log splitterThey say that firewood warms you twice; once when you burn it and once when you chop it. Chopping firewood by hand is certainly warming, but it's also hard work.

A recent poll showed that over 40% of lifestyle farmers use more than 9m² of firewood a year. That's a lot of wood to chop so if you're not a fan of blisters and aching shoulders, why not use a log splitter instead?

How it works

A log splitter works by ramming a metal wedge into a log or piece of wood. The wedge moves slowly and the power exerted on the wood is such that it will split.

Options

Electric

  • the good - quiet, easy to start, no fumes.
  • the bad - you need an electricity supply and electric models are usually not very powerful.

Petrol

  • the good - can be used where there is no electricity, available in many tonnages, usually mounted on a trailer.
  • the bad - noise and fumes from the engine, can be tricky to start.

Tractor-driven

  • the good - you don't need extra petrol or electricity.
  • the bad - it can only go where your tractor can go.

Log splitters also come in horizontal or vertical models. With horizontal models you have to lift the log up to the bench so it's not ideal for larger and heavier logs. With the vertical models you can roll big logs under the wedge. Some models have horizontal beams that can be switched to a vertical position.

Tonnage

The measure of power of log splitters is expressed in tons. The higher the tonnage, the bigger and harder the wood it can split. The table below shows a rough guide to the minimum tonnage power you will need for different woods and sizes.

Diameter  Pine Gum Poplar
150mm 6 10 4
300mm 15 22 12
450mm 20 26 20
600mm 27 30 27

 

 
 

 

 

Cycle

Another consideration when buying or hiring a log splitter is the cycle. This is the time it takes to split the wood. Faster cycles are good but there is no point in paying extra for a fast cycle if you can't keep up with it!

Safety

Obviously anything that can cut though a log can also break bones and remove fingers so always make sure that there is nothing in the path of the wedge. When logs split they can fly off the splitter so stand away and keep small children back.

It is recommended that you wear safety glasses, steel-capped boots, ear protection and gloves when operating a log splitter.

Now if only they made a firewood stacker...

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