How Does A Log Splitter Work?

Though electric heaters are available everywhere, the use of the fireplace is extensive. But most of the time, it is difficult to chop firewoods by yourself as it needs lots of energy and time. In this case, the best option can be a log splitter.

Many people are using this machine nowadays as it is a faster and more comfortable way to slit wood. Moreover, it drastically decreases the amount of physical labor. You can save a lot of money by doing the splitting task yourself, as it costs higher if you purchase split firewood.

Additionally, you can earn from this device by providing people with firewoods in cold areas. However, to use a log splitter successfully, you should know how a log splitter works.

You can find different types of splitters in the market to meet your requirements, using various sources of power like diesel or gasoline engines or electrical motors to perform the chopping job. Regardless of the power sources, most of these devices use hydraulic pistons to chop wood. You can use the devices in remote areas that do not require electrical power. So, you can carry these splitters to the place where the wood source is situated.

How does a log splitter work:

Among different types of wood splitters, here we will discuss how an electric splitter works. Electric splitters are perfect for homeowners because of their compact design and quiet operation. Its working procedure is very similar to the way of chopping wood with an ax. In general, a splitter consists of the below parts.

  • An engine
  • A valve
  • A hydraulic pump
  • A hydraulic cylinder
  • A filter and
  • A tank.
How does a log splitter work?

This splitter is made based on a hydraulic pump system. So, it pushes the wood log into the blade, or the hydraulic pump swings the blade through the wood log. Of course, which motion will be used will depend on the type and model of the splitter you are using.

Regardless of gender or age, almost everybody can split wood with an electric splitter as its working procedure is very simple if you properly maintain the safety issues. You will need a power source like a standard 110/120 V electric outlet. Or you can use a generator instead. You have to place the sliced wood in the specified place and turn on the machine.

The hydraulic fluid is stored in the tank. As soon as you turn on the engine, it pushes the fluid to go through the pump. The pump creates pressure and pushes the fluid through the valve. The valve is connected to two pipes which are connected on both sides of the hydraulic piston and a tube linking back to the tank. When you pull the lever attached to the valve, the hydraulic fluid is pumped into the cylinder that drives the piston and causes the blade to move.

At the same time, the hydraulic fluid is released from another side of the piston. Then returns to the tank through the filter. If you do not pull the lever forward or backward, the fluid will return to the tank through the return tube in a continuous loop. On its way back to tank, it passes through the filter.

When the log splitter is used frequently, the fluid inside it heats up, and the tank lets it cool down. So, the tank is a crucial part of ensuring the smooth running of the machine. The filter is also important as it prevents any dirt or other particles from interacting with the smooth function of the splitter.

Therefore, you need to replace the filter or change the hydraulic oil from time to time. These maintenances are necessary to ensure your safety and smooth operation of the machine. Regular maintenance also enhances the life span of this device. If your device is not working correctly, try to find out the reasons behind it and solve it to avoid any accidents.

So, you can use log splitters for both personal and commercial benefits. The highly laborious task of chopping woods has become effortless using this fantastic device. However, to ensure safe operation, you have to follow the safety measures strictly. As you have come to this part of this article, we hope you now have a clear idea about the log splitter’s working procedure.

Electric vs Gas Log Splitter : Which should I buy?

Why are you here? Maybe you are considering purchasing a new log splitter. And you are unsure whether a gas log splitter or an electric log splitter is the best choice for you. What are the differences between these, and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

For sure, these questions are bothering you. No problem, both types of wood splitters have their pros and cons, and there are significant differences between them.

Comparison between electric and gas log splitters will help you make an informed decision.

Electric log splitter Gas log splitter
Durable but less compared to gas splitters.More durable.
The cutting surface is horizontal.You can switch easily between horizontal and vertical cutting surfaces.
Lightweight and quiet. Perfect for residential use.Wide range of sizes for both residential and commercial use. Little noisy.
Need a standard 110/120 V outlet.It uses a 4-stroke gas engine.
Easy storage and portability.The large size creates storage problems. They have wheels, but some models have a hitch for simple towing.

Electric Log Splitters:

Electric log splitters are almost the same as gas log splitters, except for the use of an electric motor to provide power to the hydraulics instead of a 4-stroke combustion gas engine. Their pros and cons are as below.

Pros of Electric Splitters:

  • Ideal for indoor use: You can use it anywhere if there is a standard electric outlet; outdoor, indoor, backyard, or in between.
  • Quiet Operation: Quiet operation so standard for residential areas. Moreover, there is no emission of fume.
  • Compact size: Compact size enables easy storage and moving.
  • Simple maintenance: There is no oil level or gas level to maintain. You just need to provide the hydraulic fluid and keep the moving parts of the machine lubricated and in good working condition.
  • Less expensive: Cheaper compared to gas-powered ones.

Cons of Electric Splitters:

  • Less force: Electric ones are less powerful than gas splitters. Most of the electric splitters have a 5 to 8-ton force range. However, there are some more powerful options too. But people who need more than this go for a gas option as gas splitters are available at 37-ton or more.
  • Limited sized logs: Its log capacity is less compared to gas-powered splitters. It needs you to lift the logs and will not accept wood logs more than 12″ in diameter and 18″ in length.
  • Not suitable in remote areas: If you want to use your electric splitter in a remote area, you will have to carry a generator.
  • Single splitting surface: The splitting surface is only horizontal.
  • Others: The extension cord length limits your job. Moreover, you have to remain careful about the tripping hazard created by the cord. Some electric splitters cannot handle green logs because of density and heaviness. And you have to avoid knotty areas through the width of the wood.

Gas Log Splitters:

These are ideal for larger and tougher logs and come in many models like hydraulic models, kinetic models, and vertical-horizontal models. So, they are more famous for splitting jobs. However, it does not mean that they are more dependable than all the electric models.

People often choose them for a clean-up service business or commercial firewood cutting. Landowners who do large-scale splitting jobs prefer these also. Their pros and cons are as below.

Pros of Gas-powered Splitters:

  • Powerful: These are more powerful and available in various range of power options to provide the necessary cutting force. Small gas splitters like 7-ton driving forces exist, but the famous gas-powered models range from 22 to 37-ton driving forces.
  • Split larger logs: Capable of cutting larger, even less seasoned logs easily. They can handle logs more than 20″ in length and 16″ in diameter. The vertical splitting surface lets you maneuver these bigger rounds, as well as gnarled and knotted lengths into place to cut into pieces without lifting the weight.
  • No need for an electric outlet: A 4-stroke gas engine powers these; there is no need for any electric outlet or generator.

Cons of Gas-powered Splitters:

  • More expensive: As they are more powerful and larger than the electric model, they are more expensive.
  • Noisy: As gas splitters are loud, they should not be used indoors or near cattle. You can use it on your porch, subject to be well ventilated.
  • More maintenance required: Like any other combustion engine machine, gas splitters require air filter and oil changes, fuel addition, carburetor cleanliness, and spark plug replacement regularly.
  • Storage and transportation problem: The storage option of some models is limited due to their large size and heavyweight. You cannot maneuver them easily with your hand.

Frequently asked questions on how a log splitter works

1. Why is my log splitter moving slow?

There are some reasons those may cause your log splitter to move slow.

  • In most cases, a log splitter moves slowly due to lack of maintenance and not changing hydraulic fluid regularly.
  • Low fluid levels can cause the wedge of the splitter to move slowly.
  • Any leakage in the hydraulic pump, cylinder, or control valve may also cause the wedge to move at a low speed.
  • Presence of too much air in the log splitter cylinder, it will be responsible for low pressure and high cycle time.
  • Another possible reason is the blocked hose, as it does not help create sufficient pressure, and the speed reduces.

2. What is the good cycle time for a log splitter?

If you use a log splitter, whether you are a beginner or a pro, you should consider cycle time. Cycle time is the total time a log splitter takes to extend, split the wood log, and finally return to its starting position. For example, if the wood splitter states one cycle time of 15 seconds, that means it is the total time it will take to split a log.

Generally, a cycle time range is 5 seconds to 30 seconds, depending on the type and age of the splitter. But if the cycle time exceeds 15 seconds, then you cannot consider it reasonable. So, it will be best if you find out what affects the cycle time. The size of the cylinder and type of the hydraulic pump significantly contribute to the cycle time of the splitter.

3. How can I speed up a log splitter?

It is mainly related to the cycle time of the machine. So, you can upgrade the machine parts or adjust the way of using them.


Firstly, you can upgrade to a larger hydraulic pump, but this will need to upgrade the size of the hydraulic tank too. As a result, the hydraulic fluid will not get overheated. To accommodate the increased fluid flow, you will also need larger hydraulic hoses and supply lines.


The first way is expensive, so the next option is shifting to a 2-stage hydraulic pump if yours is a single pump. It speeds up the entire process as it requires less power to move the splitting ram.
However, changing the hydraulic fluid will instantly boost up the power and speed of the machine.

Final thought

No matter what you require, a suitable log splitter is out there for everybody. First, you have to narrow down your needs and know your budget. Then you will be able to choose the best log splitter ever. And by now, you understand how does a log splitter work. So, nothing can stop you now from using your tool successfully.

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