How to Select the Best Log Splitter?
Whether you’re a professional or a homeowner, you are sure to want the very best log splitter for the money. But how do you go about getting it? And how do you know you’re getting the best deal? It can be all too easy to take a salesperson’s word for it in a store, but you know your needs better than anyone.
This is why we have put together a buying guide, outlining various log splitting tools in order to help you choose the best one for your needs. This includes top rated brands and manufacturers that are renowned for their quality wood splitters and splitting equipment. Review each product and you are sure to find one that stands out to you and services your needs perfectly.
Quite possibly, many people could be under the impression that any log splitter is suitable for any work type. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many different kinds for sale on the market, therefore it’s important to first ascertain the work you will be carrying out.
Are you clearing your backyard of a few straggly trees? Or are you clearing an entire lifestyle block, ready for planting? Don’t pick the first log splitting machine that catches your eye. Read through our buying guide and gain an appreciation for the various styles, makes and models for sale.
Every year, several people from various industries are injured by log splitters. Unfortunately, most of these accidents are caused by people not taking care, or the correct precautions recommended by the wood splitter’s manufacturer. The safety tips below can apply to most log splitters, but largely cover those which are run by engines and/or hydraulic components.
You can reduce the risk of serious injury by doing, or avoiding, the following:
- Never load the splitter until it’s clear of people or obstacles.
- Wear safety clothing, safety footwear, glasses, hearing protection and a hard hat.
- Cut the logs square at each end to prevent the log sliding out during operation.
- Never adjust logs or wood when the machine is running.
- Make sure all safety guards are in place. Never operate without a fully functional guard.
- Know how to stop the machine quickly – many have safety stoppers.
- Do not walk around the log splitter when it’s in use.
- Never split two logs on top of each other.
- When the ram is in motion, never load the log splitter.
- Keep your fingers away from the inner workings of the machine during use.
- Never move the machine while it’s working.
- Don’t leave the machine running while unattended.
- Only run the machine outside in an open area if it’s gas powered.
- Operate it on firm, even and grippy surfaces.
- Ensure the machine is in good, working order with maintenance up-to-date.
- Check all bolts and parts to ensure nothing can come loose and hurt the operator.
- Most importantly, follow all the instructions outlined in the manufacturer’s manual.
Your log splitting machine is only ever going to be good as the operator. This means, you must use the machine as intended, in the conditions it is intended for. Pay particular attention to the engine rating, as well as the log capacity.
You must also keep up-to-date with maintenance in order to run it as efficiently as possible. Use the correct fluids and always replace broken or worn parts with identical parts recommended for your machine.
Log splitter features depend on the type of machine. Many kinds have a hydraulic or electric rod and piston which enable the machine to apply varying forces onto the logs for splitting.
Homeowner log splitters generally can apply 10 tons of pressure, whilst a professional, commercial or industrial log splitter can apply up to 25 tons, or more.
Manual log splitters can have either hydraulic or mechanical leverage to apply pressure on the logs, whilst PTO log splitters rely on the tractor’s power to drive the wood through the splitter.
Maintenance on such a dangerous piece of machinery is very important. Below are some helpful tips to ensure your engine-powered wood splitter stays in optimum working order.
- Follow the manufacturer’s advice and guidelines within your manual.
- Top up and check lubricants and fluids – including fuel.
- Check hydraulic lines to ensure there are no cracks or leaks.
- Check the hydraulic filter and remove any buildup or debris.
- Lubricate moving parts.
- Clean the machine regularly to remove any dirt, dust or debris.
- Store in a clean, dry environment – preferably under shelter.
The best log splitter for the money is one that features everything you require to get the job done, all the while being cost effective. Before you set your budget in stone, it’s best to find out which features you require, and those you can live without.
You may need to be a bit more flexible with your budget in order to get the log splitter that will be suitable for the job at hand.
Most importantly, you should never skimp on quality. This is especially important with such a dangerous piece of machinery. Choose the machine that suits your requirements the best and then decide if you’re prepared to pay a little extra.
Which Log Splitter Type Is Best For You? 3 Most Frequent Usages
Residential log splitters can easily be described as machines which can carry out a range of residential log splitting tasks. They are smaller than a commercial or industrial splitter, and generally have a reduced level of power. However, this doesn’t make them any less sufficient for a range of log splitting tasks.
The best type of residential log splitter is one that can cater to both small and large logs. After all, not all tree branches being lobbed in your yard are going to be small in size. You need to be able to get ample power from your splitter, all the while being suitable for use in close proximity to your neighbours.
The following log splitters are suitable for residential use.
- Electric powered log splitters.
- Gas powered log splitters.
- Pneumatic powered log splitters.
- Manual log splitters.
- Some hydraulic powered log splitters.
There are many reasons why the above log splitters can be used by those in residential areas. Each kind can be purchased as a small and compact unit. This means it can fit through many different garden gates, and can be operated with ease by many people.
Tasks Suitable For
Electric, gas, pneumatic, manual and hydraulic log splitters are suitable for a range of tasks. However, the majority of residential log splitters generally provide up to 10 tons of force and no more. This means you can expect to get all that backyard maintenance completed with ease, without the need to purchase industrial level products that are featured on the market.
Commercial log splitters generally need a bit more grunt than a residential log splitter. However, there are still so many options to choose from.
The best type of commercial log splitter is one which gives plenty of power for an ongoing job, without a huge amount of maintenance.
Commercial log splitter types could include:
- Electric powered log splitters.
- Gas powered log splitters.
- Kinetic powered log splitters.
- Hydraulic powered log splitters.
In a commercial environment, reliability and ease of use is key. That is why only a small amount of electric powered log splitters are suitable, but a huge range of gas, kinetic and hydraulic log splitters are. They are generally more powerful, with many offering force of up to 25 ton, and can be relied upon for a less labor-intensive job. This is vital in large scale jobs.
Tasks Suitable For
Electric powered log splitters can be used accurately and efficiently for a small to medium sized log splitting job. However, gas, kinetic and hydraulic are more suitable for those larger commercial jobs.
For section clearing and large, industrial jobs, you need a log splitter with grunt. However, not just any log splitter type will suffice.
The best type of log splitter for an industrial environment is a gas powered, PTO or hydraulic powered log splitter.
Generally, industrial log splitting jobs are carried out on a large scale. Unlike residential properties, hundreds of trees are being cut for logs, not just one or two. This means the log splitter needs to be able to provide optimum force. It also needs to be reliable.
Tasks Suitable For
PTO, hydraulic and gas log splitters are suitable for a range of log splitting tasks. That is why they are so popular. Versatility is to the fore, and they have the speed, durability and power in order to complete large log splitting operations in the fastest time possible.
7 Available Log Splitter Types on The Market
If you’re interested in a little backyard maintenance and wouldn’t mind benefiting from the extra firewood too, an electric powered log splitter could be for you. Although splitting firewood with an axe is equally as effective, it does require far more labor. So, if you’re looking to save yourself from aching muscles without the hassle of maintenance of a gas powered log splitter, opt for an electric version.
Pros & Cons
- They require minimal, if any, maintenance.
- They are cheaper to own and operate than a gas powered log splitter.
- They are generally smaller and easier to store in a garden shed than other kinds of wood splitting machines.
- They can be used in an enclosed area.
- They are quieter to operate.
- They are easy to transport due to being lightweight.
- They tend to be less powerful than gas powered log splitters.
- The parts are generally not as long-lasting as gas powered log splitters.
- They are bound by the constraints of a power cord.
Deciding to purchase an electric powered log splitter over another kind of log splitter is a big call to make. You have to first work out whether the task at hand is suitable for such a machine.
Will you be splitting tons of wood? Or is it simply going to be used once or twice a year to clear lobbed limbs? Put a bit of thought into its usage before you buy online or instore.
The beauty of an electric powered log splitter is how very little maintenance is required. All you need to do is keep it clean, remove debris and store it somewhere dry and safe. It also pays to check the power cord for any cuts or marks, in case it needs repaired or replaced.
Recommended Usage: Residential or commercial application.
If you’re looking for a bit more power than an electric powered log splitter can offer, a gas powered splitter could be the tool for you. Gas powered log splitters are often preferred by professionals, commercial or industrial operators or even homeowners. They come in several different makes, models and styles as well as with various engine ratings.
Pros & Cons
- They are far more powerful than electric powered log splitters.
- They are quite affordable in comparison to larger splitters such as PTO.
- They can be taken anywhere as they are not bound by cords.
- They are difficult and dirty to maintain.
- They require refuelling.
- They are quite heavy, therefore they’re generally quite difficult to load and require at least two people to lift.
- They are noisy to operate.
The best part about a gas powered log splitter is how versatile it is. Whether you’re a homeowner or a professional, a gas powered log splitter will generally fit into your workspace with ease. All you need to do is work out how powerful your engine needs to be, in comparison to the work you’re undertaking before you purchase one.
Unfortunately, with great power comes a great need for maintenance! In order to make sure your log splitter stays in optimum condition, you need to undertake regular maintenance.
This could include, but isn’t limited to:
- Checking and maintaining fluid and lubricant levels.
- Clearing the machine of debris and keeping it clean.
- Checking and/or replacing spark plugs.
- Lubricating moving parts.
- Checking and/or replacing the filters.
- Ensuring all guards are free from breaks or imperfections.
- Ensuring the hydraulic lines are clear, in good condition and aren’t leaking.
Pneumatic log splitters are less common, and generally less desirable. This is because they are so similar to a standard hydraulic log splitter, yet less reliable and more complex to operate.
Essentially, a pneumatic log splitter is a vertical wedge log splitter which uses a hydraulic jack for pushing up the log. This jack has an air driven hydraulic pump attached to the side. Compressed air drives the air motor which turns the hydraulic pump to force the wood towards the splitting wedge.
Pros & Cons
- They split wood quickly and efficiently.
- They work in a similar manner to a standard hydraulic log splitter.
- More preparation is required of the log to split it, in comparison to a gas or electric splitting machine.
- If you have wide logs, it can be difficult to hold them in place whilst you set the the height of the wedge.
- The compressed air valve is difficult to keep secured in place.
Pneumatic log splitters are best used for small backyard cleanup jobs. This is because of the preparation that needs to take place in order for a log to be split effectively.
Maintenance of a pneumatic log splitter can often be more tricky than that of a gas powered log splitter, or other. This is because the air engine is a complex system that requires the know-how and the experience to fix and maintain.
You must ensure the air lines are clear and well-connected, and the machine must also be free of debris. Due to the severe force the engine produces, it also pays to make sure you have the splitter set up on a flat surface to avoid it moving and potentially damaging parts or people.
A kinetic log splitter is very similar in power to a hydraulic splitter, however, it requires no hydraulic components. Kinetic log splitters aren’t very well-known, nor are they widely used. However, there’s no real downside to their usage in a range of fields.
This machine operates without the need for oil or hydraulics, and uses its flywheel to store and propel energy to its gas engine. It also splits wood approximately 10 seconds faster than its hydraulic counterpart.
Pros & Cons
- One split only takes around 3 seconds.
- It’s equivalent in power to a 34 ton hydraulic splitter.
- You can split over 850 pieces of wood in one hour.
- It uses less gas than a hydraulic wood splitter.
- It doesn’t require oil or hydraulics.
- It uses a flywheel to propel energy from the gas engine.
- They are less commonly used because the operating system is fairly complex for most individuals.
- They are more suitable for commercial or industrial environments.
- Repairs and maintenance can be difficult if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Although the use of a kinetic powered log splitter is a less favorable option, it’s still suitable for a range of users. However, if homeowners plan on using one, they should pay careful attention to the user manual in order to make sure they know how to operate it effectively.
Maintenance of a kinetic splitting machine can be fairly complex. You not only have to maintain the gas engine with fluids and lubricants, but you also need to care for the flywheel. Lubricate all moving parts, check that nuts and bolts aren’t loose, and ensure no debris is stuck in any part of the flywheel or engine.
Hydraulic log splitters come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, regardless of whether it’s manual powered, gas powered, or other, the chance of it having hydraulic components is fairly high.
Hydraulic components within a log splitter are quite important. They work by removing the hard work from the operator, and channeling it into the hydraulic pistons instead.
This, in turn, creates a hydraulic pushing force to accurately and efficiently chop wood. A job that would take someone a fairly long time by hand, all of a sudden takes around 10-13 seconds.
Pros & Cons
- Hydraulic parts don’t require as much operator force.
- They get the job done more efficiently and quickly.
- They make log splitters far more powerful than those without hydraulic parts.
- The cost of repairing lines and leaks can be expensive.
- It’s one more component that needs maintained, on top of a list that can already be quite expansive.
Any log splitting task needing completed can be done with the help of a hydraulic log splitter – or one with hydraulic parts. The hydraulic pistons come in many shapes and sizes, and this can help determine the level of force the particular machine you’re looking at has. If you require a machine with a fair amount of force, choose one with a more durable hydraulic system.
As with most hydraulic components and machinery, the hydraulic parts within a log splitter require a lot of maintenance. Hoses can split or perish, and leaks can appear out of nowhere.
Often, the cost of fixing a hydraulic line can far outweigh the cost of the machine. This, of course, depends on the machine. The smaller, manually operated machines can be fixed with relative ease, whilst the larger commercial machines take a bit of time and money.
The best way to ensure your machine is kept in optimum condition is by running through a checklist every time you use your log splitter. Remember to check all lines, replace or top up all fluids and ensure the machine is free of debris.
PTO (power take-off) log splitters are machines purely operated by tractors or other large machinery. They hook up to your tractor with a 3-point attachment, drawing from the tractor’s engine to power it.
Although they are large and difficult to maintain, they are a preferred option by farmers who love the convenience of being able to haul it around the farm with ease.
Pros & Cons
- They can be transported over long distances behind a tractor or similar machine.
- They draw power from the tractor.
- They are very powerful.
- They can split longer and larger logs than other kinds of log splitters.
- They are only really suitable for those in the agricultural or commercial industry.
- They are very expensive to purchase.
Generally, someone would only purchase a PTO wood splitter if they have a tractor or other similar machine such as an excavator to tow it. As it connects to the power take-off with a 3-point attachment, it’s clear to see it’s a product best suited to the agricultural industry. Not many homeowners will have a tractor parked in their garage!
If you’re a farmer or a commercial worker, no doubt you would have learned to maintain machinery far more technical than a PTO log splitter. So, although maintaining a PTO log splitter is a bit more complex than that of a gas powered or electric powered machine, it’s probably going to be relatively easy for the technical minded.
You just have to make sure you check both the components of the splitter and the tractor or machine operating it. Ensure hydraulic lines are clear, fluids are topped up, and no debris is left in moving parts. It also pays to keep those moving parts well-oiled in order to get optimum efficiency from the machine.
Manual log splitters are the perfect accompaniment to any homeowner’s tool shed or garage. If you require the odd tree to be split for firewood from time to time, it’s the perfect tool for the job.
Not only are manual log splitters virtually maintenance free, but even the ‘manual’ part of the job doesn’t require too much sweat or tears – provided you get the right kind of manual splitting machine.
Pros & Cons
- They require minimal maintenance.
- They are far cheaper to purchase than electric or gas log splitters.
- They suit the needs of most homeowners perfectly.
- Some feature hydraulic components to make the job less labor-intensive.
- They require a bit more effort from the operator to split wood effectively.
- It takes longer to split wood than if you were to use a gas powered splitter.
- The target market is small as they are purely suitable for homeowners.
Manual splitters come in a range of styles and shapes, but they are all only suitable for homeowners. This is due to the labor involved in splitting the wood. An operator could just not cope with a commercial splitting job undertaken on such a small and labor-intensive machine.
Aside from making sure all components are free from breakages, rust or imperfections, maintenance is minimal. You simply need to make sure it’s working as it should, before being able to store it away with ease.
Where to Buy Log Splitters?
Although log splitters have traditionally been purchased in stores, you can often get the best deal when you buy online. Many manufacturers pride themselves on offering consumers the opportunity to read and review online before they make a decision.
They then generally offer competitive shipping rates direct to your door. This removes the need for you to even leave the comfort of your own home! Often, the best log splitting tool for the right price can be found on websites such as Amazon. It’s here you can also read up on what other customers have to say. This can help you with your purchasing decision.
Leading Log Splitter Brands and Manufacturers
- Boss Industrial
- Dirty Hand Tools