While there is something undeniably rewarding about chopping logs with an axe, for larger pieces of timber or those of us who need to split large volumes a log splitter can really come into its own.
Suddenly you’re not limited by what your body can handle; instead you can pile through wood in comfort, easily splitting even the most tenacious log.
This is all well and good, but choosing the best log splitter isn’t an easy task. There are just so many different log splitters on the market that it can be difficult knowing even where to start.
If you’re looking to buy a log splitter but can’t make up your mind as to what is best then you’re in luck; in this guide we’ll be reviewing some of the most popular splitters on the market to help you select the best log splitter for your needs.
YARDMAX YU3566 35 Ton Gas Log Splitter
There’s no other way to put it – the YARDMAX YU3566 log splitter is an absolute beast! In contrast to many of the other log splitters on the market this model offers an incredible 35 tons of splitting power, meaning that it can handle almost anything you throw at it.
Indeed, some customers have reported that the YU3566 can handle logs of 60cm across or more and 26” in length without issue! No matter what size logs you’re planning to split, the YARDMAX is ready for action.
The 306cc engine is capable of not just splitting logs in half like other log splitters; it can also split logs into four equally-sized pieces thanks to the patent-pending cross-shaped splitting wedge.
Even better, this is one of the few models that will work both horizontally or vertically. This makes it much easier to deal with exceptionally heavy logs. Rather than having to lift them onto a horizontal splitter you can simply realign the YARDMAX YU3566 so it is vertical then just slide the log into the fitting from the ground.
With a cycle time of 12 seconds you’ll find yourself quickly going through even the toughest of contenders.
If there is a weakness to this fantastic log splitter it is the weight; after all this amount of power requires some serious machinery. It weighs, in total, 636 pounds. Moving it around yourself is therefore challenging, though luckily it comes fitted with a 2” towing plate, so that it can be attached to the back of a garden tractor or all terrain vehicle.
Our Rating: (5 / 5)
Champion 25-Ton Horizontal/Vertical Full Beam Gas Log Splitter
Elsewhere in this guide we’ve discussed the issues surrounding Champion’s idea of customer service, and why they may be a brand best avoided at present. All the same, I feel obliged to include this particular model because of all the positive feedback it has been getting.
In contrast to the 7 ton Champion log splitter discussed elsewhere, this is an altogether different animal. Firstly, it’s gas powered, which means far more splitting capacity. This model offers 25 tons in fact, which allows you to split truly huge logs. It’ll also tackle logs of up to 23.8” in length.
As you might be gathering by now, this is a sturdy, heavy-weight log splitter that in no way resembles its rather weaker and less impressive cousin. To further add weight to this assertion, the 224cc four-stroke engine completes it’s splitting cycle in just 12 seconds, making it definitely one of the faster models on the market. Of course, a faster cycle length means quicker splitting, so you’ll be able to process your timber much more quickly than with other models.
While this model weighs 430 pounds it comes complete with a 2-inch ball hitch coupler and 16 inch wheels, so that it can easily be towed. The manufacturer states that it is safe to tow up to 45 mph, though feedback from consumers suggests that may be a little overzealous and that you’re safer staying at a slower speed.
The Champion customer service is certainly a concern, but at the same time this is generally a very good log splitter. Not the *best* perhaps, but still a solid little machine.
Our Rating: (5 / 5)
Boss Industrial ES7T20 Electric Log Splitter
As you will see, most log splitters on the market are gas-powered, especially at the higher end of the market. Gas powered log splitters are generally more powerful and are capable of splitting thicker logs. They’re also easier to use in more rural areas where electricity supplies may be hard to come by.
All the same, if you’re planning to use your log splitter in a back garden, in your barn or suchlike where mains power is reasonably close by then the Boss Industrial ES7T20 may be a suitable option for you. Being electric it is perhaps not quite as powerful as some top tier gas models, but it does benefit from being quieter and cleaner to use – and hence many people find these electric models a far more pleasant of splitting logs.
The Boss ES7T20 electric log splitter offers a perfectly respectable 7 tons of splitting force, which means that you should easily be able to split logs of some 10-12” in diameter. While some users report that this log splitter is actually able to handle much thicker logs it is generally dissuaded by the manufacturer to prevent overworking the hydraulic system.
The ES7T20 electric log splitter will split logs of up to 20.5 inches in length which is really quite generous, and has a cycle time of just 14 seconds, allowing you to split a reasonable number of logs in a very short space of time.
Weighing in at 106 pounds this is quite a lightweight model, but don’t let that trick you into thinking that it is badly designed. Indeed, speaking to owners of the ES7T20 log splitter you’ll find almost nothing but positive comments, with many people praising its reliability and power.
Assuming you have easy access to mains power and don’t plan to split logs over 30cm in diameter this is certainly a model worthy of consideration.
Our Rating: (4.5 / 5)
WEN 56207 6.5-Ton Electric Log Splitter
Like the Boss ES7T20 this is an electric log splitter, meaning that you’ll need to attach it to a power cable in order to use it. In many cases this won’t represent a problem, but if you plan to take your log splitter to an area of woodland on the outskirts of your property then this probably isn’t the best model for your needs.
Let’s assume for a moment that you’re perfectly happy to at least consider an electric log splitter and look a little more at exactly what the WEN 56207 electric log splitter really offers…
Weighing in at 98 pounds this is quite a modest log splitter in many ways, easily maneuvered in and out of buildings for storage. The WEN log splitter provides around 6.5 tons of splitting power, which in turn is able to deal with logs of up to 10 inches in diameter and 20.5 inches in length.
For most residential use this is perfectly acceptable, but the serious woodsman may find these log dimensions rather limiting, especially if you’re felling your own wood for seasoning. After all, a lot of trees are much broader than a mere 10 inches.
In terms of the cycle time, the 56207 log splitter takes an average of 20 seconds to complete a full split and return to the start. This is definitely at the top end of most modern log splitters, so once again means that you won’t be able to split logs at any great pace.
In many ways then the WEN 56207 is very similar to the Boss ES7T20. They’re both electric, they’re both quite slow and they both accept only quite meagre logs. The key difference here is that this splitter is quite a bit lighter than the Boss model, which may make getting it into position rather easier.
In general, while this certainly isn’t a bad log splitter, it is quite underpowered and will therefore work best for people only requiring light usage.
Our Rating: (4.5 / 5)
Southland Outdoor Power Equipment SELS60 6 Ton Electric Log Splitter
The Southland SELS60 log splitter is an intriguing piece of kit that can be thought of rather like a hybrid. On the one hand its electric, and offers just 6 tons of splitting power. At 105 lbs in weight it’s quite light and maneuverable.
On the other hand, this particular model seems to be a rather more “serious” design and can tackle rather heftier work than many of the competing electric models. For example, it can tackle logs with a diameter of some 12-14” (up to 20.5” in length). The cycle length is 18 seconds. It also allows you to split logs either horizontally or vertically, which can make life easier with heavier loads. Pleasantly, the large 7” wheels also make moving the Southland SELS60 quite easy too.
Generally speaking, while electric log splitters rarely perform as highly as gas-powered models, this is arguably the best electric log splitter on the market right now.
Our Rating: (4 / 5)
Champion 7-Ton Compact Horizontal Gas Log Splitter
Like the Boss ES7T20 this log splitter offers 7 tons of splitting force, although the cycle time is quite slow at 20 seconds. While this isn’t the end of the world for light use, for anyone that is planning to pile through a lot of logs the slow speed of splitting may soon frustrate you.
This is especially so when you consider that some other competing log splitters will complete the task in little more than half this time – meaning that the same job will take you twice as long with this machine.
Don’t think that we’re being too hard on this log splitter however, as it’s not all bad news. As it turns out, the Champion log splitter is capable of handling far larger pieces of timber than many other 7 ton splitters. For example, this model claims to be designed to take logs up to 16” in diameter (19.3” in length) which is quite a good-sized log by anyone’s estimation.
It is also designed with a deliberately low profile so that you don’t need to lift logs as high in order to get them onto the device; something that can come in surprisingly handy for heavier pieces of wood.
There is a major issue that is worth knowing, however, and that relates to the customer service offered by Champion. Look around the internet and you’ll find that conversations about Champion are littered with horror stories about trying to resolve technical issues.
It seems that once you purchase a Champion product you’re pretty much on your own. For that reason we have marked down this model, as there are equally good splitters on the market but where customer service is much more reliable.
Our Rating: (3 / 5)
Features to Look for in the Best Log Splitters
Before you can decide on which log splitter will suit you best you need to understand the key differences between the various models on the market. In this section, therefore, we’ll take a look at some of the key features you should be paying attention to when shopping for a new log splitter.
Gas Vs Electric Log Splitters
Log splitters can be split into two different categories; those powered by gas or electric log splitters that you plug into the mains. But which of these really makes for the best log splitter?
In general gas powered log splitters tend to “pack more punch” thanks to their internal combustion engine, which allows them to handle much larger logs than their electric cousins. Gas-powered models are also popular because they can be used anywhere – even a long way from the nearest power socket. On the whole, therefore, you’ll likely find that a gas log splitter is going to be the best option for most instances.
Electric log splitters are a rather different beast. While they’re still capable of handling reasonably-sized logs they of course have to be used where electrical power is available. The upsides tend to be that they are considerably quieter and more pleasant to use thanks to the lack of fumes. Therefore, if you’re a lighter user who prefers the peace and quiet then an electric model may be suitable for your needs.
Each log splitter on the market has an approved “splitting force” which is typically measured in tons. The higher the splitting force, the easier you will find it to split logs. Furthermore, the higher this factor, the larger logs you’ll be able to target. At the bottom end of the market the average log splitter offers a splitting force of around 7 tons, and is able to split logs of up to 10-12” in diameter.
For light home users this might be perfectly acceptable. However, if you’re a serious woodsman then you might want to up your expectations to a model with 20 or even 30 tons of splitting force, wherein you’ll be able to split logs many times that thickness.
A log splitter works by forcing your chosen log into a wedge, before the shunt returns to the starting point. The time taken for this process to occur is known as the “cycle time”.
Times vary between models from a couple of seconds up to 20 seconds or more. Understandably, while budget will no doubt be a consideration, selecting a log splitter with a shorter cycle time means that you can split more logs in less time.
This time saving can be well worth the few extra dollars of investment necessary to select the next model up with the improved cycle time.
Maximum Splitting Length
Each log splitter has a maximum length that it can handle. This can vary anything from little more than 18” right up to 26” or more. Obviously the longer the maximum splitting length the more versatile your log splitter is, and the less work you’ll have to do chainsawing logs into suitable lengths before they’re split. Again, if your budget allows then the best log splitter in most cases is going to be capable of splitting the longest logs.
Horizontal Vs Vertical Splitting
All log splitters currently on the market will split logs that are placed in a horizontal position. A small number, however, can also be set up to split logs that are positioned vertically. So what’s the difference?
Well, consider how you’re actually going to get your logs into the splitter in the first place. If you’re a big, butch guy and/or you’re splitting small logs then you should have no problems lifting them onto the splitter. But what if you’re not as physically able, or you want to split some really big logs?
In these instances a vertical log splitter can come in handy because the log can be simply slid into the device from the ground, rather having to be lifted up high into the air. Once again, therefore, log splitters that offer both horizontal and vertical splitting can make your life easier, saving your back and shoulders from unnecessary strain lugging around weighty logs.
Ease of Movement
Log splitters need to be positioned safely before use. For example, they generally shouldn’t be used indoors, and you should aim for a metre or more of space all around them during use. This means that it will almost certainly be necessary to move your log splitter around.
Therefore, consider where you plan to use your splitter with regards to how easy it will be to get your splitter there. Big wheels, lightweight models and those than can be towed by a garden tractor or ATV can all make your life much easier in this regard.
Looking at the models we have, it seems that there is one clear winner – the YARDMAX YU3566 log splitter. For any serious user this should be considered the best splitter on the market. Sadly, of course, it is also a premium piece of kit. For individuals on a rather tighter budget therefore you may want to consider the gas-powered Champion 25 Ton splitter or the electric Boss ES7T20.