What is a Wood Splitter?

Shannon Kietzman

A wood splitter, as its name implies, is used for splitting wood or logs. The split wood can be used in a variety of ways within the lumber and construction trade. This tool is also helpful for do-it-yourselfers who need split wood to complete home improvement projects or prepare logs for a fireplace.

Logs can be cut into firewood by using a wood splitter.
Logs can be cut into firewood by using a wood splitter.

Lumbermen who need wood for their woodworking projects also frequently use a wood splitter. In this case, the tool can be used for general construction needs and for making parquet and wood flooring. It is also essential for those who work in the forestry industry.

A good wood splitter is measured by how fast it can complete a job with little energy from the user. The sharp blades ensure an effective and reliable split, but they can cause harm to the user if proper care is not taken when using the machine. Proper protective gear, such a goggles, long pants, gloves, and a long sleeved shirt, are appropriate when working this tool. It is also best to tie back long hair and avoid loose clothing, while wearing a safety helmet and steel-tipped boots.

There are several types of wood splitters available to select from, including electric, vertical, and horizontal. An electric wood splitter is more efficient than other types because it splits logs without the need for an axe.

A vertical wood splitter loads the log underneath the blade, which moves down to split the wood. This model is often a better choice when working in a sloped area, because it provides additional control over how the wood is placed. In a horizontal model, the log is placed on its side in the loading area, and the blade moves horizontally into the end. Most splitters feature a quick 14-second cycle time with 24-inch (60.96-cm) stroke and an automatic return valve.

A wood splitter can be a costly investment, and it may not be worth the expense for the average homeowner. One can often be rented from an equipment rental company for occasional jobs, however. For those working with wood on a regular basis, however, owning one is often a worthwhile investment.

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Discussion Comments


I'd advise people to shop around before buying any kind of wood log splitter. Some models have a very long recovery cycle before the user can put a new log section in the chute. Some electric wood splitters don't seem to have the same level of force as the hydraulic models, so check the numbers and get recommendations before settling on a good log wood splitter.


We used to use a manual tool called a wood splitter maul whenever Dad cut down some trees in the backyard. It was essentially a sledge hammer with an ax blade on one side of the head. Dad would cut the tree into 18 inch sections and we would line them up vertically. To split the logs, we'd swing the maul towards their centers and hoped they'd split along their grain. We would repeat the process until each section was split into 3 or 4 pieces. It was hard work, and our hands would be blistered by the end of the day.

It was a great day when Dad brought home a hydraulic wood log splitter. We would put the tree sections into a central holder and let the hydraulic wood splitter wedge push through them. The process was slower in some ways, but at least we didn't have to swing those heavy mauls anymore.

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