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It’s hard to beat the appeal of a roaring fire, both for warmth and for relaxation, whether in your home’s fireplace, outside enjoying a fire pit, or even sitting around a campfire. But purchasing firewood can get expensive.
If you have access to fallen trees or cut logs, you can create your own perfectly sized firewood with a log splitter. These devices, which are available in manual, gas-powered, or electric models, make quick work of cutting chopped logs down to manageably sized pieces of firewood.
When choosing a log splitter, you should consider the power source—gas splitters are the most powerful, electric splitters are quiet and and don't create fumes, and manual splitters get the job done with your own muscle power—along with the driving force of the tool, and the length of time it takes the splitter to get the job done.
Here, the best log splitters.
Best Overall: Boss Industrial 16-Ton ED16T21 Electric Log Splitter
Power Source: Electric | Driving Force: 16 tons | Cycle Time: 13 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: No
A bit tricky to assemble
Gas-powered log splitters generally win in the powerful performance category, but suffer when it comes to environmental friendliness and ease of use. Electric log splitters don’t produce smelly fumes, but usually can’t tackle large logs. That’s why the Boss Industrial 16-Ton Electric Log Splitter is such a winner. Start it up with the push of a button, and then tackle logs up to 13.7 inches in diameter and 20.5 inches in length. You won’t even have to hunch down while you work, thanks to the built-in stand.
This electric log splitter has off-road capable, 16-inch tires, so you can easily tow it to right where you need it. Once there, it only takes one hand to work the log splitter, making this an ideal tool for those who work on their own. And wIth the 13-second cycle time, you’ll be finished splitting wood quickly.
Best Budget: Sun Joe LJ10M 10-Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter
No gas or oil required
Quiet and no fumes
Splits fairly large logs
Can be tiring to use
Power Source: Hydraulic | Driving Force: 10 tons | Cycle Time: N/A | Vertical/Horizontal Options: No
Splitting logs by hand with an axe is an exhausting business, but power log splitters are undeniably expensive. If you are willing to invest a little muscle power, however, and don’t need to split an entire woodpile in one go, you can save a lot of money, split quite a bit of firewood, and even get in an arm workout with the Sun Joe LJ10M Hydraulic Log Splitter.
This device is powered by hydraulics, not by gas or electricity. Using it is simple. Place a log that’s up to 18 inches long and 8 inches wide into the cradle, and then begin to pump the two handles back and forth. Your exertions are building up pressure—up to 10 tons of driving force—pushing the log up against the tool’s blade and slowly splitting it right down the center.
Once finished, simply turn the reset knob to return the spring to the starting position. Now you’re ready to split once more!
The Sun Joe Log Splitter is made of durable steel for years of use and has two wheels so you can maneuver it wherever you need it.
Best for Small Logs: Boss Industrial ES7T20 Electric Log Splitter
Power Source: Electric | Driving Force: 7 tons | Cycle Time: 15 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: No
No gas fumes or excessive noise
Only for logs up to 10 inches in diameter
Low to ground
Most log splitters require the use of an engine powered by gasoline to tackle large, thick logs. If you need something for heavy-duty use or want to bring your splitter out into the woods to tackle logs on the spot, that's the only setup you should consider. For home use where your log splitting needs are smaller and less frequent, however, an electric splitter can be a better alternative since you can skip the engine and gas and go straight to a wall outlet without worry about fumes.
The Boss Industrial ES7T20 is designed for home use on smaller logs you would normally use for wood-burning purposes. The 2-horsepower motor offers 7 tons of splitting force to tackle logs up to 10 inches in diameter without the need for gasoline or a separate engine. Since the motor is quiet and clean, you can even use the splitter indoors when it is too cold or wet outside.
Best for Large Logs: CountyLine 25-Ton Log Splitter 126151799
Power Source: Gas | Driving Force: 25 tons | Cycle Time: 11 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: Yes
Vertical or horizontal use
Can be towed behind car
Emits gas fumes
If you routinely tackle fairly large logs, cut a lot of firewood each season, or just like to have a machine powerful and large enough to get the job done without flinching, then you’ll love the CountyLine 25-Ton Log Splitter, which has a 6.5 horsepower Kohler engine. Tow it behind your car or truck on its 8-inch wheels to wherever you need to work.
This gas-powered log splitter can handle lots all the way up to 36 inches in diameter and 26 inches in length—that’s a big piece of wood. The impressive 11.5-second cycle time means you can work your way through the wood pile in a reasonable amount of time, and you can use the tool in either a horizontal or a vertical orientation to suit your needs.
Best with Stand: WEN 56207 6.5-Ton Electric Log Splitter
Power Source: Electric | Driving Force: 6.5 tons | Cycle Time: 20 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: No
Easy to operate
Struggles a bit with very hard or knotty wood
Most log splitters are close to the ground, requiring you to bend over or crouch down while working. While that’s hard to avoid if working with a very large log, you can save quite a bit of wear-and-tear to your back splitting smaller logs on the WEN 56207 6.5-Ton Electric Log Splitter, which comes with a handy 34-inch-high stand. Plus, there are no gas fumes, it’s easy to start, and easy to maintain.
This easy-to-operate log splitter might not be the biggest, but it’s no slouch in the field, either. Its 15-amp motor provides over 13,000 pounds of pressure to split logs up to 10 inches in diameter and 20.5 inches in length; the side-support wings hold your log firmly in place, so no sliding while you cut. And the 5.5-inch wheels make it easy to transport the log splitter right where you want it.
Best Manual: Estwing Sure Split Wedge
Power Source: Manual | Driving Force: N/A | Cycle Time: N/A | Vertical/Horizontal Options: N/A
Perfect for use while camping
With strength and patience, can split even fairly large logs
Can be tiring to use
Can bounce if wood is still green
Even though most log splitters are designed to take the work out of splitting large logs, there is something unique about completing the task by hand. Sometimes, you may not even have the luxury of hauling a gas or electric splitter with you.
For a step up from a simple axe, the best way to manually split your own logs quickly is with a metal wedge and some good old-fashioned gravity. For the true budget-conscious consumer, the Estwing Sure Split Wedge offers a lot of savings and a hands-on approach to log splitting. Designed as a splitting wedge, the Sure Split focuses the force of a hammer into a single edge for quick and easy splitting.
Depending on your own strength and the striking power of the hammer you use—a sledgehammer is the best choice—you can split logs as big as 12 to 14 inches in diameter. And at only 5 pounds, the wedge is light enough to carry around with you for splitting while camping or out at a cabin in the woods.
Best for Kindling: Kindling Cracker Firewood Splitter
Power Source: Manual | Driving Force: N/A | Cycle Time: N/A | Vertical/Horizontal Options: N/A
Easy to use
Very effective with small logs
Only for splitting kindling
It’s tough to start a roaring fire without some kindling to get things going. But there’s no need to buy kindling, or use your electric or gas-powered log splitter for this small task. Instead, fetch the cast-iron Kindling Cracker, insert a piece of wood that’s less than 6 inches in diameter into the central ring, use your mallet or hammer to give the top of the wood a whack, and voila! The driving force will split the wood into kindling-sized pieces ready to go into the fireplace, fire pit, campfire, or even your wood-burning stove. Not only is the device handy, it’s fun.
The Boss Industrial 16-Ton Electric Log Splitter (view at Log Splitters Direct) wins our top spot, thanks to its reliable and powerful performance that won't produce harmful, smelly gas fumes. But if budget is your main concern, the Sun Joe LJ10M Hydraulic Log Splitter (view at Amazon), which relies on your own power to pump up the hydraulics, is a very reasonably priced and effective tool.
What to Look for in a Log Splitter
There are three basic types of log splitters: gas, electric, and manual.
Gas-powered log splitters are the most powerful type. Many let you switch between vertical and horizontal splitting, which can be a major issue when working with very large, heavy logs. If you expect to use your log splitter regularly on very hard or large wood, this is the best option.
Electric log splitters are generally powerful enough to tackle mid-size logs of light-to-moderate hardness. But you’ll be tethered to a power cord, so these tools aren’t the best choice for splitting wood on the go. Still, their relatively light weight, lack of smelly gas fumes, and quieter performance makes them a good choice if you’ll only use your log splitter occasionally to create firewood at home.
Manual log splitters come in various forms, but all rely at least partly on your own strength to get the job done. Some merely require you to pump levers that work up enough pressure to drive the splitter through the log, while others hold the log in place while you do all of the heavy work. You won’t work your way through a lot of wood with a manual splitter, nor will you cut through very large or hard wood, but if you only expect to use the tool occasionally to produce kindling or very small pieces of firewood, and you’re watching your budget, a manual log splitter does the trick.
It takes a lot of force to push a blade through a log, and so one of the most important factors when choosing a log splitter is its driving force, which is usually measured in tons.
As a general rule, gas log splitters are far more powerful than their electric counterparts. You’ll find gas log splitters with well over 30 tons of driving force, but 25 tons is about average. That’s enough to split logs up to around 24 inches in diameter.
Electric log splitters typically have somewhere between 6 and 10 tons of driving force, which is enough to split logs up to around 12 inches in diameter.
Pump-style manual log splitters can generally tackle logs up to around 10 inches in diameter. These tools usually top out at around 10 tons of driving force, but get there much more slowly than gas or electric log splitters, and of course, rely on your own strength to create the initial power.
A log splitter’s cycle time measures how long it takes the tool to split through a log. There are a lot of variables that affect this number, however, including the size and the hardness of the log. But as a general rule, gas lot splitters are faster than electric log splitters, with an average cycle time of anywhere from 10 to 20 seconds, although you’ll find some high-powered models with cycle times as short as 3 seconds. For most people, however, around 15 seconds is sufficient when tackling a large load of logs.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article is edited and updated by Michelle Ullman, the tool expert for The Spruce. She has extensive experience not only in writing about all things related to the home, but also in carrying out various DIY projects, including landscaping, painting, flooring, wallpapering, furniture makeovers, and simple repairs. For this roundup, she considered dozens of log splitters, evaluating each for basic features, extras, and customer evaluation.