Log Splitters

Log Splitter Buying Guide – A Guide To Choosing Your Next Log Splitter

On the face of it, it’s easy to assume that most log splitters do the same job, so there can’t be much difference between the varieties out there. It’s there to save you a lot of work and split neat logs for you much more easily, right?

The truth is that choosing the wrong log-splitter for your needs can be disastrous for several reasons. For instance, you can choose one that actually isn’t suited to the volume or the density of the wood you need split, making it effectively useless. On the other hand, you might end up spending much more than you should on a piece of equipment that’s overkill for the task.

In this handy log splitter buying guide we’re going to take a look at the different elements that separate one splitter from the other, and which you should prioritize depending what exactly you need it for.

Types of log splitter

There are a few broad categories that all log-splitters fall into. By and large, these have two families: those that use percussive force, striking the log with enough power to split it with a blow, or using pressure to drive a wedge through the wood. Both have their uses, so we’ll look at the specific types in each family

Percussive

  • Slide-hammer – These are the most traditional type, working like an ax or a sledgehammer but with fewer safety risks. They require more physical labor, but they’re often the least expensive, meaning they can be perfectly suited for those who are just looking to build up a supply of logs once or twice a year.
  • Kinetic – Different from other splitters due to the fact that they don’t have a tonnage limit, rather using a spinning flywheel to apply enough force to cleanly break just about any kind of log. The major downside here is that they’re larger even than hydraulic options and the most expensive.

 

Pressure

  • Manual – The slide-hammer is the powerless option for percussive force while the manual splitter is its equivalent in the pressure family. Again, less expensive, but it still requires physical input. Though, it does require less effort than the slide-hammer.
  • Electric – Whether with a generator or another power source, these can be used in any location with electricity. This makes them one of the most readily accessible kinds, but they’re meant mostly for residential use, most of them unable to handle logs with a diameter larger than a foot.
  • Gas – Most suited for industrial use, gas splitters apply more pressure than electric and can handle bigger loads. There’s a lot of variation between different tonnage in pressure applied, so choosing the right one means knowing your needs. As they are suited mostly for industrial use, they can be very noisy.
  • Hydraulic – For these, you need a tractor to fit them to. This can make them a lot more portable and they also provide more power than any other variety besides kinetic, but it also means they’re mostly suited to those who already have the necessary equipment.

The type of wood you need to split

The tonnage of pressure is mostly going to be relevant when you’re considering what kind of wood you need to cut. All softwoods can be cut with splitters that have a tonnage rating of more than 4 tonnes per six inches of diameter. On the other hand, even the softest hardwood, something like cedar, needs a pressure rating of 7 tonnes per six inches of diameter to cleanly split.

On the higher end, oak needs and harder woods need a full 10 tonnes per six inches of diameter. So, it’s best to choose not the biggest tonnage, but which is the best fit to your needs. After all, getting more splitter tonnage means spending more money. Find out the hardness rating of the wood you want to split in lbs and the diameter of the logs. If they’re larger than six inches in diameter, they require even more tonnage than the numbers mentioned above.

Weight and width capacity will both dictate the range of splitting power any one tool has. Make sure you know both what you need and the absolute limit of what the splitter can handle. Any more can cause real damage to the machine.

Are you splitting green or seasoned wood?

Then there’s the difference between green and seasoned wood. Green wood, in general, is wood that’s been freshly cut from the tree and it often denser with sap. It’s harder to burn, but easier to acquire if you have a ready source of it nearby.

Seasoned wood has been cut and left so the moisture and sap can evaporate. This can be bought from a supplier, but you can cure green wood you’ve chopped yourself, though this takes six months to a year, so it’s not the most residential friendly option. For seasoned wood, any splitter will do the trick and a simple electric setup is enough for most. For green wood, kinetic, gas, and hydraulic might be more effective.

The format that works best for you

There’s some further variation even past the different splitter types and power sources as mentioned, too. First, let’s look at the difference between upright and horizontal splitters. The difference is immediately obvious, but it makes for some subtle changes in how they operate and are best used.

  • Horizontal: These are best for smaller logs. That’s primarily because you have to physically lift the logs onto the splitter. Dual-action logs offer a slightly quicker pace of operation, as they work back and forth, rather than only working in one direction before having to reset their position. You can get a hydraulic log lift to shift bigger volumes onto the splitter, providing it can handle the weight, but that’s an extra piece of equipment meaning more investment.
  • Vertical: The primary benefit of these splitters is that they’re perfect for use with logs that are too heavy to lift. The base is flat, meaning you can just roll them on and just let the ram do the work itself.

There are further differences than just splitter position, too. These options will dictate mostly where you can use them.

  • Tractor-mounted: These are mostly the hydraulic types mentioned above, offering a lot more power to go with portability, making them perfect for farmers and those working on large estates.
  • Towable: These have the same portability to tractor-mounted splitters with the added benefit of being fully road legal. However, they’re not as powerful or suitable for dealing with large workloads.
  • Workshop-use: These are stationary, meaning that they lack the obvious benefit of the other two. Better for those who have stores of seasoned wood in one place, or in industrial settings where wood is kept mostly in one place after it’s cut.

Brand

It’s easy to be tricked into thinking a more powerful motor on a splitter means that it’s better. No, that just means it can potentially cut heavier, larger logs. When it comes to being effective, efficient and durable, you’re best looking at the brand of not only the splitter but the motor. Some of the most reputable brands are as follows:

  • Boss
  • Champion
  • Goplus
  • Northstar
  • Pow-Kraft
  • Southland
  • Wen

Before choosing any splitter, it’s a good idea to look at reviews. If there are none for that particular model, then look at others that the manufacturer has made.

Warranty

Splitters can be expensive, so a warranty is almost always a necessary choice. You should be looking primarily at providers that offer a 2-year extended warranty. For splitters under $400, many providers will also offer replacement plans or repair plans for those over $400. Of course, all warranties depend on how you use your splitter, so ensure you’re aware of its proper operation procedure, safety instructions, log capacities and more. If you use it the wrong way and it breaks, your warranty likely won’t cover you.

It can be a lot to take in, but you need to consider it all to end up with the right log splitter for you. Think about the wood you need to cut first and foremost. Then think of the setting you work in, whether it’s residential, farmland, industrial or otherwise. Use the guide above to narrow down the list of options and eventually you’ll likely be looking at competitors within a certain narrow category of wood splitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*