While in theory, many of us might like the idea of spending the afternoon out in the fresh air swinging an axe and chopping through a big pile of logs, in reality, it’s hard work and most of us would prefer a simpler and less strenuous way to deal with the wood.
If that sounds like a sentiment you can agree with, you need a mechanical solution to take care of your log chopping for you – so here are our picks for best log splitter.
OUR TOP PICK
If you are in the market for a compact and mobile log splitter that will remove the need to chop wood manually, this 6.5-ton electric splitter from WEN could be just the thing.
It can deal with logs of up to 10” in diameter and 20.5” in length, can be used on the ground or on the 34” stand that comes with it and requires little maintenance since it runs on an electric motor.
Compared to more heavy-duty splitters, it comes at a very affordable price, making it perfect for the casual home user. As far as practical home-use log cutters go, this is a winner – and we have no hesitation in naming it our top pick.
Let’s take a few moments to think about why you would need a log splitter and what the advantages over splitting logs manually are. After that, we will look at some of the key features to look out for when choosing the best one for you.
Why buy a log splitter?
Logs have been split the old-fashioned way for as long as there have been people and axes. It’s a great way to get some fresh air, is good for your health and many people even find it therapeutic and relaxing. So why would you want to spend money on an expensive machine?
Well, if we’re talking about chopping up a few logs for firewood, there’s nothing wrong with taking the logs to the chopping block – but when you need to deal with larger quantities, a good log splitter can save you a lot of time.
Many hard or knotted logs can also be very tough the chop through with an axe, but by using a log splitter, you can slice through them without even working up a sweat.
Finally, chopping wood might be a great way to build up some muscles and work on your physique – as well as being an old favorite with boxers training for a fight – but the jarring impact of each swing is bad for your bones and your joints.
By using a splitter, you can save your body from some unnecessary wear and tear – especially welcome for those who already have many seasons of axe chopping under their belt.
How to choose
Here are the key elements to look out for when choosing a log splitter.
Gas, electric or manual?
One of the most important decisions you have is choosing between gas or electric. Gas versions are generally bigger and provide more power to cut larger logs. However, they are also noisier and more polluting.
Electric versions are quieter, and because they don’t give off poisonous emissions, can be used indoors.
However, the major limitation is the cord – you can only work within the range of a power outlet.
In general, if you need to cut up the largest, toughest logs and you appreciate the flexibility of being able to work anywhere, a gas version is better.
If you don’t need to deal with monster logs and you will always be within the range of a power outlet, electric could be an option.
Then there are manual splitters. These are powered by nothing but your own muscles, but by using hydraulic pumps, they can generate as much power – or more – than some powered models.
The advantage with these is that they require no gas or electricity to run and have no impact on the environment. The downside is that they are much slower to use than powered machines.
A vital consideration is the splitting force of a machine. This is the amount of force, measured in tons, the splitter can exert on a log – they can range from around five tons right up to 60 tons in industrial-grade splitters.
Don’t simply buy the biggest and most powerful you can find – this will cost you a lot of extra money and you may never use all that extra force. Think about the type of wood you will be cutting, the size, the shape, the dryness and so on and choose one that is adequate for your needs.
Engine size, power, and brand
If you choose a gas splitter, pay attention to the size and power of the engine. This is not as important as the splitting force rating, but it will tell you how hard an engine can work – as well as how much gas it will consume.
Also, pay attention to the brand – for example, engines built by companies like Briggs & Stratton or Honda are among the best.
Vertical or horizontal operation?
Smaller splitters can usually only be used in a horizontal position whereas larger machines can be configured to split logs either horizontally or vertically. Having the ability to split vertically can be useful when cutting larger logs since they can be heavy and awkward to lift.
Also, pay attention to how easy it is to switch between the two modes.
The cycle speed refers to how quickly the machine can split one log and be ready for the next. Anything between 10 and 15 seconds will allow you a good work rate – but anything above this may end up slowing you down.
Also, notice if the splitter has a stroke restrictor capability. This allows you to reduce the length of the stroke when dealing with shorter logs to increase the cycle speed.
Another important point to note is the maximum size of logs a unit can deal with. Make sure any unit you are thinking of buying has the capacity to split the logs you need it to.
Finally, take note of how easy it is to move a log splitter. Smaller machines can be pushed or pulled manually on wheels while larger ones need to be towed. Will it be easy to transport the log splitter to the places where you need to work? This is another important consideration.
The Best Log Splitter Reviews of 2019
1. (OUR TOP PICK) WEN 56207 Electric Log Splitter With Stand, 5Ton
This electric log splitter from WEN is designed for the casual home user who prefers to save themselves the effort of splitting logs manually. It is an affordable option, making it attractive to those who don’t need it for constant or frequent use.
It runs on a 15A electric motor – meaning there is much less maintenance than with a gas-powered version – and can deliver a splitting force of 6.5 tons, plenty for most home users. It can deal with logs up to 10” in diameter and 20.5” in length.
We like the optional 34” stand that comes with it. If you prefer to split logs standing up, you can save yourself some strain on your back – but for larger logs, it might be easier to split them at a lower height. With this unit, you have the option.
On the downside, we find the 20-second cycle a little slow – although, for casual home use, this will still probably be fast enough for most people. We also found the assembly a little tricky. The manual is humorously written – but they could have made the instructions clearer.
Overall, this is a great machine that does what it sets out to do. If you want a small-scale log splitter that will save your arms and back the strain of using an axe, this comes highly recommended. However, if you need something more heavy-duty, better options exist.
- Highly mobile – pull handle and never-flat tires mean you can take it anywhere
- Optional 34” stand – can be mounted on stand or used on the floor
- Affordable price – much less expensive than many bigger gas-powered splitters
- Low maintenance – requires much less care than a gas version
- Two-handed operation – increases safety during operation
- 20-second cycle – a little slow, but sufficient for most home users
- Tricky to assemble – manual is humorous but sometimes unclear
2. (RUNNER UP) Boss Industrial ES7T20 Electric Log Splitter, 7-Ton
This is a high-quality, tough and rugged machine that will help you slice through piles of logs effortlessly. It incorporates a 2Hp electric motor that allows it to deliver seven tons of splitting force and can take logs of up to 10” in diameter and 20.5” in length.
It features convenient one-handed operation with auto-ram-return, allowing you to work quickly through piles of logs. It is compact, too, meaning you will be able to take it to where your logs are rather than bringing them to the splitter.
We like the fact that it runs off the same regular a/c power supply you have in your home. The fact that is an electric splitter means you can work indoors, too – unlike with gas splitters. Despite its power, it’s also fairly quiet too.
Another big plus is that it arrives fully assembled, meaning you’ll be splitting logs in no time as soon as it arrives. However, one drawback is that it sits low to the ground, so unless you can mount it on something strong and sturdy, you will have to work squatting down or on your knees.
One other issue we found was that the splitting wedge is quite short. This can cause bigger logs to “ride up” – but this is only a problem when dealing with logs at the upper end of this splitter’s capabilities.
All in all, an excellent piece of equipment that will be more than adequate for most people’s home wood splitting requirements. It costs a bit more than some units in the same category, but we think it’s money well spent.
- 2Hp motor – allows it to deliver up to 7 tons of splitting force
- Runs on regular household a/c – zero emissions means it can also be used indoors
- Compact and mobile – easy to transport to wherever it’s needed
- Rugged design – features a sturdy tube log holder and a 5” steel wedge
- Arrives fully assembled – practically ready to go right out of the box
- Splitting wedge a little short – wider logs can “run up” when being split
- Low to the ground – need to squat or kneel to work with it
3. (BEST MOBILE SPLITTER) YARDMAX YS0552 Electric Log Splitter, 5 Ton
Yardmax makes a range of high-quality log splitters and we’re big fans of their products. This model is one of the smallest in their range and is aimed at casual home users who need to chop logs for firewood without dealing with anything too extreme.
It incorporates several handy features that are not commonly found on comparable splitters. For example, it includes a special log tray that catches the logs after they are split rather than just dropping them on the floor.
It also allows you to adjust the length of the stroke – this can save you a lot of time when you are dealing with shorter logs.
We like that there is practically no assembly required – you only need to clip on the frame if you plan to use it. Otherwise, it is pretty much ready to go as soon as it arrives. It is also compact and mobile, allowing you to transport it easily to wherever you need to work.
One minor negative is that the 16-second cycle is a little slow – although, for most home users, as opposed to commercial operators who need to work through large quantities of logs, this is still acceptable.
Some people may also find the 5-ton splitting power slightly limited, although this will still slice right through most logs. It will only struggle with hard, knotty or green wood.
There’s a lot to like about this splitter – and as we mentioned, this is one of our favorite log splitter manufacturers. Another highly recommended unit.
- Stroke limiter – allows you to adjust the stroke length for smaller logs
- Two-handed operation – designed for safety
- Minimal assembly – only need to attach the stand if you want to use it
- Log tray – catches the logs after they have been split
- Compact and mobile – easy to transport to where it is needed
- 5-ton power – sufficient for basic home use but will struggle with tougher jobs
- 16-second cycle – a little slow but acceptable for casual home use
4. (BEST SMALL SPLITTER WITH VERTICAL OPERATION) Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SELS60 Electric Log Splitter, 6 Ton
This electric log splitter has one big advantage over most of the other splitters in its category – it has a dual configuration that allows it to be used in a vertical position as well as a horizontal one. This gives you much greater flexibility over how you manipulate your logs.
However, this one outstanding feature is not all this splitter has in its favor. It boasts a powerful 15A motor that generates 1.7Hp and allows it to deliver a splitting force of 6 tons. This is plenty of power to slice through most logs home users will need to split.
At full length, the stroke cycle of 18 seconds is quite slow, but when splitting smaller logs, the stroke limiter can shorten the stroke length to speed things up.
Other than the slow cycle speed, one other fault we need to mention is the lack of a log catcher. Some models, like the Yardmax above, have a tray to catch the logs after they are split. However, this unit lacks one, and the split log pieces are just left to drop off the side.
This is just a minor issue, though, and for the most part, this is another top machine. It stands out from the crowd with its vertical operation and comes as another highly recommended option.
- Vertical and horizontal positions – gives more versatility over how you cut wood
- Easy to store – vertical position means it takes up less space
- Stroke limiter – allows you to shorten the stroke for shorter logs
- Easy to move – features 12” wheels with rubber tires and convenient handles
- Plenty of power – delivers up to 6 tons of splitting force
- 18-second cycle – slower than some, but can be adjusted for smaller logs
- Lacks a log tray – split logs are just dropped off the side
5. (BEST MANUAL LOG SPLITTER) Sun Joe LJ10M Log Splitter, 10 Ton
If you want to try a different approach to chopping up wood, you can skip gas powered and electric splitters and choose a unit that is powered by you. What’s more, this splitter can actually generate more splitting force than many electric versions – around 10 tons!
To operate it, you place the log on the machine and use the dual leavers to generate the splitting power – there is no gas, no emissions, no noise, no oil and no cords.
It is also lighter than most powered splitters, making it mobile and easy to transport to wherever you need to work. It also features a log cradle to catch the logs after they are split, keeping your work area clear and free of debris.
Of course, there are downsides too. The manual pumping action is far slower than with a powered splitter – this would only be suitable for small-scale occasional log splitting jobs rather than for frequent and heavy use.
The size of logs it can take is limited too, with a maximum of 18” in length and 8” in diameter.
However, as long as you understand this splitter’s limitations, it can be an excellent tool. It is far less strenuous than swinging an axe and will allow you to slice through small amounts of logs effortlessly. On the other hand, if you need something for more intensive log cutting, this might not be the best option for you.
- No gas, no oil, no cords – low maintenance and zero pollution
- Highly compact, light and mobile – easy to take to wherever you need to use it
- 10-ton splitting force – even more powerful than many electric splitters
- Log cradle – catches logs after splitting to keep the work area clean
- Affordable option – cheaper than gas or electric splitters
- Slow operation – takes longer than powered splitters
- Smaller log capacity – 18” x 8” maximum log size
6. (BEST GAS LOG SPLITTER) YARDMAX YU2566 4-Way Wedge Gas Log Splitter, 25 Ton
At the other end of the scale from the Sun Joe manual log splitter is this monster of a gas-powered unit.
It is powered by a high-quality 208cc Briggs & Stratton engine that delivers 6.5Hp and allows the splitter to generate 25 tons of force, plenty for most homeowners or even semi-commercial operators to breeze through piles of large-sized logs.
The maximum size this machine can take is 26” in length, and the 25-ton splitting force will see it slice through all but the very toughest, knotty wood. The cycle time is an impressive 9.7 seconds, quick enough to let you work as fast as you like.
As you would expect with a larger gas splitter, this machine can be used in both horizontal and vertical positions – having the option to split logs vertically is useful for bigger logs that are too heavy to lift onto the top of the machine.
We love the innovative features this unit boasts, like the patent-pending four-way splitter, the patent-pending U-beam construction that gives it extra strength – and more besides. However, we think the location of the oil tank is a slight design flaw since it’s a little awkward to reach.
We also have to point out that while this is a large, powerful machine, it is still not quite at the top of what’s available, and for the toughest, most intense splitting jobs, you might prefer to look for something even bigger.
If you are looking for a reliable, convenient and effortless way to cut through piles of big logs – without quite going to extremes – this is a splitter that should be well worth checking out.
- High-quality 208cc Briggs & Stratton engine – allows it to deliver 25-ton force
- Vertical and horizontal splitting position – greater flexibility over how you work
- Innovative features – includes 4-way splitter and U-beam structure among others
- Fast cycle speed – cycles through the splitting action in only 9.7 seconds
- Large log capacity – can split logs of up to 26” in length
- Oil tank awkward to access – requires a can with a long spout to fill
- Not quite commercial grade – for the biggest jobs, even bigger splitters exist
7. (BEST UPGRADE PICK) RuggedMade Horizontal Gas Log Splitter, 37 Ton
For those who demand the ultimate in log-splitting capability as well as a machine of top-end quality, this 37-ton beast from RuggedMade is an obvious solution.
Its 420cc engine delivers 15Hp, allowing it to provide huge splitting power that will slice through the toughest, hardest, knottiest logs with ease.
This splitter can deal with logs of anything up to 24” in diameter and 30” in length. Such big logs can be extremely heavy, which is why the log lift feature is so welcome. With this, you can easily lift logs up and into place with no risk of damaging your back.
When logs are split, the pieces are caught in a special tray rather than simply dropped on the floor, and we also like the stroke restrictor which allows you to select a cycle time of 9, 12 or 15 seconds, depending on the size of the logs you are cutting, to speed up the work.
Other notable features include the useful four-way splitting wedge and the electric start. This latter ensures there is no messing about with awkward pull-starts.
No machine is perfect, and even this one has a couple of minor issues. We might complain that the assembly is a little complicated – something that is not helped by a manual that can be vague or unclear in places.
The other problem is the price. This is an exceptional piece of equipment, but unfortunately, the price means that not everybody will be able to afford it – although if you need something this powerful and are willing to invest the cash, it will be money well spent.
Overall, an awesome log splitter that will be able to manage all but the most extreme fully commercial log splitting operations. A very well-made piece of equipment and one that is highly recommended.
- Big power – 420cc engine delivers 15Hp and 37 tons of splitting force
- Electric start – no need to play around with tricky cord-pull starts
- Log lift – allows you to lift heavy logs into position with a minimum of effort
- Stroke restrictor – choose a cycle time of 9, 12 or 15 seconds
- Catcher tray – catches the logs conveniently rather than just letting them fall
- Pricey – this is an expensive machine that may be beyond the reach of some
- Assembly is complicated – and the instruction manual is unclear in places
Many types, various applications
There are many types and many grades of log splitters, from the smallest machines designed for home applications to the biggest industrial-scale splitters. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is not to choose one that is far more powerful than you need – and if you are still unsure which one to pick, selecting the most suitable model from this review would be a good place to start.
My name is Peter Weeks, Writer of The Daily Gardener. Gardening has always been my passion, nothing gives me quite the satisfaction that feeling the soil sift through my fingers does. Give me a spade, a shovel, and a rake, and I can happily while away the day transforming a patch of land into a beautiful oasis. To me, gardening is life. It’s not a career. It’s not a job. It’s something that I truly love doing. It’s a way of life, a passion that I’ve no intention of ever giving up.