A log splitter is an essential tool if you need to cut up firewood. In our guide on finding the best log splitters, we will take an in-depth look at why this machine is so important.
We will explore the different types of log splitters you can buy, things to consider before making a purchase, safety tips for using a log splitter, and we will review the best log splitters on the market.
We will also answer some frequently asked questions towards the end.
First, let’s look at what a log splitter is and how it works.
What is a log splitter?
A log splitter is a tool that safely cuts and splits wood which is then often used for various purposes, including firewood.
The cost of buying firewood can build up over time, especially if you have your fire or a log burner blazing throughout the winter months. If you have access to logs or fallen trees, a log splitter is an invaluable tool as it can split timber into neat and nice-sized logs for you to use.
The major advantage of using a log splitter is that it removes much of the manual work. Instead of chopping away with an ax, you can use a log splitter to chop up firewood with ease.
There are different types of log splitters that you can buy, including:
- Electric log splitters
- Manual log splitters
- Petrol log splitters
- Kinetic log splitters
We will have a more in-depth look at each log splitter type in the next section.
What are the different types of log splitters?
Like many forestry tools, there are different types of log splitters that you can buy.
Manual Log Splitters
A manual log splitter does offer some advantages over petrol, electric, and kinetic models.
They are usually lighter and easier to move around, and you can store them more conveniently too. Another advantage of using a manual log splitter is that they are more economical and better for the environment as they don’t require any type of power source to operate.
The big downside is that using a manual log splitter requires more effort and energy on your part. One of the main reasons to buy a log splitter is to remove manual work; however, with this type of tool, there will be manual effort involved but not to the same extent as using an ax.
Manual log splitters can also be cheaper, so they can be a viable option if you are on a strict budget and only need a log splitter for occasional use.
Petrol Log Splitters
Another option is to buy a petrol or gas log splitter, which will remove much of the manual work when chopping up logs for firewood.
These log splitters are very powerful and offer some of the best speeds to chop up wood quickly. An advantage of an electric log splitter is that it doesn’t need to be plugged into a power source, so you can move it around and use it anywhere you like. However, petrol-powered log splitters are heavier, and transporting them can be more challenging than other models.
There is also the environmental impact of using a petrol log splitter as it uses fuel to operate.
If you need to chop up a significant amount of wood regularly, a petrol log splitter is usually the best option. This is because they are the most powerful, offer different ways to chop up wood, and you can use them anywhere without worrying about plugging them into a power source.
Kinetic Log Splitters
Kinetic log splitters are pretty new to the mainstream market, but they are growing in popularity and have several advantages over other models.
They work by utilizing kinetic energy from an engine, which pushes the log into the cutter and splits it in half. One of the significant advantages of using this type of log splitter is that they are speedy and can split up logs in just a few seconds.
Like petrol and electric log splitters, kinetic models take much of the manual effort away from doing this type of work as all you need to do is load the log onto the machine and let it do its job.
As kinetic log splitters don’t use hydraulics, there is less maintenance involved as well, and it is easy to keep these log splitters in good condition. Also, as they don’t rely on a power source that requires it to be plugged in, you can use this log splitter anywhere you like.
Electric Log Splitters
You will undoubtedly know the main downside of using an electric log splitter – it needs to be plugged into a power source.
This is fine if you bring logs to a central location and use your log splitter there, but it isn’t ideal to use the machine in different places unless you have a generator. However, electric log splitters tend to be pretty lightweight and can be easily stored. Compared to petrol log splitters, you should notice a weight difference between the two models.
A good advantage is that these log splitters require little to no maintenance, so you don’t need to worry about the machine’s upkeep. Instead, simply plug it in and load logs onto it as it doesn’t need to be topped up with petrol or anything else that will disrupt your wood chopping efforts.
These log splitters tend to be quiet, and they are ideal if you are using them in a suburban or built-up area and don’t want to annoy your neighbors.
This type of log splitter is suited to mid-sized logs.
Things to consider when buying a log splitter
Before you jump in and start the process of buying a log splitter, we have some things you should take into consideration first.
The driving force of a log splitter outlines the power that the blade cuts through the log, so it is a vital feature to consider.
The driving force is usually measured in tons.
Petrol or gas-powered log splitters often have the highest driving force alongside kinetic models, and they are more powerful than electric and certainly manual. For example, some gas log splitters can have over 30 tons of driving force, whereas this usually reduces to around 10 tons and under for electric log splitters.
Most log splitters have the driving force to handle logs around 24 inches in diameter, while this is 12 inches for electric and 10 inches for manual models.
How regular you will use it
Another thing to consider is how often you intend to use the log splitter.
If you need one for very occasional use, then it might be most cost-effective to opt for a manual model. Even though they take more energy and effort, manual log splitters are usually cheaper.
However, if you will be using a log splitter on a regular or semi-regular basis and need to split up lots of timber for firewood, petrol, gas, or kinetic log splitter will be more suitable.
Also, another thing to think about is where you will be using the log splitter. An electric log splitter makes sense if you are splitting up wood in a shed or somewhere with a power source. However, for anywhere else and for using outdoors, you probably won’t have access to electricity without hauling a generator around with you, so opt for a log splitter that doesn’t need to be plugged in.
Cycle time is a crucial aspect to consider when you are purchasing a log splitter. The cycle time is how long it will take the machine to split a log.
The fastest log splitter is usually petrol-powered, although kinetic log splitters can also be very quick. Electric models normally follow this, and finally, manual log splitters are the slowest. Of course, many variables impact the cycle time, such as the thickness and hardness of the logs you are splitting; however, it is a vital feature to look at.
Most gas log splitters have a cycle time of around 10 seconds (with some being as quick as three or four seconds), but any type of log splitter with a cycle time of 10 – 15 seconds is generally excellent.
The Major Differences Between Log Splitters and Chainsaws
Some people often ask why not just use a chainsaw to split firewood?
After all, a chainsaw is often used to cut down trees and cut up pieces of wood in smaller sizes. So, why should you use a log splitter instead?
A significant difference is that a log splitter is specially designed for the very purposes of splitting logs. As a result, you will get a much neater finish with a log splitter necessary for getting logs the right size to put into your fire.
Log splitters, while they do have safety concerns, are generally easier to use than a chainsaw, too, and there is less chance of an accident if you follow the correct safety advice.
You might need a chainsaw if you need to slice up particularly large or hardwood, and one of the big differences is that a chainsaw will be more powerful for this job. However, for most people, a log splitter makes more sense to break up logs for firewood.
Advantages of using a log splitter
Using a log splitter for firewood has many advantages.
- You can split logs quickly – Cutting up wood by hand is an arduous task and requires a lot of effort, especially when you are doing it with an ax. An electric, kinetic, or petrol log splitter takes the effort away from this job and allows you to split logs quickly.
- It will save you money on firewood – If you rely on firewood during the colder months of the year, a log splitter allows you to process a significant amount of firewood. Even with the initial cost of buying a log splitter, you can save money in the long run by not having to purchase wood for your fire.
- A log splitter can cut through tough wood – Some types of wood are challenging to cut through with an ax. By using a log splitter, you can split up thick logs that would otherwise take a lot of effort or not be possible at all by doing it manually.
The Disadvantages of using a log splitter
Even though log splitters can save you a lot of effort when cutting wood, there are some downsides.
- They can be expensive for occasional use – If you don’t plan on using a log splitter very often and instead only need it very infrequently, it can be a costly purchase. While budget options are available and manual log splitters aren’t particularly expensive, they can be a costly purchase if you aren’t using them regularly.
- They can be dangerous to use – Even if you aren’t experienced using a log splitter, you can follow the safety instructions to ensure you are operating it safely. However, there are risks when using this type of machinery, so they require concentration and awareness to ensure no accidents happen.
Safety Tips for using a log splitter
Before you fire up your log splitter and start cutting firewood, there are some important safety measures that you need to follow.
Always use it in daylight
You should never use a log splitter at night without proper lighting or in conditions with low visibility. The best advice is only to use a log splitter during daylight. This will ensure that you load the logs correctly, and there will be a far lesser chance of injuring yourself.
Load one log at a time
Only load one log at a time onto the log splitter, and putting on two or more can cause issues. This includes the log splitter jamming. Log splitters already save you time and effort, so don’t try to rush the job by putting on more than one log.
Only use a log splitter to cut wood
You shouldn’t try and use a log splitter to cut up anything else other than wood. Don’t put any other materials of logs that are larger than the maximum dimensions of wood that the log splitter can handle as it can cause damage to the machine.
Don’t add fuel if it is still running
This applies to petrol-powered log splitters. When refueling the machine, you should only do this when it is stationary and cooled down. Don’t try and fill it up when the log splitter is running or when it is still warm.
Wear appropriate safety equipment
Pieces of wood can fly off the log splitter when it is running, so you must wear the right safety equipment when operating the log splitter. This includes:
- Safety goggles
- Durable boots or shoes
- Strong gloves
My Top Recommendations for log splitters in 2021
Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SELS60 6 Ton Electric Log Splitter, Red – Best Electric Log Splitter
The Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SELS60 6 Ton Electric Log Splitter is our top pick for an electric model.
This log splitter has a 1.75 HP, 15 amp motor and can cut up small and larger logs with ease. The cycle time for this log splitter is 18-seconds, which is pretty good considering that the machine is id available at a reasonable price.
The 6-ton driving force will cut up decent-sized logs, and while it isn’t the best on the market by any means, it isn’t terrible either. You can move this log splitter around quickly with the small wheels, and it is quite a compact model, which makes storage straightforward too.
As it is an electric model, you will need to use it close to a power source, limiting the range that you can operate it in. This log splitter can be plugged into an extension cord, which is a bonus and extends the range.
Overall, this is a very good electric log splitter with a decent amount of power and is available for a reasonable price.
- Can split up decent sized logs with ease
- 18 seconds cycle time for quick log splitting
- Compact and can be moved around easily
- Available at a reasonable price
- It is an electric model, so it needs to be plugged in
- The driving force could be better than 6-ton
CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT 7-Ton Compact Horizontal Gas Log Splitter – Best Petrol Log Splitter
Next up, we have the CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT 7-Ton Compact Horizontal Gas Log Splitter.
If you want to split up reasonably sized logs, the 80cc engine can cut up wood of 19 inches in length and up to 50 lb. in weight. If you want to cut up harder wood such as ash, this is a good log splitter to use. The cycle time of this log splitter is 20-seconds, which is pretty good and will drastically speed up the log splitting process compared to using a manual log splitter.
This machine also has wheels which make for easy maneuverability, while it is fairly compact too at 53.1 x 23.6 x 18.1 inches.
There have been some issues around the overall durability of this log splitter and particularly the rails on the tank wearing after use. The design of the ram also stops 2 inches from the wedge, which can make cutting up wet or stringy types of wood a little harder and results in an incomplete split.
However, this is an excellent model for a petrol-powered log splitter that you can use anywhere and doesn’t need to be plugged into a power source.
- Powerful petrol log splitter
- Can split up hardwoods and logs 19 inches in length
- It has wheels, so it can be moved around easily
- Has some durability issues
- Splitting can be incomplete on some types of wood
Estwing Sure Split Wedge – Best Manual Log Splitter
Manual log splitters do require extra effort than electric, petrol, or kinetic; however, if you want to save some money and don’t mind a bit of work, the Estwing Sure Split Wedge is a good choice.
Compared to the other log splitters on our list, this one is very cheap and is definitely suited to those on a tight budget. The log splitter is perhaps suited to occasional use and for splitting up small logs – for example, if you are going camping and just need some firewood for one night. We wouldn’t recommend this log splitter for regular use or to deal with hard or big logs (you would be better off buying one of the other models).
This log splitter isn’t glamorous and doesn’t have many features; however, if you don’t mind some manual work, it will cut up different types of wood pretty quickly.
- Available at a very cheap price
- Can cut up different types of wood
- Ideal if you need a log splitter for a camping trip
- It isn’t suited to regular use or for big logs
- Does require manual effort
Powerhorse Horizontal Double Flywheel Kinetic Electric Log Splitter – Best Kinetic Log Splitter
Kinetic log splitters work by using kinetic energy to push logs into the wedge to split them in half. The Powerhorse Horizontal Double Flywheel Kinetic Electric Log Splitter is a great choice as it offers a 7-ton splitting force combined with a 120V, 2 HP copper-wire kinetic electric motor.
This kinetic log splitter can cut up logs at a reasonable size, and the wheels make it very portable, so you can really use it anywhere. This machine has some durability issues, and some users have found that it doesn’t last as long as you would expect. Although, if you need a kinetic log splitter for regular use without overburdening it, it is a good choice.
You can find more kinetic log splitters by r eading our in-depth guide.
- Can cut up reasonably sized logs with kinetic energy
- Portable and can be moved around
- 7-ton splitting force
- Some durability issues
Sun Joe LJ10M 10-Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter – Best Budget Log Splitter
If money is tight and you need a budget option but don’t want to use a manual log splitter, we recommend going for the Sun Joe LJ10M 10-Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter.
We thought we should add a budget option to your list, and just because this log splitter is available cheaply, it doesn’t make it inferior quality.
This log splitter is capable of 10-tons of driving force which is brilliant for the price, while it can split up logs 18 inches in length and 8 inches wide. It uses hydraulics, so you don’t need to worry about plugging it in or topping up fuel.
There have been some reports of the pumping handles breaking, and this log splitter’s durability isn’t the best. If you need a log splitter to chop up firewood regularly, then perhaps have a look elsewhere. However, this is an option to consider for a cheap model that can be used infrequently to split wood.
- Budget-friendly log splitter
- Can cut up reasonably sized logs
- It uses hydraulics, so no cords or gas
- The durability isn’t great
- It isn’t suited to frequent use
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Can a log splitter save me time and effort?
Answer: Yes. A log splitter is designed to take much of the manual work out of cutting up firewood (unless you purchase a manual model). You feed the logs into the splitter, and it uses either petrol, electricity, or kinetic energy to split up the wood.
Question: Is it safe to use a log splitter?
Answer: Yes. Even though log splitters can be dangerous machines to use, you can operate this machine safely as long as you follow all the relevant safety instructions. Also, ensure that you wear appropriate safety equipment such as goggles, gloves, and a helmet.
Question: What does driving force mean for log splitters?
Answer: The driving force is measure in tons, and it is the power that the blade cuts through the wood. The higher the ton, the bigger and thicker the logs you will be able to split up with the machine.
Question: Can I split up other material in a log splitter?
Answer: No. You should only use the log splitter to cut up wood and to the dimensions that the instructions on your log splitter outline. Trying to cut up other materials or larger logs than the splitter can handle can damage the machine.
Question: What type of log splitter is best?
Answer: It depends on how often and where you will be using it. Electric log splitters can often cut up the largest pieces of wood; however, they need to be connected to a power source, whereas Kinetic or petrol log splitters can be used anywhere. Manual models are available if you don’t mind some extra effort.
Conclusion: The Best Log Splitters
A log splitter can save you a lot of time, effort, and money as you can get your own firewood rather than having to buy it.
We have included several log splitter options on our list to cater to everyone regardless of whether you need an electric model, petrol-powered splitter, or you are on a tight budget. The best log splitters you can buy are:
- Best Electric Log Splitter – Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SELS60 6 Ton Electric Log Splitter
- Best Petrol Log Splitter – CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT 7-Ton Compact Horizontal Gas Log Splitter
- Best Manual Log Splitter – Estwing Sure Split Wedge
- Best Kinetic Log Splitter – Powerhorse Horizontal Double Flywheel Kinetic Electric Log Splitter
- Best Budget Log Splitter – Sun Joe LJ10M 10-Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter
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