A Beginners Guide to Using a Log Splitter: Electric or Gas

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Written By Michael Culligan

With over 12 years of experience in Oregon's forestry industry, I have established myself as a skilled and knowledgeable lumber professional. As a passionate competitor in local timbersports events, I have consistently ranked among the top lumberjacks in my area. I take great pride in meticulously maintaining an extensive collection of restored vintage axes. I personally test every axe I review by using it to fell and chop up oak firewood on my land.

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To maximize log splitter efficiency, position the splitter on level ground, prepare logs by cutting them to uniform lengths, work in a team with one person feeding logs and another operating the splitter, and organize split firewood systematically for easy stacking.

Before you can prepare your logs for the fire, you must split them. Luckily, the days of standing over a pile of wood with an axe for the entire afternoon are long gone. Now, tools such as the log splitter make it easier to split piles of wood in just minutes.

Log splitters are machines that split logs without you needing to use your physical strength. Although using a log splitter requires less physical effort than an axe, it requires a lot of know-how because you’re using a very powerful machine.

Here are the details that can help you use a log splitter safely.

How Does a Log Splitter Work?

Log splitters are pieces of machinery that split logs into smaller chunks. They have two important parts: a piston and a wedge. When you insert the wood into the machine, the plunger or piston, powered by the machine, pushes the log toward the wedge. 

You can always use a splitting axe to cut your wood, but log splitters are much faster and more efficient.

types of log splitting tools

How to Use an Electric Log Splitter

Here are some step-by-step guidelines for using an electric log splitter.

Step 1. Prepare the Machine

Take all the safety precautions mentioned above. Check your electric log splitter for damage. Then, set it in neutral and plug it into the power source.

Step 2. Add the Log

Read the instruction manual and look at the direction of the splitting wedge. While the log splitter is in neutral, place the log so it is on the splitting wedge.

Step 3. Split It

Then, change the log splitter mode from neutral to forward. You can do this with a button or a lever, depending on the setup of your log splitter. This is very important: only do this once your hands are completely clear of the machine.

Step 4. Remove the Log

Place the machine in reverse once the log is cut into smaller chunks. Let the lever return to the starting position, then put it in neutral. You can reach your hands in and remove the wood chunks only once the machine is in neutral.

How to Use a Gas Log Splitter

Here is a step-by-step guide on using a gas log splitter.

Step 1. Prepare Your Gas Log Splitter

Take any necessary safety precautions. Fill up the engine. Make sure you are using the right fuel.

Step 2. Prime the Engine

Before you can start the engine, you need to prime it. Usually, you do this by repeatedly pressing a purge button. Then, you can pull the starter cord.

Step 3. Add the Log

While the gas log splitter is in neutral, place the log on top of the splitting wedge. Then, move the splitter into the forward position. When you’re ready to remove the log, reverse the splitter and neutralise it.

How to Use a Manual Log Splitter

Here is a step-by-step guide to using a manual log splitter.

Step 1. Place the Log

All manual log splitters have a jack which you use to secure the log in place. Make sure the log is screwed in tightly. You don’t want it moving when you start the mechanism.

Step 2. Split the Log

Find the splitting mechanism for your manual log splitter. It can be a turning crank or pedal. Keep adding pressure until you split the log. 

Step 3. Remove the Log

Return the piston to the starting position. Make sure all parts are secure and remove the log. Repeat if necessary.

A Beginners Guide to Using a Log Splitter: Electric or Gas

Types of Log Splitters

There are a few different types of log splitters. They mostly differ in terms of the fuel source.

Electric Log Splitter

Electric log splitters are great for residential and commercial purposes. An electric motor powers electric log splitters. They can go through a large number of logs quickly. However, you’re limited in where you can work because they need an electrical power source.

A Beginners Guide to Using a Log Splitter: Electric or Gas

Gas Log Splitter

A gas log splitter relies on a gas motor to move the piston. Sometimes, people use gas log splitter and hydraulic log splitter interchangeably. 

Manual Log Splitter

Finally, you can get a manual log splitter. With a manual log splitter, you don’t have an external power source. Instead, you physically move a lever with your hand or foot, which sets the hydraulic rod-and-piston combination into motion. 

Safety Requirements 

Remember that this is a powerful machine, no matter which type of log splitter you use. Here are some safety requirements you should keep in mind.

Wear protective equipment

You should wear goggles, gloves, sturdy boots, and long, tight-fitting clothing while you operate machinery. 

Place the log splitter on a flat Surface

Make sure the machine is secure. Remove any debris that could pose a tripping hazard. Don’t put the log splitter on an incline, as that makes it less secure. Put blocks around the wheels so it doesn’t roll away.

Operate the log splitter alone

A split second of miscommunication when the person feeding the logs isn’t ready, but the machine starts anyway, could result in disaster.

Maintenance Requirements

If you want your log splitter to keep working, you must maintain it. The maintenance requirements differ depending on the type of log splitter you have.

All log splitters use hydraulic mechanisms. Before you start the machine, look at the hydraulic pumps and make sure they aren’t leaking. Make sure the wedge is sharp and sharpen it regularly.

Gas log splitters are the most powerful but require the most maintenance. You should take one for a service check once a year and empty the fuel tank if you won’t use it for an extended period. 

Final Thoughts

Log splitters will make your life easier if you have to split a lot of logs, but they require some effort to maintain and to learn how to use them properly. Ensure you carefully read this article and your instruction manual and follow the necessary safety precautions.