When you consider a portable band saw, your first thought might be using it for decorative cuts.  It's true they're great for decorative cuts, but our customers keep telling us that the Mafell Z5Ec 12" Portable Band Saw is capable of much, much more. Mafell recommends the Z5Ec for more carpentry applications than any other tool in their Product Training Brochure (pages 12-17).  And lately our customers have found some new and really cool uses for their portable band saw.

Today we thought it would be helpful to share some of these innovations with you.  If you already own a Z5Ec, you might learn about some new uses for your portable band saw.  Or if you've been saving up for your next big tool purchase, the versatility of the Z5Ec might earn it the top spot on your wish list.

Here are some innovative ways our customers are using their portable band saw: 

  • Tenons can be formed quickly using a Z5Ec for the rip cuts and a circular saw for the shoulder cuts
  • Resawing timbers such as 12" x 12" into a 6" x 12" using Mafell's efficient ripping blades
  • Notches for purlins using the dual, pivoting Z5Ec blade guide system that angles outward up to 30 degrees
  • Curved trusses such as for king post trusses and hammer beam trusses
  • Bevel cuts on long ridge beams by making your own triangular fixture to go under the Z5Ec base
  • Scarf joints to connect two shorter timbers into a strong, longer beam
  • Compound miter cuts produced with two carpenters each guiding one end of the Z5Ec
  • Birdsmouth cuts made by cutting one leg of the triangle with the primary cutting blade and the second leg of the triangle with the secondary blade
  • Pergola decorative ends & corbels

These innovations reinforce our belief that Mafell's Z5Ec portable band saw is the best tool we sell here at Timberwolf Tools.  We just can't say enough good things about this tool:

  • This band saw is so lightweight that it does not stress your back, arms or shoulders, even after hours of use
  • You can cut using either side of the band saw, and one side of the blade can be angled up to 30 degrees, so less flipping of your timbers is required
  • The blade tensioning knob on the Z5Ec has a built-in clutch so that you cannot over-tighten your blade
  • The band saw's tracking has already been perfectly factory-set by Mafell and never seems to need adjusting
  • The motor blows air on your mark for better visibility and accuracy
  • You can cut a full 12" timber squarely and accurately, while thinner timbers can be cut just as accurately (a band saw that even works like a jigsaw!)

Common Question: "Should I get 120 Volt or 240 Volt?"

Over 80% of our Z5Ec customers choose the 120V version.  For this particular Mafell tool, there is no noticeable difference in performance between the 120V and 240V versions.  The 240V version costs $290 less, but many of our customers do not have access to 240V power in the field, and portability is very important to them.  We keep both versions in stock, so just let us know your personal preference.


Mafell Z5Ec portable band saw trolleyFortunately the Z5Ec comes as a very complete unit that doesn't require lots of accessories.  The key one we'll highlight is the Trolley.  It costs $440, comes in three pieces that are easily assembled, and ships in a separate box.  Many die-hard Z5Ec fans enjoy using this trolley instead of making their own or using sawhorses for storage.  This is a tool you can lay on the floor between uses, but it is always safer and easier to access if you store it at an upright position.  We never leave our trolley at home when we bring our demo Z5Ec to the Timber Framers Guild conference.

Mafell makes special band saw blades with alternating teeth (two left, two middle, two right, two middle, and so on).  Our customers have found that they cut much more accurately and are better for your tool's well-being in the long run than non-Mafell blades.  We recommend adding a 10-pack of additional blades to your Z5Ec order even though the tool comes with three blades.  Once you start using this tool, you will want to have an ample supply of blades to get lots of work done!  There are four kinds of blades to choose from:

Mafell Z5Ec portable band saw 092337 front and rear cutting teeth bladesFront and Rear-Cutting Blades
$365 for a pack of 10  (part #092337)

Our most popular blade, because more and more customers need to back out of their innovative cuts.  Saw dust behind the blade will pack and block the reverse travel of a blade in such situations, but with this special blade you are able to manually lift the Z5Ec up and down to "saw" your way backwards out of your cut (with the tool off and brake engaged).  A new Z5Ec comes standard with one of these blades so you can try it out.

Mafell Z5Ec portable band saw 092336 standard durable bladesSoftwood-Cutting Blades
$270 for a pack of 10  (part #092336)

Identical to the blades above, but no rear-cutting teeth.  They are ~5/16" wide (8 mm) and have 4 teeth per inch.  The extra metal on the rear of the blade makes these blades the most durable for doing continuous cuts in softwood.  These are the best bang for your buck if you don't need to back out of your softwood cuts.  A new Z5Ec comes standard with one of these blades so you can try it out.

Mafell Z5Ec portable band saw 092333 hardwood bladesHardwood-Cutting Blades
$270 for a pack of 10  (part #092333)

These blades are ~1/4" wide (6 mm) and have 6 teeth per inch.  The extra teeth allow you to cut faster, which you want when cutting hardwoods such as Oak.  The thinner blade allows you to do smaller radius cuts in hardwood as well (1" radius compared to 2" on the above blades).  We have some customers who also prefer these blades for cutting kiln-dried or very old Doug Fir because it has many of the characteristics of hardwoods.

Mafell Z5Ec portable band saw 092335 tight radius softwood bladesTight Radius-Cutting Blades
$270 for a pack of 10  (part #092335)

These blades are ~1/4" wide (6 mm) and have 4 teeth per inch, allowing you to do a 1" radius cut in softwood.  Some customers find that this blade works extremely well in freshly cut Doug Fir since the twisting grain of this wood cannot pinch on this blade's narrow profile.  The result is a very straight top to bottom cut.  A new Z5Ec comes standard with one of these blades so you can try it out.

DuPont Teflon Spray
$13.80 per can

We include a free can of DuPont Chain Saver Dry Teflon lubricant with each new Z5Ec purchase.  This has been found to extend blade life by decreasing the resin and sawdust build-up on the blade, which reduces friction and heat, and improves the quality and ease of cutting.  Just put your blades down on a piece of newspaper or plastic before use, spray both sides of the blade, and let them dry for 5-10 minutes.  This product does a remarkable job lubricating bicycle and motorcycle chains so that is why it is called "Chain-Saver" but we like to think of it as a "Blade Saver!"  If you need more cans of DuPont Teflon spray, you can order them from us or online.  Make sure you purchase the yellow can since there is a similar product in a blue can that will not dry as effectively on your blades.

For more information on this saw, please view:
Mafell Z5Ec on Timberwolftools.com
or in the Mafell Online Catalog

Thank you for reading another Timberwolf Tools newsletter!  I hope this info has been helpful for you.  Give us a call if you have your own innovative Z5Ec stories to share, or if you want clarification on any of the points discussed here today.

Jeff Powell and the Timberwolf Tools Family
Toll free: 800-869-4169