There are many things to consider when choosing a log splitter. As with most equipment, the size of the job will dictate the item you choose.
Although the heaviest duty log splitter may seem appealing at first, consider the size of your job. If you do not need the largest capacity splitter, then a smaller one will be more cost-effective and better suited for you needs.
Another big consideration is the type of wood you are planning on splitting. If you work primarily with hardwoods, you will want a different log splitter than if you work primarily with softwoods.
In addition to the type of wood you are working with, consider what diameter the wood pieces are. Obviously, a foot diameter tree and a giant redwood would need two drastically different types of log splitters.
The age of your wood will also contribute to your log splitter needs. If your wood is young and green, you will need a different machine than if your wood is older and browned.
Ultimately, which log splitter is best for you is heavily dependent on your own needs. Considering the type of wood you work with first and then choosing a log splitter accordingly is your best bet.
How to Choose the Best Log Splitter
The best approach for choosing a log splitter is to access your needs. Wood type, wood diameter, and wood age are all important factors in your choice.
There are two basic types of wood: hardwoods and softwoods. With harder woods, such as Ash, Birch, Oak, or Walnut, you need a much higher tonnage log splitter.
Hardwood log splitters usually need a tonnage of between seven to thirty tons. Softwoods, on the other hand, only need a tonnage of between four and twenty-seven.
The other contributing factor is the diameter of your wood. Naturally, if you have smaller logs, you will need a much lower tonnage than larger diameter logs.
For logs between six and twelve inches in diameter, you will need a log splitter of between four and twenty-two tons, depending on the wood hardness. For logs between eighteen and twenty-four inches, you will need a log splitter of between twenty and thirty tons.
The third contributing factor when choosing a log splitter is the age of your wood. Because freshly cut wood retains more moisture, you will need more tonnage. Aged wood is easier to cut through and therefore requires less tonnage.
Of course, if you plan on only doing a small amount of log splitting, a non-mechanical log splitter can be the perfect option. Choosing an appropriately sized log splitter will save you money and make your work easier.
What to Look for in A Good Log Splitter
Although not every log splitter is suited for every need, there are a number of features that should be looked for in any log splitter. The point of a log splitter is to save you some time and energy, so look for a log splitter with good features to aid in that.
If you have a bad back or are planning on splitting heavy duty logs, look for a log splitter with a log lift. Most log lifts are hydraulic powered, which saves your back a little strain with heavier loads.
Another good feature is a short cycle time. You do not want your log splitter to take longer than you would take to split the wood manually. If this is the case, you will likely get impatient and it will defeat part of the purpose of a log splitter.
If you are planning on doing a lot of log splitting, look out for a log splitter with the capacity to split horizontally and vertically. These changes will make you able to reposition the splitter based on your needs.
For smaller log splitting jobs, consider a smaller unit. Smaller log splitters are more portable and can be moved around your property easily without towing the unit with other machinery.
Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter
The Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter is a great choice for smaller log splitting jobs. It is a portable, heavy duty, safe log splitter options.
Although the Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter is a stripped down log splitter, it has an excellent combination of features. Its features include:
- Keeps your hands out of the way and keeps the log from moving
- 5 inch diameter top ring
- Made from cast iron
- Maintenance-free upkeep
- Allow you to split logs with less force
Since you do not need an ax to use this log splitter (just a mallet), it is a much safer option than manually splitting kindling. The Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter allow you to split logs into small pieces into kindling without taking off a finger or toe.
One conceivable issue with this log splitter is that it is smaller and free standing. If you intend to use the splitter often, stabilizing the splitter while you work will pay off.
When you attach the splitter to something (a log will work well), it also raises the splitter to a more manageable height. Since the splitter is only a little over a foot tall, it will be helpful to raise it slightly.
Although this kindling slipper is great for just that, splitting kindling, you cannot split larger logs with this splitter. Since the diameter is only 6.5 inches, the splitter is only suited for kindling.
Even though the Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter is a little on the smaller size, its durability is a major plus. Since it is constructed from cast iron, it can hold up to repeated use and be sharpened.
Even though it can be sharpened, however, it is not the easiest task due to its shape. As the splitter piece is below the top ring, it can be difficult to sharpen it. The easiest way around this is with a file. Since its cast iron, it should not need to be sharpened frequently.
Another benefit of this kindling splitter comes from the fact that it is extremely simple to use. Rather than having to mess around with an ax or other manual methods, the Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter allows you to split kindling easily.
Overall, the Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter is a great option for kindling splitting. One of its greatest features is that it is extremely portable. It will be a perfect camping kindling splitter. In fact, that was what this splitter was originally invented for.
WEN 56206 6-Ton Electric Log Splitter
While the previous option was best for kindling splitting, the WEN 56206 6-Ton Electric Log Splitter is the exact opposite of the spectrum. It is capable of handling large logs up to twenty and a half inches in length.
The WEN 56206 6-Ton Electric Log Splitter is a great, heavier duty log splitter that will help you prepare for the colder months. Some of its features include:
- Motor uses household current and is fume-free
- Built-in log cradle to keep longer logs in place
- Two year warranty
- Can split logs up to twenty and a half inches in length and ten inches in diameter
Although the WEN 56206 6-Ton Log Splitter can handle some pretty large logs, it is still a fairly compact piece of machinery. It is made for personal, rather than industrial use, so it is a great choice for your home heating needs.
As far as usability, this log splitter is pretty user-friendly. In order to operate the machine safely, you do have to use two hands. When you do use two hands, however, the WEN 56206 6-Ton Log Splitter is a safe choice.
One concern with this log splitter is that it has some difficulty dealing with knots in logs. As it is only a six ton log splitter, it is simply not equipped for harder wood types or knots. These wood features tend to stop up the machine.
A cycle time can be a great factor to consider when choosing a log splitter. The WEN 56206 6-Ton Log Splitter’s cycle relies heavily on the speed the user is comfortable with. Since you do have to use two hands, the splitting can take a bit more time than other models.
Another concern with this log splitter is that, since it is only a six ton splitter, certain components do not hold up to hardwoods. Pieces such as the pistons and levers are not strong enough for hardwood splitting.
On strength of this machine is its usability. Though you do need to use two hands to safely operate the machine, it is very user-friendly to assemble and use. As the point of an electric log splitter is to make your job easier, this is a major plus.
Despite the limitations, the WEN 56206 6-Ton Log Splitter is a viable option for home heating needs. Although it cannot handle the large, hardwood logs, it can handle pretty much any smaller task with much less effort and hassle than an ax.
Sun Joe LJ10M Logger Joe 10 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter
If the previous two options were a bit on the weaker side for your needs, the Sun Joe 10 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter will solve that problem. As this splitter has more tonnage capacity than the previous two options, it is well suited for larger projects.
The Sun Joe 10 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter is a great option for heavier duty log splitting jobs. It has all the necessary features to make your heavy-duty job easier. Some of the features include:
- Can be used on logs up to 18 inches long and 8 inches wide
- Hydraulic ram that drives with ten tons of force
- Log cradle to catch split wood
- Two year warranty
Unlike the previous option, the Sun Joe 10 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter does not use electricity of gas. Instead, the splitter is worked by a lever to control the hydraulic ram. Because it is a manual splitter it can be used even when you do not have electricity.
One of the strengths of this log splitter is that it has two levers which operate the hydraulic ram at different speeds and forces. The slower lever is best for tough, hardwoods, whereas the faster lever is best for softer woods.
Because the Sun Joe 10 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter is powered by your own strength, the cycle time is much longer than other options. If you are looking for a faster solution, this is most likely not your best choice. It does take much of the manpower out of the process, however,
Another downside of this splitter is that it does not do well with green or softer woods. Due to the shape of the machine, the softer green logs will twist when hit with the ram and not split cleanly. Make sure to use well-aged wood with this splitter.
Although the Sun Joe 10 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter is a manual log splitter, it allows you to use ten tons of force to split the wood rather than what your own arm can do. For this reason, it is a great choice for hardwoods, provided you have the strength for the manual labor.
Ultimately, despite the drawbacks, the Sun Joe 10 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter is a great option for hardwood splitting, even when you do not have access to electricity or fuel. Because it is manually operated, it is a simplistic machine that can be used anywhere you are.
Powerhouse XM-380 7-Ton Electric Hydraulic Log Splitter
The Powerhouse XM-380 7-Ton Electric Hydraulic Log Splitter is a good middle of the road option where tonnage is concerned. It is also a good option between the previous two options.
While the previous two options are either electric or hydraulic, the Powerhouse XM-380 7-Ton Electric Hydraulic Log Splitter combines both options. Some of its features include:
- Can split logs up to 20.5 inches in length and 12 inches in diameter
- Incorporates a hydraulic ram as well as electric power
- Cycle time is six seconds
- Two handed use for safety
One of the places where the Powerhouse XM-380 Electric Hydraulic Log Splitter surpasses the competition is in its cycle time. Because the splitter incorporates both electric and hydraulic power, its cycle time is drastically reduced.
Although the Powerhouse XM-380 Electric Hydraulic Log Splitter has many things going for it, there are a few drawbacks. The first issue is that the seal which keeps the hydraulic fluid inside the machine can split, allowing fluid to escape during use.
Another possible drawback is that the wheels are poorly designed in their placement. Because the wheels are small and close together, it leads to instability.
One way to combat the instability problems is to purchase or make a stand. Although this solution will detract from the portability of the log splitter, it will prevent it from falling over while in use.
On top of those issues, although the splitter is technically rated to seven tons, it does have some problems with harder woods. You simply need a more powerful log splitter for extremely hardwoods. Knots in softer woods, however, should not be a problem.
As with all electric powered log splitters, one of the major benefits is that there are no gas fumes while splitting wood. The Powerhouse XM-380 Electric Hydraulic Log Splitter also has the advantage of being relatively quiet for a log splitter.
One of the ways the splitter keeps the cycle time so low is by having an automatic return on the hydraulic ram. Since you do not need to manually move anything, just simply let go of the lever, it cuts down on manpower and time.
Although there are some fairly significant drawbacks, the Powerhouse XM-380 7-Ton Electric Hydraulic Log Splitter is a great option. Not only is it rated for seven tons of force, but it has the added benefits of a fast cycle time and low fume emission.
Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SLS20825 25 Ton Gas Powered Log Splitter
If you are looking for an industrial-strength log splitter, the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SLS20825 25 Ton Gas Powered Log Splitter will certainly fit the bill. Out of all the previous options, this is easily the most powerful and heaviest duty log splitter.
The previous options all have the niches and are the best log splitters for certain jobs. The Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SLS20825 log splitter, however, can pretty much handle anything you throw at it. Some of its features include:
- Can split logs up to twenty-six inches in length
- Vertical and horizontal splitting positions
- Has a trailer hitch and stable wheels for movability
- Automatic return of the ram at the end of the cycle
As with the previous option, this log splitter also has a relatively short cycle time. Although it is a bit longer than the Powerhouse’s time, the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SLS20825 log splitter comes in at a respectable seventeen second cycle time.
The options for vertical or horizontal splitting are a major benefit of this log splitter as well. It allows you to split larger logs without having to lift them onto the horizontal splitter.
Since the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SLS20825 log splitter has twenty-five tons of force, it can split both hardwood and softwood. Additionally, freshly cut, pliable wood should not be an issue.
The main issue with this log splitter comes from its sheer weight. Since it is rated for twenty-five tons, it is naturally a much heavier machine than other options. Because of this, you absolutely need two people in order to assemble it.
One of the major concerns when choosing which log splitter will be best for you is your own personal need. If you do not need the amount of tonnage that this machine offers, then you would be better off with a smaller, more portable option.
Speaking of portable, although this machine does come with a trailer hitch attachment, it is very heavy and cannot be moved without a tractor of some kind. If you plan on using this splitter by the woodpile, then this will not be a huge concern, just something to keep in mind.
Overall, although it is not as portable as other options, the Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SLS20825 25 Ton Gas Powered Log Splitter is an excellent heavy duty choice. If your log splitting needs fit the bill, this splitter can pretty much handle anything you throw at it.