Question: How Does a Log Splitter Work? - Backyard Boss
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Question: How Does a Log Splitter Work?

Cutting up wood for fireplaces can be a long and exhausting process. Not only does it require strength, but it also takes up a lot of time. Now as winter is fast approaching many individuals are preparing to stock up on firewood and also considering possibilities of methods to better cut firewood.

No one wants to spend hours outside in the cold trying to cut up logs for firewood. A log splitter is just the tool to help with that. It not only reduces the time spent outside trying to cut up the logs, but it also drastically reduces the amount of physical labour that is required. In fact, some electric log splitters only require you to place the wood on the device and it does the rest for you.

There are many different types of log splitters available as per your needs and requirements. They can use different power sources to work such as electrical motor, gasoline or a diesel engine. Regardless of the power source though the log splitters rely on the use of hydraulic pistons to split or cut the wood. The log splitters that do not require an electrical power sources can also be used remotely and can be moved to the area where the source of the wood is located.

Various Uses

A man using Swisher Log Splitter in the backyard

Although these log splitters are generally used for at home use for cutting up firewood, there are many now available to use for commercial use as well. Some of these commercial models are used as a part of “firewood processor”. These “firewood processors” cut the logs of timber lengthwise, then slip them in half and then the wood is carried by a conveyor into a truck, trailer or bag.

These log splitters are also utilized by specialty producers, such as producers of maple syrup. These maple syrup producers use log splitters that split up to four-foot lengths. Similarly, there are special log splitters that are also used to make wood for fence posts. These split and point the wood for fence posts.

What is a Log Splitter and How Does It Work?

What type of simple machine is a log splitter? A general log splitter or an electric model works in a manner that is very similar to a human using an ax to cut wood. These log splitters are based on a hydraulic pump system which either pushes a log of wood into a blade or the hydraulic pump swings a blade through the wood. This can depend on the type and design of the log splitter that you are using. Mostly in order to operate a log splitter all you have to do is place a log in the designated spot on the machine.

A wood splitter is considered one of the simplest hydraulic devices in use today. In its most basic form, the splitter consists of six key components. These six constituents include, an engine, a hydraulic pump, a valve, a hydraulic cylinder, a tank, and a filter.

The wood splitter starts when you turn on the engine which pushes fluid that is that is stored in the tank to go through the pump. The pump builds up pressure and pushes the fluid through the valve. The valve connects to two different pipes which are connected on either side of the hydraulic piston, as well as a tube that links back to the tank.

Best Budget Friendly Best Log Splitters Under $1000

If the lever that connects to the valve is not pulled forwards or backwards, then the fluid travels back through the return tube to the tank in a continuous loop and passes through the filter on its way back.

However, once the lever is pulled based on the direction in which you want the blade to move, the fluid is pumped into the cylinder which drives the piston causing the blade to move. At the same time fluid is released from the other side of the piston and returns back to the tank, passing through the filter.

The filter is important as it ensures the log splitter works smoothly and prevents any debris, dirt and other particles from interfering with the function of the wood splitter. Often these need to be replaced or the fluid needs to be changed as a part of maintenance. This is important for safety as well as the effective function of the log splitter.
In addition to this the tank for the fluid is also important as it allows the fluid to cool down as you use the log splitter. The fluid heats up significantly, especially if the log splitter is used continuously.


The log splitter is a valuable investment for anyone who might have trouble with cutting wood or suffers from shoulder and back pain while cutting wood with their hands. However, like many heavy machines if it is operated incorrectly the log splitter can prove to be dangerous.

Woman cutting wood using log splitter

It is generally recommended that only trained adults use the log splitter and only for its intended use. This is because anything that is caught between the log and the splitters blade will be exposed to at least ten tons of force.

Most devices such as hydraulic or kinetic log splitters require “two-handed” operation in order to ensure safety. This means that both the hands of the person operating the machine need to be on the machine in order for it to work. This makes sure that both hands are out of the before the blade can be moved.

In addition to this behaviour, trajectory, and projection of logs that are split can be unpredictable so to avoid and accidents a safe distance should be maintained by others while the log splitter is in use. If you think your device isn’t working properly, be sure to find out what you can do to troubleshoot it and prevent any accidents.


Log splitters are a low effort and efficient way to cut up some firewood or even make commercial use out of logs. They work based on hydraulic pressure and can use electricity, gasoline, or diesel as fuel. There are some safety measures that need to be taken in order for safe operation. Hopefully, this article helped shed some light on how log splitters operate.