Best Log Splitter
There are three types of powered wood splitters including manually, electric, and gas. Although most manually powered types are able to split the largest logs, they will take a considerable amount of time doing that and are therefore only practical for smaller splitting jobs. Electrical splitters, on the other hand, provide both power and convenience for most applications, as long as you have an outlet to plug into. Gas wood splitters are the real workhorses of the bunch and in most cases can be towed to the wood cutting site to split wood right where it falls. They come is a variety of sizes that will fit virtually any need, from the weekend warrior who splits wood for a campfire, to the hardcore logger who splits wood for profit. There's a log splitter out there waiting for you and our buyer's guide provided below is a great place to start your search.
Best Electric Log Splitter:
Electric log splitters are one of the most environmentally friendly ways to split logs. They burn no gas or oil, start with a push of a button, and deliver log splitting power. Their only real drawback is that they’re tied to an electric cord which is recommended to extend no longer than 100 feet. The most powerful log splitters will run on 220 volts of juice used with either a stove or dryer outlet, or have one installed in your garage or shed. But there are portable units running on 120 volts which are powered by portable electric generators. The best electric log splitters that made this list were judged on their exceptional power for splitting larger logs, as well as their ease of use, affordable pricing and their portability.
The Ramsplitter 20-Ton Horizontal/Vertical Electric Log Splitter runs on 220 volts and has the equivalent electric motor of a 10 horsepower gas engine. It has a 13 second cycle time, can be towed up to 35 miles per hour, and comes with a one year warranty. It weighs 300 pounds for maximum stability, and is the only electric on this list that works either horizontally or vertically. Read Full Review
The Powerhouse 7-Ton Horizontal Electric Log Splitter weighs about 100 pounds for easy portability. The 3 horsepower motor plugs into a standard 120 volt outlet, and it’s also the least expensive splitter on our list. Read Full Review
The Boss Industrial 10-Ton Horizontal Dual-Action Electric Log Splitter works on a dedicated 120 volt 20 amp outlet. The 2.5 horsepower motor provides 10 tons of power, weighs 215 pounds, and can be pulled anywhere with its padded hand grip. Read Full Review
The Pow'R'kraft 4-Ton / 7-Ton 2-Speed Horizontal Electric Log Splitter comes with a two year warranty. It offers two speeds, 4 tons normally and 7 tons when the going gets tough. Plugs into any standard 120 volt outlet on a 15 amp dedicated circuit. Read Full Review
Best Gas Log Splitter:
When it comes to log splitting, gas-powered log splitters are the standard and will last you decades if used properly. These are the tried and true bad boys featuring the most power and all you need is a can of gas to provide the energy. Available in a range of sizes, They’re also very portable since virtually all models have trailer wheels for hauling.
This list will focus on versatile models meaning they can split vertically, horizontally, even splitting wood so it’s lightweight. Each machines ease of use and overall practicality will also be taken into consideration to give you the best choices for any of your wood splitting needs. We’ve also included a model which gives you the most bang for your buck.
The Dirty Hand Tools 22-Ton Horizontal / Vertical Gas Log Splitter may not be well known, but it tops this list. It features a three year warranty, a 6.5 horse Kohler engine and will take a 25-inch log either horizontally or vertically. Read Full Review
The Ariens 174cc 4 horsepower 22-Ton Gas Log Splitter comes with a killer Subaru engine, features 22 tons of splitting power and is a vertical/horizontal model that can be towed. Perfect for nearly any suburbanite looking for bragging rights, this is one of the best splitters to have. Read Full Review
The Brave EZ Split 8 Ton Horizontal Gas Log Splitter comes with a 3.5 horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine. The 8 ton ram will split logs up to 18-inches thick, and it comes with a 3.5 horse Briggs engine. It’s protected by a one year warranty, and is the least expensive unit on this list. Read Full Review
The Swisher 34-Ton Kawasaki Powered Horizontal/Vertical Gas Log Splitter w/ Electric Start comes with a 14.5 horsepower Kawasaki engine and a three year warranty. It features a 4-way splitter for horizontal use, and will split logs as long as 25 inches with an 11 second cycle time. It weighs 750 pounds and can be towed up to 45 miles per hour. Read Full Review
The Ramsplitter 16-Ton Subaru-Powered Horizontal/Vertical Gas Log Splitter offers several engine combinations, including a Honda or a Briggs unit. Its 10 second cycle time is the quickest on our list, and at 300 pounds, it provides you with a sturdy log splitting platform. Read Full Review
Best Manual Log Splitter:
The most ecological and friendly way to split logs is with a manual log splitter. With no gas, oil or electricity to worry about, you can use these tools virtually anywhere such as at your favorite hunting cabin, on those rustic camping trips, for campfires or even at home for firewood.
Now, we aren't talking about axes and mauls here, since they all do a comparable job of splitting wood as long as your back holds out. The splitters on this list are either drop slide-hammer types or hydraulically activated types with handles. They offer a simplicity and effectiveness that can't be beat when you want to split a few logs for the fireplace, campfire, or stocking a pile of logs for a wood burning stove.
Although in theory you would be able to split large sized logs with these selections, smaller diameter logs or thick branches not more than 4 or 5 inches in diameter would be ideal. These best manual log splitters were chosen for their ease of use such as wheels for portability, and splitting effectiveness tops this list, but sturdy construction, and affordability were also considered.
The Timber Tuff Manual Log Splitter is incredibly easy to use and highly effective on smaller branches or logs. Simply place the edge on the wood, pull up the weight and let it drop. This model weighs about 12 pounds and comes with a one year warranty. Read Full Review
The Wel-Bilt Vertical Foot-Operated Log Splitter 8-Ton is the only foot operated hydraulic splitter on this list. It’s easy to use and will split 18-inch diameter pieces of wood for your fireplace, campfire or wood stove. This model is also protected by a with a one year warranty. Read Full Review
The WoodEze Super Smart-Splitter Manual Firewood Splitter WoodEze is the most expensive splitter on this list and you'll need a 12mm drill bit with drill to mount and use it correctly. This model can split logs up to 14-inches in diameter log and is covered by a two year warranty. Read Full Review
The Ironton Horizontal Manual Hydraulic Log Splitter 10-Ton is one of the easiest units to use and comes with a one year warranty. It weighs 80 pounds and has no wheels for moving it around so unless you are very strong, you'll need some type of cart for transport. Read Full Review
The Quality Craft Foot-Operated Log Splitter 1.5-Ton, is lightweight, inexpensive and designed to split smaller pieces of wood. If all you need is something to split wood into smaller pieces for your fireplace, or campfire, this is the splitter for you. Comes with a one year warranty and is a lightweight 23 pounds. Read Full Review
Log Splitter Buyers Guide
The original powered log splitter used steam as their mode of propulsion, and although these early models were effective, it was also extremely dangerous to operate them. It wasn't until after World War 2 that hydraulic log splitters began to appear, and since then these have been the standard method employed by all of the commercially made and consumer models.
Modern log splitters are designed around a small gas or electric engine that pushes a ram forward against a log by activating a forward and reverse lever. The splitter can be attached to the ram or bolted in place at the end of the run. When the lever is pushed forward, the log is forcefully pushed against the splitter with tons of pressure. This action effectively splits the log, and when the lever is pushed backwards, the ram retreats back to its starting position.
There’s also a variety of manual log splitters available which use either muscle power or simple mechanical ingenuity to split logs. These particular splitters are best used for occasional use such as generating fuel for a fireplace or campfire.
However, if you need large quantities of split wood for such things as heating, or to commercial wood supply operations, they’re really the only way to go. If you’re planning on purchasing a powered log splitter, please see our lawn equipment power source buyer’s guide which provides the information and the insight needed to choose a power supply which is right for your needs.
Log Splitter Types
Vertical Log Splitters
Vertical splitters are oriented in a way so all you need to do is roll a log beneath the ram, and then activate the splitter to split the wood. No heavy lifting is required which makes these types ideal for heavy, bulky logs. Once the logs are split, you can easily throw the chunks into a pile or a wood bin.
Horizontal Log Splitters
Horizontal splitters have a splitting bed the logs must be lifted on to before being split. Although they’re capable of splitting thick and heavy logs, the weight limitation of the log size will always depend on how much you can lift. Your back will definitely be put to work, but once up on the bed, the log is easier to maneuver than on vertical type splitter.
Combination Vertical/Horizontal Splitters
This adjustable type of log splitter offers the best of both worlds. These hybrid splitters usually involve removing a couple of cotter or hitch pins which allows a hinged bed to convert from a horizontal to vertical position. Larger logs can be split at ground level, which makes it easier on your back, while smaller logs can be split on a horizontal bed for easier handling.
Spring Loaded Drive Lever
This safety feature works by stopping the ram as soon as you release the lever. The spring loaded lever will always return to neutral once released, and it has saved many a finger from being split.
Older splitter types kept the ram moving forward until the operator physically moved the lever backwards. A single operator could activate the ram, then position the log on the bed. If a finger or hand slipped and got in the way, there was no way to stop the ram until the damage was done.
On most electrically powered splitters, and lighter duty gasoline powered types, the wheels are there to aid in moving the splitter manually, and are not rated for towing from place to place.
If you need a splitter which needs to be transported from one property to another, the wheels must be capable of being towed behind a road worthy vehicle. This feature is something to keep in mind depending on what use you have for your splitter.
The cycle time is how fast the splitter ram travels from one side to the other. This directly equates to how quickly a splitter can split wood. The fastest cycle times are in the three to five second range, which, theoretically means that you can split a log in every three to five seconds.
In general, the quicker the cycle time, the more you will pay for the splitter. However, most people cannot work that fast to get a log into the splitting position. For example, a log splitter with a five second cycle time means the ram will travel down and back in five seconds. Once the log is split, you'll have less than three seconds to get a log ready and get it on the bed.
For most applications, a better choice would be a cycle time in the 10-15 second range. You won't have to rush to get a log into place, and chances are the cycle time will be fast enough for virtually any wood splitting application.
The tonnage pressure is how much force the splitting ram exerts on the log to be split. Different woods require different amounts of pressure for them to split effectively, so naturally greater the tonnage, the easier the work will be. You must also take into account the size of the log to split.
For example, a six inch diameter log will take less tonnage to split than a 24 inch diameter log. Now, if you are primarily splitting soft woods, like pine, fir, basswood or spruce, you'll need a minimum of four tons to split six inch diameter logs, and about 20 tons to split 18 inch diameter logs. Hardwoods, like locust, oak, dogwood and ash, will require 10 tons for six inch diameter logs and 26 tons for 18 inch diameter logs.
What's Best for You
What you’re going to use a log splitter for will depend on the type to get. Just remember, if you are primarily splitting smaller diameter logs, a six to 10 ton rated splitter will be all you need. For splitting 20-plus diameter logs, get the most tonnage splitter that you can afford, and if need be, sacrifice cycle time speed for brute force.
If you’re going camping and need a few logs split for a campfire, a log splitting axe, or other manual wood splitting method will be more than adequate. Certainly a powered wood splitter will make the job easier, but it may not be worth the cost if you’re only going to need it a couple of times per year for campfire wood.
Fireplaces and Fire Pits
If you have a fireplace or a home fire pit, you have the potential to go through a few cords of split wood per year. For this type of application, an electrically powered wood splitter will be all you'll need. These types generally only have wheels for limited portability and not for towing behind a vehicle, so you’ll likely be bringing back a pile of logs and taking them to where the splitter is.
Heating and High Quantity Needs
If you have a reliable source of smaller diameter logs that can be brought in, you won't need more than a good heavy-duty electrical splitter for the job. If you are getting logs of all different diameters, a better choice would be a gas powered unit in a horizontal configuration, or a combination horizontal/vertical unit.
The best types for this application are combination units so you'll be ready for virtually any type of log. If you are planning on splitting large 20-plus diameter logs, the best choice would be a vertical only or a combination unit. You'll be able to roll those giant logs into place and save your back in the process. If you must travel to get wood, make sure your splitter is equipped with wheels appropriate for towing.