We were impressed with the original Dremel Multi-Max Oscillating tool – and to this day it remains one of our most trusted go-to tools in the Pro Tool Reviews arsenal. What makes the Dremel even more successful is the prevalence of its accessories, which can be purchased just about anywhere. That means that if you are in the middle of a job and you “spatula” your blade, you can run to the local home improvement warehouse and get a replacement. Try that with some of the more obscure brands. Now Dremel has released its Cordless Multi-Max Oscillating Tool and we couldn’t be happier. It takes the speed and agility of the original tool and cuts the cords.
It allows the tool to be more and do more. What may come as a surprise to most is that it really doesn’t cost all that much more. It’s also not a replacement for the Multi-Max, but a different product that caters to a different user requirement. Dremel will continue to manufacture and offer both products.
The Dremel Cordless Multi-Max Oscillating tool, like its predecessor, comes in a blow mold case. Two batteries are included as well as the one-hour charger and a basic set of accessories, including some sanding pads (60/120/240 grit), a 3-inch drywall blade and a 3/4-inch wood blade. The drywall blade also claims it can cut wood – but unless you’re digging into balsa, we’d say stick to drywall. The included charger will fully recharge a dead battery in about an hour, which means that you could conceivably have some downtime if you’re doing some intense work for longer projects. For most, however, you’ll be OK provided you keep topping off the batteries as you go, or in-between projects.
Rather than give a rehashed description of the new Cordless Multi-Max, we though we’d give you a photo view of the two tools side-by-side. They are very similar, but I think you’ll agree that the changes made make sense given the battery-powered nature of the tool and the kindred spirit is now shares with Dremel’s 8200-1 Cordless Rotary Tool.
You can see that, instead of the rotary dial used in the corded Multi-Max, Dremel has moved to their sliding speed control. On the 8200-1 the numbers go from 0-30, and the Cordless Multi-Max sets the scale from 0-10. The numbers aren’t important, but what we liked was the simple responsiveness of the slide mechanism. One thing to note, however, is that with a big groove, the company is opening themselves up to more locations for the infiltration of dust and dirt, as opposed to a minimal rotary dial that can be side-mounted. It honestly shouldn’t be too much of a difference either way (and the slide is certainly nicer to use in our opinion).
Lengthwise, the new Cordless Multi-Max is longer than the corded model, but this is necessary given the requirements of including a 12V Lithium-ion battery. Dremel also didn’t make a huge departure in their design. Rather, they seemed to do as much as possible to retain the familiar look and feel of the tool for anyone familiar with the corded Multi-Max tool. You can see the familiar inset handle, and the front end is all but unchanged.
One thing we really like about the Dremel is its ability to change accessories without completely having to remove the retaining bolt and washer. That’s true for Dremel-branded accessories anyway – with anyone else’s you’ll need to completely remove the bolt as competitors’ accessories are all closed designs. Dremel also has a new Universal Oscillating Tool Accessories Adapter, which means you can put their accessories on everyone else’s tools – but not the other way around. The significance of course is that Dremel really values its accessories – and well they should – they tend to last longer and outperform many of the competition in our testing. In addition to that you can find them everywhere. When you’re in the middle of a project that’s a very significant fact to keep in mind. In speaking of accessories, about the only negative we can say about the Cordless Multi-Max is that it simply doesn’t include many. Now, we know that these tools love to tout all of their multiple uses and their flexibility, but sanding simply isn’t something I’m going to grab this tools for – not in my area of expertise, anyway. I’d just as soon see these multi-tools come with a 3-pack of decent blades (2 wood, 1 metal) and ditch the sanding pad and papers as an aftermarket item. As it applies here, Dremel included scant accessories and it’s likely that only the 3/4-inch wood blade will get any significant use from most users.
Testing and Use
Finesse. If I had to sum up the actions of the Dremel Cordless Multi-Max in one word, that would be it. We were able to slice wafer-thin pieces of pine from a 2×4 piece of lumber without breaking a sweat. Control and maneuverability were at a premium with this tool – possibly just due to its size and light weight. There wasn’t a whole lot of resistance to the cutting blade – it dug in and took off as soon as we started, something that helped the original corded Multi-Max take a serious lead in our Oscillating Multi-Tool Shootout last year. We also took the Dremel and set it to work carving out several drywall boxes for the installation of a flat panel television on a wall. In this project we were running low level AV cables as well as 12/2 power wires into the wall cavity using specially made receptacles and outlet boxes. The results were impressive – and they were achieved quite rapidly. This tool slices through drywall like butter – a fact that isn’t surprising given how fast it handled yellow pine.
Noise output of the tool is the expected 92dB SPL at 1 meter and the sound was more buzzy and mechanical than the corded model, but still smoother than some. Vibration in the hand was not excessive during use and we found it an easy tool to pick up for extended periods of time, even without gloves. Some of this is due to the motor design, and the rest can be attributed to the well-placed rubberized grip which does well to insulate you from the motor.
Dremel’s Multi-Max line of tools continue to be among our favorite oscillating tools for a number of reasons. One, they have great accessories that cut well and are… well, available. Secondly, they are nimble and tend to fit well ergonomically, allowing you to get a lot done without growing tired – even if the work involved cutting into overhead crown molding or punching out a hole for an old-work electrical box in drywall. This tool earns a solid 7 in terms of our Performance rating and an 8 for Value – matching the Corded model in every way.
This is a solid tool from a manufacturer who jumped in with both feet and hit the ground running. So far, they have yet to stumble. So, would you like a cord with that, or not?