So you’re looking to buy a log splitter to make chopping firewood easier? I feel you. Swinging an axe for hours to split logs by hand is exhausting (and dangerous!). Opting for a powered log splitter is so much smarter if you need to frequently split wood for your fireplace or wood stove.
But not all log splitters are created equal. You’ve got to pick the right log splitter for your specific splitting needs. Here are the key factors to think about before you Buy Log Splitter: Reliable Wood Splitting Machines:
Type of Power Source
The first big decision is what type of power you want your log splitter to run on. Here are your main options:
– Gas-powered – These log splitters have a gas-fueled engine. They’re the most powerful and can handle heavy-duty wood splitting, but gas engines require maintenance. Not the best for indoor use.
– Electric – Electric log splitters just need an outlet and consistent power supply. They’re lower maintenance and good for light jobs. Corded models limit mobility.
– Battery-powered – These run on an integrated battery. Fully portable but battery life is limited. Best for moderate splitting tasks.
– Manual – No motor. You supply the power by operating a pump/ram. Much lower cost but very physically demanding.
I’d only go with a manual log splitter if I had very occasional light-duty splitting needs and a tight budget. Electric or gas is better for frequent use since it’s less wear-and-tear on your body.
Log Size Capacity
You obviously want your log splitter to be able to handle the logs you need to split. Log capacity is measured by the log splitter’s splitting force and the opening size of the cradle/ram.
Look for tons of splitting force. More tons means it can split bigger, tougher logs. 15-20 tons is good for average use. Up to 40 tons for heavy-duty jobs.
The width of the log cradle is also key. Standard is around 6-8 inches wide but extra wide openings like 10+ inches allow bigger logs. Know your log sizes and buy accordingly.
Check out the cycle time, which tells you how fast the ram/wedge fully extends and retracts to split the wood. The shorter the cycle time the better, especially for larger logging jobs.
Around 10-14 seconds is decent speed. Super-fast models can have cycle times of just 6-8 seconds. Those can save you hours of work compared to slower log splitters.
Running any power equipment can be dangerous, so look for built-in safety mechanisms on your log splitter. Must-have features include:
– Emergency stop switch – Lets you immediately stop the splitter if needed.
– Two-hand operation – Requires both hands on controls for activation preventing accidental engagement.
– No-split feature – Prevents the ram from fully extending if wood doesn’t split.
– Overload sensor – Automatically stops ram if it meets too much resistance.
Don’t mess around with janky log splitters lacking basic safety guards and controls. Taking shortcuts is asking for trouble.
Ease of Use
Look for log splitters designed to make your job as easy as possible:
– Ergonomic controls/handles – Lets you operate the machine without excessive bending or reaching.
– Auto-return ram – Ram retracts on its own so you don’t have to reset it manually between splits. Time saver!
– Horizontal/Vertical capability – Allows both horizontal and vertical splitting for flexibility.
– Log cradles/stands – Hold wood securely to free up your hands for splitting.
– Flip down work tables – Provide space to stack split wood neatly to the side.
– Integrated log lifters/rollers – Makes loading heavy logs onto the splitter much less backbreaking.
Ask yourself what features would make the splitting process most convenient for you personally based on your height and strength.
You don’t want your log splitter crapping out after a few uses. Make sure to get one built from quality materials that will last season after season of regular wood splitting.
– All-steel construction – Opt for an all-steel splitter over ones with plastic parts that can crack.
– Reinforced stress points – Check areas like the beam and ram for reinforced design.
– Weather-resistant – Can stand up to sun, rain, and snow if storing outdoors.
– Heavy-duty components – Commercial grade parts like hydraulic pumps and motors.
– Warranty – At least a 1-year warranty for consumer models provides peace of mind.
Cheap light-duty log splitters probably won’t hold up under frequent use. Better to buy once and get a heavy-duty robust machine.
Stick with established brands that have a track record of making high-quality log splitters suitable for home use:
– Dirty Hand Tools
I’d be wary of no-name brands found online with zero reviews. Without a proven reputation for reliability and performance, it’s hard to know if you’re getting a lemon or not.
And of course, consider what you can realistically spend. Log splitter prices range hugely:
– Manual log splitters – $150 to $300
– Electric splitters – $300 to $1,000
– Gas-powered – $800 to $3,000
Determine your needs, then find the strongest machine you can afford in your budget. You don’t necessarily need the 3-ton commercial monster with all the bells and whistles.
The right log splitter matched to your specific wood splitting application will save you time, effort, and aches and pains. Spending a bit more for quality and power is worthwhile if you’ll use your log splitter extensively. Think through the key factors carefully before making your choice!