log splitter

log splitter, vertical operation

Log splitter set up for vertical operation. Model shown is Swisher LS11534 11½-horsepower 34-ton splitter.

log splitter, horizontal operation

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:


  • An engine, normally a small four-stroke gasoline engine, to provide power.
  • A hydraulic oil pump, attached to the engine, which creates a stream of high-pressure oil that runs to a valve.
  • The valve to which the pressurized stream of oil runs. It allows the operator to actuate the hydraulic cylinder to split a log.
  • A tank holds that holds the hydraulic oil for feeding the pump.
  • A filter to keep the oil clean.

    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.