How Best to Break Wood Without Breaking a Sweat?
There are basically 3 types of log splitters. They are listed here in ascending order of power: manual, electric-powered, and gas- or petrol-powered. Manual log splitters can be further categorized into hydraulic and strictly manual power.
Log splitters are used to split firewood of all sorts and levels of hardness. The wood would first have to be cut down to rounds with a chainsaw. You may have seen people splitting firewood rounds with an ax in life or the movies. The axe is the most rudimentary log splitter but it’s laborious and inconsistent. It’s like you can crack a crab claw with your teeth but there are crab crackers that can do a much better job. About the only reason to prefer an axe is if you desire to burn some extra calories.
Specialized log splitters are built specifically for splitting logs. They range from the lowest end of wedges and a sledgehammer or mallet up to the best log splitters which are gas-powered units. The splitting or ramming pressure rating of a log splitter determines the thickness, length, hardness and grain patterns of the wood that it’s able to split. There are professional gas-powered log splitters rated up to 60 ton of splitting pressure.
Manual Log Splitters
Manual log splitters are powered either by hand or hand plus hydraulics. The simplest manual tools are special log-splitting axes known as mauls (fatter and blunter than regular axes), slide hammers, kindling crackers, and all sorts of wedges and wood grenades. Kindling crackers, wedges and wood grenades are used with sledgehammers or mallets. A wood grenade, also known as a log bomb in the UK, is a diamond-shaped wedge used for splitting logs into 4 sectional pieces of firewood.
A manual hydraulic log splitter is usually a horizontal device with a base plate for a log to rest on,a hydraulic jack at one end and a splitting wedge at the opposite end. Imagine having a hydraulic car jack, which operates according to Pascal’s principle, flipped at 90 degrees and pushing up against a log instead of the bottom of a car. You prime the hydraulic jack in a manual log splitter and it rams a piece of firewood into the wedge for splitting. It’s a nifty device but slow and it might not split the wood clean through every time.
Manual hydraulic log splitters typically handle logs up to10-inchthickat rates up to 25 logs per hour.
Electric Log Splitters
The electric log splitter is a hydraulic machine. It’s based on the manual hydraulic log splitter except the power is supplied by an electric motor. Needless to say you still have to place a log on an electric log splitter before activating the hydraulic ram to split the log. The typical pressure ratings of electric log splitters are 4 to 10 tons.
Although not as powerful as log splitters with gas engines, electric log splitters operate clean and do not release exhaust fumes so they can be used in the garage and enclosed areas. They are affordable because they’re simple machines. More often than not it’s worth the expenditure for those who burn firewood throughout the season.
Electric log splitters can handle logs of about 14-inch diameter or smaller at rates up to 100 logs per hour.
Gas-Powered Log Splitters
The gas-powered log splitter is also a hydraulic machine, only it’s powered by a small gas engine and driven by a hydraulic oil pump. The engine operates the oil pump that actuates the hydraulic ram to split a log placed on the machine.
Gas-powered log splitters can only be operated outdoors or in a very well ventilated area. Like all gas engine systems, it’ll require maintenance such as topping off the oil and changing the oil filter. They’re large and unwieldy compared to manual and electric log splitters. The good thing is they’re mostly sold with a trailer hitch for easy transports to wherever logs are aplenty. They work fast and can split thick logs at pressure of up to 60 ton.
Gas-powered log splitters can handle heavy-duty 24-inch logs at rates up to 120 logs per hour.
Examples and Reviews
The best way to learn about log splitters is to take a closer look at a few popular, commercially available units. It’s almost like the best way to learn to swim is to jump in the pool. So here we go – a look at a few best-rated log splittersfor home use. Here are the log splitter reviews.
Silverline 676532 Log Bomb Review
The Silverline 676532 is called a log bomb for its ability to explode a log when it’s driven into the middle of the log. The log bomb is diamond-shaped so as to explode a log in all 4 directions into 4 pieces of firewood.
This one is 165mm long with a sharpened tip for easy positioning on the log. It is notched on all sides to prevent accidental pop-outs which have been known to cause serious injuries. It has a spherical striking surface to better absorb blows from all directions. This thing feels so solid that you’ll like its chances of surviving a nuclear blast.
Obviously this log bomb doesn’t work on its own. You’ll need a hammer to smash it into a log. Silverlineis a well-known tool manufacturer and they make a sledgehammer that would be perfect for use with the log bomb. Like all manual log splitters, it will work best on dried logs.
- A bit more expensive than its competitors but this log bomb works beautifully.
- The sharp tip makes for an excellent guide.
- This log bomb is built to survive a real bomb.
- Safety notches to prevent it from popping out.
- This is not suitable for hardwood. It will end up embedded in the log without exploding it. Very messy to retrieve when this happens.
- Doesn’t always split the log into 4. Sometimes it’ll only split in half.
Sealey LS450H Foot-Operated Horizontal Log Splitter Review
So a manual hand-operated log splitter isn’t powerful enough? No problem, try using the legs. But don’t do that on any log splitter, get your hands on the Sealey LS450H foot-operated horizontal log splitter. Strong enough for logs up to 10-inch diameter and 18 inches long, the Sealey LS450H is the best log splitter in its modest price range.
This handy device requires no stomping of the foot or anything frantic. Put a log on the holder and then step down on the foot holder nice and easy. The spring-loaded action splits the log down the middle just like that. This manual log splitter may require you to step on it a few times to split the log all the way through, especially with bigger and knottier logs.
- Sealey is well-known brand.
- A safe way to split wood as opposed to axes and hammers.
- The splitting pressure is rated at 1.2 ton per step. It’s a more than respectable pressure compared to the 4 ton that smallish electric log splitters are capable of.
- It’s also adept at splitting small logs and making kindling.
- Made with all heavy-duty steel parts, yet very portable at 9kg.
- Adjustable food pedal resistance.
- Have to step on the foot pedal a few times to split a log.
- Although rated for use with 10-inch logs, it works best with smaller logs up to about 8 inches thick.
Sealey LS575VH Hydraulic Vertical Log Splitter Review
The Sealey LS575VH is among the best log splitters that are manually operated. It is a manual hydraulic log splitter. Its vertical configuration allows the hydraulic jack to be operated by foot. Up to 15 strokes may be needed to generate 8 tons of hydraulic pressure with which to split logs. This is higher splitting pressure than all but the most powerful electric log splitters.
It is a fairly sizable log splitter at 41 inches tall. It has a 7-tier wedge system for splitting logs of different lengths: 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, and 57.5cm. The tier system allows for optimized wedging of logs according to length. It can safely split up to 10-inch thick logs but not at the maximum length.
- Foot-operated hydraulic system generates up to 8 ton of splitting pressure, higher than many electric log splitters.
- Takes a little practice (don’t let the foot pedal up all the way when pumping the hydraulic system). After that you’ll find that this machine splits logs effortlessly.
- 7-tier wedge system for logs ranging from 12 to 22.5-inch long.
- Solid all metal construction.
- At 38kg, it is as stable as horizontally configured units.
- It’s wheeled for easy transport.
- 1-year manufacturer warranty.
- The hydraulic pump requires maintenance – oil and seals.
- It’s very easy to overload the hydraulic system and blow the oil seals as a result. This raises questions on whether the rated 8 ton splitting pressure is accurate.
- Foot pedal requires tightening on arrival.
- Must keep out of children – this thing resembles a miniature exercise machine.
Logmaster D8797 6-Ton Electric Log Splitter Review
It’s time to step into big boy territory with theLogmaster D8797 electric log splitter at 6 tons of maximum ramming pressure. It is a hydraulic machine powered by a 1960W electric motor. The motor drives the hydraulic jack that rams and splits logs. It has an automatic return action so all you have to do is place a log on the base, hit a button to split the log, and remove the split firewood pieces.
It is rated to cut logs up to 10 inches thick and 20 inches long. The D8797 electric log splitter’s powerful and effortless hydraulic action has been demonstrated to split up to 80 logs an hour.
A matching stand is included to lift this electric log splitter off the ground. It’s important to have this machine at a good height for safe two-handed operation. This efficient and well-designed electric log splitter comes in a streamlined steel construction for maintenance-free operation. In addition, the hydraulic jack is also of a low maintenance self-lubricating design.
This capable and sturdy log splitter weighs 48kg.
- Comes with a matching stand with twin wheels for easy moving. This is highly useful because most electric log splitters are very low to the ground. The stand saves a lot of squatting and bending.
- Also includes a 15m long extension cable.
- Clean and effortless operation. Very easy to use.
- Capable of splitting up to 80 logs per hour.
- Rated to cut only up to 10-inch thick logs.
- Lack of instruction on how to prep the splitter for mounting on stand.
Logmaster D1917 7-ton Electric Log Splitter
The Logmaster D1917 is a more powerful and bigger version of the D8797 above. It is more powerful at 7 ton ramming pressure. It’s also 3 inches longer and 2.5 inches wider and it weighs a heftier 56kg (compared to 48kg for the D8797). Other than that, it’s made of the same streamlined maintenance-free steel construction.
Armed with this powerful electric log splitter, you’ll be ready to take on all comers. There are no logs that the Logmaster D1917 doesn’t cut with ease, including knotty seasoned wood and hard greenwood. It is rated to cut up to 12-inch thick and 22-inch long logs. The speed is a spectacular 100 logs per hour.
The oversized electric motor runs quietly and the hydraulic jack features a self-lubricating design with automatic return. Once set up, using this log splitter is as simple as pressing a button and placing and removing logs.
The part number of the matching stand is D2998 (not included). It is available for sale separately.
- Rave reviews everywhere for its outstanding performance and reliability.
- It can split any wood: knotty, dried, natural, or seasoned.
- Capable of cutting logs of up to 12-inch thickness and 23-inch length.
- Demonstrated to split up to 100 logs an hour!
- Comes with generous 2-year manufacturer warranty.
- Unlike its predecessor, the matching stand is sold separately.
- It can be defeated by very hard wood of interlocking and spiraling grains, but that’s true for even the best log splitters of the electric hydraulic type.