Best Log Splitter: Understanding How Splitters Work

If you heat using wood, or simply have a fireplace or pit you like to take advantage of, you probably are already aware of how costly your firewood may get if you are buying it cut and split. Even if you have your own source of wood from which to cut from or regularly have uncut logs delivered, this chore can eat into quite a bit of your time.

Luckily, there are tools to help you get the job done in no time. Not only is a good chainsaw recommended for cutting logs to size, but a log splitter will handle all the rest with very little effort on your behalf. The best log splitters work with the amounts of wood, and types of wood you are cutting for dependable splits each time. They also are powered in various ways, and the following log splitter reviews highlight these differences so you can decide what is best for you to buy.

5 Best Log Splitter Comparisons

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
byb2-table__imageTroy Bilt TB 27 LS Hydraulic Log Splitter
  • Type: Gas horizontal/vertical
  • Tonnage: 27
  • Max Log Capacity Length: 25 inches
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byb2-table__imageBoss Industrial ES7T20 Electric Log Splitter
  • Type: Electric horizontal
  • Tonnage: 7
  • Max Log Capacity Length: 12 inches
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byb2-table__imageYARDMAX YU3066 30 Ton Full Beam Gas Log Splitter
  • Type: Gas horizontal/vertical
  • Tonnage: 30
  • Max Log Capacity Length: 26 inches
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byb2-table__imageSouthland Outdoor Power Equipment SELS60 6 Ton Electric Log Splitter
  • Type: Electric horizontal
  • Tonnage: 6
  • Max Log Capacity Length: 20 inches
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byb2-table__imageSun Joe LJ10M Log Splitter
  • Type: Manual Hydraulic
  • Tonnage: 10
  • Max Log Capacity Length: 18 inches
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What is a Log Splitter?

a man using log splitter

Rather than wear yourself out cutting wood by hand with an axe, investing in a good log splitter to handle the heavy work is well worth the consideration. A log splitter is a machine for home use, as well as commercial business use, that handles the splitting of cut logs either through manual control or a powered engine that supplies pressure to the hydraulics for splitting force.

If you regularly use wood for heating or simply ambiance, then having a stack of logs handy requires either an upfront cost or a lot of time and effort on your behalf. Choosing the best splitter for the money and need can save you in cost in the long run. These are a useful tool that takes care of the heavy work for you.

Log Splitter Categories

To get started, you need to decide if you want a vertical log splitter or a horizontal log splitter. Some models can do both, but it is important to understand what each style does and why these different kinds might be a benefit to your needs.

Vertical Splitters

Vertical splitters are the machines that can handle the big stuff and are designed to cut your logs at ground level to avoid having to lift and drop them onto the machine. These are often very powerful and can handle any sort of wood species, size, and age.

Horizontal Splitters

electric log splitter with wood and trunks

Horizontal splitters are great for when you only have to deal with logs that you can lift to place on the splitter. These are what most home models are and is ideal for cutting large amounts of firewood as it sits low to the ground for easy use. Models that only offer horizontal splitting may not be as powerful as a vertical splitter.

Types of Log Splitters and How They Work

Splitters are categorized by how they are powered and come in different kinds of models. This is an important consideration because not all can provide the same amount of strength, which is crucial to operation depending on the size, type, and age of wood you are splitting (explained in more detail below). Splitters are almost all exclusively hydraulic in nature to power the part of the machine that does the actual splitting. To build this pressure you need a power source behind it. You also need to keep them maintained and apply oil regularly.

Gas Splitters

Gas splitters are powerful tools and are often considered the best commercial log splitter, as well as for heavy firewood home use. These come in a wide range of models, many of which can split both horizontally and vertically, and can easily tow behind a tractor or other vehicle when portability is needed. They do require regular engine maintenance, can be loud, and do emit fumes, but when you have a lot to cut, large logs, green logs, and hardwoods- this is the best to pick from.

Electric Splitters

Electric splitters are lightweight and quite small in comparison to other types and almost exclusively cut horizontally. They are designed for homeowner use and run from a regular power outlet. They also can be used indoors, such as in a garage or shed. They work best with small to medium loads of seasoned wood that isn’t too large overall.

Manual-Hydraulic Splitters

Man is using a electric log splitter

Manual log splitters are hand or foot operated to pump up the pressure to apply to split the log horizontally. They are surprisingly powerful and can handle small to medium sized jobs that you would find around the house. These are great for when you want to pile up some wood for occasional use but aren’t splitting year round. They require much less labor than other manual splitters- such as slide hammers that requires you to do all the work.

Three-Point Splitters & Skid Steer Splitters

These splitters are designed to be hooked up directly to a tractor to run off its power. They attach easily and can be driven anywhere on your property that you need wood split. These are generally very powerful and can handle any type and size of wood.

Skid steer splitters connect to your Bobcat or front loader as an attachment and are designed for powerful cutting. These are generally used for farm and ranch work when clearing land, as well as for commercial businesses.

Kinetic Splitters

Kinetic splitters can be either electric or gas and do NOT depend on hydraulics, but rather stored energy that is applied to spinning flywheels. When these are released they power through the log in one sweep. These work quickly, need less maintenance overall, and are surprisingly powerful, with some able to handle larger logs and greener wood.

What to Pay Attention to When Choosing a Splitter

Choosing a splitter isn’t just as simple as deciding you need one and picking what you think is best. Splitters can be bought based on personal preference, but you need to take a few important details into account prior to finalizing a purchase to determine if the machine is the right choice for your needs.

Green vs Seasoned Wood

woodpile: closeup on tree trunks in a forest

Green wood is the wood from recently cut trees that have not been allowed to age and dry. This wood is still extremely dense and heavy and takes a lot more pressure to cut. Seasoned wood is lighter and splits more easily. Know the age of your logs prior to cutting to ensure you have enough tonnage available (explained below).

Hardwood vs Softwood

Hardwood trees, or most deciduous trees, have a more densely packed cellular structure than softwoods: most evergreen species such as pine, fir, and spruce. Because of this, a greater force is needed for splitting hardwoods compared to softwoods. Hardwoods also vary in their ‘hardness’ from one another as well, with tree species such as oak, walnut, and maple being considered much harder than aspen, birch, or elm.

Log Size

Obviously, a smaller log is going to split with less force than a larger log. Be sure the splitter you are considering can handle the size of the logs you are anticipating using it for. This is when you need to look closely at the horizontal and vertical capabilities as well since horizontal splitters require you to lift the log into place.

Automatic Ram Return

The automatic ram return refers to how quickly the machine returns to the start position for the next cut. This is important because how powerful your machine is does not always reflect on how quickly it works. You want the power you need and a quick return so you can continue cutting through your job without having to wait.

Tonnage

wood splitter in action

Log splitter tonnage is one of the most important considerations you need to pay attention to during your search for a splitter. This term refers to how much power the machine has to cut your logs. The larger and greener your log is, the more power it requires. Plus you also need to take into consideration the type of wood you are cutting. For example, a 12-inch seasoned log requires approximately 7 tons of pressure, while a 12-inch green log will require 16 tons.

Top 5 Log Splitter Reviews

The following splitter reviews highlight various types that are popular with homeowners and commercial business owners alike. These are highly reviewed and rated as affordable options for what they offer, as well as their quality and ease of use.

Troy Bilt TB 27 LS Hydraulic Log Splitter

Troy Bilt TB 27 LS Hydraulic Log Splitter
  • Type: Gas horizontal/vertical
  • Tonnage: 27
  • Max Log Capacity Length: 25 inches
  • Warranty: 2 years
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Troy Bilt is a well known brand and is commonly seen in both residential as well as commercial, settings. The 27 LS Splitter is a gas run machine set on durable wheels with a hitch so you can move it easily with a vehicle if needed. With a 27-ton ram force, this machine can easily handle both horizontal and vertical log splitting cuts up to 25-inch log capacity.

The 208cc engine is powerful and provides a 19-second cycle to keep you moving without having to wait for reset. The splitting wedge is cast iron for durable, long-lasting use. This machine is built for wear and tear and can handle just about any size, age, or type of wood that needs splitting.

Pros

  • Wears well over the years with heavy use
  • Easy to use and load
  • Much more powerful than it claims

Cons

  • Needs a wider log tray
  • Not designed to leave out in weather

Pro tip

This is designed for heavy use and is perfect for home firewood cutting, personal businesses, commercial firewood cutting, and large properties as it hauls anywhere you need it.


Boss Industrial ES7T20 Electric Log Splitter

Boss Industrial ES7T20 Electric Log Splitter
  • Type: Electric horizontal
  • Tonnage: 7
  • Max Log Capacity Length: 12 inches
  • Warranty: 2 years
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The Boss Industrial brand regularly offers durable, long-lasting, quality products for both homeowners and commercial businesses. This compact electric splitter is designed for easy, one-handed use for small to moderate size wood cutting projects. With a powerful 2 HP motor capable of 7-tons of splitting force, this easily handles common sized logs most households cut for firewood.

Side rails keep your horizontal cuts stable, and wheels allow you to easily move this machine to any area you may need it. You also can purchase a separate 4-way splitter accessory head for an even quicker job of larger logs. Although rated for a 16-inch diameter log, users say it can handle larger, aged logs with no problem.

Pros

  • Much more powerful than claimed
  • Easy to use and quick for one-handed operation
  • Very stable when in use

Cons

  • A bit wobbly to move
  • Very low to the ground

Pro tip

This is the perfect splitter for homeowners who want to cut large amounts of firewood. With one handed operation, you can easily keep it running and loaded to avoid a pause in your work.


YARDMAX YU3066 30 Ton Full Beam Gas Log Splitter

YARDMAX YU3066 30 Ton Full Beam Gas Log Splitter
  • Type: Gas horizontal/vertical
  • Tonnage: 30
  • Max Log Capacity Length: 26 inches
  • Warranty: 3 years workmanship and materials (2 on engine, 1 on hydraulics)
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YARDMAX is another well known, trusted brand name and their line of gas splitters are quite powerful indeed. Their 30-ton splitter is one of the largest offered and is run by a powerful 306cc gas engine to split logs up to 26-inches both 2 and 4 ways with a 30-ton ram force. Capable of both horizontal and vertical cutting power, it switches easily from one to another with a patented swivel plate.

Dual log cradles catch your logs and are adjustable for stability. Plus, the pneumatic tires and universal hitch makes it easy to move from one place to another and provides an unshakable surface to cut on.

Pros

  • Easy to assemble
  • Very stable to use
  • Starts easy and is very powerful

Cons

  • Adding oil is a bit tricky
  • Pivot point on hitch may rust

Pro tip

This splitter is designed for heavy use both in its operation and what it can handle. The driving force and log capabilities can handle just about anything you need taken care of for both businesses and your own home cutting projects.


Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SELS60 6 Ton Electric Log Splitter

Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SELS60 6 Ton Electric Log Splitter
  • Type: Electric horizontal
  • Tonnage: 6
  • Max Log Capacity Length: 20 inches
  • Warranty: 2 years
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This compact splitter is designed for easy portability and fast, simple use wherever you have a power source. With a 1.75 hp electric motor and a 6-ton force capability, this is a powerful little workhorse that only has an 18-second cycle time with automatic return. It also has an integrated stroke limiter to adjust to log size for a quicker job done.

This machine is designed for homeowner use and reports indicate it is much stronger and durable than it claims. With a sturdy frame and the ability to cut 20-inch length logs, this compact machine is exactly what cutting firewood at home needs.

Pros

  • Very powerful
  • Splits with ease and quickly
  • Compact and durable

Cons

  • Two-handed operation
  • Very low to the ground

Pro tip

This is the perfect log splitter for portable compatibility. It is not only capable of handling large jobs, but it also stores easily when not in use and is simple to move with durable tires.


Sun Joe LJ10M Log Splitter

Sun Joe LJ10M Log Splitter
  • Type: Manual Hydraulic
  • Tonnage: 10
  • Max Log Capacity Length: 18 inches
  • Warranty: 2 years
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As far as manual log splitters go, the Sun Joe splitter is about the most popular on the market due to their attention to quality workmanship pertaining to ‘green’ powered home tools. This manual hydraulic splitter can provide up top 10 tons of driving force and is made from solid steel construction. It does sit on wheels for easy portability, but otherwise rest along a flat surface and cradles logs up to 18 inches long to split horizontally.

To build pressure all you have to do is pump the handles, and a durable spring allows for a quick reset so you spend more time getting the job done than resetting the machine. The compact size also makes it easy to store.

Pros

  • Very easy to use with little labor involved
  • Quick reset and works surprisingly fast
  • Very powerful splitting force

Cons

  • No room for anything slightly over 18 inches
  • Not made for cutting multiple cords at a time

Pro tip

Those who are environmentally conscious, on a budget, or don’t have a lot of cutting to do at any one time will appreciate this machine due to how easy it is to use and how well it works.

Conclusion

If you have been looking for a good log splitter for sale that fits your log cutting needs, then the above choices are excellent options for consideration. Everything from large, powerful gas-powered splitters to handle major amounts of wood of various sizes and age, to smaller, more compact designs for home use are highlighted above.

We’d love to hear about your experiences with any of the options we’ve provided, as well as any questions you may have about them. And, as always, please share!

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