Log splitter set up for vertical operation. Model shown is Swisher LS11534 11½-horsepower 34-ton splitter.
Log splitter set up for horizontal operation.
A log splitter is a gasoline- or diesel-powered wood splitter that uses hydraulic, ram-powered wedges to do the work of an ax. They are usually rated by the tons of pressure it can generate. Most log splitter models for home use have a rating around 10 tons or so, but professional models may exert 25 tons of pressure or more.
Hydraulic log splitters can be set up for vertical and horizontal operation: vertical, to split larger logs; horizontal, to split smaller ones.
Log splitters are the simplest hydraulic device in common use. Their basic components are:
Electrical and mechanical log splitters are also available that can be used indoors as well as outdoors. The mechanical variety use mechanical leverage to force logs through a sharpened blade assembly.
Although a good log splitter can save hours of labor with a traditional maul, it isn't possible to make it 100% safe. Only trained adults should operate a log splitter, since anything caught between the log and the splitting blade will be subject to immense pressure.
Beam size: the width of the beam by the weight in pounds per foot.
Splitter wedge: the anvil that is forced into the log when split.
Working height: the distance from the ground to the horizontal splitting surface. On a vertical splitter, the working height is approximately one inch, eliminating the need to lift heavy logs.