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Last updated: January 09, 2021
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If you want to turn a pile of cut lumber into firewood for the winter, there is no tool more useful than a commercial log splitter. Whereas residential log splitters are typically manual and require a ton of labor to produce a cord of firewood, the commercial log splitters have either a gasoline or electric engine. The automatic splitter does the hard work of chopping wood for you, making the job safer, faster, and easier so you can scale up the amount of firewood you can produce.
In order to help you find the best commercial log splitter, we looked at a number of important features of these tools. First, we considered the engine and pump type, which can dramatically affect the performance of the splitter. We also looked at the splitting force, which is determined in part by the engine and pump specifications, since this indicates what types and sizes of logs you’ll be able to split. Finally, we considered whether each splitter cuts vertically, horizontally, or both, since this can make a difference if you plan to split massive logs.
We spent tens of hours reviewing technical specifications and customer reviews for the most popular commercial log splitters on the market today to find the five best splitters, highlighted in the table below. Continue reading for detailed reviews of each splitter, complete with pros and cons. Our buying guide covers everything you need to know about choosing the commercial log splitter that’s right for your needs, and finally we announce our three overall favorite splitters.
This extraordinarily powerful commercial log splitter from RuggedMade is a favorite among users thanks to its ability to split nearly any type of wood. The 420cc Raven engine offers a whopping 37 tons of splitting force, which allows it to handily push through hardwoods up to the splitter’s 24-inch maximum diameter. In addition, this splitter offers a 30-inch log length capacity that is not matched by any of the other splitters that we reviewed.
Another aspect of the design that set this splitter apart for many users was how well it worked to save their backs from pain when loading and unloading the splitter. The cradle is at a height that requires very little bending over for a person of average height. Plus, split logs are easily rolled out of the cradle and onto the liftgate at the side of the splitter so they can easily be stacked or moved onto a cart.
The 22 GPM pump is among the fastest recycling pumps on any commercial log splitter that we reviewed, so much so that few users are able to keep up with the pace of the nine-second cycle time. Users also appreciated that the splitter can be started with either an electric start or a more traditional recoil, which increases the durability of the splitter since it is not an issue if the electric starter fails.
Users did report issues with the instruction manual for this splitter, noting that it is extremely difficult to assemble without turning to other users for advice. In addition, this splitter does not have the ability to split vertically – which can be a deal breaker if you expect to be splitting logs that are too heavy to lift. The one-year warranty is also somewhat short given the high price of this splitter.
Users love this commercial log splitter from Swisher for its ease of use. The 14.5-horsepower, Kawasaki V-Twin engine is capable of putting out 34 tons of force, so you never have to worry about whether the splitter has enough power to push through your logs. The cradle is also large enough to fit 24-inch diameter and 24-inch long logs – essentially, if you can pick it up, the cradle can fit it. For those logs that are too large to pick up, the splitter can switch over to vertical splitting with just a minute of adjustments and has a beam lock to improve safety and security when operating in the vertical orientation.
Users loved the electric starter on this splitter, although it is worth noting that Swisher does not include a battery so you’ll need to add this to the overall cost of the splitter. Swisher does not specify a cycle time on this splitter, but the two-stage, 22-GPM pump is on par with splitters rated for roughly 10-second cycle times – faster than even a pair of operators can keep up with.
Swisher also includes a four-way wedge with the splitter, which is extremely useful when you want twice as many smaller pieces of wood rather than large logs. Users especially liked the small lift next to the cradle, which collects split logs at an easy height to grab without bending over rather than allowing them to fall to the ground.
Users did not encounter any issues with the durability of this splitter, but several wished for a longer warranty than the two-year policy provided by Swisher considering the high price of the tool.
This modestly priced commercial log splitter from Champion is something of a steal given the amount of power the massive 338cc Champion OHV engine packs in. The splitter is capable of producing 25 tons of splitting force – enough for all but the largest-diameter hardwood logs – and has a two-stage, 22-GPM pump to allow a fast 12-second cycling time. Although the cradle is limited to 24-inch length logs, in contrast to the 30-inch maximum on the RuggedMade splitter, this splitter is capable of converting between horizontal and vertical splitting modes to help you cut through logs that are too heavy to lift.
This splitter has some design advantages as well as a few minor flaws. For example, the 24-inch diameter cradle is helpful for allowing you to split large logs and fully utilize the 25-ton power of the engine. The engine also has a low-oil shutoff to help prolong the life of the engine, even if you are not good about maintaining it. On the other hand, the engine does not have a hydraulic oil filter and users did not love the recoil start on this engine. In addition, users did not appreciate the fact that the wheels are only designed for a maximum road speed of 45 miles per hour – too slow to travel on many highways. There is also no detachable front wheel to help you transport the splitter after you arrive at your work site and unhitch it from your truck.
The splitter does require a significant amount of initial assembly, although users reported that this could be done in less than an hour with a two-person team. Champion offers a two-year warranty, which users liked given the low price of this splitter.
This log splitter from NorthStar makes it easy to get to any work site, which is a major advantage for commercial firewood sellers who are frequently moving between log sites. In addition to the two-wheel mount and hitch that most commercial log splitters come with, this splitter has a detachable third front wheel that makes it easy to move the splitter around after it is detached from the truck. Plus, the splitter has integrated tail lights to make it easy and safe to drive between work sites.
The splitter is built with a reliable Honda GX390 engine that users report will last for years to come – as evidenced by NorthStar’s four-year warranty when using the splitter for residential splitting. The engine is also designed with a large hydraulic fluid reservoir to facilitate cooling, which helps prolong the engine life. Although the engine does not have an electric starter, the recoil is very reliable and typically catches on the first pull. The 37-ton splitting force is also enough to handle nearly all large-diameter hardwoods without resorting to manual splitting, and the splitter can easily switch between horizontal and vertical modes to split large logs.
The pump is not quite as impressive as the engine, with only a 16 GPM air flow rate. The 14-second cycle time is significantly slower than competing splitters, although most users operating the splitter solo did not find this to be an issue. In addition, this splitter is limited to logs 16 inches or less in diameter – a limit that may be an issue for customers who are planning to fell old, large trees rather than work primarily on smaller-dimeter trunks. This splitter, however, can be used in the vertical mode, which somewhat diminished this issue. NorthStar’s limiting the warranty to one-year for commercial users can also be a turn-off for anyone looking for a splitter to cut and sell firewood as a business.
For users who are planning on splitting primarily softwood logs and don’t want to spend a ton on a commercial-grade splitter, there are few choices that represent a better value than this splitter from Dirty Hand Tools. The splitter has a compact 196cc engine and 13-GPM pump, but don’t let those specifications fool you – it is capable of producing 22 tons of splitting force and can cycle in less than 11 seconds. The cradle is also on par with splitters that cost three times as much – it can accept logs up to 25 inches long and 24 inches in diameter. The only catch is that you have to think about what types of trees you are cutting, since 22 tons is not enough force to safely split large-diameter hardwood logs.
The wheels that this splitter is mounted to are approved for high-speed highway travel, making it easy to get between work sites if you plan to use this splitter for commercial purposes. The cradle is also flanked by a small metal platform that allows you to keep split wood at an easy height, rather than simply dropping all of the wood to the ground.
Users report that the splitter is very easy to operate once it is assembled, which takes about an hour to do by yourself. Note that the splitter does not come with fluids, so you’ll need to buy hydraulic oil before it can be used, although it does come with an inline fluid filter to improve the durability of the splitter engine. Users especially loved the three-year warranty on this splitter given the low cost and found that Dirty Hand Tools’ customer service team was very easy to work with when reporting issues upon the splitter’s arrival – rust and damage from poor packaging were common issues.
What we liked:
Three-year warranty and good customer service
What could be better:
Only 22 tons of splitting force
Does not come with fluids
Rust and poor packaging are common issues
Things to Сonsider
Now that you’ve learned more about our five favorite commercial log splitters on the market today, how do you choose between them to get the log splitter that is right for your needs? In our buying guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about commercial log splitters, including how they differ from residential splitters, the features to look for in a commercial log splitter, and how to use your splitter safely.
Commercial vs. residential log splitter
Why opt for a commercial log splitter rather than a residential log splitter, even if you only plan to use the splitter on the trees around your home? There are a few important differences that make commercial log splitters a good choice for many people.
First, commercial log splitters offer more power to split larger and harder pieces of wood. Log splitters are typically rated according to the force they can output, which must be greater than the force required to split a given log. If you are working with either hardwood logs or large-diameter softwood logs, you will likely need more force than any residential log splitter can provide to safely split the wood.
Second, commercial log splitters are designed to make the job of splitting wood significantly easier. Whereas many residential log splitters have a manual design, which makes them exhausting to operate to produce an entire cord of wood or more, commercial log splitters are powered by gasoline or electric motors that automate the work of splitting wood. This makes the task significantly easier and less wearing on your body, which means you can work more safely and scale up your splitting operation in a single day.
The only real downsides to commercial log splitters compared to residential splitters are that they are somewhat more expensive and bulkier. Although all of the commercial log splitters we reviewed come mounted on truck hitches, making them easy to move around, they can still be difficult to move deep into the woods or even to store in your garage if you are tight on space.
Features to consider while choosing a commercial log splitter
How do you choose between the many commercial log splitters on the market to determine which one will best suit your needs? In this section, we’ll cover some of the most important features of commercial log splitters to help you evaluate which of them are essential to your work.
Gasoline vs. electric-powered
Commercial log splitters can be divided into those with gasoline motors and those with electric motors.
The main advantage to gasoline-powered splitters – and the reason why all of our picks are gasoline-powered – is that they offer significantly more splitting power compared to electric splitters. Since you’re choosing a commercial splitter first and foremost for the added power it provides, it only makes sense in many cases to opt for a splitter that will be burly enough to handle almost any log you throw at it, while an electric splitter may leave you splitting your largest logs by hand.
That power does come with some disadvantages compared to electric-powered splitters, however. Electric log splitters tend to be less noisy when operating, which can be helpful if you have neighbors nearby, and require much less maintenance than gasoline-powered splitters – which require routine oil changes and engine care.
Gasoline is also more expensive than electricity, although it can be much more portable through the woods and around your yard if you don’t have a generator to pair with your log splitter.
Horizontal vs. vertical splitting
Most of the time, you’ll be splitting logs horizontally – loading them onto the splitter in order for them to be split. However, when you need to split logs that are too large for you to lift onto the splitter, having a splitter that is capable of vertical splitting can be extremely helpful. A vertical splitter allows you to position the splitter around the log and chop it as it sits on the ground so that you don’t have to pick it up.
Since vertical splitting is typically needed on large-diameter logs, most splitters capable of vertical splitting also provide a significant amount of splitting force. All of the commercial splitters we reviewed, except for the RuggedMade splitter, are capable of both horizontal and vertical splitting.
The splitting force is one of the most important specifications on any commercial log splitter since it gives you an idea of the types and sizes of logs you’ll be able to split.
The force needed to split a log is determined primarily by whether it is a softwood or hardwood and the diameter of the log – larger logs require more force.
In general, any log less than 12 inches in diameter can be split with a splitter capable of about 20 tons of force or less. If you are planning to only split softwoods less than about 24 inches in diameter, you will likely be okay with a splitter packing less than 30 tons of force.
Engine and pump
The engine and pump are at the heart of every gasoline-powered log splitter, so it’s important to take a close look at the size of the engine and the air compression rate of the pump. The size of the engine will dramatically affect the force that the splitter can exert on a log – a larger engine will allow you to split larger-diameter logs and hardwood logs. Meanwhile, the pump affects the cycle rate of the splitter – a pump with a faster air compression rate, typically measured in gallons per minute, will allow the splitter to cycle from one log to the next more quickly.
Electric vs. recoil start
Having an electric motor start on a gasoline-powered log splitter, like on the RuggedMade and Swisher splitters, can be a major convenience when it comes time to use your splitter – especially if you’ll be working in cold weather conditions. If you opt for a recoil start, check customer reviews to make sure it is easy to get the motor running on only a few pulls.
Log length and diameter
Log splitters are also limited in the length and diameter of logs they can accept based on the length and diameter of the splitting shaft. The majority of log splitters can accept logs at most 24 inches in diameter – a practical limit given the amount of force it takes to split logs larger around than this. All of the splitters we reviewed, except the RuggedMade splitter, can accept logs at most 24 inches long as well – the RuggedMade splitter sacrifices vertical splitting options to make room for logs up to 30 inches long.
The cycle time, usually measured in seconds, is the amount of time the splitter requires to reset after splitting a log before it can split another log. Although an extremely short cycle time might seem like an advantage, cycle times on the order of 10–11 seconds – such as on the Dirty Hand Tools, Champion, and RuggedMade splitters – is no problem if you are working alone or even in a team of two since it will take you at least a few seconds to unload and reload logs onto the splitter.
A commercial log splitter is a significant investment, and one that comes with a lot of moving parts (including a gasoline engine) that can break if not designed perfectly. Having a manufacturer’s warranty can thus provide a lot of peace of mind with your purchase. Warranties on commercial log splitters range from one year for the RuggedMade splitter to as much as three years for the Dirty Hand Tools splitter.
How to use a log splitter?
Using a log splitter is relatively simple. Load the log onto the shaft so that it is firmly cradled against the endplate, then use the forward control on the splitter to drive the wedge into the log. Use one hand to hold the top of the log while the wedge enters the log, then remove it once the wedge is splitting. When the log is split, use the controller to put the wedge in reverse.
If the wedge gets stuck at any point, simply reverse it and then push it forward again to help it gain some momentum for the split.
When operated properly, a commercial log splitter can be quite safe – but as a powerful tool, it can also be quite dangerous if mishandled.
Always be sure people and hands are clear of the endplate and the wedge before splitting. A good way to achieve this is to have the person who loads the log be the same person who controls the wedge for that split.
Never attempt to split more than one log at a time, and saw off the ends of your logs so that they present a flat surface to the wedge before splitting.
Whenever you are operating a splitter, safety clothing, boots, and protective eyewear are a must – it is easy to drop a log or for pieces to fly off during the splitting process. In addition, be sure to keep your work area clear of wood pieces so that you don’t trip when working with the splitter.
Yes! A commercial log splitter is great for landscapers and professional wood harvesters, but it is also perfect for home use if you have hardwood trees or large-diameter trees that would be impossible to split with a residential splitter.
Log splitters can split both softwoods and hardwoods, although hardwoods may require a splitter with a higher force rating to get through. Be sure to check whether the wood type and diameter of your logs are compatible with the force of your splitter. Also make sure that the logs are small enough to fit in the cradle of your splitter. If you need a more compact tool to split woods with, you should consider splitting ax or maul for your purposes.
Log splitters typically use non-foaming hydraulic oil or transmission oil, although it is important to check the manual of your particular splitter to see what types or specific brands of oil the manufacturer recommends.
How frequently you need to change the oil in your splitter depends on how heavily you use it. Commercial users who are splitting wood to sell firewood typically change the oil once per year, while home users who are splitting wood only for personal use may only need to change the oil once every several years.
Our three overall favorite commercial log splitters on the market today are the RuggedMade 37-ton Horizontal Gas Log Splitter, the Swisher LSED14534 34-ton Timber Brute, and the Champion 25-ton Horizontal/Vertical Gas Log Splitter. The Swisher and Champion splitters are capable of both horizontal and vertical splitting, making it easy to tackle nearly any log. Users especially like the electric starts on the Swisher and RuggedMade splitters, while the price of the Champion splitter is extremely attractive for users who do not need the splitting forces of the larger splitters. The Swisher and RuggedMade splitters are also extremely easy to use thanks to the log-catching platforms that limit the amount of bending over you need to do. We feel that the RuggedMade splitter is the overall best commercial log splitter thanks to its extreme 37-ton splitting force, nine-second cycle time, and 30-inch long cradle that altogether allow for maximum productivity when working with large and difficult logs.