Best Log Splitters

11 Best Log Splitters – From Manual to Electric or Gas-Powered Models

40 Models Considered
59 Hours of Research
4 Experts Interviewed
119 Reviews Analyzed

If you use any type of wood-burning stove, wood pizza oven, or use firewood for your fireplace, owning a log splitter is a good idea. The same goes for folks who like to go camping or enjoying a bonfire night out in the back, with friends and family, every now and then. The best log splitter ensures you have enough wood to keep the fire going for as long as you need. Log splitters split all kinds and sizes of rounds with ease and aren't as exhausting and time consuming as the tools you manually use to cut through wood.

In this review, we look at the important features in a log splitter and what to look for when buying one. We explain things like the log splitter type and the differences between each type, the splitting force and why it's important for the kind of log splitting you intend to do, the engine and power, and the vertical and horizontal splitting mechanisms. Is one better than the other? Or should you go for a model that uses both? By the end of the post, you'll be better informed and in a position to make a sound purchasing decision.

Top 11 Log Splitters Review 2018

We've tried out different log splitters over the past couple of weeks because we wanted first-hand experience and hard proof of what the log splitters can do. Our discoveries have been interesting and exciting, and we present it all to you below. We've sorted the information in an easy-to-follow format, with a comparison table, in-detail review of each log splitter, and a comprehensive buying guide to help you along.

Name and FeaturesImageRatingPrice
1. Swisher LS22E (Editor’s Choice)
An electric log splitter with a huge 22-ton splitting force, supporting both vertical and horizontal splitting
Swisher LS22E
2. RuggedMade 37-Ton Horizontal Gas Log Splitter (Best Gas Log Splitter)
A horizontal gas log splitter that can split large and tough logs two- or four-way
RuggedMade 37-Ton Horizontal Gas Log Splitter
3. Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter (Budget Pick)
A sturdy manual log splitter suitable for splitting smaller logs
Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter
4. Logosol Smart Splitter (Best Manual Log Splitter)
A small and lightweight vertical log splitter which is easy and safe to use
Logosol Smart Splitter
5. Swisher LSED14534 34-Ton Timber Brute (Best Combo Gas Splitter)
A gas splitter suitable for vertical and horizontal splitting large and hard logs
Swisher LSED14534 34-Ton Timber Brute
6. Powerhouse Log Splitters XM-880 (Best Kinetic Log Splitter)
A fast kinetic log splitter with an incredible 1-second cycle time
Powerhouse Log Splitters XM-880
7. Sun Joe LJ10M (Best Hydraulic Log Splitter)
A manual hydraulic log splitter with a high 10-ton splitting force
Sun Joe LJ10M
8. WEN 56207 (Best Portable Log Splitter)
An electric log splitter that comes with a stand and large wheels for portability
WEN 56207
9. Boss Industrial ES7T20 (Best Electric Log Splitter for Small Rounds)
A sturdy electric log splitter ideal for quick splitting of medium to small logs
Boss Industrial ES7T20
10. OrionMotorTech 2500W (Best Horizontal Log Splitter)
An electric log splitter with an incredibly short 10-second cycle time
OrionMotorTech 2500W
11. YARDMAX YS0552 (Best Lightweight Log Splitter)
A compact and lightweight electric log splitter easy to move about
YARDMAX YS0552
Features
  • Splitter type: electric
  • Splitting direction: horizontal and vertical
  • Splitting force: 22 tons
  • Max log length: 25.5 in
  • Max log diameter: not specified
  • Warranty: 1-year limited on hydraulic system, 3-year limited on materials and workmanship

More features: 2 HP motor, 13 sec cycle time

OVERALL RATING: 9.9 out of 10

The Swisher LS22E is an electric log splitter with a 120V electric motor. It uses a hydraulic system to deliver up to 22 tons of splitting force, making it perfect for larger logs that may be difficult to split. It has a maximum log diameter of 25 inches and maximum log length of 25.5 inches, which, again, is more than most of us need to split for home use. And with a cycle time of 13 seconds, this splitter is sure to finish any large pile of logs in a short period.

It uses a 2.5-gallon hydraulic tank that is rust resistant. It's critical to ensure there's oil in the hydraulic reservoir before using the log splitter and that the oil is within the safe operating range as indicated by the dipstick marks. Failure to adhere to this can cause severe equipment damage and is a personal safety risk.

The splitter supports both vertical and horizontal positions, so you get to choose what's preferable for you. There's a beam latch that ensures the splitter is firmly held in place when using it in the vertical position. Use the beam lift handle to raise the log splitter, pull the bent lock pin outward, twist, and release to lock the beam in place.

Swisher offers a 1-year limited warranty on the hydraulic system and a generous 3-year, limited warranty on parts and workmanship. The accompanying user manual gives a comprehensive guideline on what might invalidate your warranty. Be sure to read it thoroughly, so that you benefit from the manufacturer's support for the next 3 years.

PROS:
  • Supports both vertical and horizontal splitting
  • Solidly-constructed steel parts
  • Few moving parts
  • 3-year warranty on parts and labor
  • 1-year warranty on hydraulics

CONS:
  • Can't use a 15-amp outlet, uses a 20-amp circuit breaker
  • Not to be used with extension cord
  • Pricey

Features
  • Splitter type: gas
  • Splitting direction: horizontal
  • Splitting force: 37 tons
  • Max log length: 30 inches
  • Max log diameter: 24 inches
  • Warranty: 1 year on parts

More features: 420cc (15hp) Raven, OHV, 4-stroke engine, 22 GPM 2-stage "Hi-Low" pump, pull and electric start, 9/12/15-second cycle time

OVERALL RATING: 9.8 out of 10

The RuggedMade 37-Ton Horizontal Gas Log Splitter is a powerful, heavy duty, gas log splitter with a massive splitting force of 37 tons. This splitter is powered by a 4-stroke, 15hp Raven engine and is equipped with an electric start for a smooth, swift start time. It uses 2-stage, a 22-gallon-per-minute hydraulic pump with rapid return strokes to power the 3.5-inch cylinder ram. It can power through logs up to 24 inches in diameter and 30 inches long. The splitter provides three cycle times for different log sizes. For logs that are 20 inches long, you get a cycle of 9 seconds; for 24 inches, you get a cycle time of 12 seconds; and for 30 inches, you get a cycle time of 15 seconds. You get both power and speed, seeing as it plows through any log in less than 20 seconds.

There is a stroke limiter that allows you to shorten cycle times for smaller logs, effectively saving on time and increasing the splitter's efficiency. A log catcher tray holds all your split logs, so you can simply pick them off the tray and to your desired destination without bending to pick them off the ground.

It comes with a log lift with a capacity of 300 pounds, allowing you to load and lift as many logs as it can hold in one go. It saves on time and you don't have to lift and carry huge logs to the splitting table. The lift can be easily removed for towing and storage.

A slip-on four-way blade gives you more versatility and enables you to split logs to smaller pieces faster when needed.

The is a heavy machine at 1,097 pounds, but the 12-inch wheels and 2-inch tow hitch make it easy to move and tow. RaggedMade gives a 1-year warranty on parts.

PROS:
  • Smooth electric start
  • Includes a split log tray
  • Log lift
  • High capacity splitter
  • High splitting force
  • Can split large, tough logs
  • Splits logs four-way
  • Adjustable stroke restrictor
  • Auto return detent valve
  • Road towable

CONS:
  • Noisy
  • Pricey

Features
  • Splitter type: manual
  • Splitting direction: vertical
  • Splitting force: n/a
  • Max log length: unlimited
  • Max log diameter: 6.5 in
  • Warranty: 5-year

OVERALL RATING: 9.7 out of 10

Pick the Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter if you normally split small logs and make lots of kindling. This compact manual log splitter is made from hardy cast iron and weighs 10 pounds. It has a maximum log diameter of 6.5 inches, so limit your logs to this width as the log has to go in through the splitter's 6.5-inch ring and onto the wedge. The log length is unlimited, however, and you can place logs of any size on the splitter, both short and extra-long. Just ensure that you can reach the top of the log because this is where you'll need to hit to force the log down onto the splitting blade.

To use the splitter, mount it on a platform. There are bolt holes which you can use to tightly screw on the splitter onto your chosen base. No further assembly is required. Take your log and using a hammer (any size hammer will do, as long as you can lift it comfortably. Try a 3lb for a start) hit the top of the log to force it on to and through the splitting blade. The log will split into two, with the resulting logs falling on either side of the blade. It only takes one strike to split small logs. Larger or harder logs might require a couple more strikes.

This splitter is very easy to use and fairly safe. Just be careful not to whack your fingers with the hammer, as you need to support the log with one hand as you bring down the hammer using the other hand.

The manufacturer offers a generous 5-year warranty. We don't anticipate the splitter will give you any foreseeable trouble though.

PROS:
  • Sturdy cast iron construction
  • Super easy to use
  • No noise
  • Can use indoors
  • Great pricing
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty

CONS:
  • Doesn't split logs bigger than 6.5 inches
  • Requires some stamina
  • Does not come with a splitting base

Features
  • Splitter type: manual
  • Splitting direction: vertical
  • Splitting force: 7.7 lbs
  • Max log length: 21.6 inches
  • Max log diameter: unlimited
  • Warranty: 2-year, 2-month money back guarantee

OVERALL RATING: 9.6 out of 10

The Logosol Smart Splitter is a little, manual log splitter that makes easy work of splitting small logs and cutting kindling. It delivers the splitting force via a hammer, which is clearly labeled with the striking weight, in this case 7.7 tons. The hammer is separated from the wedge by a nylon washer. All you have to do is place your log on the base, then lift the splitter by the handle and place it on top of the log, and then lift the hammer and drop. The force will then split the log and you can re-split the split logs as many times as you like to get the sizes of logs you desire. The nylon washer will begin to wear out with time, but it is replaceable.

The splitter does not come with a splitting platform, so you have to improvise a base. Usually, a large, stable log will do. Drill a hole on this log base using the bit that comes with your splitter, and then insert the splitter rod in it. It's on this rod that you then insert the handle with the splitting axe, kindling axe, and hammer. That's all the assembling there is!

Very lightweight and easy to operate, this splitter also carries minimal risk of injury. Part of the splitter holds the log you're splitting firmly, ensuring that it doesn't slip.

Because you're providing the power needed to activate the 7.7-ton splitting force, it may not be possible to split plenty of logs at a go. The splitter has a maximum log length of 26 inches and an unlimited log diameter. If splitting very wide logs, a tip you can try is splitting the log from the edge and adjusting the positioning and angle as it becomes smaller.

It comes with a 2-year warranty and a 2-month money-back guarantee.

PROS:
  • Small and lightweight
  • Easy to operate
  • Fairly safe to use
  • Easy to carry
  • Takes up little storage space
  • Low pricing

CONS:
  • Requires some stamina to operate
  • May not split tough logs
  • Does not come with a splitting base

Features
  • Splitter type: gas
  • Splitting direction: horizontal and vertical
  • Splitting force: 34 tons
  • Max log length: 24 in
  • Max log diameter: 24 in
  • Warranty: 2-year limited

More features: Kawasaki V-Twin, 14.5 HP engine; 2-stage 22 GPM pump, electric start

OVERALL RATING: 9.5 out of 10

The Swisher LSED14534 34 Ton Timber Brute uses a 14.5 HP, Kawasaki V-Twin engine and a two-stage 22 -gallons-per-minute pump for optimal power and cycle time. The oversized cylinder is deliberately made so to deliver maximum splitting force. An electric start ensures a smooth, start up so you can turn it on and immediately get to work. Its 34-ton splitting force is enough to plow through any type of wood. It has a maximum log length of 24 inches and a max log diameter of 24 inches. This means you'll be able to split most logs if you're a heavy wood user.

This splitter works in the vertical and horizontal position, giving you options and versatility in splitting. A vertical beam holds the splitter firmly in position when you elevate it to the vertical position, so there's no risk of injury.

You can use the two-way blade or add the four-way split to get smaller logs in half the time. The splitter has a heavy duty log cradle that holds your split logs, so that you don't have to bend to ground level to pick them up.

The LSED14534 weighs 751 pounds and comes with a sturdy set of wheels for easy moving. A tow hitch is included for easy road towing.

Solid construction, including that of the welded steel hydraulic tank, gives you years of guaranteed good service.

Swisher gives a 2-year limited warranty on parts and workmanship. The price is on the higher side, but if you split multiple cords of wood a year, it is certainly a good investment, given that you'll use it for many years without any glitches, except maybe a few replacements on some small parts over the years.

PROS:
  • Powerful, with high splitting force
  • Splits both vertically and horizontally
  • Effectively splits large and hard logs
  • Includes a 4-way wedge
  • Includes a split log cradle
  • Road towable
  • 2-year limited warranty

CONS:
  • Pricey
  • Battery and hydraulic fluid bought separately

Features
  • Splitter type: kinetic
  • Splitting direction: horizontal
  • Splitting force: up to 12 tons
  • Max log length: 23.6 in
  • Max log diameter: 12 in
  • Warranty: 1-year guarantee

More features: 2 HP motor, 4,900 RPM, maximum cycle time of 1 sec

OVERALL RATING: 9.4 out of 10

Consider the Powerhouse Log Splitters XM-880 if you regularly split plenty of wood. It is super-fast and will go through any pile of wood quickly and efficiently. The electric splitter with a 14.5-amp motor uses a kinetic mechanism, which accounts for its fast splitting speed. It has a cycle time of 1 second, which is the fastest any splitter can split wood. An auto-retracing ram boost efficiency while keeping stroke cycles short.

The XM-800 has a splitting force of 12 tons, a maximum log length of 24 inches, and a maximum log diameter of 12 inches, meaning you'll comfortably split a lot of your logs as most fall within this size bracket. In addition, it has a telescopic wedge with three settings or splitting logs that are shorter than 24 inches. You can set it at the 19", 21.6", or 24" mark for logs of corresponding length.

To operate the splitter, you must use two hands. It's a requirement that ensures maximum efficiency for the splitter and enhanced safety for you.

Its electric motor runs quietly, such that you enjoy splitting your wood and never have to worry about disturbing the neighbors or waking a sleeping child.

It comes with hard-wearing, built-in wheels and a handle for easy transportation. The body is constructed from durable, 3mm, powder-coated industrial steel to give you many years of reliable service.

It's also small and somewhat light at 148 pounds and isn't wobbly to move around or bulky in storage. Its compact design makes it perfect for individuals with a small shed or little space in the garage.

Powerhouse Log Splitters offers a 1-year warranty on both parts and workmanship.

PROS:
  • Compact in design
  • Made in a sturdy, steel construction
  • Telescope wedge for splitting longer logs
  • 1-second cycle time
  • Auto-retracting ram
  • Two-hand operation for enhanced safety
  • 1-year warranty

CONS:
  • Doesn't split massive logs
  • Short warranty compared to competing models

Features
  • Splitter type: manual, hydraulic
  • Splitting direction: horizontal
  • Splitting force: 10 tons
  • Max log length: 18 inches
  • Max log diameter: 8 inches
  • Warranty: 2 years

OVERALL RATING: 9.3 out of 10

The Sun Joe LJ10M manual hydraulic log splitter delivers 10 tons of splitting force, which is commendable for a manual splitter. You have to manually operate the two handles to activate the 2-speed pump that delivers the splitting force. Sun Joe deliberately uses extra-long operating handles for leverage and to maximize efficiency.

It effortlessly splits logs that are, at most, 8 inches wide and 18 inches long, making it ideal for light log splitting work that doesn't involve large rounds or require many hours a day to finish.

It splits wood in the horizontal position and has a log cradle that catches your split logs, so that you don't have to bend to the ground to pick them.

While the ram return spring moves quickly to keep strokes short, it doesn't auto-reset. You have to turn the knob to reset it, but the rod is swift and efficient. To work faster, you can release the wedge half-way instead of releasing it all the way back.

The splitter weighs only 87 pounds and is easy to maneuver around. It also has rear wheels to make moving it a breeze. If you'll be doing your splitting further out in the woods, you can easily load the splitter to the back of your truck to take with you.

This Sun Joe manual splitter has an attractive asking price. If you're not looking to spend much but want to walk away with a tool that gives you value for your money and gets the job done, this is a good choice. The manufacturer issues a 2-year warranty on parts and workmanship.

PROS:
  • Small, compact, and lightweight
  • Made in a sturdy steel construction
  • Comes with a log cradle
  • Long handles for maximum leverage
  • Great pricing
  • 2-year warranty

CONS:
  • Splits small logs best. Takes longer to split bigger logs and may not be able to split massive, hard logs
  • Ram return spring doesn't auto reset
  • It's low set and requires quite a bit of bending

Features
  • Splitter type: electric
  • Splitting direction: horizontal
  • Splitting force: 6.5 tons
  • Max log length: 20.5 in
  • Max log diameter: 10 in
  • Warranty: 2-year limited

More features: 15A motor, 20 sec cycle time

OVERALL RATING: 9.1 out of 10

The WEN 56207 is an electric, horizontal splitter with a 6.5-ton splitting force that runs on a 15A motor. It uses a hydraulic system with 3,263 psi, a 3.7-quart hydraulic tank, and a 14.75-inch cylinder stroke.

It's perfect for the not-so-big logs and will split any small to medium size log with ease. It has a 5-inch sharp wedge which effortlessly cuts through any type of wood. A 20-second cycle time backed by 13,000 pounds of sustained pressure means no log is too hard for this wedge. The splitter has a maximum log diameter of 10 inches and a max log length of 20.5 inches. This is the average size of logs that most people split in their homes, in which case many of the logs are much shorter than 20 inches, so you're covered pretty well.

Running the splitter is two-hand operation and guarantees enhanced safety. There's a firm, soft grip pull handle which makes moving the splitter easy. This is complemented by 5.5-inch never-flat wheels whose large size makes transporting the splitter fuss-free.

It comes with a 34-inch stand which is optional to use. A lot of us who like to operate at height level will find this a welcome addition. But if you're more comfortable operating the splitter at a much lower level, you can omit using the stand. In this case, you'll attach the rod with the wheels directly onto the splitter, so that the splitter sits on the ground.

The splitter sells at a reasonably low price and is good value for money for anyone who isn't looking to do heavy duty log splitting. WEN gives a 2-year limited warranty on parts and workmanship.

PROS:
  • Efficient, time-saving auto return cylinder
  • Adjustable, ram-limiting ring for shorter cycle times and greater efficiency
  • Comes with a stand
  • Large wheels
  • Firm pull handle
  • Reasonably priced
  • Safe, two-hand operation
  • 2-year limited warranty

CONS:
  • Low splitting force makes it unsuitable for splitting large logs

Features
  • Splitter type: electric
  • Splitting direction: horizontal
  • Splitting force: 7 tons
  • Max log length: 20.5 in
  • Max log diameter: 10.5 in
  • Warranty: 2-year limited

More features: 2 HP motor, 9 sec (feed) + 5 sec (retract) cycle time

OVERALL RATING: 9.0 out of 10

The Boss Industrial ES7T20 runs on a 115V, 2 HP motor. With a splitting force of 7 tons, it splits small and medium size logs with ease. The ES7T20 has a maximum log diameter of 10 inches, which is slightly less than what we've come to expect as the average max log diameter, but it meets the need adequately, considering you won't be using it to split massive logs. However, Boss makes up for the limited diameter with a maximum log length of 20.5 inches, which is greater than what many of us split on average.

It's a horizontal splitter and is quite low set. You won't have to hoist the logs up high to set them on the splitting table. Still, this may mean bending over a lot to reposition logs for re-splitting.

This Boss splitter requires only one hand to operate. For folks who like to switch hands as they work down the log pile, this is a great feature. It means your hands won't get tired no matter how long you run the splitter.

The ram automatically returns to the resting position when you take your hands off the lever. The benefits of this are twofold: you don't expend any energy to return the ram to its position, and the instant retreat enhances safety.

This log splitter comes in a small, compact design and won't eat up lots of space in your shed or garage. It weighs only 107 pounds and has large wheels that make moving it around easy.

The price is great and Boss gives a 2-year limited warranty on parts, including the hydraulic, and workmanship.

PROS:
  • Sturdily constructed
  • Easy, one-hand operation
  • 2-year warranty
  • Great pricing
  • Automatic ram return
  • Runs quietly

CONS:
  • Max log diameter of only 10 inches
  • Low splitting force, not ideal for large logs
  • It's low. Lots of bending involved

Features
  • Splitter type: electric
  • Splitting direction: horizontal
  • Splitting force: 7 tons
  • Max log length: 20.5 in
  • Max log diameter: 12 in
  • Warranty: 2-year warranty

More features: 2 HP motor, 10 sec cycle time

OVERALL RATING: 8.9 out of 10

The OrionMotorTech 2500W is a sturdily constructed horizontal log splitter that is as strong and durable as it looks. It has a hardy cast iron wedge and a strong steel body, and should run for years without signs of wear or giving you any trouble.

It's a horizontal, electric piece with a 2300W, 2 HP motor, and a 2.8-liter hydraulic oil capacity. With a splitting force of 7 tons, it comfortable splits logs that are 10 inches in diameter and 20 inches long. Lots of people split roughly about this size of logs, so you'll be able to split most sizes of logs. The splitter is swift and, with a 10-second cycle time, it won't take you long to split a huge pile of logs.

This splitter requires two-hand operation when starting the engine. Hold the on/off button with one hand and the control lever with the other hand, and then switch it on. This safety-enhancing procedure eliminates the risk of injury when operating the splitter.

It weighs 100 pounds and is made in a compact, easy to carry, easy to store design. Two large wheels and an onboard pull handle make moving it around easy.

OrionMotorTech gives a 2-year warranty on parts and workmanship. They also promise to exchange your log splitter if it's defective, so it's advisable to experiment with the splitter a few days after delivery to assess its health and operability, and determine if you need a replacement before it's too late.

PROS:
  • Sturdy, heavy-duty cast iron wedge and steel body construction
  • Waterproof IP, Class B insulation
  • Short, 10-second cycle time
  • Automatic return
  • Two-hand operation for enhanced safety
  • 2-year warranty
  • Free replacement for defective tool

CONS:
  • Low splitting force means it's not ideal for massive, hard logs
  • You have to bend a lot while using it

Features
  • Splitter type: electric
  • Splitting direction: horizontal
  • Splitting force: 5 tons
  • Max log length: 20.5 in
  • Max log diameter: 10 in
  • Warranty: 2-year

More features: 15A motor, 16 sec cycle time

OVERALL RATING: 8.7 out of 10

The YARDMAX YS0552 is a lightweight hydraulic electric log splitter weighing 100 pounds that's easy to move around and easy to store. Doesn't take up much storage space either. It has a 15-amp motor and a 0.93-gallon hydraulic tank for powerful delivery of the pressure needed to split logs.

The splitter works in a horizontal position and has a 5-ton splitting force. It will easily go through logs that are 10-inches in diameter and has a max log length of 20.5 inches.

A cycle time of 16 seconds ensures that you can split piles of logs within a short time. We liked that it has a stroke limiter, which means you can shorten the split time for shorter logs for greater efficiency. There is also a log tray which holds your split logs so they're not falling to the ground. This eliminates any risk of injury you may suffer from falling logs. Two-hand operation guarantees your safety during use.

It comes with a stand to provide a higher, stable work surface. Using the stand is optional. If you prefer, you can just use the benchtop splitter unit without the stand, but with the stand attached, you won't bend much. Attaching the stand is easy and doesn't take much assembly time. This is the only bit of assembly you'll do if you opt to use the stand because the rest of the splitter comes assembled and ready to use. Its wheels are large at 7 inches and add to its portability. The manufacturer gives a 2-year warranty for this splitter.

PROS:
  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Comes with a stand
  • Includes a stroke limited for more efficiency
  • Two-hand operation for greater safety
  • Self-returning stroke arm
  • Log tray to hold logs
  • 2-year warranty

CONS:
  • Low splitting force, not ideal for huge logs

Buying Guide

Now, let's look at what you need to consider when buying a log splitter. You've seen some of the best models currently in the market, but how do you decide which one to pick? We cover all this and go through the features so you know what to look for when choosing between any two log splitters.

What is a log splitter and how does it work?

A1uC5vnVx5L._SL1500_A log splitter is an equipment used to split logs into smaller pieces. It can be manual or powered. The manual variety is ideal to use if you only have a few logs to split or small to medium size logs to separate. But if you have a huge pile of logs or need to split much larger logs, the powered variety is preferred. Powered log splitters can be electric or use a gas engine. Each has pros and cons, so choose based on your specific usage. We list the various pros and cons of each below.

Manual log splitters

Pros

  • They're cheaper than their powered cousins.
  • Inexpensive to run - they do not require a source of energy to operate.
  • You can use them anywhere.
  • They are safe for the environment.

Cons

  • They may not be able to split large logs.
  • Their capacity is limited and is usually determined by how many logs you can split before fatigue sets in.
  • They're more labor intensive as they require you to use your foot to operate the peddle or your hands to turn levers or lift a hammer.

Powered log splitters

maxresdefaultPros of powered log splitters

  • They effectively split large logs.
  • They're high capacity and will split as many logs as needed.
  • They have a high splitting force.
  • They're fast.
  • Electric log splitters can be used indoors.
  • Electric log splitters have no emissions.

Cons of powered log splitters

  • They only split logs that fit into them. If some of your logs are larger and can't fit inside the splitter blade or wedge, the log splitter won't be able to divide them.
  • You cannot use them if you don't have a power supply, for the electric version, or gas, for the petrol version.
  • Gas log splitters may not be used indoors.
  • Gas log splitters emit fumes.
  • They are more expensive than manual log splitters, with gas log splitters being the most expensive of the three variants.

Features to consider while choosing a log splitter

s-l1600You've decided to go with an electric log splitter. Let's now look at the features that determine how powerful the log splitter is and what kind of logs it can actually split. For example, what log diameters and lengths can the electric log splitter handle? Is it high-powered enough to split massive logs?

Log splitter type

All electric log splitters use one of two splitting mechanisms: hydraulic or kinetic. In a hydraulic motor, the energy moves through a small cylinder and over a larger area to press down the wedge. In a kinetic system, the motor powers a spinning flywheel first, which in turn powers the wedge that splits the log when the lever is pushed.

Both systems have unique advantages, the major ones being that hydraulic motors are more powerful, while kinetic systems are faster. However, because of the ability to store power upfront, some kinetic log splitters are more powerful than hydraulic splitters with the same specifications.

Also, the hydraulic system is less complex, and, therefore, less prone to operating hitches and defects, making it more reliable and durable than the kinetic motor. You may notice that many of the log splitters running on a hydraulic motor have a lengthier warranty than their kinetic counterparts. This is because of the complex mechanism and the fact that it has more connecting parts than the hydraulic system.

Horizontal, vertical, or combo splitters

Some log splitters are designed to split logs in the horizontal position. Others are designed to operate in the vertical position, while yet others are built to use both positions. In vertical splitters, you place the log on the table in a horizontal position, and then lower the wedge to divide the log. In the horizontal position, you lay the log down on the splitting tables in such a way that the blade will pierce through one end and out the other.

No splitting position is better than the other. Your choice will be purely a matter of personal preference. With the combo splitters, you can choose to use either the horizontal position or the vertical position. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to lift the splitter and support it in the vertical position before turning on the ignition.

Some log splitters come with a lift which you can lower to the ground, place the log on it, and push the lever to lift it till it's on the same level as the splitting table. Lifts make your work even easier, as you don't have to haul the logs onto the table.

Splitting force

81+IIBG8wJL._SL1500_Splitting force is measured in tons and refers to the force exerted to successfully split a log.  Since the splitter works by basically ramming a wedge against the log, this ramming force is the splitting force. The higher the tonnage, the bulkier the rounds your log splitter can split. Gas log splitters have the highest splitting force, with the most powerful of them capping at 40–60 tons. Electric log splitters follow with a splitting force of between 4 tons and 20 tons. Manual log splitters have the least splitting force, which typically ranges between 6 tons and 14 tons.

If hoping to split a pile of green logs, use a log splitter with a higher splitting force, bearing in mind that green logs are harder to split than seasoned ones and therefore need more power and splitting force.

Engine and power

The engine power determines how powerful the log splitter is, which in turn determines the size of logs it can split. Log splitters with big engines and higher amperage will easily split big, hard logs. Those with smaller engines and less amperage may only split small logs and may not have enough power to split green logs. Specific properties to look at are the horsepower, amperes, and splitting force. Log splitters with higher values in each category have more power and are better suited to split tough logs, while splitters with lower power values have lower capacity and are best suited for splitting small, easy to separate logs.

Log length and diameter

This refers to the maximum log length and log diameter the log splitter can divide. Some log splitters can only split logs that are 6 inches wide, while some will only take in a log that's 20 inches long or less. These dimension capacities are crucial as they determine the size of logs your log splitter can split. If you expect to split many bigger-sized logs, it's advisable to choose a log splitter with a greater maximum log diameter and log length. Otherwise, your log splitter will be limited to splitting small logs only. Likewise, there are log splitters with a max log diameter of 40 inches and a max log length of 30 inches. Examples of log splitters with great diameter and length allowances include the RuggedMade 37-Ton Horizontal Gas Log Splitter, Swisher LS22E, and Swisher LSED14534 34 Ton Timber Brute. With such a log splitter, you'll be able to effectively split bigger logs. Some log splitters have an unlimited max diameter, meaning they can take in logs of any width. This is the best type for heavy duty logs which wouldn't fit in the smaller log splitters. Good examples include the Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter and the Logosol Smart Splitter.

Cycle time

Cycle time refers to the amount of time it takes for the log splitter RAM to split a log and return to the starting position for a second round. The faster the cycle time, the faster the splitter works, and the more logs the log splitter will split. With such a splitter, it'll take less time to split logs. Super-fast log splitters, most of which are kinetic, have a maximum cycle time of 1 second. A good example is the Powerhouse Log Splitters XM-880. But even a 5 to 15-second cycle time is considered fast and will go through a pile of logs pretty quickly.

Single-handed or two-handed operation

Some log splitters require a two-hand operation, where you have to use both hands to turn two levers. With this type, you must push both levers down to operate the wedge. If you only push one lever, the wedge won't budge. This type is considered safer because, in case of any mechanical failure, there will be little risk of injuring yourself. It can be used in both manual and powered log splitters.

The second type requires only one hand to lift or push down one lever to operate the wedge. Placing the free hand in the wrong place when using this type of log splitter can lead to a serious injury if the hand comes in contact with the wedge. Do not attempt to move the log with your free hand once you've begun the splitting process because this can cause serious injury.

Portability

smart-splitter_2Your log splitter comes with wheels for ease in moving it around. When quality wheels are used, only one person is needed to move the log splitter because it's stable. Ensure that the wheels roll with ease and do not jam or move sideways. Some log splitters come with a transport handle, which makes moving them even easier. You can move the log splitter a bit if buying from a physical store.

If buying online, be sure to test the log splitter as soon as it arrives. In case you notice a problem with the wheels, notify the manufacturer or seller immediately and they should be in a position to arrange a replacement.

If the log splitter also has a ball hitch, it means you can tow it elsewhere if needed. Just hitch it to your truck and get moving. Some people like to tow it on the lawn mower. Use whatever works for you, but first, check what the manufacturer recommends so that you don't end up damaging the splitter or putting yourself and other road users at risk. Also, watch your speed when towing the log splitter. Stick to the speed limits for the area where you'll be hauling your log splitter and you should have no problem. Great log splitters for towing include the RuggedMade 37-Ton Horizontal Gas Log Splitter and the Swisher LSED14534 34 Ton Timber Brute.

Warranty

A good log splitter comes with a manufacturer's warranty. Be wary of buying one without a warranty because, should you run into a problem, you'll be on your own. And considering how much money you're spending on the machine, it's only right to have the manufacturer's backing. Some manufacturers offer an all-inclusive warranty that covers the hydraulic, parts and workmanship, while others give different warranties for each – a warranty for the hydraulic and another one for the parts and workmanship. Warranty period can range from one year to five years, so weigh your options carefully, taking note of what's covered and what's left out, so that you're not disappointed when, months down the line, you need repairs or parts replaced.

Also note that when two warranties are given, the warranty for the log splitter mechanism will mostly be shorter than the one given for parts and labor.

How to use a log splitter

6000198639228Log splitters are easy to use. You only have to be careful to eliminate the risk of injury. This you do by familiarizing yourself with the log splitter before using it and knowing the various parts that will be in motion when the log split is in operation. Doing this helps you take note of all the moving parts and ensures you don't place your hands or foot there and suffer an injury. Here's a simplified, step by step procedure of how to use a log splitter:

  1. Ensure that you have enough fuel if using a gas log splitter. If using an electric one, make sure that it is close enough to the electrical outlet.
  2. Turn on the engine and if using a gas log splitter, turn the fuel valve to switch it on.
  3. Place a log on the splitting table.
  4. Push the lever to bring down the axe, maintaining the action until the log is fully split.
  5. Pull the lever to lift the wedge.
  6. Remove the split logs.
  7. Repeat the process for all the logs.

Maintenance tips

Of all three variants of log splitters, manual splitters are the easiest to maintain. They have no running expenses and may only require very little care. Electric log splitters are also easy to maintain and, save for the cost of electricity, they don't much operating expenses. Gas log splitters are the most involving of the three. You incur more running expenses with them because you have to refill the gas each time it's depleted. And with gas being more expensive than electricity, you'll be spending more. They also require a more rigorous maintenance routine than the other two. Here are some tips to maintain your log splitter in top condition:

  • Avoid using the log splitter if it's in questionable mechanical condition. It's good practice to thoroughly inspect the splitter before each use.
  • Tighten any loose bolts, nuts, screws, and hose clamps, and replace any worn or damaged parts, ensuring that any replacement parts you use meet the manufacturer's specifications.
  • Check the oil level before each use. The recommended safety level is indicated by the marks on the dipstick.
  • Avoid using and storing the splitter in a wet environment. Use and store it in a dry, cool place, preferably indoors.
  • Replace the hydraulic fluid as recommended by the manufacturer.

Safety considerations

s-l1600 (1)Most manufacturers use a series of safety features to keep the log splitter as safe as possible during use. These may not be available on all log splitters, so check whether any model you're interested in buying has one or more of these.

  • Some log splitters have non-slip rubber grips which keep you comfortable while operating the levers and ensure you don't accidentally let go of the lever.
  • Some also have clamps to hold the log in place while splitting.
  • Some have emergency stops to instantly stop the engine for enhanced safety.

Additional safety precautions you can take while handling the splitter include:

  • Do not touch the towing handle, the splitting table, or the RAM while the splitter is running. Also, don't tamper with the splitter during operation. For example, removing the vent plug from the hydraulic reservoir while operating the splitter can result in serious injury from hot oil.
  • Always block the splitter wheels using bricks or wooden blocks during operation to keep the log splitter from moving.
  • Always operate the splitter from the indicated 'operator zone' so you have easy access to the levers and can comfortably push them as needed. Your user manual will have this properly illustrated.
  • Never attempt to split two or more logs on top of each other. This can cause serious injury.
  • Never attempt to cross-split the log. Always ensure that you split your logs lengthwise. The log splitter is designer to work along the length of the log, not across the log. When split horizontally, the log may burst and cause injury.
  • Never check for hydraulic fluid leaks with your hands. Instead, pass a piece of cardboard over the area you suspect to have a leak and look for discoloration.
  • Never make alterations of any kind on any mechanical part or motor. Use the log splitter as designed and assembled from the manufacturer.
  • Never use your splitter in the rain or snow. Wet conditions are a safety hazard.

FAQ

Log splitters come with wheels for easy transportation. With the exception of a few, log splitters are too bulky and heavy to lift and carry, so pushing it on its wheels is the safest way to move it from place to place. You can also tow it using your vehicle if you need to use it at a faraway location.

You can split all kinds of woods using a log splitter. Log splitters are powerful enough to split green logs, hardy wood species like hickory, oak, maple, walnut, birch, cherry, beech, elm, and all kinds of tree logs. Their high capacity property means you can use them on any type of wood, wet or dry. Note that it may take longer to split green wood since it's tougher. With a log splitter, you can also split bigger logs than you would with an axe or splitting maul. Most log splitters can comfortably split logs that have a 25-inch diameter, which would be near-impossible to do with an axe.

Yes, when it gets blunt. You'll be able to use your log splitter for a while before the wedge becomes blunt and needs sharpening. How long before you have a blunt wedge depends on how much log splitting you do, so it will vary from person to person. The most important thing is to observe the wedge regularly for signs of bluntness and then take the necessary action to sharpen it. A combination of a coarse metal file and a fine metal file will do the trick. Using the coarse metal file, begin by evening out any imperfections on each side of the wedge. Then slowly smooth the edges on each side to begin the sharpening process. Finish with the fine metal file, taking care to file the entire length of the wedge an equal number of times on both sides.

Yes, provided you stick to the size that matches your log splitting needs. For home use, small log splitters – typically less than 20 tons – are enough. If you'll be splitting much wider logs than is typical, you'll require a bigger log splitter, probably in the 20–40-ton range.

First, check whether the manufacturer of your log splitter has given any specific recommendations for extension cords. If they have, use these. If there are none, use a thick extension code that is just the right size. A thick extension cord is well able to carry the required current where a thinner cord wouldn't. Using a thin cord can lead to a drop in line voltage and power loss, causing your log splitter to overheat. The gauge of the extension code determines thickness and the lower the gauge, the thicker the cord.

Try not to go above 50 feet, because the longer the cord is, the less the amount of power reaching the log splitter. Keep the cord as short as possible to ensure that the maximum amount of electric power reaches the log splitter.

Also, for gas log splitters and when using electric log splitters outdoors, check that the extension cord you use is designated for outdoor use. Using a cord that's meant for indoor use in the outdoors is a safety risk.

Our Verdict

We liked that we could use the Swisher LS22E in both the horizontal and vertical positions. This is a high capacity splitter with a splitting force of 22 tons and was able to split logs that were considerably bigger than what you would, on average, be splitting for your fire. Its solid steel construction and parts that felt strong and sturdy were other winning points for us. For this reason, it takes first position.

Our second best log splitter is the RuggedMade 37-Ton Horizontal Gas Log Splitter, a powerful splitter with 37 tons of splitting force and high maximum log dimensions. It also has plenty of extras, like the electric start, split log cradle, a log lift, a four-way blade, adjustable stroke restrictor, and towing accessories.

Our number three choice is the Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter, a little manual splitter that makes splitting small logs quick and easy. It sells at a great price and doesn't attract any operating expenses. Simply fix it to a base and split away.

9.9/10 Total Score
Swisher LS22E - Editor's Choice
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