One of four tools in our test of 18-volt cordless oscillating multi tools (OMTs), this model is DeWalt’s first in this category of these useful cutting, sanding, and scraping tools. Unlike other OMTs recently tested that use the more common Bosch “OIS” blade style, the DeWalt fits blades with a C-shaped arbor hole available from at least a few brands.
DeWalt DCS355D1 Specs
Battery: 2.0 Ah compact battery
Battery gauge: 3 bars on battery
Weight: 3.2 pounds
Oscillations per minute: 0-20,000
Angle of oscillation: 3.2 degrees
Special Features: Brushless motor
Price: $178; tool only
Includes: Tool, 1 battery, charger, 2 blades, sanding pad, sandpaper x25, depth stop, bolt-on blade adapter, accessory case, fabric kit bag
Also available: DCS355B (tool only) $129
Country of origin: Tool China; battery Korea
Comments and Ratings
Fair to Good overall; Operating an OMT with a trigger has pros and cons but I prefer traditional controls. Overall, I found the handling and control of this tool more than a little unwieldy
Switch: Good; Variable-speed trigger with full-speed lock-on button easy to pull even with gloves on, but can be difficult to hold on in some positions. Also has lock-off button position.
Speed dial: N/A
Grip: Good; Lots of rubber grip surfaces, especially on the bottom of the tool. But the blade-clamp lever partially blocks grip access up front.
Fair; Strong buzzing felt vibration, loud buzzing sound—mainly from all the loose parts up front.
Brushless motor, LED headlight, battery fuel gauge.
The skinny handle and generous amount of rubber surfaces around the tool make for a nice grip—in one position--but the optimal grip position determined by the handle and trigger is too restrictive for varied uses that require grip positions all around the tool. In addition, the exposed blade clamp lever gets in the way of gripping the tool near the front.
The wide trigger can be squeezed anywhere along its length. It proved handy at times to start a cut more slowly and then crank up the speed with the variable speed trigger. But when the trigger is locked on, the only speed setting is full trigger. So this tool lacks the option to dial in the desired speed setting for extended uses like OMTs with on/off switches and speed dials have.
Like the blade clamps found on their corded version and on brandmate Porter-Cable’s OMTs, the DeWalt has a spring-loaded clamp lever mounted directly around its drive spindle. While the proximity to the working end of the tool makes the lever quick and easy to use, it also places it right in the way of some grip positions and its bulk reduces the tool’s cut capacity somewhat.
The simple design of the blade clamp lever in conjunction with the open blade arbor slot makes it the easiest clamp to operate among all OMTs tested to date. You only have to squeeze the lever, slide the blade end around the spindle to the desired angle on the positioning “nubs”, and release the lever.
Attaching a different type of blade is where the DeWalt blade clamp loses its quick and easy advantages. The included adapter is not compatible with the tool-free blade clamp like the adapters of most other brands. Instead, a backing plate, washer, and bolt must be attached to the drive spindle and tightened down with a hex wrench. This manual attachment method holds various blades more securely than some adapter and blade combinations that allow a little play in the connection, but it is tedious and time consuming.
DeWalt includes a unique depth-stop attachment with the accessories in their kit. It connects to the front of the tool with a captive socket-head hex bolt. When the bolt vibrated loose right away, I cranked it down a bit harder which quickly stripped out the bolt head and both ends of the included hex wrench. After spending considerable time removing the recessed fastener, I concluded that a standard hex head bolt should be used that can be reached with a nut driver for the sake of strength.
In the depth-stop configuration shown here (cutting forward to the stop), the accessory locked down tightly and worked very well, but at the cost of some lost visibility. You could use it to avoid overcutting through drywall or wood trim in situations where you want to avoid hidden wiring, plumbing, or just blade-damaging nails recessed behind the cut.
In the blade height guide configuration shown here, the accessory does not work at all. The vibration of the tool unscrews the locking knob very quickly and the desired height drops. If the blade is already into the wood, it will bend and grab in the kerf as the tool slides down. Tightening the knob tighter using pliers gave the same result; something about the direction of the tool’s vibration unscrews the knob every time.
Fein’s 14.4- and 18-volt models haven’t changed since 2012 and can be found in Full-Size Oscillating Multi Tools in the summer 2012 issue of Tools of the Trade. Note: Some of the other tools in the 2012 story—including the cordless tools from Makita and Porter-Cable—are not their companies’ newest models.