In our best cordless oscillating multi-tool review, we compared all of the various brands and measured them to see which performed in a way that set them apart from the pack. We were able to really determine the good values on the market and make recommendations based on the intended use and user goals. That part of my life was done, or so I thought, until a couple of companies, including Milwaukee Tool, released new multi-tool products. But, like the famous line from the Godfather, “just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” And just like that, I’m back in the world of multi-tools. This time around, it’s the Milwaukee 2426-22 M12 Multi-tool Kit.
The kit comes with 2 RedLithium batteries, a charger, a few accessories, and – most importantly – an adapter that lets almost anyone’s accessories fit onto the tool. We’ll talk about the adapter later in the review. For now, let’s talk about how it’s built.
Milwaukee 2426-22 Build Quality & Design
Good industrial designers have one thing in common (probably more, but stay with me here – I’m trying to make a point): they know what they’re doing. So it wasn’t surprising to observe two things when I opened up the Milwaukee 2426-22 M12 Multi-tool Kit: 1) It looked remarkably like the Bosch Multi-X tool, and 2) It was decidedly NOT the same tool, but an original creation that simply shared several traits. I bring this up because in a world that is dominated by downsizing and copycats, it IS still possible for two companies to come at a tool from two different directions and arrive at similar solutions. That’s what I think happened here and it also explains why I like using both of these tools so much.
The kit came in a retail box and contained the bare tool, two M12 RedLithium batteries, a charger, a zippered ballistic nylon bag, an Allen wrench, a plunge-cut wood blade, and 6-piece sanding kit. With saw or blade-based products I really prefer a blow-mold case. The multi-tool also comes with an accessory adapter that allows virtually any brand of accessory to fit the Milwaukee Multi-tool. This is a very different product than the Bosch OIS Adapter, which allows Bosch accessories to fit nearly any oscillating multi-tool.
Milwaukee Adapter vs Bosch OIS Adapter
To make this perfectly clear, Milwaukee’s adapter is about using their tool with all available accessories, and Bosch is all about using their accessories with any tool. For obvious reasons, we prefer the Milwaukee approach. I bought the tool. Now I can use any accessories I want with it. This is especially helpful when I find myself in need of a new blade and only one or two brands are available at my local dealer, hardware store, or home improvement warehouse.
The Milwaukee 2426-22 M12 Multi-tool Kit weighs 2 pounds, 3 ounces. When comparing the tool to what’s on the market, this makes it one of the lighter models, even though that weight includes an M12 RedLithium battery (more on this battery later as well). There’s nothing surprising about the tool’s looks – by now we’re very familiar with the ABS red plastic Milwaukee uses on all its tools, and the black rubber overmold was perfectly positioned so as to increase either a one- or two-handed grip. Rubber overmold may seem common, but you’d be surprised at the number of tools that use black-colored plastic or simply don’t apply it properly. Milwaukee’s use of the black grip is simple, flat, and ergonomic.
Milwaukee 2426-22 M12 Multi-tool Kit Features
The main thing we’re concerned with when looking at the features of a multi-tool is the flexibility in how it can be used and how well those features aid in the general application of the tool. The tool has a variable speed control with 12 clear detent settings. This is one of the first speed controls that actually had numbers that meant something – in that they perfectly clicked into place at each setting.
The dial is actually quite difficult to adjust and we found that you really had to apply significant lateral pressure to get it where you wanted. At least it won’t move when you don’t want it to. The range of speed takes the tool from 5,000 opm to 20,000 opm. For most work, you’ll want to leave it at the highest setting.
Just above the variable speed control is the battery indicator. Each time you switch on the tool, the battery indicator shows the battery charge status for approximately 2 seconds. Status is indicated by 4 red LEDs and they seemed to be very accurate and intelligently programmed to convey the remaining M12 RedLithium charge.
Universal Accessories Adapter
Let’s talk a little bit more about the universal accessories adapter. I can’t stress enough how cool it is to see an approach that favors the tool over the accessories. I’m sure it pained Milwaukee’s Accessory division to think that they were encouraging the use of competitive accessories with their tool, but the truth is – people typically buy accessories on an as-needed basis. And that means: last minute. You’ve been there. You need a blade and you hit the store only to find a competing brand.
That’s not a problem with the Milwaukee 2426-22 M12 Multi-tool Kit or a Dremel, but if you use a Bosch Multi-X then you’re stuck with having to locate Bosch accessories or use their generic friction-based adapter that does function as a universal coupler, but not as securely and confidently as these new adapters. In case it’s not clear, we LOVE the choice Milwaukee made here.
Attaching Blades and Accessories
Accessories are attached by using the supplied hex wrench. You remove and apply a screw that holds a specially-made washer to clamp the accessory to the 8-pin accessory head. The head is naturally compatible with accessories from Bosch and (coming soon) Skil and the adapter handles the rest.
About the only other thing to say about the accessories that come with the Milwaukee is that it only includes a single plunge cut wood blade. Aside from that, the only included accessories are the 5 sanding pads and holder. Anyone who has used a multi-tool for any time will recognize that the blades don’t last all that long. On top of that, there’s a lot you can do with a multi-tool, including grout removal and blades for drywall use. Milwaukee could stand to offer a kit with more accessories, and by including the universal adapter and including only a few accessories they are more or less inviting you to purchase a starter kit from someone else.
Testing and Use
There were several ways in which we tested this tool. Before our real-world testing, we actually listened to it and measured the noise output. With no load it put out 87dB SPL from 36″ away – about par in our experience of oscillating tools. When you apply the tool to wood for a cut, expect that output level to jump to 104dB SPL or more. The sound it makes it a higher-pitched mechanical whine, very similar to Bosch’s Multi-X and something I suspect is a result of the motor utilized and the overall design of a cordless version of this tool.
We tested the Milwaukee 2426-22 M12 Multi-tool Kit on a number of projects, including drywall cutting to install a series of electrical boxes for a rewire job. We found it to cut both quickly and, like most multi-tools, it was easy to maintain a straight line. The multi-tool is a specialty tool like no other. We find it to be almost invaluable in the circumstances where you most need a tool with its very properties. With the addition of such accessories as grout blades and even diamond blades, the options simply get more diverse for when you’ll want to pull it out.
Power and Runtime
We really loved the ease-of-use factor of the M12 Multi-tool and we found that reaching for it was an easy choice. It seemed to have the same power as corded models and with the new RedLithium batteries, run-time was a respectable 23 minutes and 15 seconds (no load) with only a brief 15-second drop in power before the battery gave out. That means that you essentially get full performance for the duration of the charge. Charging a depleted battery completely doesn’t take a whole lot of time either, about 30 minutes, so with two batteries, you’ll get near-continuous use out of this tool for most jobs.
Some of our more detailed testing was done in-house on our own reference boards which we could use to compare its performance to other multi-tools. In fact, we did a lot of the same testing that was done in our oscillating tool comparison review. The Milwaukee plowed through our sample wood with finesse and speed. With its included wood blade, the tool did a great job of driving itself through the material, even tough heart pine that was over 80 years old.
The speed and agility of the Milwaukee Multi-tool always surprised us, maybe because we had just come off a Dremel review where the instability of a rotary tool was still fresh in our minds. This tool is all about precision and control, two things at which it greatly excels. Once you get it lined up, the blade slices itself nicely through the wood in a straight line. You do, however, feel a significant amount of vibration while cutting.
Milwaukee 2426-22 M12 Multi-tool Kit is clearly the new kid on the block, but with the ability to use anyone’s accessories and a pair of RedLithium 12V batteries that deliver very impressive run-time, you’ve got a tool that deserves a serious look. If this Christmas season rolls around and consumers who don’t already have an oscillating tool go shopping, Milwaukee is in a good position to pick up any stragglers to this genre of tool.
About the only disappointment with the 2426-22 kit is its inherent vibration. Also, be sure to pick up some additional blades when you make your purchase. We found the Milwaukee M12 Multi-tool for just $169 online. That is an incredible deal for a cordless tool like this and was the driving force behind its 9/10 Value rating. As for Performance, it earned every one of its 8/10 points and we look forward to seeing additional accessory and kit options for this tool in the near future.