How to Build Log Splitters?

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Last updatedLast updated: April 11, 2021
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Cutting logs by hand can quickly become back-breaking work. You can only really do it if you need a small stack of wood. For cutting large quantities of wood, you’re going to need a reliable tool, and in this article, we’ll look at how to build log splitters.

Buying the best log splitter can be a great idea, but you can also design and create your own. This can be a great project, and there are numerous ways it can be done. They usually have a simple design, and you could save yourself a lot of money.

Here, we will take a look at the basics of log splitters along with different plans on how they can be made. If you are going to make one yourself, then you need to know what you’re doing. Let’s take a closer look at those models!

Basics of log splitters

Log splitters usually consist of a hydraulic or electrical powered pole and piston. They differ in the force they can create, which is usually expressed in tons. This force is given by the diameter of the hydraulic cylinder together with the pressure of the system.

A log splitter is either powered by an electric motor or runs on gasoline or diesel. The last two versions are more practical, as they are cordless and can be moved anywhere you need to cut the wood. If the splitters are designed so that the user can attach them to a vehicle, transporting them is even simpler.

The cylinder is run by oil put under pressure by a hydraulic pump powered by an engine. The oil from the pump runs to a hydraulic valve controlling the cylinder. The oil comes from a tank connected to the inlet port of the pump. A hydraulic valve controls the pressure created by the pump, acting as a safety valve.

The aspects of a log splitter you need to consider are flow, pressure, power, and a hydraulic cylinder. The hydraulic pressure produces force, while the hydraulic flow determines speed. If you want your splitter to have a greater force, you need to use a larger cylinder.

The bigger the rod is, the larger the flow will be, which will require more horsepower to drive them. To get more force, you’ll need a larger cylinder. If you want your log splitter to work faster, you need either more flow or a smaller cylinder. As a smaller cylinder will also give you lower force, the best solution is to get a larger pump to have the flow increased.

Although they are less well known, some other types of log splitters aren’t based on hydraulics but on kinetic energy. Log splitters based on kinetic energy usually utilize a flywheel system that gets the energy source from a motor in the spinning flywheels. The power of the motion causes the logs to be split at a much faster rate.

This log splitter is definitely not ideal for high-level control. You cannot control the process by slowly pushing the logs to the wedge or blade. An advantage of kinetic log splitters is that they are much easier to maintain as compared to hydraulic ones. You won’t need to worry about fuel changes, leaks, and the hydraulic system failing either.

Log splitters plans

There are several different ways that you can use to make a log splitter. We look at 13 different options here that you can choose from. This should give you an indication of the work that needs to go into making one.

The unicorn log splitter

How to Build Log Splitters?

The unicorn log splitter is operated by an engine turning a head shaped like a corkscrew (or unicorn horn). The head drills into the log and splits it in half. It’s a straightforward and effective design for a log splitter.

It’s probably one of the easiest to make by yourself as you won’t need a lot of materials to build one. It’s a simplified version of a screw splitter, made to be used on a flat surface. Since you have to hold the logs in front of the head manually, it’s only useful for a smaller stash of wood.

You also usually have to pull the last bits of the log apart so it does require some manual work.

The wheel of debt

The wheel of debt is just a cutting blade mounted on a large wheel that is attached to an engine running on gasoline. The engine turns the wheel, and wood is placed into the blade’s path to be split. You can build this splitter from whatever materials you have at home or find in a scrapyard.

It is a simple and very cost-effective splitter, but not the safest. You will have to handle it very carefully if you want to avoid losing a finger or any other serious injury. The good thing about it is that instead of pressure, it uses kinetic energy, so not a lot can go wrong.

A manual wood splitter

How to Build Log Splitters?

Another method of making a manual log splitter is using a mounted splitting edge on the end of an appendage, using a spring to return the blade to the first position. Place the log in front of the blade and pull the splitting blade down onto it.

You will have to use enough force to split it, so it will take a lot of effort to operate this splitter but not quite as much as when using an ax. It’s fairly easy to build but can be time-consuming.

Perhaps the greatest feature of this splitter is how safe it is. You’re the one in control, and the splitting edge will always be well away from your body. It’s perfect for those who may be a little nervous about making their own powered options.

Another way to make a manual model is to have a blade attached to an arm. A spring pulls the arm down onto the log to split it and then returns it to the original position. This splitter’s builder suggests attaching a weight to the ax to increase the force when you bring it down onto the wood. Also, the cutting blade can be ground a little thinner in its outer edges. This way, it’s easier to split the wood.

A huge benefit of this type of wood splitter is that it puts minimal stress on your back. With it being waist high, it’s very easy on your body. It makes it the perfect option for anyone that has any on-going health concerns.

DIY hydraulic log splitter

This method incorporates a foot pedal to operate the machine while having both hands free for positioning or removing the wood. The pedal is attached to a spring that pulls the control lever into an upward position.

It’s easy to tow as the log splitter folds over onto a frame. Besides being designed for quick and portable power, the pedal command could control a horizontal machine as effortlessly as it does this vertical one. Although vertically, you don’t need to bend and lift as much while splitting your wood.

A smaller log splitter

This smaller log splitter is a real DIY project made from scrap and can be used in horizontal and vertical positions. Metal beams are attached to an axle that came from the back of a car. A steel footplate is placed on the top of the beams with an oversized hydraulic rod attached.

The big cylinder is efficient because it reduces splitting time, even though the splitter itself is smaller in size. With an added gas tank, you can use it anywhere you want. It’s very cheap to make if you can source the right parts, and it’s highly effective.

A bigger splitter

About 10 feet tall and weighs 2,000 pounds, this model is for those who have serious log splitting needs. It has a 5-foot loading arm that raises and lowers the logs and folds up vertically for transport. It could be costly to make it but works for a massive load.

A steel I-beam is attached to some steel panels. The engine drives the splitter’s two-stage hydraulic pump, which in turn powers a 24-inch-long, 4-inch-diameter hydraulic cylinder, operated by a splitter valve with a detent in the return position.

A 30-ton log splitter

This 30-ton log splitter is a machine that uses immense power to push wood logs through the blades. Besides the size, the multiple cutting blades make this one of the most efficient DIY log splitters. It splits the wood into a couple of pieces, and you can press stacks of wood logs or even whole tree trunks through it.

Other than that, it has the same basic design as many other splitters. At this size, it can rival the best commercial log splitters. If you want a log splitter for commercial use on a larger scale without having to pay for it, you can try to build this one.

The foot-operated log splitter

How to Build Log Splitters?

This foot-operated log splitter is an effective vertical machine. Despite it being made of things that you can find lying around, it’s capable of splitting small to medium-sized logs. The scrap material frame and the sliders are attached to each other, and a bottle jack pushes the slider along the main section.

This presses the wood into a wedge with enough force to split it. The whole thing is operated by a pedal and an old timing belt tensioner that guides the pedal back in the upper position. You can hardly find a simpler homemade hydraulic log splitter than this one.

A basic splitter

This basic splitter design can save you a lot of time and trouble. This device works perfectly by cutting logs along the grain but is even capable of cutting logs sideways. It’s connected with hoses to the machine and a control valve for the operator.

A blade is mounted on a metal beam along with the hydraulic rod and a sliding plate. The large diameter rod makes this splitter strong and fast, and the sliding plate is meant to use the upper flat of the beam as a guide. This horizontal log splitter gets a lot of power from the skid steer it’s attached to, plus it’s easy to take it with you anywhere you need cutting.

Scrap metal splitter

If you want a simple log splitter that’s easy to build and highly effective, this model could be the one for you. With some scrap and with a little effort, you can make a good splitter for home use. The basics are two metal blocks attached to a metal beam on either side.

Between the blocks on one end is a wedge, and on the other is a smaller hydraulic jack connected to springs. The hardest part is figuring out how to attach and function the hydraulic jack properly. Other than that, it’s a very straightforward process.

An easy manual splitter

This easy manual splitter is perfect for those people who only want to ease the process of splitting wood manually with an ax. You will still need to launch the logs towards the blade with an instrument since it doesn’t use hydraulics.

This splitter consists of 4 ax blades attached between a metal framework. It’s easy and quick to make, but it only works for small logs or already pre-cut wood that needs to be cut for even smaller sizes.

A screw splitter

This is a splitter that splits logs into smaller sizes using a spinning screw. A framework is made of square tubes, with wheels under the frame to tow the splitter. Afterward, an electric motor is placed in one part of the last axis and a screw in a conical shape on the other one.

This screw will go into the wood, separating it into two pieces. The rotation of the wood in the splitter is prevented by a slice of iron plate. A vertical, ax-shaped bar located under the screw also holds the logs in place. This is a good way to prevent injury, as pushing a piece of wood toward a spinning screw is not the safest thing to do.

Pay attention to details

If you want to make your own hydraulic log splitter, there will be a couple of details you need to be aware of. One of them is the quality and size of the wood you want to split. From all the wood species used for firewood, some are quite hard to cut. Also, it’s easier to split raw wood of any type than dry wood that has toughened up. You need a level of power that matches the wood you’re trying to split.

The overall splitting capacity of a log splitter depends on three things. The pump flow volume, the hydraulic rod’s diameter, and the overall pressure created by the system. Log splitters with higher pressures and larger cylinders can handle more work and are more cost-efficient when made at home.

Then there is cycle time or how fast the cylinder moves towards the logs and back. Fast cycle times result in an accelerated production but can be more dangerous as well. It depends on how fast the hydraulic fluid can fill the cylinder. If you want a faster cycle time, you either need to get a larger pump or a smaller cylinder, with the latter option being a lot cheaper.

Splitters are either set up for horizontal or vertical splitting, rarely both. Tiltable or vertical log splitters are very handy for heavy logs that are impossible to be manually put up on a waist-high splitting beam. With the horizontal splitters, you want the beam to be waist-high, which allows you to work at a height that doesn’t require any stooping. However, you will have to bend and raise the logs to that level if you do it manually.

The method you use to power your splitter will affect the overall price of your project. Electric motors need a constant power source and while engines running on gasoline are more practical, fueling them is a high on-going cost.

Unless you have a powerful engine lying around, having extra horsepower isn’t necessarily the most useful thing. The engine just needs to provide enough power to run the pump keeping up pressure and flow without allowing the engine to bog down. Use a cheap gas engine is usually more than powerful enough.

The strength of your beams, cylinder mounts, and other parts need to be strong enough to cope with the pressures. If you wanted a force over 18 tons, you need heavier and stronger metal pieces than if you were just splitting small logs.

You also need to think about its weight and transportation. Will you be using it in a static location, or do you need it to be portable? If portability is important, then make a splitter that’s easy to handle and tow. Depending on the weight of the metal you use, the hydraulics, and the engine, your splitter can be too heavy to handle if you’re not careful.

Lastly, you want to build a log splitter that is easy to use and safe to handle. If you are already making a splitter because you are tired of chopping up wood with an ax, you can make it fit your height and customize it to your needs. And, of course, you want to make it as safe as possible. Keep this in mind throughout the process and ensure that the risk of accidents is kept to a minimum.

What to be aware of

One of the most crucial factors you need to be aware of is safety. Even if you buy the best manual log splitter, you will need to operate it with care and attention.

If you opt for a DIY version of log splitter, make sure you have the necessary knowledge and don’t take any shortcuts with design or materials. When attempting to make something like this yourself, you will need to put safety first.

Most of these machines are designed to split even the hardest types of wood so they can produce a frightening amount of force. The controls should be accessible from a safe position with nothing that can get caught or stuck.

If the engine is gas-powered, the gas tank needs to be sealed. Never use a neglected engine with any unsafe components or outlets. The finished log splitter should be able to stay stable wherever you want to put it, at the height where it’s the most convenient for your back.

As we’ve seen here, there are many different ways that you can build a log splitter. Choose a plan that will be able to handle all your needs. Another danger can come from overstressing your machine as you try to split a log that is simply too big. Should you decide to modify the plan you have chosen, make sure it will still be safe and easy to operate.

You should also be aware of the time and effort that goes into making a log splitter. It may save you a little bit of money but sourcing the materials can be a challenge, and it can take a while to build. To avoid the fuss of making a tool by yourself, you can opt for the Sun Joe LJ10M, which is a very convenient manual model. If you are looking for a commercial-grade tool, consider the Champion 25-Ton Horizontal/Vertical Gas Log Splitter.

Final thoughts

If you’re great at DIY, then making your own log splitter can be a fantastic project. Not only can you save yourself money, but you’ll also be able to customize it to your exact requirements. That being said, for some, it can be the best idea to buy a professional log splitter and save themselves time and effort.

As you can see, there is plenty to think about. You want to get the right log splitter plan while also considering other vital aspects such as safety.

Hopefully, this article has given you all the information you need on how to build log splitters. All that’s left for you to do now is gather your materials together and try your hand at creating an amazing log splitter of your own. Good luck!

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