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June 14, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


DeWalt 20V Max XR Brushless Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool Review

PTR Review
  • Overall Rating 9.2

It's clear to us that the DeWalt 20V Max XR Oscillating Multi-Tool is one of the top models available. Its design is solid, its performance is steady, and its upgrades from the previous version are meaningful. To top it off, DeWalt's value proposition is excellent. Whether you're already on DeWalt's 20V Max system or just looking for a lot of bang for your buck in a cordless multi-tool, this is one we can easily recommend.

Overall Score 9.2 (out of 10)

DeWalt 20V Max Brushless Oscillating Multi-Tool Makes Big Gains in PTR’s Ratings

We waited months in great anticipation of testing the DeWalt 20V Max XR Brushless Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool for a couple of reasons. First, we knew it was an upgrade over the previous brushless model. Secondly, because so many of you let us know how much better it is!


Pros

  • Moves from one speed to three speeds
  • Comfortable handle design
  • Multiple grip options to engage the trigger
  • Fast and easy accessory changes
  • Depth guide included
  • Excellent value

Cons

  • Some accessories require the included universal adapter to use

DeWalt 20V Max XR Brushless Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool Performance

As we started making our initial cuts, two things because clear. For starters, the tool seemed to be genuinely faster than the last brushless model and clearly a big upgrade from the initial brushed one. That was a little bit of a surprise considering the DeWalt DCS356 has the same 20,000 OPM speed and 3.2° arc as the 355.

We also noticed the vibration seemed to more controlled than before. DeWalt doesn’t tout a specific vibration dampening system, but it seemed to be improved to our hands.

To see how it compares to other cordless oscillating multi-tools, we put it on the PTR Test Track. Here’s what it includes:

  • Undercutting a door jamb for tile installation
  • Drywall cutout for an electrical box
  • Removing trim by popping five finish nails
  • 12 inches of grout removal
  • Sanding 6 inches of 2 x 4 pine

Along the way, we have to change accessories twice.

When the dust settled, DeWalt finished the track in 1 minute, 27 seconds. To put that in context, that’s in third place overall behind Fein’s Supercut cordless in first place (1:24) and the Flex 24V multi-tool in second (1:26).

It was the combination of accessory changes, design, and performance that earned DeWalt such a high placement. The clamp-style changes are really quick. It’s not quite as fast as Starlock, but it’s awfully close. The only downside is when your accessories don’t have a rear cutout and you need to use the included universal adapter to install them.

The physical design also helped. As we had to shift angles to cut from various directions, the shape, size, and weight were made it highly maneuverable.

Then there’s the cutting and sanding speeds. Despite other models having greater oscillation angles, DeWalt’s brushless motor was able to keep the speed high and work faster.

DeWalt 20V Max XR Brushless Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool Design Notes

Three Speeds

One of the obvious changes from the 355 is that the DeWalt DCS356 has three speed settings instead of just one. Rather than going the route of a variable speed dial on the side, there’s a selection switch on the foot.

Lock-Off, Lock-On

Many cordless tools have a lock-on or lock-off switch and DeWalt actually combines the two. Push the switch from either the right of the left with the trigger down and it locks the trigger on. Push it from either side with the trigger off and it will lock it out.

Size and Weight

The physical dimensions of this DeWalt cordless oscillating multi-tool are the same as the previous model and the Atomic version. It’s 11.2 inches from front to back and weighs 2.3 pounds bare. With a 2.0Ah battery, that weight bumps up to a very manageable 3.0 pounds.

Quick-Change Accessories Changes

Like we mentioned before, DeWalt’s accessory changes are really fast. The Quick-Change system uses a pretty stout spring to push down the blade clamp and hold accessories in place. You push it up with two fingers to expose the interface and set your blade in place before release the clamp to hold it.


It requires accessories that are cut out at the rear to work. If you have ones that are fully enclosed, DeWalt includes a universal adapter to make them work. However, you lose the speed and convenience of the system with it.

Additional Features

  • Brushless motor
  • Depth gauge included (great for undercutting door jambs!)
  • Dual-grip variable speed trigger allows for multiple grip points
  • LED light mounted on the front

DeWalt Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool Quick Comparison

20V Max Atomic
DCS354
20V Max XR
DCS355
20V Max XR
DCS356
Oscillating Rate0 – 18,000 OPM0 – 20,000 OPM0 – 20,000 OPM
Speeds113
Oscillating Angle3.2°3.2°3.2°
Length11.2 in.11.2 in.11.2 in.
Bare Weight2.33 lbs.2.33 lbs.2.33 lbs.
Blade ChangeQuick-ChangeQuick-ChangeQuick-Change
Kitted Battery2.0Ah2.0Ah2.0Ah
Bare Price$129$139$139
Kit Price$179$219$199

DeWalt 20V Max XR Brushless Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool Price

Expect to pay $139 for the DCS356 as a bare tool if you already have batteries and a charger. However, it’s running $99 at Acme Tools at the time we’re writing this. If you want the kit, it runs $199. Here’s what it includes:

  • DCS356 Oscillating Multi-Tool
  • 2.0Ah battery
  • Charger
  • Wood w/nails blade
  • Fast-cut wood blade
  • Sanding pad
  • 25 sheets of sandpaper
  • Universal accessory adapter
  • Accessory storage box
  • Tool bag

As an added bonus, you can get a free 5.0Ah battery or DCD797 hammer drill free with the kit from Acme Tools. This deal expires July 2, 2021.

The Bottom Line

It’s clear to us that the DeWalt 20V Max XR Oscillating Multi-Tool is one of the top models available. Its design is solid, its performance is steady, and its upgrades from the previous version are meaningful. To top it off, DeWalt’s value proposition is excellent. Whether you’re already on DeWalt’s 20V Max system or just looking for a lot of bang for your buck in a cordless multi-tool, this is one we can easily recommend.

DeWalt 20V Max XR Brushless Cordless Oscillating Multi-Tool Specifications

  • Model: DeWalt DCS356
  • Power Source: DeWalt 20V Max batteries
  • No-Load Speeds: 0 – 13,000/17,000/20,000 OPM
  • Oscillating Angle: 3.2°
  • Weight: 2.33 pounds
  • Length: 11.2 inches
  • Warranty: 3 years with 1-year service agreement and 90-day money-back guarantee
  • Price: $139 bare, $199 kit with 2.0Ah battery and charger

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