If you have access to fallen trees or cut logs, you can create your own perfectly sized firewood with a log splitter, which makes quick work of splitting chopped logs down to manageably sized pieces of firewood by forcing a sharp wedge through the center of the log. Like all such tools, it's imperative to take proper precautions when using a log splitter. Tanisha Peten, Chief Marketing Officer at outdoor-living website Garrett Wade, cautions, "When using a log splitter, you need to be equally careful of the wood you’re cutting and the splitting wedge. Wear safety goggles and gloves to protect yourself from fragments that break off as the wood splits. And never, under any circumstances, put your hand between the log and the endplate, or hold the end of the log while operating the machine."
We evaluated log splitters based on power, size of log handled, ease of use, and reliability. Our top choice is the Champion Power Equipment 27-Ton Splitter.
Here are the best log splitters.
Champion Power Equipment 27-Ton Splitter
Can be towed behind a car
Vertical or horizontal use
Fairly easy to assemble and use
Not everyone needs as much brute force as the Champion Power Equipment 27-Ton Splitter provides, but if you need—or just want—to be able to easily and quickly split logs all the way up to 24 inches in length and 100 pounds in weight, this is your tool. The manufacturer specifies that this log splitter is for wood up to 12 inches in diameter, although many users have successfully split much longer logs without problem. And with a full beam to support the entire length of the log, as well as side catchers to keep the log steady, you'll find the experience of splitting your own firewood much easier, as well as safer.
The Champion Power Equipment 27-Ton Splitter has an impressive 11-second cycle time and is capable of carrying out 300 cycles per hour; that's a whole lot of firewood. The splitter is small enough to fit into the bed of a truck and can be towed via a hitch at speeds under 45 miles per hour. This means you can take the splitter out into the woods when necessary to split logs at the source. Once you get there, it's a simple, three-step maneuver to switch the log splitter between horizontal or vertical orientation, so you can spare your back when working on the heaviest logs. All in all, if you routinely need to cut large amounts of firewood, handle large logs, and cut hard woods such as hickory or oak, this is a tool that will serve you well.
Price at time of publish: $1,499
Power Source: Gas | Driving Force: 27 tons | Cycle Time: 11 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: Yes
Sun Joe 5-Ton Electric Log Splitter LJ602E
Quiet and no fumes
Can struggle with very knotty or hard logs
Log splitters are undeniably expensive, particularly the heavy-duty, gas-powered beasts that chew through the largest logs without blinking an eye. If you are looking for something at a lower price point, however, and only need a tool to split logs for use in a typical home fireplace or fire pit, then you'll be pleased with the Sun Joe 5-Ton Electric Log Splitter.
The 15-amp motor gives this log splitter enough oomph to easily split logs up to 10 inches in diameter and 20.5 inches in length. Its sturdy steel construction will provide years of use, and the two back wheels make it easy to maneuver the device right where you need it. While you won't conquer mighty redwoods with this log splitter, it's definitely more than adequate for the average user who just wants to keep their fireplace fueled.
Price at time of publish: $300
Power Source: Electric | Driving Force: 5 tons | Cycle Time: 20 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: No
Best for Home Use
Yardmax YS0952 9-Ton Electric Log Splitter
Very quiet for a log splitter
Can split fairly large logs
Some complaints about wheels
If you live in a cold-winter area and rely on wood to keep you warm, or even if you simply like to keep a fireplace well stocked with wood, then you'll appreciate the Yardmax 9-Ton Electric Log Splitter, which is fairly quiet for this type of tool, plugs into a standard 120-volt outlet, and requires no assembly—just plug it in and get to splitting. With 9 tons of splitting power and a cycle time of 14 to 23 seconds, you'll be able to split just about any type of log, whether hard or soft wood.
This log splitter has two speeds: slow, for when you need more force to split harder woods, and fast, for when the wood is softer. Either way, you can tackle logs up to 20.5 inches in length and 12.6 inches in diameter, which is well within the size range you are likely to face when splitting wood at home. The splitter has 8-inch wheels, so you can pull it to where you want it, but at 165 pounds, it's pretty heavy. Still, thanks to its lack of smelly fumes and reasonable noise level, you could use it right inside your garage if desired, something you'd never do with a gas-powered log splitter.
Price at time of publish: $538
Power Source: Electric | Driving Force: 9 tons | Cycle Time: 14 to 23 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: No
Best Gas for Large Logs
CountyLine 25-Ton Log Splitter 126151799
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 designed to be easy to maintain. Tow it behind your car or truck on its 8-inch wheels to wherever you need to work, whether that's near your home or out in a wooded field. The CountyLine Log Splitter combines reliable performance with user-friendliness, winning it the spot as our top choice for powerful log splitters. Plus, it's quite reasonably priced for this kind of tool.
This gas-powered log splitter can handle logs 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, which reduces effort and strain on your back. All in all, this is a log splitter that will work with you season after season to prepare plenty of firewood for your stove, fireplace, or fire pit.
Price at time of publish: $1,700
Power Source: Gas | Driving Force: 25 tons | Cycle Time: 11 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: Yes
Best Electric for Large Logs
Swisher 22-Ton Electric Log Splitter Eco Split LS22E
Can be towed
Splits large logs
Works on standard electrical outlet
Electric log splitters have many advantages: they are far more environmentally friendly than gas-powered models, they don't produce dangerous fumes, they are typically quieter than gas models, and you don't have to deal with toting gasoline to keep them fueled. The downside, however, is that most electric log splitters have far less power than gas models. That's not the case with the Swisher 22-Ton Electric Log Splitter Eco Split, though. With 22 tons of splitting power, this beast tackles logs as big as 25 inches in length and 15 inches in diameter. That's much larger than the typical electric log splitter.
This splitter has other features rarely found in electric models: It has a 2-inch ball coupler for towing behind your car, it can split logs in either a horizontal or a vertical position, and it has cradles to keep the log firmly in place while you work. All in all, if you want the power of a gas splitter with all the benefits of an electric splitter, this is your choice.
Price at time of publish: $2,850
Power Source: Electric | Driving Force: 22 tons | Cycle Time: 13 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: Yes
Best for Small Logs
Boss Industrial ES7T20 Electric Log Splitter
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.
Price at time of publish: $630
Power Source: Electric | Driving Force: 7 tons | Cycle Time: 15 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: No
Best With Stand
WEN 56208 6.5-Ton Electric Log Splitter
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 56208 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.
Price at time of publish: $335
Power Source: Electric | Driving Force: 6.5 tons | Cycle Time: 20 seconds | Vertical/Horizontal Options: No
Best Splitting Wedge
Estwing Sure Split Wedge
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.
Price at time of publish: $24
Power Source: Manual | Driving Force: N/A | Cycle Time: N/A | Vertical/Horizontal Options: N/A
Best Wood-Splitting Axe
Fiskars Pro IsoCore Wood Splitting Maul
Two faces: one for splitting, one for driving
Head is shaped for optimal splitting force
Shock-reducing handle to protect wrists and hands
Requires a good deal of upper body strength and endurance
If you prefer to split wood the old-fashioned way—with an axe—then you'll need fairly good upper body strength along with a reliable and heavy axe. And the Fiskars Pro IsoCore Wood Splitting Maul is just the axe for the job.
The image many people conjure when thinking of a traditional axe is log splitting. Splitting means you are swinging the axe in a vertical motion to split a log into two roughly equal halves, as compared to using a chopping or felling axe, which is normally swung in a horizontal motion to cut down a tree or hack through brush. Log-splitting axes—often called "mauls"—generally have a wedge-shaped cutting head to maximize the splitting force, but the Fiskars Pro IsoCore Wood Splitting Maul takes it a step further with both a splitting face and a driving face, which is perfect for driving wedges or for striking with a mallet to add force to your splitting efforts.
To split logs in remote locations, on a homestead, or at home, the Fiskars Pro IsoCore Wood Splitting Maul is specifically designed to give you a clean and efficient split with every stroke. The patented IsoCore handle greatly reduces shock and vibration to your arms and hands, and the dual-layer rubbery coating further reduces vibration.
Price at time of publish: $70
Power Source: Manual | Driving Force: N/A | Cycle Time: N/A | Vertical/Horizontal Options: N/A
Best for Kindling
Kindling Cracker Firewood Splitter
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 wood-burning stove. Not only is the device handy, it’s fun. Plus, it requires no maintenance, will last virtually forever, has no sharp blades or wedges that could cause injury, and needs no fuel beyond your own exertions.
Price at time of publish: $96
Power Source: Manual | Driving Force: N/A | Cycle Time: N/A | Vertical/Horizontal Options: N/A
If you want a powerful, sturdy log splitter that doesn’t shirk even at large logs, then you’ll love the Champion Power Equipment 27-Ton Splitter. But if you are watching your budget, then the better choice is the Sun Joe 5-Ton Electric Log Splitter, which is more than sufficient for most people’s needs, although it won’t split the largest logs.
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 make 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 they 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 log 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 three seconds. For most people, however, around 15 seconds is sufficient when tackling a large load of logs.
How do you use a log splitter?
While the details can vary slightly from brand to brand, the basics of using a log splitter, whether gas or electric, are pretty much the same.
- To start with, you need to dress appropriately. Mike Saice, Parts & Service Program Manager at Northern Tool + Equipment, cautions, “Proper footwear is crucial. Crocs and sandals are a no! A boot or shoe with an enclosed toe is necessary; a safety toe is recommended.” Wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck the shirt into your pants to prevent dangling fabric at the waist, and fasten the cuffs. Saice also cautions that it’s important to go further with protection: “Purchase the proper safety equipment, including ear protection—log splitters, especially gas-powered models, can be loud—safety glasses that completely cover your eyes, and sturdy work gloves."
- Be sure any pets and children are safely away from the area where you’ll be working.
- Your log splitter should be on level ground with at least three feet of clearance on all sides. This helps prevent the tool from tipping or rolling over while in use, and gives you enough space to work comfortably. Use bricks or a block of wood to wedge the log splitter’s wheels—if it has them—in place so the device can’t roll or move unexpectedly.
- If using a gas splitter, make sure it has enough fuel. Plug in an electric model.
- Turn on the log splitter. A gas splitter usually has a pull-cord, while an electric log splitter might just have a switch.
- Now it’s time to load your log. The wood should be cut off as squarely as possible—not jagged, uneven pieces of wood—and positioned on the bed of the splitter with the far end of the log against the splitter’s backplate, not against the wedge.
- Activate the log splitter, which, depending on your model, might be a lever or a switch.
- Keep clear of the wedge while it does its work splitting the log. Never use your foot or hand to hold or steady the log while the wedge is in motion.
- Most electric or gas log splitters automatically retract the wedge and reset the hydraulic valve after splitting the wood. If yours does not, reset the valve manually.
- Remove the split pieces of wood from the log splitter bed.
How do you choose the right size log splitter?
Gas and electric log splitters are measured in terms of driving force, which is the maximum amount of force the wedge can exert against the log. Naturally, the higher the tons of driving force, the stronger the tool, and the larger the logs you can split. As a general rule, gas log splitters can have much higher driving force than electric models, but the main consideration is the typical size of logs you’ll be splitting. For many people, a low to medium driving force will be sufficient.
You’ll also want to consider whether you’ll generally be splitting new, green wood, or older, “seasoned” wood. Green wood requires more driving force than seasoned wood to split cleanly.
As a rule of thumb:
- Six-inch logs need 4 to 5 tons of driving force.
- Twelve-inch seasoned logs require a 7-to-10-ton splitter, while 12-inch green logs may need up to 16 tons of driving force.
- Eighteen-inch seasoned logs need at least 20 tons of driving force, while a green 18-inch log can require as much as 30 tons of force.
- A 24-inch green log requires up to 25 tons of pressure, while a green 24-inch log might need over 30 tons of driving pressure.
What’s the difference between a full-beam and half-beam log splitter?
Most gas and electric log splitters are full-beam, which means the bed is long enough to support the entire log. While there are a few other differences, the main difference with a half-beam log splitter is that the bed is shorter, so part of the hydraulic cylinder—that’s the moving part of the tool that applies the splitting force to the log—is unsupported. That doesn’t affect the power or performance of the tool, however; there are half-beam log splitters with just as much tonnage as their full-beam counterparts.
In terms of your buying decision, as a rough guideline, half-beam splitters are less expensive than full-beam splitters, and are also lighter, which makes them easier to maneuver. However, full-beam splitters are easier to tow behind a car, which can be a major consideration if you often need to take your log splitter to distant worksites.
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 feedback. She also received advise from Mike Saice, Parts & Service Program Manager at Northern Tool + Equipment, and Tanisha Peten, the Chief Marketing Officer at Garrett Wade.