This week the Milwaukee 2426 oscillating tool found its way onto my workbench. It is one of the first cordless oscillating tools ever made, and a best seller. Let's take a look how the 2426 measures up today.
The Milwaukee 2426 Cordless Oscillating Tool
The 2426 is a no-thrills professional grade oscillating tool from Milwaukee. First introduced several years ago, it is behind the times in terms of power and features. These days it sells at a reduced price, but it's still a competent entry level oscillating tool.
In typical Milwaukee fashion the red plastic body of the tool is covered with a generous amount of black rubber. The entire length of the tool functions as a grip. With the battery installed the center of gravity lies in the middle of the tool. The universally high fit&finish of the 2426 makes in a durable tool on the job site. Contractors typically get a few years out of this oscillating tool.
The 2426 oscillating tool performs well on a per-cut basis, but vibrates too much to be useful on large jobs.
The 2426 is equipped with a 12 speed variable speed motor. Motor speed is controlled by a thumb wheel on the side of the tool's barrel shaped body. The wheel can be difficult to turn, especially while wearing gloves, but it registers each distinct setting properly. A large slider switch on the top of the body turns the motor on. The power comes on slowly to minimized start-up torque.
The battery gauge just above the speed control lights up for a couple of seconds after the tool is turned on. The four red LEDs give some indication of the battery charge status, but ultimately fail to convey any meaningful information. In my tests the gauge seemed to be perpetually stuck on two lights. Four lights only appear for less than a minute after a fresh battery is installed, and a single light might as well indicate battery death.
The chuck of the 2426 shows its age. An Allen key is required to remove the arbor bolt that locks the blade in place. The industry has long since moved on to toolless solutions leaving the 2426 in last place in the blade change test. Having to unscrew a bolt every now and then is not that bad. Finding the Allen key, which there is no place for on the tool, might be the greater challenge.
The upshot of this design is that there is very little mass near the blade. The 2426 is not as nose-heavy as other oscillating tools. It feels more nimble in tight places, and the chuck does not bump into obstacles as often as the competition does.
The teeth of the chuck are laid out to accept Milwaukee brand blades and accessories. All kits include a universal adapter that allows blades from other manufacturers to be mounted on the 2426. Doing so increases the height of the chuck by 1/8".
The Milwaukee M12 Battery System
The 2426 shares the same battery with a lot of excellent tools. Milwaukee's M12 lineup is known for small, yet powerful tools that perform on the job site. It's a great line to get into, if you are looking for an economical way to get pro-level performance, but don't work on large projects regularly.
The 12V battery ultimately limits the endurance and top-level power the M12 tools can produce. For rough work that lasts all day long the M18 system is a better choice.
The 2426 can be purchased individually or as part of many different kits. The larger kits are often a better value. Replacement batteries are available individually.
The 2426's performance makes me wonder how much longer corded oscillating tools will be around. The tool's cutting performance was nearly identical to that of corded oscillating tools when cutting soft materials like carpet and trim. Not having to manage a cord meant that the 2426 got the job done considerably faster. Large cutters and dense materials slow this oscillating tool down. On tough jobs like grout removal the 2426 performs at half the speed of a corded oscillating tool.
Under heavy load the battery last 10-15 minutes. The 30-minute charger won't get the spare battery ready in time, but using the 2426 continuously is ill advised anyways. In most cases a single battery charge will see you through the entire workday.
The big downside of the 2426 is the way it vibrates during use. The tool has no active vibration dampening mechanism. During use the body of the tool vibrates to offset the movement of the blade. After making a cut with this tool your hand will tingle for a few minutes. If you use the 2426 for a cut here and there during a workday, you'll never notice the problem. If you are foolish enough to use this tool continuously for any longer than 10-20 minutes, your hand will hurt when you go to bed at night.
All of this adds up to a very clear picture. The 2426 is best used for making a few cuts at a time. Plumbers, electricians, and carpenters will love the convenience and speed this tool offers. Anyone asking the tool to do rough work will be underwhelmed by the tool's performance, and left hurting by its considerable bite.
The 2426 oscillating tool is a great performer for anyone who uses their oscillating tool for a few cuts per day. It sets up quickly and performs similarly to corded oscillating tools when cutting soft materials. Carpenters, electricians, and plumbers will get their work done faster with the 2426.
As the work get tougher the 2426 shows its age. Excessive vibrations and poor cutting performance in hard materials quickly put an end to any attempt to use this tool as a full-size oscillating tool. As a medium duty tool, however, the 2426 represents a great combo of performance and price.
- good combo of power and speed
- low profile, small chuck
- good, but ultimately limited endurance
- variable speed
- shares a battery with many great tools
- battery gauge lights up for a few seconds instead of staying on
- vibrates excessively
- slow blade changes require an Allen key