Log Splitters for Beginners – Simple Guide for Newbies

Are you new to log splitters and have no idea where to start?

Well you’ve come to the right place because in this post, I’ll be going over the very basic things you need to know about log splitters.

What is a log splitter and what are they used for?

A log splitter is a piece of machinery that’s used to split logs/cut logs in half. The log that it splits in half is typically a round (pre-cut section of wood). It’s usually pre-cut by a chainsaw or saw bench.

Log splitters are rated by tons to determine the power of the splitter. A residential style log splitter can have a rating of 10 tonnes where a commercial one can have a rating of 30 tonnes. [1]

The wood that’s been split is used for firewood. Saving you lots of money in energy bills.

Traditionally people would split their wood with an axe and they still do. This takes A LOT of manpower. But a log splitter will save your back and go through tons of wood with ease.

Types of log splitters

There are different types of log splitters that you need to know about before making a decision…

Manual Log Splitters

A manual log splitter is lightweight, easy to store, and costs less than electric or gas splitters.

You can choose between a foot or hand powered version. Aslo, some manual log splitters use hydraulics whilst others use weights and manpower.

Even though a manual log splitter requires more effort, it’s still more convenient than using an axe/hatchet. 

This is great for people who occasionally need firewood and don’t want to spend a lot.

Electric log splitters

Electric log splitters are the most convinient since they’re powerful and don’t require a lot of maintenance. 

Since there’s no gas engine to deal with, there’s less weight, making it more portable. They’re also quiet, so you won’t be disturbing your neighbours and you can use it inside since there’s no petrol smell.

Gas log splitters

Gas log splitters are the most powerful, they’re designed for heavy duty work. They don’t need to be plugged into a power outlet like an electric model, making it more portable. 

The downside is there’s more maintenance when operating a gas engine and it costs more.

Hydraulic Vs Kinetic Log Splitters

When picking a log splitter, you can either get a hydraulic or kinetic log splitter. 

Hydraulic Log Splitters

With a hydraulic splitter, the pump forms oils that have been pressured and that generates power to push the wedge through a log.

If you’re dealing with wood that has stringy fibers, a hydraulic splitter won’t perform as well.

A hydraulic splitter can operate with a gas or electric engine.

Kinetic Log Splitters

Kinetic log splitters extract energy from the engine in the spinning flywheels, making it very powerful and creates a fast cut. You don’t need to be slowly pressing the log all the way and then retracting it yourself.

With no oils, they’re easier to maintain and you don’t need to worry about oil leaking.

How do I use a log splitter?

First of all, make sure you’re wearing the correct safety gear. Make sure your clothes aren’t loose, you’re wearing gloves because there will be splinters, and wear safety boots.

More specifically, steel toe cap boots in case you drop a log on your foot. 

Position the splitter near the pile of wood. Make your life a lot easier by taking the log splitter to where all of the wood has been collected. This way, you’re not walking up and down all the time.

The standard log splitter will have wheels so transporting won’t be an issue. When you decide on where to place your log splitter, make sure it’s on even ground and not on a slope.

You don’t want it rolling. You can also put a brick next to the wheel to prevent it from moving.

If you have the really big log splitters, it needs to be transported by a vehicle.

Next, switch the machine on. If you’ve got an electric model, you switch it on at the touch of a button and with a gas model you will pull a string to start it. 

Now that the splitter is on, you’re simply going to place a log on there. You will load the log on vertically or horizontally depending on your splitter. 

After you’ve loaded the log, you’re going to activate the lever/valve. This will push the log into the wedge, splitting it. After you’ve split the log, you will simply return the lever and remove the log. 

Now you will simply repeat this process. That’s it!

It’s really not that difficult to use a log splitter. You just have to mind your hand because if your hand is there whilst the lever goes off, your hand is gone. So please… BE CAREFUL.

Maintenance

Sharpen the blades

The blades are the thing that will split the log. The log is going to be forced against the blade and that’s how it will split. However, if the blade is dull, it won’t split properly. The log may split unevenly or not split at all.

Check for leaking fluid

You can check for leaking hydraulic fluid by putting paper around the splitter and if the tissue is wet, you need to fix the leak. 

Refill the hydraulic fluid

When you’re running low on fluid, the machine won’t be as powerful. I would recommend filling the hydraulic fluid until it’s ¾ full. 

Storage

You paid a lot of money for your log splitter, so don’t leave it out in the rain to rust. After you’re done with it remove the debris and store it in a cool and dry place.

The shed is a great storage place. If you’re unable to do that, at least place a plastic sheet over it to protect it from the elements.

Safety

If you’ve got family around, let them know that you’re going to be splitting wood and not to come close. No one should be touching the splitter except for you.

There are tonnes of force (literally) that’s being dispersed and if they have their hand on the splitter, it could wonder where it shouldn’t be.

Make sure you’re familiar with all the functions. You need to know where all the buttons and levers. In case of an emergency, you need to know how to stop the machine. Check out the user manual.

If you have someone who’s helping you out, ensure that they’re a few meters away. You don’t want to be bumping into each other or hindering each other’s movement. That could prove to be fatal.

ONLY use the machine for splitting wood. If you decide to shove other things on there for the fun of it, this could result in an accident.

Make sure you’re wearing all the correct safety gear:

  • Goggles
  • Helmet
  • Boots
  • Gloves

And make sure you’re wearing clothing that actually covers your body, not sleeves or shorts because splinters could hit you.

F.A.Q

What is cycle time?

Cycle time is how long it takes for the splitting wedge to go from full extension to full retraction. 

Conclusion

So that’s what you need to know if you’re new to log splitting.

Log splitters are a simple yet effective tool but can be deadly if you’re not using them properly.

Happy splitting!

– Adam