A log splitter isn’t only a machine for a commercial space, but a necessary part of your household too; especially if you prefer to warm your house with a heartily burning fire. Buying already prepped firewood can be expensive, so learning how to use a log splitter can save you a lot of expenses.
Getting yourself a log splitter and cutter should be easy- there are quite a few types available in the market and you can just pick one that suits your requirements. However, operating it is a whole other chore. Unless you’re clear on the process, you might seriously hurt yourself. Whether you’re using a manual or powered log splitter, you should learn the way to run it. That is why, in this blog post we’re going to talk extensively about using a log splitter. No matter what type you’re using, we’ve got your back.
How to use a log splitter: Different types
Before we get into the different types of log splitters based on the type of power they use, let’s look at the major two types; namely- horizontal and vertical. Horizontal log splitters are more common and you have to lift and place the logs on the machine for it to work. Vertical log splitters are more powerful and heavier, and they can split the log while they’re on the ground. If you’re dealing with heavier, denser logs, then vertical log splitters would be what you need.
However, there are some log splitters that act as both horizontal and vertical splitters, and are generally very powerful.
Now let’s go check what other types of log splitters there are, and how they work!
Using an electric log splitter
An electric log splitter can come as both a horizontal or a vertical splitter. Electric log splitters need access to a normal household outlet, therefore you need to operate it somewhere near the house, or even in your garage.
These splitters are quite lightweight and quieter than some other types of log splitters. It doesn’t require fuel, so there’s no need to worry about exhaust fumes. The con is that you can’t work away from your house.
If you’re in a pinch, you might have to use a generator, but that cancels the benefit of the electric log splitter being lightweight. Moreover, it’ll also produce exhaust fumes, so that’s not much better than using a gas powered log splitter, but we’ll talk more on that later.
If you look closely at one of these machines, you’ll find the vital components, which are:
- The electric motor (obviously)
- The hydraulic ram
- The wooden rail
- The V shaped wedge/splitter
As an example, let’s look at this WEN electric log splitter . It comes with all the necessary components, as well as a stand for ease of operation and wheels for added portability.
Now that you have an idea of the machine, it’ll be easier to understand what to do. Take one of the wood pieces and place it on the rail. Carefully turn the motor on, and the hydraulic powered piston will push the log into the sharp wedge, which in turn will split the log.
Using a gas log splitter
You’ll have to use a gas log splitter in much the same way that you would use an electric log splitter. You have to identify the components and then you can get to work. Start by placing a properly sized log on the rail, then turn the engine on, and the machine will do its work. There are of course pros and cons to using an electric log splitter vs gas log splitter. You can use a gas log splitter away from your house as it doesn’t need a power outlet to be conveniently close to where you’re working. It’s also quite fast and powerful, more so than electric log splitters.
For example, this Champion Power Equipment gas log splitter works horizontally, and it also has an auto return feature. As a result, log splitting is done quickly and efficiently.
However, you can’t actually use a gas log splitter inside an enclosed space, such as a garage, because the operation produces toxic fumes. You need to work outside or at least in a place that has plenty of air circulation.
Since gas log splitters are more powerful, you need to be cautious about your own safety around them. Especially, make sure your hands are safe. They’re also quite heavy, so if you need to move it around a lot, that might be tough. Gas wood splitters are also rather noisy and need more frequent upkeep.
Kinetic Log Splitter Vs Hydraulic Log Splitter
So far we’ve talked about using a hydraulic log splitter. Yeah, both the electric and gas log splitters that I’ve described use hydraulic pressure to push the log into the wedge and ultimately split it.
However, using hydraulic pressure makes the process slow. The machine splits the wood with a constant and steady pressure. And once the wood is split, you have to wait for the machine to get back to its original mode before you can place another log on the rail.
If you’re looking for a log splitter to use in a commercial setting, a hydraulic splitter just won’t cut it! You’re going to need a kinetic log splitter. That’s when you should consider using a kinetic log splitter.
You’ll be using a kinetic log splitter in a similar way as a hydraulic log splitter, but the machine has some differences. The visually discernible difference is brought by the two flywheels balanced on both sides of the machine.
The flywheels are the ones that put the kinetic force into play and the force splits the wood with a generous thrust. It works very fast. By the time a hydraulic log splitter is ready to split another log, a kinetic one would be plowing through a pile of logs.
If you’ve been struggling with splitting hardwood or especially gnarly logs, then a hydraulic log splitter is your friend. A hydraulic log splitter uses a steady pressure but a kinetic one uses a rapid thrust. You’ll have to try out both to learn which is better for which type of wood.
Since a hydraulic pump uses oil or similar lubricant, it requires a regular upkeep. On the other hand, a kinetic log splitter requires much less maintenance. Plus, hydraulic log splitters are generally more expensive up front. So if you’re thinking of an economic option, a kinetic log splitter is the way to go.
Using a manual log splitter
Even when we’re comparing between kinetic and hydraulic models, it’s true that most log splitters come with a hefty price tag. But how about you get a log splitter without an engine? It should be cheaper, right? If you’re planning on getting a manual log splitter and using it, hear me out first. You might think that a manual log splitter is the same thing as an ax or a maul. You have to swing it to split or cut logs. But manual log splitters come in quite a few varieties and you don’t have to ruin your health using one.
Hydraulic manual log splitter
A lot of these manual log splitters make use of hydraulic pressure. You would have to use your hands or feet to build up the pressure which is then used to split the logs. They’re a little heavy, but take much less effort to split logs than an ax or maul. In most cases, manual log splitters look like an average horizontal gas or electric splitter, except there are a couple of handles on the machine. You put the log on the rail and then work these handles to build up pressure, and this pressure will split the log with the wedge. There are also vertical manual log splitters, which have to be worked with your feet.
Simpler manual log splitter
If you’re looking for a manual log splitter that’s not automated in any way and uses elbow grease, just in a more efficient way, then there are options available as well. There are log splitting tools such as slide hammers and kindling splitters that you can also use. How to use a log splitter like that? If it’s a slide hammer type, then place the log piece under the ax head, then raise and drop the weight. In any case, there are quite a few different types out in the market, so it’s best to read the manual that comes with the splitter. However, even though manual log splitters will save you some cash, they’re ultimately for people who don’t mind a good workout. Take this KABIN Kindle Quick log splitter (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZS2QDB3) for example. You do have to use a maul or axe to use it properly. If an effortless log splitter is what you need, then you should just use a gas or electric log splitter.
Using a Three Point Log Splitter
These log splitters are purely for commercial purposes. If you have a farm or a log-splitting business, then these log splitters would be good to have. You can just attach these to a tractor. The tractor will take care of the transportation as well as act as the external power source. Once you’ve mounted this attachment to your tractor, you can switch it from vertical to horizontal and back with not a lot of labor. You have to use it much like any other hydraulic log splitter, because that’s the mechanism it uses. The pros of these machines include the awesome power they provide and their portability. As it is attached to your tractor, you can split wood anywhere. They are also more powerful than the gas or electric splitters we have discussed above. Of course, there are some cons. These log splitters are heavy and expensive, and it might take you a few hours to get one set up. However, for the optimum power and performance, all that should be a small price to pay.
Using a Screw Type Log Splitter
So far I’ve only been talking about types of log splitters that use a wedge-shaped cutter to split the wood. There’s another type of log splitter which uses a screw to split wood. However, it’s not something I would suggest you using, as it is quite dangerous. Screw type log splitters are easy to DIY, but it’s also easy to get injured while you’re using one. They split wood very fast, but that also heightens the risk of an accident. They’re also not too good with gnarly wood with lots of knots.
Tips to Use a Log Splitter Safely
Read the instructions
To understand how to use your log splitter, read the instruction manual that comes with it. Even if you’re experienced at using a log splitter, every machine works differently and you should learn how to use the new one before attempting to operate it.
Type of wood
Take a stock of your wood pile before you try to put them through the process. Is your machine capable of handling these logs? Do they need to be cut shorter? Are they too hard or gnarly for your machine? Consider all that first and then start working with suitable logs.
Be well rested and alert
Log splitters are heavy machinery more often than not, and you shouldn’t operate them half- heartedly. You should be well-rested and attentive when you’re using it. Definitely do not operate a log splitter under the influence of alcohol or some other dangerous substance. If you feel like you can’t focus on the task or if you’re feeling sleepy, stop working at once.
Use proper safety gear
Wearing improper clothing can get you in serious trouble when using a log splitter. Wear clothes that are comfortable but aren’t too loose or baggy. Moreover, it’s a good idea to wear safety goggles and gloves. Wear sturdy non-skid boots, and don’t even consider being barefoot.
This tip might seem counterproductive, because two people are better than one when splitting logs, right? But it’s actually more dangerous. A second’s confusion or lack of synchronization can result in a bad injury for one or both of the people involved. You can actually operate most log splitters by yourself, so don’t keep a helper around. For that same reason, keep children and pets away. Even a little bit of flyaway wood sliver can seriously hurt others.
Service as needed
Some log splitters need more frequent maintenance than others, especially hydraulic log splitters since there might be leaks that you don’t know about. Gas log splitters should also be serviced quite often. Do not skip maintenance, as a leaking, worn out machine can be quite risky. Another thing to consider is the sharpness of the blade or the wedge that splits wood. A dull blade actually causes more accidents than a sharp blade. So for your own safety, keep your log splitter’s blade sharp.
As you can no doubt see by now, log splitters come in a variety of types. Even among log splitters of the same type, individual models might vary subtly in their operation. Therefore, even though we’ve given you a general idea on how to use a log splitter, make sure to read the instruction manual of the log splitter you buy before you try to use it. Don’t forget the safety tips we’ve given you, too! Happy log splitting!