Splitting wood with an axe or a sledge and wedge builds character, right? Well, for those of us who have plenty of character and aren’t preparing for a fight with Ivan Drago (Rocky IV), there is an easier and faster way to get the job done. Let’s take a look at the best manual log splitter and best hydraulic log splitter to make your work easier without making a major investment.
If you have ever spent much time splitting wood with an axe or with a wedge and sledge hammer, you know that the world's easiest log splitter has to be just about anything other than those tools. There are several different options available for reducing the back breaking labor of splitting wood. With a little bit of information, you can choose the best one to suit your needs.
If you want to eliminate the work involved in splitting wood, then why not go all the way? Why not choose powered log splitters over manual ones? There are several reasons that a manual splitter might be preferred over a powered one. Here are a few reasons:
Essentially, as a homeowner who splits wood for your own use, the initial investment and cost and time for maintenance on a powered unit simply isn’t practical, especially when it is easy to find the best log splitter under 1000 dollars in a manual or hydraulic log splitter.
You may or may not be familiar with an easy split wood splitter, in either case, these types of wood splitters represent what is meant by a manual slide log splitter. These manual splitters are lightweight and as easy to carry as an axe or other equipment, so they are completely portable and can be used anywhere.
With a manual log splitter, you provide the force to split the wood, but the force needed is typically less taxing on your body than swinging an axe or a sledge hammer. Additionally, because you stand over the log you are splitting, there are fewer safety issues, like missing the log or glancing off the log and having it hit you in the shins or smashing your toes.
A hydraulic log splitter uses hydraulic pressure to push a log into a wedge. The pressure eventually allows the wedge to press through the log and split it. Hydraulic splitters can be powered by electricity, gas, the PTO of a tractor, or using an air compressor. Manual, hydraulic wood splitters are powered by you pumping the handle to provide the pressure necessary to split the wood.
Hydraulic log splitters avoid the safety issues of using an axe or sledge and wedge and tend to take a great deal less effort to operate. They are more portable than powered units and can be used anywhere, but are a little bit heavier and cumbersome to carry.
In order to determine which type of manual splitter is best for you, let’s do a manual and hydraulic wood splitter comparison utilizing the same criteria mentioned in our comparison between manual and powered wood splitters, plus two additional categories.
Balancing the benefits of each of these products will help you decide which is the best type to fit your needs.
Learning how to use manual and hydraulic wood splitters safely is important. Below are two videos to give you some indication of how each type of manual unit works. This is a video on how to use a slide hammer log splitter:
This video will show you how to use a hydraulic log splitter:
A manual wood splitter seems simple enough to make at home. Depending upon your skill level with mechanical equipment and a welder, you might be able to fashion something that works well for you. This video is one of example of how to make a homemade log splitter:
This hand held wood splitter incorporates a sliding hammer mechanism with a wedges tip. The Anaconda is made of heavy duty forged steel for durability and has a rubber handle for a better grip and shock absorption.
It is so simple and safe to use that even a youngster can use it. No overhead swinging is required, and you don’t have broken axe handles or jammed wedges to worry over, allowing you to focus on the task of splitting wood whenever and wherever you want.
Though you have to provide the effort and energy to power this splitter, the action necessary is far less taxing than swinging an axe or sledge hammer overhead. It is a safer alternative to the traditional way of splitting wood and offered at about the same price of a good axe.
Rather than driving the wedge into the wood, drive the wood into the wedge. That is the principle behind the Kindling Cracker. The 6 ½” diameter ring holds the log which you are splitting in place, eliminating the problem of glancing blows or misses with the sharp blade of an axe.
It is made of high quality Australian cast iron and is maintenance free. It allows you to split wood with considerably less force than with an axe and only requires the use of a sledge hammer to provide the wood splitting force.
This unit improves upon the safety of swinging an axe, but does not eliminate the effort of an overhead swing. Driving the wood into the wedge is the idea behind the hydraulic splitter, so this is sort of a combination of the two concepts. It has two major drawbacks: the overhead swing, the size limit of the logs that will fit the ring.
The Quality Craft Foot-Operated Log Splitter is a hydraulic unit which utilizes the stronger muscles of your leg to drive the log into the wedge. It has a 1.5 ton pressure capacity for splitting logs up to 18” long and 10” in diameter.
The wedge is made of forged steel and the durable frame of the unit is lightweight and portable. The ratcheting action on the pressure arm eliminates the need to reset the log you are splitting while you pump the hydraulic cylinder.
Utilizing the added pressure of hydraulics helps to eliminate the amount of energy you have to expend in order to split a log. Additionally, because it is powered with the muscles of your leg, it works better for people with limited upper body strength. It is limited to smaller logs and appears to be a little less durable in its design in order to make it lighter weight.
Turning a hydraulic unit on edge for vertical rather than horizontal access is what sets the Vulcan apart from other manual, hydraulic splitters.
The Vulcan utilizes up to 8 tons of hydraulic pressure to force the log you are splitting into the forged steel wedge. It has a durable steel frame on wheels and handles are provided for easy portability of the unit.
The use of hydraulic pressure for splitting logs is enhanced in this unit, which has a much more durable frame. The hydraulic pump is worked using the stronger muscles of your legs rather than your arms and shoulders, which is a bonus for people who lack upper body strength.
There are some potential problems built into this unit. To operate it, you have to stand in front of where the log is going to fall out. Balancing on one foot to work the pump might also be an issue for some people. And those tiny little wheels limit its portability to concrete and other hard surfaces.
The Sun Joe log splitter is essentially the equivalent of a powered log splitter without the mechanical power. This unit is constructed of heavy duty steel and utilizes 10 tons of pressure in order to split logs.
It includes a log cradle to help keep the log in place until it is split. Two long handles that are fitted with rubber for a better grip allow you to stand clear of the log you are splitting and work the hydraulic pump without stooping.
If you are splitting more wood for your home than the average user, but cannot quite justify purchasing a power splitter, then this is probably your unit. With this splitter, you can take your time splitting wood without exerting a whole lot of energy or effort. Manual, hydraulic splitters are painfully slow, which is the trade off involved when it comes to expending less energy.
Selecting a clear winner of our manual log splitter review really depends upon a balancing of all of the criteria we laid out earlier. Given those criteria, the best hand log splitter would certainly be the Anaconda. Its main advantages over the hydraulic models and the other hand splitter are:
With that said, a person who is not as concerned with portability, who has more time to devote to the task of splitting wood, can only exert minimum energy to the task, and has the budget to afford it will probably be happier with the Logger Joe.
Whichever unit best suits your needs, it is easy to agree that manual and hydraulic wood splitters certainly hold a significant safety and effort advantage over using an axe or a wedge and sledge. Prepared with the information provided, you can make an informed decision as to the manual log splitter which is best for you.