There are many different models of hydraulic log splitters with different styles and features. Choosing the right one for your needs can be critical for increasing production and saving you a lot of work.
Hydraulic splitters must withstand great pressure so they must be built with heavy components. Because of this most hydraulic splitters are built as a tow-able trailer. Splitters are typically powered by a gas engine or an electric motor and in some cases a diesel engine for large industrial splitters. There are also models that are powered by a tractor PTO. Regardless of the power source the basic mechanics of hydraulic log splitters will be the same.
How Hydraulic Log Splitters Work
Hydraulic firewood splitters use a hydraulic cylinder to either shove a wedge into one end of the log or to use a ram to shove the log into a wedge depending on the model. Hydraulic log splitters come in horizontal and vertical models. With horizontal models the log is placed horizontally on a table and the wedge or ram moves horizontally. With vertical splitters the log is placed standing on end and the wedge is pushed down from above into the top end of the log. Some of the higher end production splitters come with multiple wedges to split the log into several pieces in one pass.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Horizontal vs Vertical Log Splitters
There are advantages and disadvantages to both horizontal and vertical log splitters. With vertical splitters the work area is close to or right on the ground. The advantage is that you don’t have to move the log far off the ground to split it. The disadvantage is you will be spending a lot of time bending down or kneeling on the ground which can be tiring.
With a horizontal splitter you place the log on a horizontal table usually somewhere around waist level. This provides a more comfortable and less tiring position to work in. The disadvantage is you have to lift or somehow get the logs up onto the table.
Both systems work well and it all comes down to your preference. Some splitters come with a hoist or some mechanical device to lift the logs onto the table. Some models have the ability to swing from a horizontal position to a vertical position so you can chose which one you want to use.
Horizontal wood splitters are the most popular and the most common. I prefer this design because it is a much more comfortable position to work and for me it is worth lifting the rounds.
Moving vs Stationary Wedge Hydraulic Log Splitters
Another choice in selecting a horizontal splitter is whether the wedge is stationary or moving. With a stationary wedge the wedge is attached to the table and a ram pushes and moves the log into the wedge. With a moving wedge the hydraulic cylinder pushes the wedge into the stationary log which is butted up against an anchor that is attached to the table. With a stationary wedge the split wood is pushed to the end of the table past the wedge on each pass. This is good if you want the split wood to be pushed off the end of the table. But if you want to split the wood again you have to manually pull the wood back into position to split it again. With a moving wedge the wood stays in the same place so you don’t have to move it much to get it into position to split again. With a moving wedge you can also have a smaller table. With a stationary wedge you will have to have a longer table to support the wood as it moves past the wedge unless you want the split wood to fall off the end.