porter Cable model.
Second, although the variable speed two-finger trigger switch is comfortable to use and offers some flexibility in how you hold the tool, you can only lock it to the “on” position when set to full speed. There is no speed selection wheel as found on Bosch and Milwaukee oscillating tools. Some users will love this about the Dewalt tool, as it feels great for quick operations, but those who want to work at lower speeds for longer times might suffer some hand fatigue.
The bare tool (DCS355B) is priced at a very reasonable $129, and the 1-battery kit (DCS355D1) is priced at $199. The kit comes with (1) 2.0Ah Li-ion battery, a multi-voltage 20V/12V charger, starter accessories kit (inside a great storage box), and a carrying bag.
Best Value (Pro): Milwaukee M18 2626
Milwaukee’s new M18 cordless oscillating tool, 2626-20/22/22CT isn’t built with a brushless motor, but it does not at all feel weak or underpowered.
The Milwaukee tool-free blade change mechanism is a different design than we were used to, and requires folding over a large gloved-finger-friendly lever and unscrewing a finger-friendly accessory bolt. Although it is not as quick to change blades on the Milwaukee oscillating multi-tool as with other tools, the tool-free blade holder is still easy and effective to use.
Ergonomics and comfort are ever so slightly better than with the Bosch but less so than with the Dewalt.
We particularly like the large easy-to-read speed selection dial.
With bare-tool (2626-20), compact battery (2626-22CT) and XC high capacity battery (2626-22) kits priced at $119, $229, and $299, respectively, Milwaukee’s M18 cordless oscillating tool offers a nice balance between features, performance, and cost.
Don’t let our calling this model the best value discourage you – Milwaukee’s M18 multi-tool is about as tough and robustly built as can be. If we were looking to buy an 18V-class cordless oscillating multi-tool, it would probably be this one.
While some might be inclined to lambast Milwaukee for not building the M18 cordless oscillating tool with a brushless motor, keep in mind that the bump up in performance and runtime would have been led to a hefty bump up in price.
This is a great cordless multi-tool option, especially if you already have M18 Li-ion batteries and a charger you can pair it with.
Best Overall (DIY, Budget Pro): Craftsman G2 12V Nextec
An easy-toggle tool-free blade change mechanism and reasonably good performance (for a 12V Li-ion tool), make Craftsman’s 2nd generation Nextec multi-tool our favorite compact cordless oscillating tool.
Right now the full kit is priced at just $70 at Sears, which makes it an incredible bargain, but there have been signs that the entire Nextec line is destined to be discontinued.
This model is well suited for DIYers and professional users who might not need a heavy duty tool for infrequent use, but overall it feels a little lightweight to meet regular jobsite demands.
Runner-Up for Best Overall (DIY, Budget Pro): Dremel 12V 8300
We have had good experiences with Dremel tools in the past, and their 8300 cordless Multi-Max adds to the warm sentiments. Battery life is a little on the short side, and the blade change mechanism is not tool-free.
The Dremel 8300 kit doesn’t come anywhere near the runtime, performance, or robustness of the aforementioned 18V and 20V Max Bosch, Dewalt, and Milwaukee models, but it feels like one of the tougher consumer models out there. $110 will get you started with the basic kit.
Cordless Models Considered
Bosch MXH180BL (18V)
Dewalt DCS355D1 (20V Max)
Milwaukee 2626 (M18)
Craftsman Bolt-On (20V Max)
Black & Decker Matrix (12V Max)
Craftsman Nextec (12V Max)
Dremel 8300 (12V Max)
Ridgid JobMax (12V Max)
Ryobi JobPlus (18V One+)
Note: Test samples were provided by the respective brands. No compensation, “entry fees,” or “consideration fees” were solicited or required as part of the selection and judgement process.
These recommendations were revised on November 22nd, 2013.