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An increasingly popular piece of garden machinery over recent seasons (chiefly because of the rise in popularity of wood burners and the fact that more and more people now prefer to prepare their own firewood), the log splitter provides a safer and less tiring way of splitting wood than traditional methods such as using an axe or maul. This is because log splitters don’t actually cut wood in the traditional sense; instead they use sheer strength to split logs in half using a wedge. This is perhaps a little less dramatic than bisecting an unsuspecting log with a mighty swing of your axe, but it is certainly quicker, more practical, safer and much easier on the shoulders when faced with the need to fill a large woodpile.
The quantity and type of wood that you intend to split will determine the size and style of log splitter that you need. For normal sized softwood or unseasoned hardwood logs (roughly between 12cm and 20cm in diameter and up to around 50cm in length), a standard electric log splitter with five tons of splitting pressure will get the job done nicely. Even entry level horizontal log splitters are therefore capable of easily handling all domestic log splitting duties, while also being compact enough to fit neatly in the garden shed while not in use.
If you have a larger amount of wood to split, however, you may prefer to use a more powerful upright log splitter; these machines are capable of accommodating larger logs (with some models able to handle logs between 40cm and 50cm in diameter and up to a metre long) and normally operate with six to eight tons of splitting force. Petrol log splitters are a further option for truly heavy duty applications, delivering forces of between eight and ten tons to split even the largest seasoned hardwood logs with ease (a petrol log splitter is also ideal if no electrical power supply is available). Another important consideration with these machines is transportability, with many models featuring wheels so that you can move them to and from storage with the minimum of hassle.
It is also worth remembering that green wood (i.e., freshly fallen or cut wood) will be harder to split than seasoned wood as it has not yet had time to dry out. If you are cutting green wood you will therefore need one of the more powerful log splitters in order to achieve the same results (either that or just a little more patience). Either way, these machines will take the strain out of stocking up for those cold winter nights at home in front of the fire.