Best Log Splitter Reviews and Buying Guide

Let’s be honest. It’s 2017 and none of us like to sweat bullets while wearing ourselves down with an ax. In addition to requiring more physical activity, splitting wood with an ax takes more time. As a result, when it comes the time to reward us for our effort – by sitting in front of the fire, our daylong exhaust takes its toll and we’re off to the bedroom.  It is where the best log splitter will come to our rescue.

The best log splitters take the backache out of splitting firewood, while also getting the job done quickly. If you are willing to spend extra, you can even get a log splitter with a built-in lift – meaning the stress of picking up heavy logs will be reduced.

Consequently, even if you have spent the whole day splitting woods with a log splitter, there would be no tiredness in the evening to stop you from partaking in your favorite activity.

Types of Log Splitters

Regardless of their model or brand, the best log splitters come in five major categories. Remember, each type has its pros and cons, meaning no single log splitter is the best for everyone. With this fact in mind, let’s take a look at the types of Log Splitters:-

Manual Log Splitter

In case you are wondering, no, these log splitters are not similar to your wood ax. Though they lack any power source like an ax, they are less tiring to use and require less effort than an ox.

Talking about the locus standi of manual log splitters, they offer more control by being specifically designed for handling logs. From the point of view of your safety, these logs would not deflect a blow to send the ax on a precarious path. Consequently, these are much safer to use.

However, though not competing with a wood ox, manual log splitters tire you out very fast. In fact, this is the major reason why most people turn to powered log splitters.

Hydraulic Log Splitter

As you might know already, hydraulic log splitters come in two types: electric and gas, with each of these splitters having their own pros and cons.

Talking about how hydraulic wood splitters work, the first step involves placing the log right in front of the wedge. Afterward, you press the button to get the lever into action. Next, the splitter strikes against the wedge with its full force, cutting the wood into two pieces.

However, one strike of the splitter might not be enough to give you the wood size you crave. Consequently, you may have to place the wood once again in the splitter – before repeating the whole process, to get wood suiting your needs.

Electric Log Splitters

Look at the functions of both the splitters, and you’d notice that the electric log splitters are the same as their gas-powered counterparts. The difference only lies in the way both of them are powered. For, instead of using a gas-powered engine, the electric splitters rely on electric motors.

One of the major advantages electric splitters offer is the freedom they provide. Provided you have electricity in the surrounding area, you can use them anywhere. Second, they are less expensive and also weigh lightly than gas-powered splitters. Lastly, these splitters require minimum maintenance – as you don’t have to change their oil or add fuel.

On the flip side, these splitters provide less power than their gas-powered counterparts. For example, while you can easily find a gas splitter at 34-ton level or above, electric splitters don’t usually come above the 10-ton level.

Also, as stated earlier, electric splitters cannot be used in an area where there is no electricity. Hence, provided you are on camping and feels like chopping wood, a generator is a must if you want to do the same using an electric wood splitter.

Gas Log Splitter

If you use wood as fuel, you may encounter logs that are tougher, larger than the average ones. In such a scenario, you need a gas log splitter to make your task easy.

Gas Log Splitters are better when it comes to supplying power. As suggested earlier, you can get a gas splitter ranging between 8-34 tons with ease. What’s more, commercial units offer even more power. Also, since they are more powerful, gas log splitters can deal with logs larger than 20’’ in length and 12’’ in diameter.

Looking at their dark side, these splitters are more expensive than electricity-powered splitters. Since they have a combustion engine, they would require as much maintenance – if not more – as your car’s internal combustion engine. Finally, since they emit harmful gases, it is recommended not to use gas log splitters near livestock or indoors where the ventilation is poor.

Kinetic Log Splitters

For those of you who split logs before selling it as firewood to make money, you’d want to get a large number of logs in quick succession for making money. If that’s the scenario you find yourself in, it’s time you turn to a kinetic log splitter.

Much to a layman’s surprise, the kinetic log splitters aren’t rated in tons. It is because they do not use hydraulics as a power source. Rather, they use a motor which either operates on electricity or gas to drive their flywheel. Once the flywheel is driven, a lot of energy is imparted to the arm, making kinetic log splitters the fastest at splitting logs.

Despite their curious way of working, kinetic wood splitters aren’t shy of oozing out huge power. For, even an average-sized such splitter would be more powerful than an equal-priced, 30-ton gas splitter.

What to Look For the best Log Splitter?

Until now, we were concerned with a more general discussion around log splitters. From here on, we are going to look at features which separate a log splitter from the riffraff.

Here are the features which define a quality log splitter.

Powerful motor

Regardless of which type of log splitter you choose, it should have enough power to split both wet and hard wood without straining. For this reason, while choosing a splitter, consistent its total RAM splitting force, total horsepower, and amps, before choosing a model that is adequate for your requirements.

Splitting Range

When determining the splitting range of a particular wood splitter, it is imperative you look at its log diameter and length range. Remember, it’s NEVER recommended that you buy a splitter which just meets your needs. For you might want to have a splitter whose diameter and log length – aka the splitting range, is MORE than what you need.

Hence, when choosing a log splitter, go for the one which has the ability to handle different lengths and diameters. For instance, for homeowners, a splitter with 12’’ diameter and 20’’ in length is a recommended size dimension. For commercial owners, they should not settle for anything less than a 25’’ total log size.

Wheels and Ball Hitches

As you already know, you should store your log splitter in a safe area – away from dust and rain – once you are done using it. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should lift it from one place to another. Rather, for easy portability, go for a splitter with wheels.

Second, if you think there might come a time when you need to tow your splitter, the best log splitters come with a ball hitch. Without a ball hitch, the smooth turning of the splitter while towing is impossible.

A Fast Cycle Time

Put simply, the cycle time suggests how long the splitter’s ram will take to go back to its original position after splitting. Hence, if you need more work done in less time, invest your money in a splitter with a fast cycle time.

Talking about cycle times, even the best wood splitters won’t go beyond the 15second mark. Splitters with such a cycle time won’t only increase your productivity but will also take care of your splitting efficiency.

All Steel Construction

It goes without saying that none of us like to have a wood splitter which catches rust after a few seasons. What we want, rather, is a splitter which could stay with us for ages, while also giving the advantages which come with trouble free splitting.

To make sure your wood splitter has a long shelf life, always insist on all steel construction. Though it might cost you more up front, an all-steel splitter won’t let you down in the long run.

Warranty

Talking about the best log splitters, most of them have a 1-year warranty at least. Some of them go as far as providing a 2-year limited warranty. Also, when buying a log splitter, make sure to read its reviews on any website you’re buying it from as well as from independent sources. These reviews might help you in gauging how good the splitter makes on its warranty claims.

Finally, choose a manufacturer which has a name in producing quality log splitters. Examples of such brands include Pow ‘R’ Craft, Powerhouse, Swisher, and Troy-Bilt.

How to Safely Use a Log Splitter

Common sense dictates that you should be careful in handling a machine whose hydraulic force approaches or exceeds 20tons. Make sure to keep the below mentioned safety tips in mind before start splitting wood.

Operating Position

When dealing with gas-powered splitters, stability is the key. Hence, make sure you place your splitter on a dry, flat, and solid surface. Once you have placed it in a secure spot, secure the splitter with the help of either heavy metal blocks or bricks by placing either both in front and behind the tires. In this way, when your log splitter will recoil on starting, it won’t move.

Next, come how you want to operate your splitter, and there are two choices in front of you: horizontal and vertical. Both these positions are equally good, meaning you can use either of them.

Before settling on any position, you have to release the beam lock and adjust its beam in your desired direction. Next, if you split wood vertically, the beam will need you to MANUALLY re-lock it. Failure to do so might result in terrible things.

However, if you have a knack of splitting wood vertically, the beam will lock itself automatically. Still, there is no harm in double checking just to be sure.

Control Handle

If you have worked with log splitters in the past, you’ll know that there control handle has three settings: forward, reverse, and neutral.

For the forward position, all you have to do is to move the control handle in the forward position. Afterward, once the wedge has split the wood into two pieces, all you have to do is to release the position for the wedge to automatically return to tis neutral position.

A neutral position, meanwhile, works in the same way as your car’s hand brake: it stops the log splitter in an instant. Whenever you’ll release the handle – or move it to neutral position manually, the wedge’s movements will come to a halt.

Remember, only after you’ve split one log will the reverse position of the control handle come into play. You’d manually move the control handle to its reverse position to move the wedge to its original position.

Let’s start some splitting

  • Position the log so that its face faces the endplate. Also, make sure the log’s position goes against its wood’s grain
  • To keep the log steady, only place your hand on log on the side opposite to the beam.
  • To start working, just change the control handle to its forward position. From here on, the wedge will do all the work
  • Once the wedge splits the log – or contacts it – remove your left hand while also holding the control handle in its forward position.
  • To get the wedge to a halt, release the control handle
  • To get the wedge to return to its starting position, position the control handle at its reverse position.

Safety Tips

  • If yours isn’t an electric log splitter, the noise will be immense. Hence, to save your ears in such a scenario, wearing an adequate hearing protector
  • Regardless of the log splitter you are using, eye protection is a MUST to prevent any dust or debris from getting into your eyes
  • While splitting wood, some pieces might fall on your feet. Therefore, if the weather isn’t too brutal, wear steel-toed boots.
  • Never wear loose clothes or jewelry that might get entangled in the rotating or moving parts of the splitter
  • If there are any bystanders, children or pets standing nearby – they shouldn’t be – make sure they are standing at least 20feet away from the working area
  • To save your back, invest in a splitter which comes with either a feature lift or any other height adjustment. If your working area is far from where you’re going to place your logs, invest in a trolley to carry the logs or better, get a portable splitter.
  • Finally, when starting your machine for the first time, read its instruction manual carefully. You might already be aware of what’s going to happen, but it never pains to be doubly careful.

YARDMAX YS0552 5 Ton Electric Log Splitter, Stand, Log Tray

When discussing the features you may want in your log splitter, we forgot the mention of log tray. Luckily, YARDMAX didn’t, which means you can split longer than average logs using this splitter.

Want to know more about how this log splitter might benefit you? Scroll down.

Features

First thing first, the Yardmax YS0552 is by no means a log splitter which you can use for any commercial endeavors you may engage in. Rather, as its five ton RAM force might suggest – as well as its external appearance, this log splitter has the tag “for home use only” marked on its forehead. Hence, if you want a log splitter for any other purpose, this one may not suit you.

Moving on, the Yardmax YS0552 is a half beam wood splitter, meaning it can accommodate logs ranging up to 25.5’’ in size. Half beam splitters differ from their full beam counterparts as they are modern, have an ergonomic design and are easy to use.

Also, most people find such splitters easy to use for the simple fact that their operating lever provides easier handling by being in a better position. Finally, since the wheels are close to the machine, you can easily work around this log splitter.

Another notable feature of this splitter is one person assembly. Consequently, even if you have no help available at your disposal, you can easily assemble the machine before starting. You’d also get maximum stability with this machine thanks to its carefully mounted hydraulic reservoir.

Mounted at the center of the machine, the hydraulic reservoir gives the unit an excellent center of gravity. It means that even when you are working with heavier logs, the machine wouldn’t simply tip over, hence ensuring your safety.

Continuing our talk about safety, Yardmax has provided this particular model with a two-handed operation. It means that it is safe for you to control the machine with both your hands even when it is in operation. As a result, it would be more stable and ensure safety.

Finally, despite being built for homeowners, the Yardmax YS0552 isn’t by any means cheap. Probably that is the reason why Yardmax has provided it with a host of accessories, including the stand, log tray and may favorite stroke limiter.

By reducing the amount of time the splitter will take to split logs on the shorter end, the stroke limiter, in turn, results in a short cycle time of only 16seconds. It means that even when you’re running late, you can use this splitter to get some quality wood in quick time.

Pros

  • Safe to use
  • Minimum cycle time
  • Has a long list of extras included in the package
  • Requires minimal assembly
  • Two-year limited warranty for residential users

Cons

  • Heavy
  • The wheels are of poor quality

Final Verdict

Despite boosting a short cycle time, a stroke limiter and a log tray, this machine could still have done better were its wheels were of better quality. Still, it has all the attributes to meet a homeowner’s requirements.

Champion Power Equipment 90720

Despite being a relatively new brand, Champion Power Equipment won’t feel you by producing low quality products. The company has made some quality log splitters of late and when you have looked at the features of 90720, you’ll notice the same.

Features

Starting our review of this splitter by looking at its ram power, and its users have reported that the Champion probably lies on the low end of the power spectrum of wood splitters. As a result, while its manufacturer has rated it suitable for handing 20’’ logs, this splitter is probably better at handling those around 18’’ or below.

As for its assembly, I have to say that getting this machine up and ready is impossible if you are alone. While the machine weighs just north of 100lbs, the package in which it will be delivered would be 170lbs plus. As a result, it would be easier for you to engage a helping hand, first in its unpacking and later in its assembling.

One thing you may notice on seeing this splitter for the first time is its low profile. It’s a bit curious, to be honest for a splitter handling 18’’ size logs. Anyhow, to prevent any back pains – which will come if you place it on level floor – better place the splitter on the table.

Having discussed your comfort factor, we now take in the performance of this splitter, and that is where the skewed wedge comes into play.

By placing the log at a tilted angle, the wedge makes it easier for the Champion to split it. Also, once one cycle is completed – one cycle takes 20seconds – you won’t have to manually return the control valve to its starting position. For, it has an auto-return feature to do the same.

Lastly, if you’re still skeptical about whether the Champion deserves your money or not, the 2-year limited warranty with which it comes should be enough to soothe your nerves.

Pros

  • Has a 2-year limited warranty
  • Improved splitting via a skewed wedge
  • Low profile design makes it easy to split heavier logs

Cons

  • Cannot be towed

Final Verdict

Overall, if you are looking for a log splitter that is powerful – and also keeps your safety supreme, the Champion Power Equipment 90720 is better than most available in the market.

Go plus New 1500W 6 Ton Electric Hydraulic Log Splitter

Despite being not as famous a brand as someone like Yardmax, Go Plus has churned out a brilliant quality product in its New 1500W Electric Log Splitter. It might not be the most powerful in the market – it certainly isn’t the most powerful in this review, but this splitter does the job for which it is praised really well.

Features

Grown tired of the incessant noise produced by a gasoline-powered log splitter? Want to give your ears a rest? You cannot do better than the Go Plus New 1500W Electric Splitter. Due to the simple fact that it runs on electricity, this product makes minimum noise while doing maximum work.

Secondly, since this product has been given an IP54 rating, it means that it provides brilliant protection against water, while also holding its own against dirt. That means that even if you forget to store it indoor on a particular day – and it rains – the splitter will be safe.

In addition to protecting itself from harsh weather conditions, this splitter would protect you from any electrical hazards as well, as suggested by its Class B insulation rating. This rating renders the splitter capable of handling temperatures as high as 130*F without damaging its motor.

On towards the “real” features and once again the Go Plus splitter doesn’t fail to amaze. It has a 6ton rating which means you can split woods as large as 20’’ in diameter. This splitter also has a secure set of wheels making it super portable

Pros

  • Portable
  • Waterproof
  • Protects its motor from any overheating damage
  • No noise

Cons

  • Some customers have complained of faulty customer service

Final Verdict

In addition to being noise free, this wood splitter is water proof and will also protect the motor in the unlikely scenario of getting overheated. What more can you ask!

Dirty Hand Tools 100171, 22 Ton Horizontal/Vertical Gas Log Splitter

Of all the products we have mentioned this far in our review, the Dirty Hand Tools 100171 is undoubtedly the most expensive.

Is it worth the extra price, you may ask? Let’s find out.

Features

When you see such a product which has an astronomical price tag, you expect to see some out-of-the-world features for justification. Luckily, the Dirty Hand Tools 100171 just has those features.

Firstly, this model has a 6.5hp engine which churns out enough power to split virtually any log you place in front of it. Be it knotty wood, twisted pieces of oak or even the crotches which you found impossible to split by hand, all of them can be easily managed using this splitter.

It comes with an adjustable detent making and a standard auto run, meaning you can just hit the lever and allow the edge to return to its starting position while you grab another piece of wood. Plus, since it has a cycle time of only 10.9 seconds, by the time you get back to work with another piece in your hand to split, the splitter will be ready to go.

The log cradles are also on the beefier side, making it extremely easy for you to place a log on the unit, without any doubt of it rolling off. Also, if your wood stove or fireplace accepts only a certain sized log, you can use the tape sticker attached to the machine’s size to measure your logs.

Lastly, if you have a log which is too long, you don’t have to cut it manually to be placed inside the wedge. For, the splitter gives you the option with which you can trim virtually any log before splitting it into pieces.

Pros

  • Heavy duty beam and hydraulic ram
  • Trims logs which are too long before splitting them
  • Has an adjustable detent making and auto rerun feature
  • 9second cycling time

Cons

  • Expensive

Final Verdict

Although you may find the price tag way too expensive, compare this model with other 22-ton log splitters, and you’d come to know that it is still affordable.

Ytl International YTL23101 10-Ton Manually Operated Log Splitter

Have accumulated weight of late? Want to shed some pounds while preparing firewood for the upcoming winter? It means you need the YTL23101.

Features

It’s a no brainer that the YTL23101 won’t be as easy to use as its powered counterparts mentioned in this review. Still, thanks to its double steel handle operation, this model is much easier to navigate than similar – or even high priced manual splitters.

Provided you are willing to expend some power, this machine can split logs of up to 18’’ in length. It will do that by its ram stroke, which, once again, would have to rely on your power to get the job done amicably.

What’s more, to guarantee that you’d get fast and efficient splitting with this machine, YTL International has provided it with a two speed hydraulic pump. Consequently, this model is very easy to operate by hand, particularly when you compare it with other manual log splitters.

Still, if you have some doubts about its performance – and want some assurances to remove them – the fact that this model comes with a 1-year warranty should be enough to soothe your nerves.

Pros

  • Easy to operate
  • Has a 1-year warranty
  • Splits small and medium sized logs effortlessly
  • Best for home and lighter industrial usage

Cons

  • Expensive for a manual log splitter

Final Verdict

If you feel like bringing back the memories of good old days – when you just had your ax and piles of wood lying in front of you – this log splitter is as close as you can get without getting yourself seriously tired in the process.

Conclusion

Although the next season of Game of Thrones won’t be here by 2019, winter is still coming and we have to prepare for it. And there is no best way to do so than to have some quality firewood in our garage. And to get some quality firewood, you need the best log splitter at your disposal.