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Outdoor

Best 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.

Timber Tuff TMW-11 Manual Log Splitter

The Timber Tuff Manual Log Splitter is simplicity personified and also the least expensive splitter on the list so virtually anybody can afford one. It’s a slide hammer type of splitter which works by placing the edge on a small log, pulling up the sliding weight and letting it drop. Gravity does the rest and drives the edge into the wood, splitting it effectively. There’s no other easier splitter available, and it’s so portable it can be carried almost anywhere and can be used indoors too. For splitting smaller logs or branches for campfires, fireplaces or wood stoves, this unit would be hard to beat. This model is covered by a one year warranty and weighs about 12 pounds.

Wel-Bilt Vertical Foot-Operated Log Splitter 8 Ton

If you want a splitter that uses foot power to do the dirty work, consider the Wel-Bilt Vertical Foot-Operated Log Splitter 8-Ton. Forget about heavy lifting, you simply just roll the log into place and then pump the pedal to do the splitting. The eight tons of pressure will split most small to medium sized logs up to 14-inches in diameter; you’ll be able to split a pile of wood for your stove or fireplace fairly quickly and easily. The splitting wedge features five adjustable positions so you can tailor the cycle time for different sizes of wood. Although it’s heavy at 75 pounds and one of the more expensive splitters on this list, it’s relatively portable and easy to use.

Super Firewood Splitter

The WoodEze Super Smart-Splitter Manual Firewood Splitter is a higher end manual splitter that’s rugged and durable. It’s capable of splitting a 15-inch diameter log, but more suited to splitting small diameters. You also have to drill a 12mm diameter hole in a log to anchor the unit in place, giving it a very stable platform on which to split wood. Once the guide pole is inserted into the hole, splitting logs is quick and easy. Lift the weight and let it drop onto the splitting wedge, that's it. However, if you don't have a 12mm drill bit and drill, you are out of luck. This splitter can be used inside or out, is a lightweight 24 pounds and comes with a two year warranty. Realistically, this could have been the number one pick on this list, but costs almost four times more.

Ironton Horizontal Manual Hydraulic Log Splitter - 10-Ton

If a conventional horizontal log splitter fits your needs, check out the Ironton Horizontal Manual Hydraulic Log Splitter 10-Ton. This splitter uses two pump handled to move the hydraulic cylinder forwards for splitting and provides 10 tons of force to split logs up to 7-inches in diameter. This model weighs about 80 pounds and you'll have to place each log on the ground-level rail to split them. There are no wheels provided so you'll have to lug this one around by hand, put it on a cart, or throw it up into a truck bed. Although one of the easier to use splitters it has a slow splitting cycle time making it best suited for the occasional use of a fireplace or wood stove. It comes covered by a one year warranty.

Quality Craft Foot-Operated Log Splitter

When you just need to split smaller pieces of wood for the fireplace or wood stove, this is the manual wood splitter for you. The Quality Craft Foot-Operated Log Splitter 1.5-Ton, lets you put a smaller piece of wood on the holder and then just step on the handle to split it. Technically it will take on 10-inch diameter logs but smaller logs would be a better fit. At just 23 pounds this isn’t a heavy duty unit, but it’s perfect for splitting wood into smaller pieces which fits inside of a stove or on a campfire. This splitter is covered by a one year warranty.

Dirty Hand Tools 100408 22 Ton Gas Log Splitter

Dirty Hand Tools 22-Ton Horizontal/Vertical Gas Log Splitter tops our list with a fast cycle time of only 11 seconds for quick and efficient log splitting; you can also get a 4-way splitter attachment that will cut your splitting time in half.  The 6 1/2 horsepower Kohler engine gives you plenty of power for virtually every homeowner job, and it's towable up to 45 miles per hour.

This log splitter can take a log up to a maximum 25-inches in diameter and will adjust for splitting horizontally. There’s also a small log tray to catch the wood and can be set vertically for larger logs. Weighing in at almost 600 pounds, you get incredible stability, and it’s protected by a three year warranty.

Ariens 917011 174cc 4.5 HP 22 Ton Gas Log Splitter

The Ariens 174cc, 4 horsepower Gas Log Splitter is top notch with a Subaru engine engine that will run just about forever. This is both a vertical and horizontal splitter, so large logs can be rolled towards and placed into the beam and split. That makes it easy on your back, while smaller logs can be placed onto the rail and allowed to fall off onto a holding tray. This machine offers 22 tons of splitting force with a 12 second cycle time, which will be enough for the average suburbanite and enough for most farm applications too. It's towable up to 45 miles per hour so you can take it anywhere, weighs 374 pounds for maximum stability, and comes with a three year warranty.

Brave E-Z Split 8 Ton 5.5 hp Log Splitter

The truth is that most people don't need a log splitter that does anything more than this model. The lightweight, Brave EZ Split 8 Ton Horizontal Gas Log Splitter is the least expensive log splitter on this list with practicality which is hard to beat. 8 tons of ram pressure will split 80-90 percent of all wood intended for fireplaces or wood stove, so getting a bigger splitter is just wasting money and gas. The 3.5 horsepower Briggs engine is a quality unit and although not fast by any mean, the 18 second cycle time is still quick enough to get your splitting chores done efficiently. It will take on an 18-inch diameter log up to 190 pounds and is covered by a one year warranty.

Swisher LSEK14534 34-Ton 14.5 HP Gas Log Splitter

For no holds barred maximum log splitting, the Swisher 34-Ton Kawasaki Powered Horizontal/Vertical Gas Log Splitter w/ Electric Start is the big dog daddy to have. This is not an inexpensive log splitter, but it will split virtually any log you put into it. The Kawi 14.5 horsepower engines is one of the best small engines made making it perfect for splitting load after load of logs on the farm or if just if you want bragging rights around the neighborhood.

This log splitter features an 11 second cycle time and towable up to 45 miles per hour. At 750 pounds, it isn’t a lightweight machine, but will split 25 inch long logs without working up a sweat. The electric starter means no pulling cord, 4-way splitting wedge halves the time to horizontally split logs, and a big log tray catches logs rolling off the splitter beam. Additionally, this model is covered by a three year warranty.

Ramsplitter 16-Ton Electric Horizontal / Vertical Log Splitter - HV16-4

If we were picking the best 16 ton splitter, this Ramsplitter 16-Ton Subaru-Powered Horizontal/Vertical Gas Log Splitter comes in first. The features, toughness and versatility make this the best bang for the buck model here and it won’t leave you disappointed. This unit comes standard with a Subaru engine but you can also choose from several different engines like a Honda or a Briggs 6 horsepower engine to suit your needs (or brand allegiance).

At 300 pounds, it’s good and stable while offering the fastest cycle time at 10 seconds which beats even the top rated model on this list. The price is right and does anyone really need more than 16 tons of force to split firewood? This splitter would have made it to the top if the warranty would have been better than one year and it included towing capability. Regardless, it’s a beauty of a splitter.

Ramsplitter 20-Ton Horizontal / Vertical Electric Log Splitter

If you need the biggest and baddest electric log splitter of them all, look no further than the Ramsplitter 20-Ton Horizontal / Vertical Electric Log Splitter. This model offers enough power to split an 18-inch log with no sweat. It runs on 220 volts, so you'll need to hook it into a dryer or stove outlet, unless you have a 220 installed in an outbuilding.

It easily converts from vertical to horizontal splitting, so you don't have to lift heavy logs into place, and it has a fast 13 second cycle time to split logs quickly. The 3 horsepower electric motor is equivalent to about a 10 horsepower gas unit, so there’s plenty of power to work with.

Weighing about 300 pounds, this splitter sits on a wheeled carriage towable up to 35 miles per hour, so it is relatively portable too and is covered with a one year warranty and. This is not an inexpensive log splitter, but in return you get quality, sturdy construction, and durability.

Powerhouse XM-380 7-Ton Electric Hydraulic Log Splitter

If you want the most bang for the buck in an electric log splitter, then check out the Powerhouse 7-Ton Electric Log Splitter. It’s the least expensive splitter here yet still delivers a solid 7 tons of splitting force. It has a cycle time of 15 seconds for quick splitting, features a two-handed safety operation, and the 3 horsepower motor runs on 120 volts that will split an 11-inch log.

This model weighs about 100 pounds so it’s very portable and you can just grab the handle and take it anywhere. Most suburbanites don't need much more of a splitter than this for their fireplaces or wood stoves and it also comes with a one year warranty. If you don't want any bells or whistles, and you just want to split logs for basic home burning, the Powerhouse should be first consideration on your list.

Boss Industrial 10-Ton Horizontal Dual-Action Electric Log Splitter

The Boss Industrial 10-Ton Horizontal Dual-Action Electric Log Splitter features a 2.5 horsepower electric motor powers, 16 second cycle time, and the ability to split a 10-inch diameter log. Even with a longer cycle time, you'll process just as much wood thanks to a dual-action system that splits logs as the splitting head moves both forwards and backwards through a cycle.

This machine splits wood with 10 tons of power which is more than enough for anyone stocking up wood for a fireplace or wood stove. At 215 pounds this is a beefy splitter yet only one hand is needed to operate this unit, allowing you to stack another log on as you go and also includes a big log cradle to catch the wood as it’s split. This splitter plugs into a standard 120 volt socket, but it must be a dedicated 20 amp circuit or you'll be blowing breakers. Additionally, it comes covered by a two year warranty.

Pow' R' Kraft 65575 7-Ton 15-Amp 2-Speed Electric Log Splitter

If you’re looking for one of the more innovative electric log splitters out there, the Pow'R'kraft 4-Ton / 7-Ton 2-Speed Horizontal Electric Log Splitter may be just right for you. It runs on 120 volts and a dedicated 15 amp circuit, with a 3 horsepower motor that will split a 12-inch diameter log.

What makes this model unique is it generally uses less power and only 4 tons of force. However, if you run into a difficult piece of wood, the unit automatically cycles up to 7 tons of wood-splitting force giving it adaptability unmatched by any of the others on this list. This model also has a cycle time of about 7 seconds on small, thin pieces of wood and up to 15 seconds on larger pieces.

Weighing in at 175 pounds, this log splitter can be hand pulled to any location where it’s needed. It is built low to the ground so there isn't any high lifting, and the large rail adds stability when a log is placed on top. Although covered by a two year warranty, it’s a bit expensive for a 7 ton splitter, but the 2 speed splitting innovation might be worth it for those who are power conscious.

WoodEze 4-Ton Electric Log Splitter

If you just need some spare wood for a fireplace or a wood stove, this is the perfect splitter to get. The WoodEze 4-Ton Electric Log Splitter is a relatively inexpensive unit which runs on a dedicated 15 amp circuit house current. Weighing less than 100 pounds for easy portability, you can position this splitter around the house, garage or shed. This unit runs so quiet that you can even use it indoors and literally split and stack wood right next to your fireplace or wood stove. Powered by a 1.75 horsepower motor, this unit requires two hands for safe operation but it will split a maximum log diameter up to 10-inches. This log splitter is covered by a one year warranty.

Buyer's Guide

 

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.

Features

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.

Wheels
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.

Cycle Time
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.

Tonnage Pressure
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.

Weekend Warriors
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.

Dale Y
Dale Y has been writing about home improvement and Do-It-Yourself projects for more than a decade, using his own hands-on maintenance, construction and facilities management experience as a guide. He has covered the gamut by writing about news and views, home and garden ideas, home and business maintenance, and property management. As an offshoot, he had his own sewing machine and small appliance repair business, and can tell an embroidery stitch from a stretch stitch, all the while cooking the best salmon fillet ever on a countertop grill, while making a smoothie in the latest bullet blender. In this capacity, he has used a wide variety of tools and equipment for every need, worked with products ranging from adhesives to solvents, sewed shirt sleeves with a #14 needle and finished leather appliqué with a #18 needle.
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