Everyone who has a fireplace or a wood stove has heard the age-old saying, “Firewood warms you twice; once when you cut it and once when you burn it.” This was true for decades, as men and women used sledgehammers, mallets and wedges when splitting firewood. But in the last few years hydraulic, gasoline and electric log splitters have replaced much of the manual labor. The result: people spend more time relaxing by the fire than before.
What is important when shopping for a quality log splitter? The first question to ask would be: Will this be used for personal firewood only or will it be used to split wood that will be sold to others? If the wood is going to be used in a home stove or fireplace, then smaller equipment is sufficient (beginning in the 2 to 5 ton range). But for commercial log splitting, it will be necessary to purchase equipment that exerts up to 20 tons of pressure. Purchasing a splitter that is much too small is an invitation to trouble, as the engine will overheat or be damaged because it is overtaxed.
Some individuals have found that the quality log splitter is excellent for uses beyond the simple task of providing wood for the stove or fireplace. Some have incorporated their splitter into a furniture-making process, creating excellent chairs, tables and other items from rough wood that is initially split with the hydraulic or electric splitter. Commercial-grade splitters are used by forest-product suppliers to create rough-cut planking, prepare large trees for transport to the mill and so on. In every case, the modern log splitter has become an important tool for both private and commercial use. All of this translates into time saved and money saved.
Log splitters of sufficient strength and quality to last for years may cost hundreds of dollars. While it is possible to purchase an electric splitter for personal use, the larger (http://www.insidewoodworking.com/lws/hydraulic-log-splitter.html) hydraulic splitter can generally be more powerful and are good for commercial and heavy-duty use. These high-end items may cost thousands, rather than hundreds, of dollars.
If the log splitter is to be used only for home firewood, when the stove or fireplace is more a luxury item than a necessity, the smaller splitter should be sufficient. If the splitter will be used in a firewood business, even on a part time scale, it may be wise to figure out how much wood can be split per hour or per day, to get some idea about cost. Hydraulic log splitters can also be a tool for creating log furniture. In this case, it is also very important to get a splitter that is powerful enough and durable enough. It would be wise to take a bit of extra time to learn more about splitters, their capabilities and their costs, before choosing one that is too small.
With any power equipment, there is the issue of safety. While many new models of log splitter are self-lubricating and require very little maintenance, the more the individual learns about the equipment the safer it will be when in use. Tip: Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.