What you need to know about Log Splitters
If you regularly purchase logs for a wood fire, or if you are planning on undertaking a big clearing project, a Log Splitter is a wise investment. Log Splitters apply large amounts of pressure, rated in tonnes, to force logs against a fixed wedge which rends the wood’s fibres apart. They require much less effort & skill to use than an axe, & are safer & more effective than a chainsaw at splitting wood down the grain. You have the choice between a Vertical Log Splitter
& a Horizontal Log Splitter
, the difference being the direction in which the splitting pressure is exerted. Vertical Log Splitters are larger, heavier & generally have a higher tonnage rating. They can split wood more quickly, making them suitable for bigger tasks or for more regular use. The splitter's power source also influences its tonnage rating. Manual Hydraulic Log Splitters
usually have higher ratings than Electric Log Splitters
, but they require more effort to use. The pressure of the hydraulic fluid is increased physically by the operator; a foot pedal or hand lever is pumped repeatedly until the log is split. Non-Hydraulic Manual Log Splitters
are also available, in which a striking weight is swung by hand against the stationary log. The splitting force of non-hydraulic splitters will be heavily dependent on the strength of the person using them.
When deciding which Log Splitter to buy, consider the average diameter & the age of the wood you intend to split. A seasoned log 6" in diameter will need at least 4 tonnes of force to split; a log of 12" 7 tonnes. Greener wood will require a greater tonnage rating. Softwoods take between 6 & 12 months to season, hardwoods between 1 & 2 years. The grain of the wood is also a factor, & a higher tonnage rating will be preferred for close-grain woods like basswood, cherry or alder.
Safety when using your Log Splitter
Operate Log Splitters on a level surface, away from pets or children. Keep your hands well away from logs while splitting. Safety Eyewear
should be worn in order to shield your eyes from splinters. Gloves
& Work Boots
are also recommended to protect your fingers & help you to retain your balance. Avoid jewellery & wear close fitting garments to minimise the risk of entanglement. If using an electric model, plug it into an RCD adaptor
to safeguard yourself against electrocution. RCD adaptors will cut off power from the mains in the event of an earth current fault.
Maintaining your Log Splitter
Log Splitters require little maintenance. They should be stored in a dry & sheltered environment when not in use. Hydraulic pipes ought to be inspected regularly for leaks, as these pose a health hazard & will interfere with operation. Inspect the fluid in the reservoir annually for water contamination. Excessive vibration can be an indication of a problem in your splitter's hydraulic pump.