A Practical Guide To Buying Your First Log Splitter

how to use a log splitter

What Is A Log Splitter?

A log splitter is a machine used to split firewood from both hardwood and softwood logs. It helps take the effort out from splitting with hands. These log splitters consist of an electrical rod or hydraulic rod and piston assembly. They are rated depending on tons of force the individual tool or model can generate.

The models and designs come with specifications of wood cutting needs. That’s why the higher the rating of log splitter, the longer the length and thickness it can split. Many use hydraulic as it creates stronger pressure to handle various sized tasks.


How Does A Log Splitter Work?

A log splitter is a simple hydraulic tool you can find and easy to use. It comes with all basic components present in the hydraulic machine.

It has a four-stroke gasoline engine used in delivering power to the system. The engine of the splitter is attached to its hydraulic oil pump. And the hydraulic oil pump will create a high-pressure oil stream to run to valves. These valves allow you to actuate the hydraulic cylinder while splitting a log.

The machine has a tank that holds hydraulic oil, feeds the pump, and a filter to clean the oil. There is an indicator of high-pressure oil and low-pressure oil. But activating the piston, you’ll click a button.

Loading the log depends on the splitter. Some you load horizontal and others vertically. After you load, turn the valve ON and the splitter will push the log towards the splitting wedge. After you split the log, return the valve to retract the cylinder. For a manual model, you have to operate the level until it splits the log.

As you’ve seen, it is easy to operate a log splitter but be careful about how you handle it. Also, don’t attempt to split anything else unless firewood. If you experiment with the machine, it might not only injure you but also cause serious damage.




What Types of Log Splitters Are There?

The main difference between log splitters depends on the way they are powered and their capacity. Before you choose the log splitter you need, always pay attention to the logs you want to split. That ensures the machine you buy has strength for the task required.

Here are the types of log splitters:

Gas Splitters

There are different gas models and they vary in size. These are small log splitters and more portable for firewood splitting. However, there are large and more powerful gas splitters designed to use for commercial purposes or heavy workloads.

Gas splitters use 4-stroke gas engines to build pressure in the hydraulic oil pump. After the pressure is built, its high-pressure oil will activate the valve. Many gas splitters can cut logs vertically and horizontally.

When you want to maintain gas log splitters always check and replace tubes, lubricate moving parts, change the hydraulic fluid, and ensure the engine is in good working condition.


  • Most powerful choices
  • Numerous models to choose
  • Durable and long-lasting


  • Requires frequent maintenance
  • Loud

Electric Log Splitters

Comparing to gas models, electric splitters are small and lightweight. Electric splitters are suited to be used in residential areas as they are easy to transport, quiet, easy to store, and compact design. Electric splitters use a standard 110/120 Volt outlet directly thus conventional tool. Besides, these tools can run indoors without experiencing fumes in the house. However, they are limited in the activities they can handle although average sized logs pose no problem.


  • Can be used indoors
  • Compact and easy to transport
  • Powerful


  • Horizontal designed models
  • Limited to size of log woods

Manual-hydraulic Splitters

Manual-hydraulic splitters are the type that relies on manpower. The power will build pressure on machines hydraulic oil making it efficient.

The design can be horizontal or vertical but you have to use a handle or foot pedal. These splitters are perfect to use for small to medium-sized firewood logs.


  • Lightweight
  • Powerful design
  • Easy to store
  • Reduce splitting time drastically


  • Limited log length
  • Low profile thus requires bending

Skid Steer Splitters & Three-point Splitters

The type has large and very powerful types of log splitters. You have to hook directly to the front end loader, Bobcat, or tractor for power and hauling. They can handle massive loads of wood logs of different sizes.

The design is popular and most used in farms and ranches works. They are suitable for commercial purposes or clearing land.

When maintaining this machine, check at fluids, hydraulic hoses, and lubricate all moving parts. Also, connect it to the machine depending on where it works perfectly because not all are universal.


  • Works fast
  • Uses existing power source
  • Incredibly powerful


  • Requires an external power source
  • You have to attach others using your means

Kinetic Splitters

Kinetic splitters are suitable for large logs as they have strong hanging jaws. The type of splitter can be powered by gas or electricity. They don’t use hydraulics but have stored energy applied when you spin the flywheels. The energy is released at once into a wide variety of logs of ages and sizes.

The machines have the power to work powerful and fast to handle all types of wood logs. Similar to other log splitters, it requires general maintenance such as maintaining the gas engine and lubricating moving parts.


  • Easy to use on DIY projects
  • Handles a large log easily
  • Powerful and convenient


  • It requires more space
  • Not easy to find in the market

Screw Type Splitter

This type of splitter is also called auger type. It is popular for DIY although available for sale. You can also buy a kit depending on your needs. Screw type splitters are powered by electric or gas engine.

Operating these types of log splitters is easy. You only turn the screw head and push your log to split. Auger type of log splitters is powerful and effective. Nevertheless, the machine is simple to make and customize.

It is easy to maintain this type of machine. As you do with any machine, you have to lubricate the moving parts. Replace the belt if needed. Take care of other parts such as the gas engine, replace won out cord for electric engines, and check for inconsistency while using.


  • Highly effective
  • Customizable
  • Easy to make
  • Allows fast working


  • Limitation on size and features


How large of a log splitter do I need?

Don’t take splitting logs tightly, but you’ve no other option when you need firewood to use for heating purposes. If you do it manually, it takes much effort and time. A log splitter saves time as it split wood faster. There are many sizes you can choose from. Consider these factors to choose how large a log splitter you need:

  1. Type of Wood Pile – Choose a splitting machine depending on the hardness of the wood you plan to cut. Not all wood has the same hardness, and the softness or hardness will determine the force needed or amount of tonnage.
  2. Log Sizes – Choose a splitting machine based on logs width. Powerful machines easily split logs having a larger diameter. For example, for a tree log of 24-35″ diameter, you can use a 35-ton unit.
  3. Log Splitter Tonnage – The log splitter tonnage is the force the splitter machine will exert on a log while splitting it. The higher the tonnage the higher the force the exerted on the log and can easily cut big and hardwood logs. For low tonnage, these are machines with less exert force and consume less energy.
  4. Choose depending on log tonnage that ranges between 4 – 60 tons. Therefore, choose depending on the diameter and hardness of the wood.
  5. Amount of Wood to Split – If you’re looking to buy a split machine depending on the amount of wood to split, consider the automatic ram return time of the machine. The feature ensures the machine cuts lots of wood quickly. The lesser time you spend cutting wood, the extended time you’ll have to enjoy your fire.
  6. Cycle Time – Cycle time refers to the amount of time your splitting machine will need to split logs. Fast cycle time means the machines will split logs fast. A reasonable machine should have 15-16 seconds of cycle time. Fast cycle times machine makes you tired to keep up with their speed.
  7. Motor Power and Quality – Choose a machine with enough motor power such that it has horsepower that can cut the wood logs. Also, look at hydraulic capacity, engineering, and level of construction. These determine how your machine will split the wood.
  8. Machine’s Average Log Length – The splitter machine you choose depends on the average length of your logs. You can have a useless machine if it can’t split the logwood. You can choose to chop short logs but it will be waste of time.
  9. Location of Logs – If you want to split logs but they are not in the same place, it means a portable splitter will serve you best. There are small portable log splitters with a ball hatch or wheels for easy transportation.