5 Reasons You Need a Log Splitter

Let a modern marvel of engineering save you from sore muscles and an aching back

man cutting logs
With the help of a log splitter, you can slice and stack several cords of firewood in no time.Champion Power Equipment

It has been said that firewood warms you twice: once when you chop it and again when it goes up in flames. But if you’re the type of person that only needs to enjoy the flame portion, you may be interested in a log splitter. These handy devices make short work of bite-sized tree chunks into something your stove or fireplace can easily digest without having to work up too much of a sweat. There’s a number of log splitters to choose from, so here are a few things to consider.

Density

Champion log splitter
If you’re working with hardwoods, you’ll need a machine with a significant amount of splitting force.Amazon

Trees can be broken into two basic categories: hardwoods and softwoods. As the name implies, hardwoods are denser and therefore tougher. Softwoods have more space between the wood fibers, making them softer and less dense. Hardwoods like oak and hickory produce the most heat, so you'll want to burn them whenever possible. But that means you'll need a splitter capable of producing a significant amount of splitting force, or tonnage.

Seasoning

Lumberjack log splitter
Logs that have little to no moisture are easier to split than green wood.Amazon

The amount of moisture in a log determines how quickly and evenly it will burn. It also effects its hardness. A freshly felled tree is full of moisture and tough to split. Waiting at least six months for the logs to dry out before splitting makes the task easier, but you can accelerate the seasoning process by increasing the wood's surface area. If you're going to split green wood you'll need more pressure, so again, look for a machine with a lot of splitting force.

Diameter

Boss log splitter
If you’re splitting dried, 12-inch diameter logs, you can get away with a seven-ton splitter.Amazon

The force needed to split and quarter logs depends largely on the log's thickness. If the average log you encounter is less than 12 inches in diameter, you can get away with a splitter that produces 16 tons of pressure for green wood, or seven tons if you took the time to dry the wood. But if you're going to be working with green logs double that size you'll be best suited with a unit that produces 30 tons of force or more.

How Much Wood Could A Log Splitter Split

Champion 7-Ton Compact Horizontal Gas Log Splitter with Auto Return
If you plan to cut a lot of wood, look for a splitter with a high cycle time.Champion

How much wood you'll be putting up each year is one of the biggest factors you'll need to consider when looking at log splitters. If you're just going to split a few cords a year at a leisurely pace, you can use a light-duty model designed for occasional use. But if you're going to be splitting significant quantities, you should look for a model with a higher duty cycle.

Electric, Gas, or Manual?

Kindling Cracker log splitter
If you decide to also split wood manually, a stationary splitter and sledgehammer is all you need.Amazon

A splitter's hydraulic ram does all work, but the pump that sends it the fluid it needs to work must be powered by something. In this case, the obvious advantage of an electric motor is they run silent and can produce an incredible amount of torque in a small size. Unfortunately, they need to be plugged in, which means working next to your house or in conjunction with a generator. You can operate gas models anywhere, but also have the added upkeep and noise associated with an internal combustion engine. Of course, you can still grab a maul and do it by hand if you prefer.