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Log Splitters?

Paularado's picture

We have a LOT of wood that needs to be cut up for firewood. We just installed a giant wood eating fireplace (Fireplace Xtraordinaire 44") and I'm having nightmares about chopping off my foot or something in the process of splitting wood for our new fireplace. I'm thinking that a log splitter would be a good investment because we'll be doing forest management on our property for years.

Renting one is about $100/day. They have some at home depot for around $1100, but I don't know what brand they are.

Does anyone have one? Any thoughts? We were thinking about seeing if our neighbor wanted to go in half on it and share the cost and maintenance. He is the kind of guy who takes care of things, otherwise we wouldn't even consider it.

Thanks in advance for your feedback. It is always appreciated!

Edited 11/10/2004 12:30 pm ET by Paula

(post #122609, reply #1 of 12)

Just my opinion, but I would rent.  You are correct that a splitter can be had from HD, Lowes, TSC, etc for about $1000 or a little more.  But this IS NOT the same power/quality/reliability that you get from a rental unit.  Besides the engine, there is the hydraulic ram, all the seals, and the hydraulic pump to worry about.  The rental units are (generally speaking)  MUCH heavier units with commercial grade parts.  The consumer units are lighter duty machines designed to sell at a price point of $1000-$1100.

That said, you probably won't be using it year around.  That's a double edged sword.  It will last longer since it doesn't see daily or weekly use.  BUT equipment that sits idle for long periods of time , especially gas powered equipment, has its own unique maintenance needs. 

I don't know all of the details, but were it me, I would find a place to pile up the cut to length wood while you await a sufficient quantity to rent a splitter.   Then rent the splitter and let the rental house deal with maintenance, broken hydraulic lines, and the like. 

I burn 3-4 cords of firewood a year.  I cut all through the late summer and early fall.  then rent a splitter for a weekend and ambush the pile.  I can easily split 3 cords over 2 days.  4 cords is a bit of a challenge and requires me to hustle more, but can be done in 2 days.

Just my opinion, worth about what ya paid for it.

(post #122609, reply #3 of 12)

Thanks so much for your response. This is the kind of information that I was looking for. It is helpful to have an idea how much wood can be split in a weekend.

(post #122609, reply #2 of 12)

My first suggestion would be to get a hydraulic one. (About a 20 ton capacity is a good benchmark)

We had one for a while that used a threaded rod to move the splitting head back and forth. But it was TERRIBLY slow and not particularly powerful.

Another feature to look for is one that tilts up so you don't have to pick the log up onto it.

A PTO operated on can be awfully handy if you have a tractor. Lots of power, and you don't have another engine to maintain.

Definitely buy something where you can get service and parts from. HD won't be any help there. A farm supply store or ag equipment dealer would be a good source.

Here's a PTO mounted one:


Here's an example of one you have to lift the logs up onto the rail:


Here's one that sets up vertically:

Money isn't everything, but it sure keeps the kids in touch.

(post #122609, reply #4 of 12)

There are gas-engine powered splitters, electric splitters, and manual splitters.  They can be bought at big box stores like Lowes/HD/Menards, at some dept. stores like Sears, at farm stores (Farm & Home, Big R, etc.),  in the classified of your paper, on eBay, and various other online sources.  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Call me lazy, but I wouldn't recommend the manual kinds.  I've never used an electric one, but suppose they should work OK as long as you have a good power source.  When you get up into the $1k+ range, you are typically dealing with either a trailer-like splitter (which can be pulled behind a vehicle),  or a tractor mounted one.  If you are planning on transporting the splitter to different locations, make sure it has decent sized wheels/axle. 

I know some folks just use the splitter to break a section of log into halves or quarters.  From there they use the old fashioned splitting methods such as a good swing from axe, maul axe, or even a wedge and hammer.  Other folks will use the splitter to go all the way down to usable wood.

FrontierCC makes a good point.  If you could do all your splitting in one day, a $100 splitter rental would take 10 years to hit the cost of buying one.  However my gut reaction would be that if I could afford to buy the splitter (even with a friend's going in on it), I think I'd rather go ahead and buy it.  Then I'm not rushed to split all the wood on a certain day.  To me the extra maintenance expense is worth the convenience of being able to split whenever I wanted to.

Boss is correct that the vertical ones can be handy.  Some of those logs can get pretty heavy.  Easier to just stand the log up.  Some splitters will work either horizontal or vertical.   And I don't think I'd consider a non-hydraulic one.

With a good log splitter, a good chainsaw, and a decent axe, you can do all kinds of neat things with trees ;)

Just my $.02 worth.




Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.
-- Carl Sandburg

(post #122609, reply #5 of 12)

this is one I made from parts laying around. Got about $85 in it.

(post #122609, reply #6 of 12)

When I turned 55, I bought a wood splitter.  Myrtlewood (much like oak), abounds here, but is a booger to split; especially those big 4' diameter chunks with 12" knots.

I don't have it in me anymore to pound away with a sledge and wedges.  But we burn about 5 to 6 cords per winter and the woodsplitter is a godsend.

I have a pretty healthy one, 30 tons, on a trailer and it will split vertically or horizontally.  DW loves to run it:  I set her up with earplugs, gloves, a pickeroon, a chair and a inventory of rounds while I'm sawing more.  she's good for about 3 tanks of gas  (a full day).

If you or yours is handy, Northern Hydraulics  sells every component you need for building your own, along with ready to split units.

If you're looking at years of cutting and splitting your own wood, get your own splitter.  If this is just an anomally in your life, go ahead and rent one.



(post #122609, reply #7 of 12)

I just went through you're situation. After much debating I bought one this fall and am I happy I did. with the amount of wood I have to split ( after a couple of years avoiding splitting cause I was too cheap to rent) and not wanting to rush to get it all done  I thought It would be a better investment to buy. You can always sell it too. also a lawnmower sits all winter so you want to take care of it I don't see much difference with a splitter. It is very nice to be able to split wood when I feel like it  or have time like I did tonight for @ an hour before dark. I paid @ $1200 which hurt but at $100 a day plus picking it up and taking it back and rental stuff isn't always the best I figure I'd have spent @ $300 or more already on rental and I'm not done yet.

Just my op


(post #122609, reply #8 of 12)


Can you tell me more about the manufacturer and model of your splitter. If we buy one, I'd rather get a recommendation.



(post #122609, reply #10 of 12)

The Brand of splitter I bought is  " SpeeCo "  it is rated  at 22 tons and powered by a 6.5 horse briggs and stratton engine. I am very happy with it You can buy splitters with a higher ton rating for more money but unless you're doing commercial firewood I don'y think its worth the extra cost. I friend has a splitter fron Harbor Freight and is happy with it too. I know craftsman makes a spiltter as well but I've never seen one. Occasionally you can fing them used if you keep hunting. They're very easy to use and pose little hazard to your body so long as you're careful. Much safer than a chainsaw and I say safer than a splitting maul. I would recommend one that can pivot to split vertically. You may not plan onhaving big rounds to split but you never know. I've been splitting 30" rounds of oak and am impressed at how well it works.Two thinsgs I'd look for is 1, look for a stop that will push the wood off of the splitter wedge should the wood not split or you need to reset the piece. my splitter has the wedge on the end of the cylinder with stops  at the ebnd of the cylinder that works really well. 2 avoid a plitter with a large 'craddle' to hold the wood on the splitter. if your wood is biggwer than the craddle then what. my splitter has a track that both guides the wedge down the beam and acts like a craddle but it is only an inch or two high. I'm in Oregon and do'nt know if SpeeCo is nation wide but I think most any brand would be OK. I hope this helps, let me know if you have any more questions I may be able to answer.


(post #122609, reply #11 of 12)

I looked at my manual and saw the Adress and phone NuMber for SpeeCO, 800-525-8322  out of colorado.




(post #122609, reply #9 of 12)

Thank you everyone for your help. I feel like I went from knowing nothing about splitters to having an idea about what would be helpful. I'm too nervous to use our chainsaw (too big), so I see splitting wood as a way I could help.

I thought IMERC might chime in here, but I see he's off galavanting around the country. :-)


(post #122609, reply #12 of 12)

I just thought I would follow up to my original thread. Yesterday, someone my husband works with gave him a wood splitter called "The Chopper" It is simply amazing.

I think our wood splitting needs are covered for this year.

Next summer we may consider renting a splitter for a weekend. I found an ad in the classifieds for $35/day.

I will keep my eyes out for a used wood splitter; this thread has helped me figure out what we should get. I think it would make sense for the right price.

Thanks everyone!