Once your wood is cut into logs, your work is still unfinished. Next, you have to split the logs into manageable chunks. Unless you’ve got a monster of a fireplace, you can’t shove an entire log in there and call it a day—you must split your logs first.
There are many different types of log splitter tools. Depending on your needs, you can get manual or powered log splitters. Within these broader categories, there is further division in the type of log splitter tools you can get.
Here is your guide to choosing the best log splitter tool for your household.
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Do You Need a Log Splitter?
Before getting into the different types of log splitter tools, let’s establish if you actually need those tools or not.
It depends on how often you rely on firewood for warmth, cooking, or atmosphere. If you have to split wood often, for example, if your family heats your home with wood, then a log splitter is necessary. You need to be able to break wood into smaller pieces to get it into your wood-burning stove, barbecue, or fireplace.
If you only need to split wood a few times a year, you can get by without getting a special log splitter. You can split logs using a wedge and a regular axe or sledgehammer. However, more than once or twice a year and it’s worth investing in something simple such as a splitting axe or maul.
Manual Log Splitter Tools
Sometimes, there’s no better way to do the task than the old-fashioned way. For generations, people split logs using the power of their own sweat, and why not do the same? Even though people have invented powered log splitter tools, manual log splitter tools are still very popular. There are a few different reasons why people still buy old-fashioned manual tools.
Sure, manually splitting logs is much harder than powering up the electrical log splitter, but that way you prepare wood for your fire and get a workout in. You can’t get the same with a powered log splitter! If you want to work out your upper body, splitting logs is one of the best ways to do that, and you won’t even have to pay for a gym membership.
When you buy a gas-powered log splitter, that machine emits a lot of exhaust that pollutes the environment. Environmental splitters don’t have emissions, but they still use energy. On the other hand, the only energy you will waste with manual splitters is the one you make yourself.
Manual log splitters are much more affordable than powered ones, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. If you’re splitting wood a few times a year for your vacation house, a powered log splitter is just not worth it.
There are a few different types of manual log splitter tools. Here is your guide to the most common ones you will encounter.
Splitting axes are the most common log-splitting tools in pop culture. However, old Looney Tunes cartoons probably don’t bother explaining the difference between different types of axes.
Felling axes are the types of axes you would use to chop trees. It has a very sharp blade and a broad head. A splitting axe is relatively lightweight and has a wedge-shaped blade. The shape of the blade allows it to wedge into the wood and split it down the middle instead of slicing against the grain. The blades are duller because the job you have to do requires less force.
Splitting axes use gravitational force and the strength of your own swing to split logs. They’re very simple and not as fast as some of the other tools on this list, but they get the job done. When looking for the year’s best axes, ensure you get a splitting axe, not a felling axe.
Although the blade on a splitting axe is duller than the blade on a felling axe, it is still very sharp. Many people are nervous about cutting themselves, especially since to split wood with an axe, you have to swing the tool all the way over your head.
Splitting mauls are similar to splitting axes. A maul is actually a type of axe. The difference is that splitting mauls have much longer handles and much more heft. One side of the head has the same wedge-shaped blade as a splitting axe, while the other looks like a sledgehammer head.
The combination of a sledgehammer and axe head gives the maul much more power when you swing it into a piece of wood. The extra heft makes the maul more efficient at splitting logs, especially when working with larger chunks. However, for some people, the extra weight is a drawback because they are afraid of lifting such a heavy object over their head or cannot handle a maul.
Hydraulic Log Splitter
While most people have heard of axes, and they’ll get the general idea around mauls, hydraulic log splitters are less famous.
That’s a shame because these tools are very useful. Hydraulic log splitters use the power of hydraulics to cut logs into two. Hydraulic systems use pressurized fluid to make a machine work. Many powered log splitters use hydraulic systems in their gas or electrical systems to cut logs in two.
However, you can also get manual hydraulic log splitters. These machines work thanks to a series of handles. You pump the handles, which push the log onto a wedge with a sharp blade. The blade then splits the log in half. The power of the hydraulic handle technology gives you more force than you get when you swing an axe or a maul.
Manual hydraulic log splitters are kind of the best of both worlds between manual and powered log splitters. They are far more powerful than other manual tools, such as axes and mauls. However, if you get the manual version, you don’t have to worry about pollution.
Hydraulic log splitters are more portable than gas or electric machines, but they are still pretty bulky and not as convenient as a simple axe. Hydraulic log splitters are also one of the more expensive tools on the market, so it’s not worth it if you’re trying to build a fire for the holidays so your pictures look nice.
Sliding Log Splitters
Sliding log splitters are another type of tool that offer a happy medium between manual and powered tools. You don’t have to worry about getting a gas or electrical supply to the machine, but it’s also much easier on the back and shoulders than swinging a maul.
Sliding log splitters work thanks to two poles. One is fixed, holding the log in place. The other has a bladed wedge attachment and slides up and down. The gravitational force of the sliding pole cuts the log in half.
Sliding log splitters are less work than swinging an axe but more work than hydraulic log splitters. Some people claim they have less force than more traditional tools, but that’s because there’s a bit of a learning curve when using these tools.
Powered Log Splitter Tools
Besides manual log splitter tools, you can also get powered log splitter tools. These tools work on an outside power source, usually gas or electricity.
Powered log splitter tools are far more efficient and easier on your body than manual tools. However, they are also bulkier, more expensive, and worse for the environment.
It comes down to your needs. If you need to split enough logs to supply your home or business for the whole winter, it’s worth investing in a power tool. It might not be worth it if you need to split a few logs for an aesthetic fireplace.
Electric Log Splitters
Powered log splitter tools are categorised not by design but by power source.
Electric log splitters use electricity to split logs. These powerful tools are more efficient and healthier for the environment than gas-powered ones because they don’t have emissions. However, you’re limited in location because you have to be close to an outlet.
Gas Log Splitters
The other type of powered log splitter tool is a gas log splitter. This tool uses gasoline to power a hydraulic engine that splits logs in half. While it gives you more range geographically than an electric log splitter, you do have to have gas on hand (and the smell of the emissions is not very pleasant).
If you have to build a fire with any regularity, then having a log-splitting tool on hand will make your task easier than maneuvering bulky firewood or trying to make do with an axe or a wedge. The biggest factor in deciding which tool is best for you is how much wood you need to split and how often.