It sucks. Splitting firewood with an axe. In addition to taking up more time, splitting firewood with an axe consumes more energy. And unless you are doing it for exercise, there’s simply no reason why one should ignore the advantage a modern wood cutting tool might provide. Did I just say “modern tool”? You bet, for this is the category to which a manual wood splitter belong.
Despite not costing as much as, say an electric wood splitter, a manual wood splitter makes splitting firewood easy. What’s more, they are lighter, more compact and are easier to transport than their powered counterparts.
Thus, whether you are looking for a (relatively) easy way to split firewood, or just can’t afford the money a powered wood cutting tool demand, you need a manual wood splitter and this guide will help you in buying just that.
Features to Look For In A Manual Log Splitter
Ask yourself: do you want your manual wood splitter just for splitting firewood or for doing the same easily? I think you already know the answer, as it is the latter option that you want. Guess what, we ticked the same option in selecting wood splitters for this review.
Here are some features which make a manual log splitter easy and efficient to use:
You might be splitting firewood in the same place for decades, but it is handy to have a wood splitter which is portable. Consider, for example, a likely scenario when the splitter is due to its maintenance. What would you like to do: asking friends to help you lift up the splitter so you can haul it in your car or just push it on its wheels?
Therefore, regardless of the splitter you choose – be it a manual or any other log splitter – make sure it is easy to transport.
As you might guess, manual wood splitter CANNOT rival hydraulic log splitters when it comes to driving force. However, that doesn’t mean that you should buy a manual splitter which asks you to apply the same force as, let’s say, an axe.
For example, to ensure that you have to apply less driving force, some manual log splitters offer the option of a driving tool, such as a hammer. Such driving tools drive into the wedge, even by allowing you to exert less force.
Whether you are a homeowner who splits wood as a hobby or a person who sells firewood to earn money, you should look at the splitting range – aka the length and diameter range of the splitter, you are going to buy.
One mistake most people make, after understanding the importance of splitting range, is to buy a splitter which just about meets their requirements. In other words, they go for a splitter whose length and diameter range just meets their needs.
As you might guess, this is a wrong approach. Therefore, when buying a manual log splitter, always choose a unit whose settling range is MORE than your needs. Only by doing this can you make sure that the upcoming wood splitter would match your requirements for years to come.
Cycle time means the time your splitter will take between one strike to the next. As evinced by this definition, the less the cycle time, the more wood you’ll be able to split in less time.
The best manual wood splitters have a cycle time of less than 1minute. There are others i.e. a splitting axe, who have a cycle time of as much as 3minutes. It is in stark contrast to both the electric and gas wood splitters both of whom have cycle times of 2-15seconds and 8-17seconds respectively.
If you are going to buy a manual hydraulic splitter (discussed below), you need to gauge the splitting pressure it will apply on the wood in tons. While a greater splitting pressure would mean better wood splitting, it would also mean that you’d have to apply more force.
For, manual hydraulic splitters operate just like your car’s jack: you have to apply force to make them move. Hence, if they are going to give greater force ahead, you’d have to apply greater force as well.
Types of Manual Log Splitters
There are many types of manual log splitters, be it a kindle splitter, a slide hammer or a splitting wedge. To keep things simple, we have only decided to include the most-used types in this review.
Take a look:
If you want a splitter which doesn’t cut the wood fibers apart but just splits them, you need a splitting axe. With the advent of technology, the modern splitting axes have been provided with a fiberglass handle to make them lightweight. Also, due to their light weight, splitting axes containing a fiberglass handle are extremely sharp and easy to swing.
Manual Hydraulic Log Splitter
As suggested by their name, such splitters utilize hydraulics to split woods apart. In their operation, these wood splitters are similar to their jack; they are hand-powered and you’d have to pump their handle back and forth for them to split wood. In the meantime, the hydraulic piston comes into action as it forces the wood through its wedge to split it.
Consisting of a long metal shaft – which has an attachment point at one of its ends, slide hammers work by driving their wedge through the log. They are lightweight, inexpensive, compact while also being easy to use. However, as suggested by their working principle, slide hammers are inadequate for handling bulks of firewood, as their application lies in splitting softwood.
If you have been wary of the danger using a hatchet or an axe poses to your hands – but love them for their usefulness, you’d love the safety of the kindle splitter. To protect your hand by keeping it away from the hammer, it has a square cage located at the top. This splitter works by first holding the wood atop the blade before hitting it with a mallet.
Problems You May Encounter With A Manual Wood Splitter
To get the tremendous help which a manual log splitter can provide in preparing your firewood, you need to understand and troubleshoot common problems which may arise with it over the course of time.
Log isn’t splitting
One of the most common problems with manual log splitters, this one has several reasons.
The first of those reasons is that your splitter’s power may not be enough. As we have already stated, manual wood splitters have a pressure as well as a splitting range. Try to split a wood which exceeds any of these ranges, and the splitter might jam.
If this is the reason why the log is failing to split, just trim it, as doing so will decrease its surface area and bring both its length and diameter inside your splitter’s range.
Another reason why the log may not split is that you have failed to position it correctly. For, the splitter wedges cut at a precise angle, meaning the wood needs to be positioned correctly for them to work as intended.
Lastly, never try to split wood when it is wet, for doing so will affect the performance of your splitter. Make sure it is always dry.
Oil is Leaking
Provided you are using a hydraulic wood splitter, oil leaking problem may arise. Don’t take this problem lightly as it will decrease the splitter’s ramming force, meaning the machine will have to work more to do the same amount of work.
To overcome this problem, add oil if necessary before checking the engine’s seals and also ensure that the bleed screw/bleed valve is in its proper position.
Wedge won’t cut
To make sure the wedge cuts properly, you have to position the log correctly and it should also be of the right length. However, if you feel that you are safe on both these counts, turn off the machine to check the sharpness of the wedge. If you can see any nicks or burrs, sharpen the wedge with a file.
Decrease in driving force
Generally, the problem associated with the loss in driving force is encountered in hydraulic log splitters. This problem mainly arises due to the result of an air or oil leak in the system. Start with the bleed valve, and then check the oil level and top it up if necessary.
Also, in cold weather conditions, the viscosity of your oil may decrease, another cause of the loss in driving force. As a result, you may need to store your splitter in a warm place.
If none of these remedies work, replacing the piston may be the final option.
Log Pusher Vibrates or Jerks
Of all the problems that may arise in your log splitter, this one is the simplest, hence the easiest to solve. It arises when your hydraulic system has caught air, meaning you might need to top oil the oil using the bleed valve.
1 – Wel-Bilt Horizontal Manual Hydraulic Log Splitter – 10-Ton
Another wood splitter with a 10-ton splitting force, though this one has some bells and whistles attached to it and is a little bit expensive. To find out whether it’s worth the extra cost or not, scroll down to see its features
If you want this machine to last longer, you’ll have to make sure that the logs you are splitting with it don’t exceed 18’’and 6 ½’’ in diameter. While it might handle bigger logs as well, such undue requirements of this machine will reduce its shelf life.
The 2speed hydraulic pump won’t only generate a good amount of pressure but is also compact. Also, to make sure it sustains the10-ton pressure for long, the two handles of this machine alternate easily between 2speeds to for effortless splitting.
Thirdly, if you are a person who is fussy about cleanliness – and who doesn’t like the sight of wood splits on the ground, relax as this machine has a fairly long log cradle to keep the wood splits in the machine and your anger out of the equation.
While I was finishing reviewing this product, a random glance over this machine’s build forced me to take notice. It is sturdily built and owing to its good build quality, will handle the roughest of use without breaking a sweat.
- Easy to use
- Two handles for alternating between two speeds
- Has a rigid and stable base
Despite being heavy, it has two brilliant wheels which make the splitter highly portable. Unless you have extremely large and thick logs coming in the pipeline, this 10-ton wood splitter will be sufficient for you.
2 – Sun Joe LJ10M Logger Joe 10 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter
To find out what it is, check its features.
Without prolonging the suspense, it is the all-steel body of this log splitter which makes it extra-special. Steel, as we all know, is the king of materials which any manufacturer can use in making a wood splitter. Apart from making it durable and sturdy, steel takes the question of rusting out of the equation. As a result, if used rightly, this splitter should last ages.
Though not as convincing as its all-steel construction, another feature of this log splitter which impressed me was its splitting range.
While other splitters – and especially the ones we have reviewed thus far, had a splitting range of 18’’ in length and 6 ½’’ in diameter, this splitter, despite having the same length, accepts logs of up to 8’’ in diameter.
Put simply, this increase in its diameter range allows this splitter to handle logs which both the previous splitters were unable to handle.
Turning our attention to its hydraulic pump – and though it looks small, the pump is rigid, has 2-speed variations and oozes out the pressure of up to 10tons. If you were wondering, the variation in speed is to allow you to split logs without choking the splitter.
Finally, to make sure you are fully relaxed after buying this product, Sun Joe sells this product with a 2-year manufacturing warranty. Any default you might see on the arrival of its shipment, and Sun Joe would replace it. No questions asked.
- Sturdy and durable
- Stainless steel construction
- Has a 2-year manufacturing warranty
- Inexpensive when compared with other 10-ton models
- Its handles might be too low for taller persons
If you just want to log on, split your wood and then log off, all you need is this splitter. It boasts stainless steel construction and more importantly doesn’t charge anything extra for it.
3 – Quality Craft Foot-Operated Log Splitter – 1.5-Ton Capacity
If you are a homeowner who just splits wood for getting firewood in the summer, you may not need any commercial wood splitter. Rather, it is the foot-operated log splitter that might be enough to fit your requirements.
First thing first, if you haven’t used a foot-operated wood splitter before, you may want to know that it demands loads of energy off your body. There is no pump, and whether you like it or not, it is you who act as one. Hence, be prepared to expend a considerable amount of energy once you order this product.
Moving on, while operating and splitting wood with this splitter would be far from easy, using and handling it won’t. For, provided you are going on a journey, you can fold this splitter flatly and store it in your car’s hatchback. No need to rent an extra car to haul it over.
More importantly, if you are willing to expend additional force, this splitter won’t deter you, for it has a splitting range of 18’’ in length and 10’’ in diameter. It means that as long as you feel fresh to continue on the splitting job, the splitter won’t give you any reason to stop.
On the flip side, some customers complained that the instruction manual which accompanies this product is utterly useless. Though these complaints weren’t in large number, we still wanted to inform you so that you keep this in mind while purchasing this unit.
- Easy handling and storage
- Can fold it
- Impressive splitting range for a food-operated log splitter
- Instruction manual isn’t that great
If you are feeling lazy these days and want to partake in an activity which can get you charged – but are also worried about the availability of firewood, there is no better way to take care of both than by using this wood splitter.
A few years ago, and especially after the arrival of electric and gas wood splitters, most people (wrongly) opined that manual wood splitters would soon become a part of their history, just like their cousin axe. However, as suggested by the options available in the market – and the number of wood splitter enthusiasts like you – this machine is here to stay.