Axes are probably one of the oldest tools known to man; and in reality, this simple wedge can perform a great many things that other tools can’t. However, there are a lot of things that axes just can’t do.
In these situations, what you really need is a robust cutting tool that takes muscle strength out of the equation- you should find the best log splitter for your specific needs, to reduce the time you spend cutting wood.
When Do I Need a Log Splitter?
If you live in an area where you regularly need firewood or have to chop down logs you probably don’t have time to cut each individual tree or branch with an axe, and if you try to do so you would probably enjoy yourself. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about throwing your back out, or injuring your shoulder because you can purchase one of many options of wonderful and affordable log-splitters that make easy work out of even the biggest piles of timber.
The top ones come in many different shapes and sizes. There are all kinds of brands, and many different varieties. Generally, the most powerful ones are powered by gas (and the most portable too), but electrically powered and manually powered options are often more economical. Both electrically and gas-powered splitters chop wood extremely fast.
Manual models rely on you pushing or pulling a mechanism to talk, which can get tiring after a while. That being
said, there are five categories that most people consider purchasing the “top rated log splitter.”
Different Log-Splitter Categories: Which One Fits You More?
These five categories are:
1. Manually powered log splitters
2. Electrically powered hydraulic
3. Gas powered hydraulic splitters
4. Machine mounted splitters that are used with tractors
5. Kinetic log splitters
We typically don’t mention tractor pull log splitters for kinetic because the average person wouldn’t purchase or maintain these models. They’re simply too robust in too pricey for most budgets, unless you’re either going into business or need one for and agricultural purpose. In which case you would need to read our other article about heavy duty log-splitters.
Choosing the “Best Wood Splitter”: Which Model of Log Splitter is Right For Me?
When push comes to shove, 8 tomorrow has its comparative advantages and disadvantages. Manual log splitting models usually require a little more force to use, which makes them a little less popular, but they’re also more affordable than other models, and still more effective at splitting than an axe.
When you think of the type of splitter that you’re wanting to buy, you’re probably imagining a hydraulic log-splitter. These types of splitters make mincemeat out of lumber, delivering powerful results each and every time you use them. The two main types of hydraulic models are gas powered hydraulic and electrically powered hydraulic log splitters.
The biggest difference between these two models is obviously the power source; because both use a piston to crush through seams in wood with a hydraulic pump (similar to a vehicle lift) that pushes a log into a blade. The top-rated log splitters come with double edged blades that bite into wood in both directions.
When you finally do decide what you’re going to get, hydraulic log splitters will surprise you. They cut through firewood extremely quickly, especially after you get in a rhythm and start chopping two or three pieces of kindling every few seconds. What’s even better is that you can usually get the size you want, just by re-feeding timber back through the mechanism.
What Features to Consider when Buying One?
- Horizontal-vertical log splitters let you cut logs in different positions when you can’t move big logs
- Some log splitters have built in work tables that keep logs comfortably situated, so you don’t have to bend up or down.
- What size of logs can the log splitter you’re looking at cut? You have to consider the type and size of logs you use before actually purchasing a device.
- Can you tow it around? The best log splitters have towing packages that let you move it around town with ease. Some are even DOT approved (with lights and license placards) for public roads. Others offer expansion kits that make towing your log splitter more of an option.
- Splitting power is a serious concern. Some flywheel log splitters can handle huge loads, but they usually cost a pretty penny. Hydraulic log splitters are rated to a specific tonnage. It’s best to check the pressure density of the wood that you’re cutting to ensure it falls within parameters specified by the splitter.
What Features do the Best Electric Log Splitters Have?
With plenty of power, no gas, and no exhaust there are a lot of reasons you might want to choose an electric log splitter.
First you can use them indoors, which is very useful if you have a lot of bad weather forecasts, such as in Seattle or in the mountains. Unfortunately, when you do plan on using them outside you have to have a constant source of electricity. If you want to use them a long ways from your house, you’ll probably have to have a very long extension cord; and this can become a tripping Hazard.
On the bright side, most electric models are far cheaper than their gas-powered alternatives. If you don’t need the extra power, and you’re not worried about moving around a lot, you would probably be happy with these kinds of affordable log splitters.
Believe it or not, these kinds of log splitters are actually cleaner on the environment, too. You don’t have to worry about emissions, smoke, soot, or any other greenhouse gases. Because there’s an electric motor, you won’t have to worry about oil as much, or maintain the engine as often. You should also consider the cost of gas over the lifetime of your log splitter, especially if you’re going to be using it semi-regularly.
The drawbacks are that electric log splitters typically have less power than their gas alternatives. Most can split about 4 to 7 tons, but more robust models can split as much as 30 tons.
What Features do the Best Gas Log Splitters Have?
Gas-powered log splitters are the more versatile cousin of the electric log splitter. They aren’t tied down, and you can take them wherever you need them to go, even if it’s in the middle of a forest.
You can find a lot of power with gas models as well. The reality of the situation is that the best, most expensive gas models far outclass the best electric models.
When it comes to to pure crushing power, you’re going to need a gas log splitter if you have to cut hardwood or other resilient types of wood, or if you need to talk a lot of wood fast.
They do require regular maintenance, oil, and lots and lots of gas, which can get expensive.
So, Which Log Splitters are the Best?
We know that you haven’t got the time to check out every single log splitter out there, so we’ve put the most affordable log splitters with the best ratings on this list, and done the leg-work for you, to help make your job a little easier.
Top 5 Rated Log-Splitter Comparisons
When you’re splitting logs under 10” in diameter, the WEN 56206 is perfect for you needs. It has a low- maintenance 2 HP engine that decimates small logs. It only delivers 6 tons of overall power, but it’s one of the cheapest models on the market, and one of the safest, too. It’s impossible to get any body parts stuck in this machine, making it a good buy.
You’ll love how portable this log splitter is, and how easy it is to use. It’s ultra safe, extremely lightweight, and easy to maintain, so you’ll get several years of use out of it. This particular model is one of the best selling log splitters you can buy, because it’s such a great deal (and highly versatile).
The major drawback to this model is that you have to monitor the diameter of the logs that you’re putting into the machine. You want to be careful not to overload the ramming mechanism, or you could risk breaking the pump.
Some other great features on the WEN 56206 include:
- Super quiet and easy to use.
- Incredibly reliable operation and easy to use wiring systems conform to household current.
- You can use this model indoors without any issues
- Easy-to-grip comfort handles make operation smooth and streamlined
The Powerhouse is true to its name, packing a huge amount of power in a small package. It’s highly portable, easy to use, and starts on a dime. You don’t have to worry about stopping either, it works quickly on logs that are bigger than what the WEN 56206 can handle (12”). With its easy to use design and space conservative approach, it can decimate as many as 100 logs an hour, if you can keep up.
This particular model operates about a 6 second split, which is important to remember when choosing a model. Never pick a model that moves faster than you do, or you’re just asking to hurt your fingers. This model is pretty powerful, so it’s less likely to spend time inside your house unless you’ve got a pretty sizable garage.
What really makes this model great is how well it fits into your everyday life. As long as you’re careful, this model has a robust enough engine to handle pretty much anything except hardwood. Most of the time, if you’re willing to break hardwood into smaller pieces, you can get it to work, no matter how dense it is.
Some other features that the Powerhouse log splitter offers include:
- Portable yet powerful 3 HP engine to handle most types of timber.
- Relatively lightweight at just over 100 pounds
- Easily connected to a tow package for easier portablility
- Sizable ram travel distance gives you plenty of room to place timber.
Boss Industrial has a reputation of having high quality products that stand up to a lot of wear and tear, and have a great record of customer satisfaction. It has a fixed blade in conjunction with one handed operation that makes it easier to get in a rhythm to cut more wood. It’s only got a 2 HP engine, but claims to be able to stand up to aspen, spruce, oak, cherry, and pine, so it packs enough power. It’s good for everyday use and provides a decent 7 ton force that will chop most wood you put in it (under 10” in diameter).
This model looks great and smashes logs with ease. It’s got a pretty sizable canister though, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re giving it enough room to operate. Most people that have used this model are very pleased with its rate of splitting. Plus, it’s automatic, reducing the amount of work that you have to do.
The biggest drawback of this model is the price- you have to be willing to pay a little bit extra for a premium product with a high quality warranty. Boss Industrial has one of the most extensive warranties out there.
Some other great features that the Boss Industrial offers include:
- The Boss Industrial provides over 3,500 PSI of hydraulic pressure with one hand, giving a smoother thrusting action.
- The ram returns automatically, to save you extra leaning and stretching
- Powerful 7 inch steel wedge slices through lumber.
- Comes fully assembled, and it’s lightweight and super portable.
The Champion is higher priced than most of these other models, but it really stands up to its name. It handles a huge amount of lumber, and delivers an insane amount of pressure for its weight (less than 150 pounds). It’s efficient, automatic, and cuts wood in about 3 to 4 seconds.
It comes with easy to use wheels too- so you never have to worry about picking it up. This variable changes when you fill it up with gas, but this part’s important if you’re loading it into your vehicle.
The Champion is gas powered, so you can’t run it inside. On that note, it would be perfect to mount on a trailer and take out with you in the woods, or mount and cover outside your house. It’s got a lightweight operation that makes it perfect for anyone, no matter how much strength you have.
Some other great features that the Champion 90720 Gas Powered log splitter offers:
- 3GPM- 3000 maximum PSI output for a wide variety of log
- Operates with exceptional ease, and has push button start that makes it a breeze to use.
- The automatic ram means that you don’t even have to press it.
- Offers one handed functionality for ease of use.
With four ton capacity, this model delivers serious power, pushing over 8,000 pounds of pressure in just one thrust. The arm is completely automated, making it exceptionally easy to use and operate. It will split practically any log up to 12” in diameter and 20” in width with ease, and it arrives fully assembled so you can take it outside and start working.
The WoodEze has a different design than other models. It’s smooth and streamlined, but long and kind of awkward. Make sure you have enough room to operate the ramming mechanism so that it doesn’t get jammed or stuck. It’s also important to remember that this model is operating with electricity, so you can use it indoors without any carbon monoxide risks, perfect for smaller logs.
Other features of the WoodEze 4 Ton include:
- Cuts exceptionally fast and efficiently with automatic ram action
- 4 tons of crushing power decimates pretty much any sized wood
- Easy to use and operate
- Provides single arm use for easier handling and manuevering
- Light weight design delivers ultimate portability.
Remembering Safety: What Safety Features do Log Splitters Have?
Obviously, something that decimates logs and other wood piles shouldn’t be handled lightly. Always follow all safety guidelines for these products to ensure that you aren’t going to get injured during use. Remember to wear safety goggles and safety gloves to protect yourself against splinters and flying timber.
Luckily, most devices have safety features that prevent you from hurting yourself, but it’s still important to be careful. Always stay in the log splitter’s safety zone to ensure that you aren’t going to do any damage to yourself or anyone else.
Some wood splitters are also very loud, so you might need ear protection, because prolonged exposure to a loud noise (over 15 minutes) without hearing protection can cause hearing loss. You should also avoid having anyone around you without hearing protection, because this could risk their hearing as well (causing future hearing problems).
Every log splitter has a safety zone that prevents injury. This area is called the operator zone. Only the person using the log splitter should be in this zone. You should also respect the size of the log that the splitter says it can handle. Improperly loading or overloading a log splitter can cause a piston to break, which could cause a fatal injury.
REMEMBER: Always wear safety goggles, safety boots, and safety gloves. Make sure that you’re working sensibly, and for God’s sake, never work with dangling jewelry, long hair exposed, a necktie, or long sleeves. They could get caught and cause a LOT of pain.
Deciding Which Log Splitter You Should Pick Shouldn’t Be a Headache
As a homeowner, most simple gas and electric models will do just fine, giving you a much simpler option to demolish a sizable pile of timber for the winter. You’ll probably read a lot of information about the “power of a flywheel log splitter” but they’re often extremely expensive. Unless you’re chopping some serious timber, you probably only need a relatively simple and basic system.
Imagine how much of a favor you’re going to be doing yourself- eliminating a huge amount of backbreaking labor, plus 10-38 tons of pressing power to give you a little extra time to do what you want to do, instead of what you have to do.
Hopefully our guide on choosing the best log splitter has helped you make the best buying decision possible! Remember 4 things when making your purchase!
- Pick a high quality brand! Some brands are better than others, even if they might not want to admit it. You’re more likely to be happier with a model with a better warranty too, because you can replace broken parts easily.
- If you aren’t going to perform regular maintenance, it’s generally better to purchase an electric model because you aren’t going to have as many overhead costs over the operation of your log splitter. Many of the best models require a lot of maintenance just to make sure they’re running efficiently.
- Don’t be afraid to spend money if you’re going to be regularly using your wood splitter. If you don’t, you’re going to be disappointed, overload your machine, or cause accident or injury, so don’t push it! Get the more robust model if you want to chop a lot of word, enough said.
- Make sure to do your research and ask questions! Look at the types of wood around you that you’ll be splitting and make your decision from there. Often, this approach eliminates many models that are unrealistic, too expensive, or unnecessary.
These tactics ensure that you find something that you’re really happy with for the entire duration of the product. Considering external costs can be important too, especially if the costs of fuel rise significantly, or if you’re unable to get to the store to purchase more gas for your log splitter.
In general, these models are very well received by customers. They’ve all got high ratings and operate very well. The WoodEze model is a viable option for splitting logs. On the other hand, only a few people have reviewed the more expensive log splitters, making it difficult to adequately judge the popularity of any one model.