How Does A Log Splitter Work

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When planning to buy a log splitter, it’s crucial to understand how these mechanical devices work. That information will help you compare the different models and choose one that best suits your splitting needs. It will also be helpful when operating and maintaining the machine.

This article will take you through how different types of log splitters work. Before we get into that, let’s define a log splitter.

What is a Log splitter?

A log splitters function in a way that is quite similar to a human chopping wood using an ax.  Log splitters have a hydraulic or kinetic system that works in two different ways:

  • Pushes a log into the blade 
  • Moves the blade to slice the log

A typical hydraulic log splitter has six main components:

  1. An engine
  2. Hydraulic pump
  3. Valve 
  4. Hydraulic cylinder
  5. Tank  
  6. Filter  

Types of Log Splitters

There are several ways of classifying log splitters. According to:

How the blade or wedge is powered:

  • Hydraulic splitters
  • Kinetic splitters
  • Manual splitters

How the splitter is powered:

  • Electric log splitters
  • Gas Log Splitters
  • Manual

How the wood is placed:

  • Horizontal
  • Vertical
  • Horizontal and vertical

How Does a Log Splitter Work?

In this explanation, I am going to use a hydraulic log splitter.

The most important system of a hydraulic log splitter is the hydraulic system that pushes the logs. The hydraulic system is powered by either gas or electricity.

ALSO READ: How to use a log splitter

To start the log splitter, the first thing you do is to power the gas engine. When the engine is on, it powers the pump that runs the hydraulic system. The pump pushes the hydraulic fluid through the system.

The pump will then increase pressure and push the liquid through the valve. The valve links to two tubes linked to both sides of the hydraulic piston, together with a pipe that connects back to the tank. 

However, for the blade to move, you must engage the lever. If the lever isn’t pulled backward or front, the hydraulic liquid will go back to the tank via the return tube passing through a filter, and the process repeats again. 

As soon as you pull the lever in the direction you want the blade to move, the hydraulic liquid is pumped inside the cylinder to push or pull the blade. 

At the same time, the liquid comes out from the opposite side of the piston and then goes back to the tank through the filter. In addition, the tank is also an essential factor being that it cools down the fluid when using a splitter (the fluid heats typically up, especially when using the splitter for long periods).

In the case of a kinetic log splitter, instead of a hydraulic system, it has flywheels that convert the energy from the engine.

How A Wood Splitter Works

How Does an Electric Log Splitter Work?

An electric log splitter uses an electric motor to power the pump that runs the hydraulic fluid into a ram piston that pushes the log into the table. 

The major benefit of an electric log splitter powered is that it is quiet, unlike gas-powered models. You can use it indoors without worrying about carbon monoxide poisoning. Electric log splitters are also lighter compared to gas-powered models. However, they are not as powerful.

How Does a Hydraulic Log Splitter Work?

In a standard log splitter, the individual operating the splitter positions a log onto the splitter, then moves a directional valve to route the liquid from the pump to the end of the hydraulic cylinder. The hydraulic oil primary function is to create a stream of high-pressure oil that races to the valve. The valve allows the user to activate the hydraulic cylinder that pushes the log to the blade.

The hydraulic oil is held in a tank, which feeds the pump. When the flowing back to the tank, it passes through a filter to ensure the oil is clean. The valve can apply both back and front pressure to the piston. One is called a spool valve by dint of how it resembles a spool from a spool of thread.

How Does a Kinetic Log Splitter Work?

Kinetic log splitters are different from hydraulic log splitters. Rather than using hydraulics, kinetic log splitters have flywheels that convert the energy from the engine or motor into a force. The force generated operates the mechanism that pushes the log against the splitting wedge.

The engine connects to the two flywheels (balanced on both sides) using a strap, and once you start the engine, the flywheels will begin spinning and store kinetic energy inside the wheels. When the handle is pulled, it engages the rack and pinion system, which functions as a clutch, and the energy is released to the ram, where it will be discharged at high speeds chopping the log with power and astounding rate. 

Kinetic log splitters are faster than hydraulic models. 

What is a Log Splitter Used For? 

A log splitter is used to cut firewood or logs, from softwood to hardwood pre-cut in round segments. Most splitters compromise hydraulic or electronic rod and piston assembly and are mainly rated/measured by the tons of force generated.

The higher the force rating is, the easier it is for the splitter to chop logs. Many splitters for home use have a force rating of about 10 tons, but splitters for professional use can be around 30 tons or even higher.

The Lowdown

Log splitters are an effective and effortless way to chop logs or even make a living out of them. Their function is based on the pressure from the hydraulics or kinetic system and are either electric or gas-powered. 

People are turning to wood splitters as woods are carbon-neutral and provide an alternative power source. That is why most people want to understand how different log splitters work. 

We hope this guide has illuminated some light on how a log splitter functions.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I use a log splitter?

Begin by placing the log onto the splitter. Next, ensure your hands aren’t holding the wood when you activate the wedge into the wood. Finally, when the log is split by half, reverse the wedge and take out the pieces from the splitter.

What makes a log splitter fast?

The speed from a splitter is equivalent to the flow rate of the hydraulic fluid into and out of the hydraulic cylinder.

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Hi, I'm Mike - but my friends call me Backyard Mike. I'm the founder of this website, and I'm addicted to outdoor power tools. I love to work with wood and share my knowledge here on this website with you. You can find more about me here.