If you have a fireplace or wood burning fire pit, log splitters can be indispensable tools. These allow you to split longer sections of log than you would with an axe, using less than a tenth of the physical effort. Even a manual log splitter is relatively simple to use, and can turn a large task into and afternoon's work.
Types of Log Splitters
There are 3 main types of log splitters:
- Gasoline-powered - The fastest type, but have the disadvantage of a negative environmental impact.
- Electric - Perhaps the most limiting, as they require a generator or electrical cord.
- Hydraulic - The most portable type, operated by pumping a lever that activates a hydraulic cylinder, forcing a wedge into the log and splitting it.
Log Splitter Safety
When working with a log splitter or any other yard equipment, always wear gloves and protective eye gear. It is very common for dirt or wood chips to be thrown up from a log as it splits, posing a danger for those nearby.
Step 1: Setting Up
Use extra care when operating an electric log splitter. Place the cord so that it does not pose a tripping hazard while you work.
For all types of log splitter, the device needs to be as level as possible, and shouldn't wobble or rock when shaken. Position the log splitter so that it loads on the side closest to the raw logs and unloads on the end facing your stack location. This allows you to form a sort of mini-assembly line, loading the logs at one end and stacking them at the other. This method will keep your work area from becoming overly cluttered.
Step 2: Loading the Splitter
Trim any branches or small limbs from the logs to be split. Make sure that your logs are short enough to fit the rail of the log splitter, and trim pieces to size as needed. Each log is placed on the splitter so that the wedge is against the flat of the log. When possible, split from the base of the log towards the top.
Step 3a: Gas and Electric Log Splitters
When using a gas log splitter, make sure the exhaust is not pointed onto firewood, plants or buildings. Activate the splitter by twisting a control or pressing a button, depending on the model of the splitter.
Step 3b: Hydraulic Log Splitters
Hydraulic or manual log splitters are basically a jack laid horizontally with a wedge on the top. As you pump the lever, pressure is built up in a hydraulic cylinder and the wedge is forced into the log. Because most of the work is done with hydraulics, you need very little strength to operate the machine.