Which log splitter do I need?

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Which kind of log splitter do I need? There are various factors to consider when it comes to choosing the ideal log splitter for your needs. With numerous brands of log splitter on the market to choose from, deciding if you need a horizontal or vertical log splitter (or one that does both) may be the trickiest decision to make. But fear not! This post will help you to understand the advantages of both horizontal and vertical log splitters and which may be best for your needs.

What is a log splitter, what is it for?

A log splitter is a mechanical device designed to split logs of wood into smaller pieces. To be used to burn for firewood in a log burner for example.

A hydraulic ram with a sharpened blade or wedge is activated by an engine (powered by fuel/electric/PTO) that drives into a log, splitting it into two or more pieces.

Horizontal splitters work by a ram pushing the log towards the splitting wedge and vertical splitters work the opposite way – the splitting wedge pushes down to meet the log.

Using a log splitter is easier than manually splitting using an axe. While saving on the aches and pains that may follow after a lengthy splitting session. It will also be more efficient if you have large quantities to process. The machine power of a log splitter can also come in handy if you are splitting hard, knotty or green wood as these types are pretty tough to split.

So this is where a log splitter comes in – saving you from backache, helping you save time and providing a bit of muscle power too. But which log splitter do you need?

Horizontal log splitters

If you’re mainly splitting wood for domestic use, say for a log burner or other home appliance, then a horizontal log splitter would probably be a good option.

Advantages of a horizontal splitter
  • Horizontal splitters for domestic use can be operated at floor level or placed on a work bench/table to enable splitting at a comfortable level.
  • Choosing an electric powered horizontal splitter means you can safely operate one inside a garage or workshop without the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Electric powered splitters are generally quieter when operating than fuel splitters making them suitable for residential or low-noise areas.
  • Using a splitter inside keeps the machine out of the elements and keeps you warm and dry.
  • Some horizontal splitters come with a 4-way splitting wedge that can split the log into 4 pieces reducing the time and strokes need to split, compared with a standard wedge.
  • Some splitters that operate in a horizontal position are two-directional meaning you save time splitting as you don’t have to wait for the ram to return to starting position before cutting again.
  • They are ideal for processing smaller pieces of wood up to 6” in diameter.
  • They are cheaper to purchase
  • Compact /Easy to move / transport or tow
Points to consider
  • Log splitters are measured in tonnage and a 4 ton horizontal log splitter would be capable of splitting logs up to 6” in diameter and doing most domestic work depending on the type of wood you’re trying to split.
  • Harder woods such as oak, walnut or poplar will require a higher tonnage splitter. 
  • Will you need a log deck for lifting larger, heavier logs? Ideally when using a horizontal splitter, you want to be able to lift the log in by yourself.

Vertical Log Splitters

Vertical log splitters are best for larger pieces of wood or if you have very large quantities of wood to process.

Note: A 7 tonne vertical splitter will easily cope with logs of 12” diameter. 

Advantages of Vertical splitters
  • Great for large, heavy logs because when using a vertical splitter you don’t have to pick up the log like that in a horizontal splitter – you just roll the logs into place. 
  • There are additional features that come with vertical splitters such as support arms that grab and hold the log in place which is especially useful with larger or misshapen logs.
  • Vertical splitters are adaptive to size and shape with adjustable bottom plate which can also accommodate smaller logs too.
  • Some vertical splitters are designed with an incline function so they are able to split wood in a vertical or horizontal position.
  • They are designed with higher tonnage to split, a larger diameter of wood, hard, knotty or green wood.
  • An electric powered splitter can be used indoors without the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Fuel powered splitters can be moved to where they are needed this can be especially helpful when cutting sizable logs that are tricky to move.
  • They have a faster rate of cutting than a horizontal splitter.
  • Usually fitted with wheels for easy manoeuvrability.
Points to consider
  • They are generally more expensive to buy as they are suited for professional use (due to size of wood they can process)
  • Most vertical splitters are not as eco-friendly as horizontal splitters.
  • Unless you are processing large amounts of smaller logs then they are best suited for professional usage.

Which log splitter do I need?

When answering the question – which log splitter do I need? The decision will ultimately depend on what type of wood you will be splitting and the amount that you split.

Hardwood, knotty or green (freshly cut) wood will require more force to split so a higher tonnage may be required. So a vertical splitter would be beneficial for this type of wood. If dealing with logs with a larger diameter than 10 inches a vertical splitter with a higher splitting force will make work a lot easier.

Seasoned wood is wood that has aged and dried. The reduced moisture content makes the wood more brittle and easier to split. Making a horizontal splitter a preferable option for this type of wood, particularly if it’s for domestic use. A horizontal splitter is perfect for use at home where log diameter doesn’t exceed more than 10 inches and with electric power options you are able to split wood indoors comfortably and safely.

Need more advice?

Why not pop us a message through our contact page and we would be happy to talk through your requirements and offer advice on which type of log splitter you may need.

We also offer a log splitter hire service which you can read more about here.