All Types Of Log Splitters
What is the difference between these three log splitters?
There are three kinds of log splitters available on the market. Three are hydraulic, but the question is a matter of power. Some are powered by hand, called manual. Others require electric or gas power.
The level of force that a log splitter can offer is based on the power that can be generated to push the log through the wedge. A kinetic log splitter is not hydraulic and relies on a different kind of technology, discussed in the section below.
Read on to learn more about each kind of log splitter:
Like to do it by hand?
Most log splitters require hydraulics to work. A kinetic log splitter uses a series of flywheels instead. This system stores energy in these wheels in order to release it in one powerful burst of cutting. This makes it fast and strong. Here are six facts about kinetic splitters:
- Their cycle time is 2-3 times faster than hydraulic models at 2.5 seconds, including autoretract
- They should be considered in terms of power burst, not tonnage like hydraulic models
- There is no oil needed to maintain them, making them easier to keep functional without a lot of time
- They are capable of handling extra-hard woods and knots
- An electric model is equal in force to a gas-powered hydraulic splitter
- The technology is adapted from water-powered mill machinery from the turn of the century
Small and light and used by hand!
The simplest of the hydraulic log splitters is the manual. These work much like a hydraulic jack- you must crank or pump something to increase the hydraulic pressure. This takes more time than a model with a gas or electric-powered motor. However, it’s smaller, cheaper, lighter, more compact, and easier to maintain.
Not bad tradeoffs!
The most powerful version of splitter- this is what the pros use!
Gas log splitters allow more horsepower in the motor to give a stronger push to the log. This cannot be done with electric motors unless you have a high enough amperage to use it without blowing a breaker.
Gas motors are not just stronger, they are bigger and heavier. This means that they can handle bigger logs, and they have the framework to do so. They are typically heavy enough that you don’t want to push them around like a wheelbarrow but you will tow them behind a tractor or other motorized vehicle on a tow hitch.
Gas-powered splitters create exhaust, so they are for outdoor use only. They can be used in the rain, however, which is not a recommended use for electric splitters. The true workhorse in the log splitter family. And your only choice if you need big pieces of wood brought down to size.
The truly heavy duty versions have off-road tires to get them into areas of uneven ground where trees have been cut. They also tend to have higher ground clearance as a result, which can also have the effect of less bending to use them.
- The Electric Log Splitter
What’s up with electric splitters?
As we mentioned before, electric splitters can be either hydraulic or kinetic. Electric refers to the motor that helps push the log through. Most electric models are plug-in, though many can be run off of a portable generator if you’re working somewhere a bit more remote. They are great for working in a sheltered area where you wouldn’t want to get a bunch of fumes, but they don’t work so well in the rain.
Electric motors tend to be less expensive, lighter, and less powerful than gas models, but they are often plenty of motor to use in the typical home situation where you are splitting 1-2 cords per year for home use.
The home hobbyist’s preferred choice.
Log Splitter Wedge
The wedge is the tool that all log splitters, including your granny with an axe, uses to get into the wood. It is essentially a really strong triangle that, when pushed into the log, forces it apart.While simple triangle-shaped wedges are the norm in many cases, some powerful gas splitters will make use of a four-way wedge, which offers the wedge shape in a cross, splitting the log in four directions at once instead or making you reload the log three times to split it into quarters. Wedges are one of the easiest pieces to replace and upgrade in many log splitters.
This is the main tool- the rest is just trappings.
Log Splitter Cylinder
What does the cylinder do?A hydraulic log splitter uses a cylinder, also called an actuator, as the mechanism to push the log into the wedge. This is a telescoping piece that goes in and out with each new log.
A crucial piece for this powerful tool.
Log Splitter Plans
Because a log splitter is simply a series of simple tools, there are a number of build-it-yourself log splitter plans that you can find online if you would prefer to use them. You will need a wedge, a frame to cradle the log, a cylinder to push the log forward, and a hydraulic pump.It is important to use a two-phase hydraulic pump to avoid burning out the pump. However, if you’re handy and want to build your own, there is a lot of information out there on how to make your own bespoke splitter.
Log Splitter Pump
The hydraulic pump is the item that is used to build up the pressure in the hydraulic fluid and give it the strength that it needs. It is important to use a two-phase pump so that it doesn’t burn out.A one-phase pump will work well as long as you are regularly and smoothly running the machine, but if you leave it on and unmoving, it can overload and burn out due to too much pressure. The second phase offers release and prevents this from happening. Smart advice!
Log Splitter Hydraulic
Most log splitters are hydraulic. Hydraulic fluid is known for being very hard to compress- this means that adding pressure to a system with hydraulic fluid can turn into an incredible amount of power. This is how these small electric motors can generate 6-7 tons of force with only 2 or 3 horsepower.Hydraulics is so powerful that you can slowly pump or crank a manual splitter and generate tons of force as well. It is amazing the amount of magnified force that this system provides. Considering the force at which you need to push a log into a wedge to split it, this is the perfect choice for log splitter designs.
Log Splitter Valve
What does the valve do?With any hydraulic system, you need to also have a relief valve. This allows you to remove the pressure that was pushing a log forward and retract it back into the original position.
Log Splitter Cover
While you should always keep your electric splitter under cover to keep it functioning well, a cover can help you to do this if you don’t have the garage or shed space you need and you need to keep it out by your woodpile. Some covers are hard plastic, while other covers are canvas or a different waterproof fabric.
If you are keeping your splitter outside in extreme temperatures, you may consider using some form of insulated cover. The manufacturer may offer a choice of covers, but in many cases, you will need to choose a third-party cover if you want anything specialized.
A good alternative when you don’t have a lot of storage solutions.
Log Splitter Accessories
While some log splitters are all-inclusive, others may require some extra purchases to turn them into everything you need. Actual accessories will differ based on the brand and style of log splitter you are looking at.Common accessories that you may find for splitters can include:
- A replacement wedge or change from 2-way to 4-way wedge
- A cover or storage box
- A stand to keep it more secure
- A trailer hitch kit
- A larger set of tires to take it off road
- A log cradle to catch freshly split wood
Wheels And Ball Hitches
Let’s face it. If you want to split logs where you cut them in the first place, you need to be able to tow your log splitter to your location.
Whether you’ve got lots of acreages and you cut down your own trees, you’ve had a cord dumped in the back corner of the farm, or you have some other situation where your wood is not right next to your house, you will need a log splitter with tow capacity (a trailer hitch) and adequate tires to run over rough ground.
This will include clearance that is high enough to handle some terrain. Ball hitches are more secure than pin hitches and can fit on a pickup truck or SUV.
It’s important to note that log splitters with these features are almost never electric because you typically won’t also carry a generator out to a remote location and they are almost always plug-in models. This is simply too much power to run off of a car battery
Important stuff for the woods or the farm yard.
How to Choose the Best Log Splitter
Which one is right for me?To choose the best log splitter, you need to consider some basic requirements.
- Do you plan to split many cords of wood or just the occasional load for a decorative fire?
- Do you have a large garage for storage or just a tiny wall?
- Do you plan to use it next to the house under cover or in the back of your ten-acre lot?
Basically, you need to consider whether the splitter is powerful enough for your needs, whether it will work where you want to use it (Electric splitters require a cord and won’t work in the rain.
However, you can use it in a closed garage in the winter without worrying about carbon monoxide fumes.), and whether it fits into your budget. All of these things should be considered carefully, and the choice for you should meet as many of these boxes as possible without causing major tradeoffs.
Essentially, home use close to the house typically calls for a smaller electric splitter and large use in a more remote area will call instead for a large, tow-behind gas powered motor model.
Finally, consider the size of wood you have access to, and make sure it is powerful enough to cut that size or you will find yourself either injured or out of luck.
Ask the right questions and you’re sure to find the right choice for you.
How to Use
Once you have chosen and ordered the splitter of your dreams, the next step is to learn how to use it. Here are the basics:
- Make sure you are all set up before you begin. Consider wearing safety gear: long sleeves, eye protection, gloves, and closed-toe boots are recommended. The splitter should be placed in an area that is free from clutter and that will be easy to clean of chips (or fine to leave the chips) when you are done.
- The splitter should be on a level surface and the wheels should be blocked with chucks, wedges, bricks, or other heavy items to prevent rolling during use.
- Precheck the splitter. If you have a manual splitter, be certain the jack is tight before you begin. Check the power on an electric model and the fluid levels on a gas-powered version.
- Position the log in the correct location and make sure the splitter has a tight grip on it. When ready, push the release for the actuator and watch it push through the wedge.
- Clean up and reload. Now, take your split wood and place it out of the way of the log splitter. Get the next log ready and repeat.
- Clean up the log splitter. Wipe down any mechanisms that can get clogged with sawdust. Be sure to store it securely in an area where it is protected by weather and other problems.
Does brand matter?
There are a number of things that you might consider when it comes to brands of splitters, especially when it comes to the really expensive gas powered models. The brand makes a difference not only in the quality of machine you will get but also in the level of service available when and if something goes wrong.
Here are some things to consider when looking at brands:
- What kind of warranty is available?
- Does the brand offer a local service agent who can fix the problems for you?
- Are there a number of parts available to quickly fix problems? (This is a good sign that you can keep it well-maintained and working for many years rather than buying a replacement.)
- What process do you have to go through to get your splitter fixed?
- Is there a local service provider that might offer a preventative maintenance plan?