If you’re trying to decide on the best log splitter it’s probably because you found out the hard way that splitting logs with an axe is not nearly as much fun as it looks in the movies.
If you’re chopping a few logs to impress your wife or to get some exercise then by all means, grab your axe. If you’re preparing for winter and need to split a decent stack of logs then save your back and get a decent log splitter.
But which one? Gas? Electric? Manual? Even if you manage to narrow it down to which power source you prefer there are still so many variations.
People throw all sorts of specs and figures around when talking about wood splitters. We’ll break each of these down so that you can make the right choice. Before we get into it, here’s a video of one of our favorite units and a table showing our top 10 best electric log splitter choices.
Best Electric Log Splitter Comparison Table
1 or 2 Handed Operation
15.4 x 11 x 23.2
Types Of Log Splitters
For the most part log splitters make use of a hydraulic piston to drive a ram forward. The ram comes up against the one end of the log and pushes the other end up against a splitting edge. If you have enough force behind the ram then the wood splits. This is the basic principle regardless of which type of splitter you get.
The first choice you need to make is whether you'll be buying a Gas log splitter, Electric log splitter or Manual log splitter. Each of these have pros and cons so it's important to know what these are before choosing the best log splitter for the job.
Gas Powered Log Splitter
Like it says on the box, these splitters are gas (or diesel) powered. This means that the pump that creates the hydraulic pressure is driven by a motor that runs on gas.
The main advantages these units have over the electric log splitters are power and the fact that they can be used anywhere. While electric log splitters top out at about 20-tons splitting force, gas powered wood splitters are generally in the 20-ton to 45-ton range.
If you’ve got some seriously thick pieces of hard wood then you’re going to want to go with the gas powered option.
Remote use is also a big factor. As long as you’ve got gas and a way to get it there, a gas powered splitter can be used anywhere.
Understand though that these units aren’t exactly what you would call “portable”. These are generally heavy pieces of equipment and either need towing or more than two hands to move around.
The main drawbacks of using a gas wood splitter are the noise, fumes and maintenance. Standing next to one of these splitters for a whole day is not going to do your ears any favors.
The fumes from the exhaust are also not exactly healthy so indoor use is out of the question.
As with all gas engines, you’re going to need to do some oil change and spark plug maintenance from time to time. That being said, there’s nothing quite like a top rated gas log splitter to make short work of a pile of logs. This 25-ton log splitter from Champion is the best gas powered log splitter for the money.
Best Gas Log Splitter Review
This 25-Ton gas log splitter from Champion Power Equipment is our top rated choice for anyone looking for a mid-size gas wood splitter. It's the newer version of the previous 22-ton model (92221) and is the best log splitter in its class.
If you check out other reviews of the previous model and this new and improved one you'll see that we're not the only ones who think it's great.
It looks the same as the previous model but they've upped the splitting force a bit and reduced the price. It's powered by a reliable 224cc engine that starts first time with minimal effort.
It can be used as both a vertical and horizontal splitter and switches quickly and easily between modes. It comes with log catchers included. The quick 12 second cycle time and auto-return function means you'll be able to work really quickly with this machine. Champion say that it can achieve 300 cycles per hour.
It can accommodate logs of up to 23.8 inches long and up to 100 lbs. It comes on it's own towable trailer with a 2" ball hitch and has integrated dual log cradles. It comes with a standard 2 year warranty but it's always a good idea to pay the extra couple of dollars for the extended warranty. In addition to the warranty Champion offer free lifetime technical support on this product. This is a great piece of machinery and the best log splitter around!
Electric Log Splitter
If you’re sure you’re not going to be needing a splitter in the 20-ton range then a good electric log splitter is the way to go. If you’re splitting logs in the 10-14 inch range then these are your best log splitter option. Instead of gas it uses an electric motor to drive the hydraulic pump. These units must be powered directly from a grounded (3-prong) home electrical outlet.
The main reason that these splitters have reduced power comes down to the amount of electrical current available to drive the motor. They’re typically designed to run off one of your 15-Amp breakers. That being said, you need to make sure that nothing else is sharing that circuit if you want to get maximum power from the splitter.
While they aren’t as powerful as a gas powered unit there are some good reasons to consider getting a good electric log splitter.
- They are a lot quieter than the gas units. If you’re going to be loading and splitting logs all day then your ears are going to thank you for going electric.
- Because it’s electric it means that there aren’t any fumes. This means that if the weather is lousy you could even use it in the barn or garage.
- These units are a lot more compact and portable which means that they’re easy to move around and easy to store.
The drawback of going electric is of course that you need to be within a reasonable distance from a power outlet. And don’t think that you can just join a bunch of extension cords together if you want to work 300 feet away from the outlet. Choosing the right gauge extension cord and keeping it as short as possible is important both from a safety and a performance aspect. The longer the extension cord the thicker the gauge needs to be.
We put together a buying guide and top 10 list of the best electric log splitter options lower down in this post. Based on those reviews our choice for best electric log splitter has to be the Pow' R' Kraft 65575 7-Ton. For an electric log splitter it’s a beast and powers through anything we throw at it.
If you just compare prices you'll see that this unit costs quite a bit more than the other electric options. When you work with it and see it perform you get a good idea why that is. If you want to go electric then this is the best log splitter in our opinion.
The thickness of the steel and the quality of the welding joints immediately give you the impression of a well made product. The all steel body does add to the weight of this splitter so make sure you have some extra hands when you lift it on and off of your truck.
The wheels are a nice size but the handle could have been a little bigger. It is portable but it's not something you're going to want to be moving around a lot. The 3HP motor has plenty of power which makes it easy to split logs up to 12-inches. If you read some reviews you'll see that people report splitting logs of between 14 and 16 inches.
We really like the two speed options. To split thick logs you press the lever towards the picture of the elephant. The ram moves slowly but with all 7-tons of splitting force. To split thinner logs you press the lever towards the picture of the rabbit. This provides less splitting force (4 tons) but moves the ram a lot quicker. You can even change the speed setting half way through splitting a log which is pretty cool. If you want the best log splitter and you want to go electric then this is the one you want.
Manual Log Splitter
Manual log splitters can be separated into two categories: Impact type and hydraulic type. The impact type is essentially a long pole with a splitting wedge on one end and a weighted “hammer” piece that slides up and down the pole. You put the splitting end up against the end of the log and then pound the sliding weight up and down until the log splits.
It’s not a whole lot easier than using a splitting wedge and hammer but it is safer so you are less likely to lose a finger or worse.
As with anything, you get what you pay for. If you’re going to buy one of these make sure you get a good one. Also, it gets pretty noisy when you're banging the sliding hammer down so make sure you wear ear protection.
The best impact manual log splitter is this the Woodeze Impact Manual Log Splitter.
The manual hydraulic log splitter has long levers that convert your muscle power into hydraulic pressure. These units can actually deliver some decent splitting force with the good units getting up to 10-tons.
It does take some effort but if you’re only ever splitting a small pile of logs then the money you save makes it totally worth it. If you want to retain some of the zen aspect of wood splitting then using one of these can be very satisfying as well as effective.
Getting a good one isn’t going to be cheap but you’ll save a few hundred dollars over a really good electric unit. Here’s our choice for best manual hydraulic log splitter:
Best Log Splitter - Horizontal or Vertical?
Should you get a horizontal log splitter or a vertical one? If you’re going with one of the bigger gas powered units then this is a choice you’ll be faced with.
A vertical unit is great for when you have some really big, heavy logs to split. Trying to lift these heavy logs onto a horizontal splitter is not going to be fun. With a horizontal splitter you can just roll them over to the splitter and set them on their end under the splitting wedge and get to work.
Once you split the log into smaller pieces it now becomes a pain to bend over and set the next piece under the wedge. This is where the horizontal splitter comes into play. If you can lift the logs without too much trouble then horizontal is the way to go. Your back will thank you. If you anticipate doing a lot of splitting and expect to have to process some hefty pieces then the best log splitter is one that can do both vertical and horizontal splitting.
Application - Where Will You Use It?
Choosing the best log splitter has a lot to do with where and how you intend using it. This is not an exhaustive list but it gives you an idea of the thought process you should use.
Home - If you’re going to be splitting wood around the house for your own use then go for a good electric log splitter. Yes you’ll need to be within a reasonable distance of a power outlet but the convenience of use and ease of storage make this a smart bet.
Plot Clearing - If you’re clearing plots or doing commercial splitting then you’ll want to go for a gas powered wood splitter. This way you’re more likely to have the power you need when you come up against some of the more stubborn and thicker logs. Of course, if you want to use an electric log splitter you could always just run it from a generator.
Commercial / Firewood to sell - If you’re splitting wood to sell then quicker is better because you’ll be dealing in serious volume. Don’t be tempted to get the really powerful splitters if you don’t need that much splitting force. The higher the tonnage, the slower it works. You’ll want to get a unit with a short cycle time but with enough grunt to deal with 90% of the size logs you process.
Best Log Splitter Buying Guide
When you’re deciding between different log splitters these are the main factors to consider before making your purchase:
Log splitters have their splitting force indicated in tons. This is a measure of how much pressure the ram can exert on the log when pushing it up against the wedge. The amount of force you need is determined by a combination of the diameter of the log, the type of wood and how seasoned the wood is. Here’s a rough guide to give you an idea of the amount of splitting force you’ll need.
Firstly we need to know what wood we'll be splitting. Different woods have different degrees of hardness. To give wood a hardness figure we use the Janka hardness test. It's not too important to understand how this test works but basically it assigns a hardness value in lbs. The table below shows the hardness values for different kinds of wood.
Wood Hardness Rating In lbs
Simply look at the table to find the wood you'll be splitting and then take note of the hardness figure. If you intend splitting different kinds of wood then look each one up and take note of the highest figure. Once you've got the hardness value for the wood you now need to know the maximum thickness, or diameter, of the logs you'll be processing. Once you've got the maximum diameter you expect to split you can look up the tonnage you'll need from the table below. Choose the column which corresponds to your maximum wood hardness.
Avoid the temptation to spend more money on a higher power splitter for “just in case”. If you know that the majority of the logs you’ll be working with will be within a certain range then get the best log splitter for that range. That being said, trying to split big stuff with an under powered splitter is going to end in frustration at best and probably a broken log splitter.
The cycle time refers to how long it takes the ram to move forward to split the log and then return to the starting position. The shorter the cycle time the quicker you’ll be able to make your way through that pile of wood. The more powerful the splitter is the longer the cycle time will generally be.
It sounds like a small thing but staring at a splitter that moves at a snail’s pace gets frustrating really quickly. Some units, like the Pow' R' Kraft 65575 7-Ton electric log splitter have two speed settings. A slow, max power setting for the tough stuff and then a lower power, faster setting for the smaller logs.
A great way to halve your cycle time is to get a 4-way splitting wedge to add to your splitter. These 4-way splitters make both a vertical and a horizontal cut in one splitting cycle. This leaves you with 4 logs instead of just 2 for each splitting cycle. Just make sure you get the right one for your specific log splitter brand and model.
Once the log is split you need to get the ram back into the start position so that you can load another log. Often this means pressing the lever in the opposite direction so that the ram retracts. If you want to free up your hands and work faster then get a splitter with auto return function. These units will automatically retract the ram once you’ve split the log and let go of the lever. That way you can grab the next log and load it while the ram gets back into position.
Are you going to be wheeling your splitter around often or are you going to set it up somewhere and leave it there. If you’re looking for something portable then make sure it has decent handles and nice size wheels with rubber tyres.
Single or 2 handed operation
Single handed units are operated by pushing the lever with one hand to make the ram move forward. This means that your other hand is free to hold the log or, if you get distracted easily, get caught between the log and the moving bits.
Some splitters have an additional safety factor that requires two handed operation. In addition to pressing the lever with the one hand you need to press a button with the other. Some people see this as an inconvenience but when you consider the amount of force you’re dealing with it’s really not a bad idea. It’s not nearly as inconvenient as having less than 10 fingers.
The length of the cradle of a horizontal log splitter will determine the maximum length of log that you can split. This will determine the length you’ll be cutting your logs. In addition to this figure it’s important to know the ram travel. This is the distance that the ram moves along the cradle. The ram will always stop a few inches short of the splitting wedge but some splitter have their rams stop shorter than others.
If the ram stops a long way short of the wedge then you’re going to struggle to split shorter logs. If the log is short and the ram doesn’t get up close to the wedge then it will only drive the wedge a little way into the short log and then stop. In this case you can put two short logs into the cradle to overcome the problem. That way, even if the ram travel is a little short, the log at the back will push the front log into the wedge to split it all the way.
Log Thickness / Diameter
The splitting force (tons) of the log splitter is directly related to the maximum thickness of the logs it can split. The figure that the manufacturers give for maximum log thickness is really just a guideline and should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Cheaper, less reputable brands will overstate this figure and claim 12-14 inches when they only deliver maybe 10 inches. Reputable, quality brands tend to err on the side of caution and understate the maximum log thickness. They’ll generally be cautious and claim 12 inches but when you read wood splitter reviews people will mention that they easily split 14-16 inch logs. Read the reviews and that will give you a more accurate feel for what you can expect.
Also it’s important to understand that quoted maximum log thickness is based on splitting seasoned wood. Don’t expect to achieve those figures when splitting green wood.
This is a tough one to get an idea of just by looking at pictures or reading manufacturer specs. Some splitters have great splitting ability but poor construction or light frames. With logs being loaded and bashed against it for hours on end you’re bound to get a few dings on your splitter. Make sure you get a splitter with all steel construction and decent thick weld seams. Once again, read reviews and see what other users say about the durability of the product.
While all log splitters will come with a warranty these vary between one and two years. You’re going to be spending at least a few hundred bucks so make sure you get a decent unit with at least a 2 year warranty. Even if you get a really well known brand unit we always recommend getting the extended warranty. It’s going to cost you a few extra dollars but at least you know that 3 years down the line you’re still covered if something does break.
Best Electric Log Splitter Reviews And Buying Guide
If you’ve got a pile of wood to split and you're within 50 feet of a power outlet then you want the best electric log splitter for the job. Don’t get me wrong, I love the raw power of big vertical log splitters and the power and portability of gas powered wood splitters is great. But if you’re splitting logs around the house then the clean, relatively quiet operation of a good electric wood splitter can’t be beat.
The trick is to make sure that you get the right one. We’ve put together a buying guide that lays out the different factors to take into consideration before making your purchase. For the majority of around the house log splitting needs you’ll be looking in the 4 to 7 ton range.
Yes a 10 ton log splitter is great but they get pretty pricey and for the kinds of logs you’ll be splitting around the house it’s probably an overkill. In our reviews we’ve focused on the best electric log splitters in the 4 to 8 ton range. It was a tough decision to come up with the best ones but we narrowed it down to our top 10 best electric wood splitter list.
Electric Log Splitter Reviews
Choosing the best electric wood splitter between some of these units was like deciding which of my children was my favorite. When we put these reviews together we looked at the best combination of price, performance and features. Here are the products that made it into our top 10.
It was a tight race between the top 3 but if money was no object then this unit from Pow’ R’ Kraft is our top pick. The 7-ton splitting force is a great compromise between the smaller compact units and the really bigger 9 and 10-ton splitters.
It’s not the cheapest splitter but the more we worked with it the more we realized that there’s a good reason for that. The construction of this splitter is really good. It’s an all steel body so it’s probably going to be the last log splitter you ever buy. This is a serious piece of equipment so you’ll need help getting it on and off the back of your truck.
It’s got wheels and a handle but it’s not something you want to be moving around a whole lot. It’s got a powerful 3HP motor and easily manages logs up to 12-inches in diameter (it’ll actually do a lot more) and 20 inches long with ease. When you’re splitting thick pieces you’re going to want all 7-tons of splitting force. When you are splitting smaller pieces and want more speed then you can set it to the faster 4-ton power setting. This means you’ll have one log splitter that gives you the power for splitting the big stuff with the speed that you want when you’re chewing through the smaller pieces. This unit is a beast!
Boss Industrial make great log splitters and this 7-ton splitter is awesome! It’s only got a 2-HP motor but don’t let that fool you because this product has some serious splitting power.
The high quality motor and professional grade hydraulics combine to make a really powerful log splitter. Boss claim it has 10-inch capability but we found that it can ease it’s way through logs 14-16-inches wide.
It’s really easy to use too. The one handed operation and automatic ram return makes it easier to be able to split wood quickly when you’ve got a big pile to work through. It’s fairly compact but is solidly built. This means that although it has a handle and wheels it’s not exactly easy to quickly wheel from place to place. Set it up near your pile and get to work. It’s pretty low to the ground so we recommend raising it a little when in use.
If you’re looking for a great compact splitter then this 4-ton option from Pow’ R’ Kraft is perfect. It’s ideal for splitting logs of 10 to 12-inches thick and 20-inches long. If the wood is really dry then 12-inches shouldn’t be a problem at all.
If you do end up pushing it a little too hard then the safety cutout will switch the motor off to protect it. If this happens you need to press the reset switch and remember to take it a little easier.
This machine needs two handed operation. I know some people prefer the convenience of single handed operation but the safety aspect of the two handed operation is always a good idea. Wood splitting can be really repetitive and it's so easy to lose concentration. This way there's no chance of doing yourself any damage when you get into the wood splitting zone.
At 8-tons this is one of the bigger log splitters we reviewed. I can’t imagine you’ll have too many logs lying around your property that this beast won’t be able to split. It made light work of pretty much everything we threw at it. The 2-HP motor and quality hydraulics pack a real punch.
While it’s not a huge piece of machinery I certainly wouldn’t describe it as compact. At 160 lbs you’re going to probably need a hand shifting it around the yard.
What really impressed us is that it makes use of Boss Industrial’s patented 2-way split technology. This means that you can split 2 logs in one cycle. How this works is that you put a log into the splitter and once it has completed the split at the far end you place another log into the cradle on the near end. When the ram returns it splits the second log on the near side. This means that there's no need to wait for the ram to return home before splitting more wood. If you want to split wood fast then this dual action operation makes a big difference. It will split wood almost as fast as you can load it.
So we were a little skeptical about how good this 6-ton log splitter would be when we saw how low the price was. I mean, it’s cheaper than a lot of 4-ton wood splitters so where’s the catch?
Once you start using it you quickly realise that there’s no reason why a really good 6-ton splitter should cost you a lot of money. It’s a two handed operation machine and the powerful 2HP motor will have you splitting logs up to 10 inches without any fuss.
It only weighs 100 pounds and the handles and the 6 inch wheels make it pretty easy to move around. We didn’t like that the controls were a little on the low side. It’s a good idea to lift the splitter a little so that you don’t end up killing your back while using it. It’s not surprising that this splitter gets such good reviews from users. Some people have reported some reliability issues (we had no problems) so it might be a good idea to add the 4 year warranty. Even if you decide to spring for the extra cost of the extended warranty this is still a great deal.
If you’re looking for a compact log splitter that you can easily use in the shed or around the yard then this 4-ton unit is great.
At this price point you’d be hard pressed to find another wood splitter with the same performance or durability. It has a 1.75HP motor and will split logs of up to 20 inches long and up to 12 inches in diameter.
It requires two handed operation so you need your right hand on the push button and your left hand on the lever to activate it. Once you release both the switch and the lever the log pusher automatically returns to the start position. A lot of splitter manufacturers claim certain tonnage when it comes to splitting force and can’t back it up. This unit delivers true 4-ton splitting. This is also one of the quietest log splitters we reviewed.
You’re not going to notice a big difference between a 4-ton wood splitter and a 5-ton unit. That being said, this unit from Boss Industrial is a really well made, rugged unit and is perfect for splitting logs up to 10 or 12 inches.
While we’re always careful when it comes to safety a lot of people prefer splitters like this that can be operated with one hand. Once you’ve split the log and let go of the lever the ram returns to the starting position automatically. This is always a nice feature because it gives you an opportunity to pick up the next log while the ram moves back into position by itself.
I don’t like the idea of lifting heavy logs up onto a log splitter on a stand but if I were to buy one it would be this guy.
It’s a 5-ton log splitter that comes with it’s own stand and has pretty good splitting performance. The ram doesn’t go all the way through to the cutting wedge though and stops about 7 inches short of it. This is fine if you’re splitting longer logs but if the logs are a little short then the ram travel isn’t enough to split them all the way. An easy way to get around this is to just put one short piece in behind the other. That way the front one gets split and then you do the same again with the next piece. The stand height felt fairly comfortable but the legs were a little wobbly.
If I bought this unit I’d probably fix a brace to the legs to make them more stable. It’s a little pricey if you just consider the splitter but if you are thinking of buying a splitter and a stand then this will probably work out a little cheaper.
The word “Powerhouse” is completely justified when describing this splitter. It comes with a 3HP motor that delivers 7 tons of splitting force.
It will accommodate logs of up to 20.5 inches long and will split logs of up to 12 inches. Well, that’s what the manufacturer says. It’ll actually cope fine with logs quite a bit thicker than that.
The ram travel distance is just over 15 inches so it will work well with shorter logs as well. It calls for 2 handed operation and the ram will automatically return when you release the lever. It takes about 5 seconds for the ram to get back into position so you’ll be able to split and load wood pretty quickly.
OK, so I felt a little bad that this great splitter ended up at the bottom of this list because it is a pretty good product. When you first see how compact it is you’ll wonder if it’s really going to be up to the job.
Once you start using it you’ll realize that dynamite really can come in small packages. Using the word "Earthquake" in the product name is maybe overselling it a little but it handles logs up to 20 inches long and up to 10 inches in diameter with ease.
It’s built rock solid and we really liked the sturdy feet it has. The handles have a nice rubber coating and combine well with the good quality wheels for easy transport.
Log Splitter - Gas or Electric?
A lot of people will tell you that to get the best log splitter you need to get a gas log splitter. This simply isn’t true. Yes there are some great gas powered wood splitters and we've reviewed some of the best log splitter options on the market. The thing is that unless you’re clearing land or splitting some serious volume there’s really no need to spend the kind of money they cost. Yes, gas powered splitters are more powerful but electrical splitters are going to cope just fine with the majority of the wood you’ll have around the yard. Here are some great reasons to buy an electric splitter rather than a gas powered one:
Fumes - There aren’t any. You only need to stand next to a gas wood splitter for a while to know that breathing in the fumes isn’t much fun. With an electric splitter splitter you don’t have any fumes at all.
Maintenance - Gas powered splitters need more maintenance. At some point you’ll be replacing spark plugs and doing oil changes. No such problems when you go electric.
Convenience - A gas powered log splitter is, well, gas powered. That means that you’re likely to be half way through your splitting job and then realize that you’re out of gas. With an electric unit you just need to be sure that you’ve got the right gauge extension cord and that it reaches the power outlet.
Indoor use - If the weather is lousy and you want to split some wood in the garage or shed then an electric splitter is perfect. If you try this with a gas powered unit you’ll get carbon monoxide poisoning.
Quiet - Electric splitters are nice and quiet. Gas powered units can be pretty noisy.
Electric Log Splitter Buying Guide
The more you look at different log splitters the more you realise that there are loads of variations and options and that the best log splitter option may just be electric. Understanding the different options and features that electric log splitters have will help you choose the right product for your needs. These are the main things to look out for:
Tonnage or Splitting Force
Most splitters will quote a tonnage to indicate their splitting force. Sometimes this figure is quoted in pounds as well with 2,000 pounds being equivalent to 1 ton. The tonnage gives you an idea of how much force the ram is capable of exerting on the log when it gets up against the cutting edge. The higher the tons the thicker the logs the unit can split.
Log Length Capability
This figure indicates the maximum length of log that will fit into the cradle of the splitter. If possible, it’s a good idea to understand the ram travel distance. Some will go most of the way to the blade while others may stop as far as 7 inches short of it. The longer the travel the easier it will split shorter logs.
Log Diameter Capability
This is an indication of the maximum diameter of the log that the splitter is capable of processing. When looking at this figure you need to take it with a pinch of salt. If it’s a reputable manufacturer like the ones we reviewed above then they’re probably being conservative. They may say it’ll cut up to 12 inches but it’ll probably do more than that. If it’s some cheap unknown brand then the figure they quote is probably higher than it should be.
Understand that the log diameter figure refers to seasoned, or dry, wood. Don’t expect your splitter to cope with a really thick log if it’s green.
Amperage / Motor Current
The amount of current that the motor draws should be something you take note of for two reasons. Firstly, do you have a power outlet that can supply what the motor needs. If your splitter draws 20A but your outlet circuit breaker is only rated at 15A then you’re out of luck. Also, make sure that nothing else is running of that breaker when you're using it to power your splitter. You don't want the motor to have to share that current with any other appliances.
The second reason this motor current figure is important is because it determines the gauge of the extension cord you need. Make sure that you get an extension cord that is rated at least the same as the motor current and preferably a little more. For a 15A motor a 12-gauge extension cable 25-feet long should be fine. The longer the extension cord the more reason you have to make sure the gauge is a little heavier.
Two Handed Or One Handed Operation
Safety is always a concern when operating machinery with moving parts. If the machine is designed to cut or split then there’s even more need for caution. A lot of manufacturers design their log splitters so that you have to hold a button in with one hand while pressing the lever with the other hand. The idea is that if both hands are occupied then you can’t get your fingers caught in the moving bits of the machine. Sometimes the location of the lever and the button make two handed operation a little uncomfortable. But these are the safest option.
Single handed operation means just that. Once the machine is on you can get the ram moving forward to split the log by pressing the lever with one hand. This means that the responsibility for keeping your other hand is up to you so pay attention.
Auto Return Function
Some splitters require you to reverse the lever to get the ram to go back to its starting position after splitting the log. The better units will have an auto return function. This means that after splitting the log you can release the lever and the ram will return to the starting position automatically. This really saves you a lot of time if you’ve got a bunch of wood to get through.
Important! - Hydraulic Vent
Most log splitters have a hydraulic vent that needs to be left open during operation and closed when being transported or stored. Make sure you read your manual and remember to open the valve when using the machine otherwise you’ll damage your splitter.
Electric log splitter stand - Should you get one?
If you’re going to be lifting heavy logs all day do you want to lift them a long way or just a short distance? The answer to that question helps you to understand why most log splitters are so low to the ground. Being low to the ground though means that you need to bend down to operate the lever which can be a bit uncomfortable. This is why some people prefer to buy a stand for the splitter.
The best log splitter stands we saw are at the perfect height to stand next to and operate but are not at a convenient height for lifting logs onto. Also, the higher they are the further the logs fall after being cut. This increases the odds of doing some serious damage to your toes if you manage to get your foot in the way.
It really comes down to personal preference but our advice is to forget about buying one of these stands and rather just make your own. If you cut two flat discs about a foot long off of one of your logs and place them on a level piece of ground then you’ve got a great stand. Two breeze blocks make a nice cheap and sturdy stand as well.
Log Splitting Safety
It should probably go without saying but when you’re operating a piece of equipment that can exert several tons of force then you need to take care of your safety. If you’re like me and your mind tends to wander when doing something repetitive then make sure you get a splitter that requires two handed operation. Don’t think that goggles and gloves are for wimps, they’re for people that enjoy having eyes and fingers.
If you manage to get a log stuck on the splitter do not try to remove it while operating the machine. Even if it is a 2-handed operation splitter always make sure that you switch it off or unplug it before trying to free the wood. Yes it’s a little inconvenient but not nearly as inconvenient as going through life with less than 10 fingers.
With so many options it can be a little daunting to decide on which product to buy. It’s important to understand that you could probably buy any one of the units we reviewed above and be very happy with your purchase. But, if you know for sure that you’re going to be splitting some pretty thick stuff then don’t get a 4-ton log splitter. Rather go for one of the 7-ton units.
If you know that you’re not likely to have to deal with anything over 10 inches very often then save your money and avoid the temptation of getting a 7-ton unit. The 4-ton splitter will be fine for your needs. Whatever you do, don’t try and save a few bucks by buying a cheap product. Be sure to read a lot of electric wood splitter reviews so that you know what to look out for. Doing some research so that you can buy the best electric log splitter for the money is an investment that will pay for itself in the long run.
How much is a cord of wood?
If you’re buying logs to split then it’s important to have an idea of how the quantities of logs is expressed. If you buy logs the supplier will normally give you a price per cord. A cord of wood is equivalent to a pile of logs that is 4 feet high by 4 feet wide and 8 feet long. This gives you a volume of 128 cubic feet. How much wood actually occupies that volume depends on how thick the logs are. Thicker logs will result in bigger gaps between logs when stacked. If you were to split a cord of logs into firewood you’d end up with a stack of around 85 cubic feet. Normally if someone asks me “How much is a cord of wood?” I just tell them: “It’s a lot!”.
How To Season Wood
Logs need to be properly seasoned before trying to split them even if you have the best log splitter in town. There’s a good reason why we use the word “season” to describe the drying out process of wood. It’s because it generally takes a season for the cut logs to get rid of their moisture and dry out nicely. The best way to have seasoned wood today is to have cut it last year. This isn’t something you can rush so make sure that you cut the wood about 6 months before you intend splitting it.
Once you’d cut the logs you need to stack them properly. You want to do this in a way that makes it as easy as possible for the logs to “breath” and get rid of that moisture. Ideall you want to get the logs up off the ground with their ends facing the prevailing wind.
Also, make sure that you don’t stack the logs under trees or a leaky gutter where water will run off onto the logs. If you do that you’ll end up with wood that is wetter than when you cut it.
To give yourself the shortest time to seasoned wood it’s a good idea to fell the trees during winter. This is the time of year when the trees will have their lowest moisture content. During the growing season the trees will have more moisture in them and will take longer to season once cut.
Log Splitter Safety
If you’ve ever split a really thick log of hard wood then you know from the sound it makes that there’s a lot of energy involved in the process. Even if you’re using something as small as a 4-ton electric log splitter it’s really easy to do yourself an injury. If you plan on keeping all your fingers, eyes and hearing then make sure you play it safe.
Wear gloves - Gloves aren’t going to save you if you manage to get your hand between the log and the ram but they will prevent you from getting splinters. If you pick up and shift logs all day without gloves then you’re guaranteed to end up with a splinter. There’s nothing quite like a tiny little piece of wood in your finger to bring a tear to your eye.
Wear goggles - When logs split you can end up with pieces of wood shooting in all sorts of directions. Normally you’d be standing behind the ram and any pieces will shoot away from you but it’s not worth taking a chance. Get some decent goggles and don’t operate the splitter unless you’ve got them on.
Check the log - Pay extra attention when splitting logs that have knots in them or that aren’t particularly straight grained. These have a tendency of coming away at funny angles when splitting.
Rest - Operating a log splitter when you’re tired is very risky. Rather take a break and carry on later. Splitting wood is a very repetitive task and it’s easy to lose concentration once you get into the zone.
Wear the right clothes - Make sure you’re not wearing loose fitting clothing that can get caught in the moving parts of the splitter. Don’t even think of splitting logs barefoot or while wearing sandals. Get a decent pair of work boots, preferably with steel toe caps. Dropping a log on unprotected toes is no joke.
Team work - If you’re working with someone make sure you communicate what you’re doing and keep a careful eye on each other. If you’re operating the splitter and your partner is loading the logs make sure his hands are free before pressing that lever.
From what we covered above it’s clear that choosing the best wood splitter isn’t a simple decision. It’s very important to understand where you intend to use it and the kind of wood you’ll be cutting. Making your decision between gas, electric and manual is absolutely crucial.
Decide if you really need all that power from a gas unit or if you prefer having a quieter electric splitter that doesn’t give off fumes. Choose the right tonnage for your needs. Don’t spend a fortune on a 22-ton log splitter when all you need is a 7-ton unit. Also, don’t try and save a few bucks by buying a lighter splitter and then wonder why it won’t split 20 inch logs.
Be prepared to spend a bit more to get a top rated log splitter rather than a cheaper log splitter brand. Before making your purchase make sure that you read a number of log splitter reviews to make sure that you’re buying the best log splitter for the money.
Product Images Sourced From Amazon.com