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Author Topic: Homeowner wood splitter?  (Read 1261 times)

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Offline Sauna freak

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Homeowner wood splitter?
« on: July 17, 2021, 11:35:38 AM »
For most of my 46 years I've split all my firewood with an axe or maul of sorts.  Presently a Fiskars firewood axemaul, which works amazingly well on decent wood.  Problem, is, next year I'll be 47, and I don't see that number decreasing any time in the future.  Compounded to that problem, most of my wood isn't decent anymore.  My good, managed, Northern Hardwoods woodlot where I could cut anything dead, down or marked for cull is now a cul-de-sac infested subdivision, and other good woodlots have so far evaded me.  Gone are the days of high grading maple, red elm, small rounds of American elm and red oak for the house stove, and leaving the ugly gnarly logs and box elder for the fire pit or syrup boiler.  The ugly, gnarly, open grown logs are now my bread and butter as that's mostly what I can find for free.  Lots of Burr oak also.  Great firewood, but no fun with an axemaul.

I've decided to contemplate a splitter.  I'm not producing commercial firewood or burning a huge volume in a leaky old barrel stove, so I don't need a high production unit.  Anything priced very high would defeat the purpose of burning wood (cheap heat), so I'm looking at the electric models.  Wondering how effective they are at splitting some uglier wood.  Do they do it decently, or are they just for decent wood I'd be better off splitting with the axemaul?  The really nasty logs I'll probably still chunk with the chainsaw for boiler fuel, but it would be nice to be able to split the "5 whack" logs without having to take 5 whacks.  What am I looking at in terms of splitting force, usually measured in tons or pounds from what I've seen, to effectively split a semi-gnarly log of box elder for example?  Speed and production really aren't a concern, just looking to tackle some of the uglier wood in the pile without wearing out my back/shoulders.
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Offline btulloh

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2021, 01:16:15 PM »
Youll enjoy a splitter if you have deal to with the ugly stuff. Heck, youll enjoy it on the straight stuff too.

Ugly stuff is still ugly when split, but presents a lot of surface area, so it burns well. Just doesnt make pretty stacks, but so what.  

24-27 ton splitter will do pretty much anything within reason, but crotches and stuff will put up a fight. No big deal. Easier than the fiskars by far. If its too gnarly, I just ignore it and move on, but I could split it if I had too.

Hydraulics are good and it doesnt take a fancy processor to do what you need for personal use.

Online barbender

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2021, 02:03:49 PM »
The only electric splitter I think would be decent is a kinetic model, and they wouldn't like the gnarly wood.
Too many irons in the fire

Offline btulloh

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2021, 03:16:05 PM »
I didnt notice the word electric in the original question. Barbender covered that. 

A decent hydraulic splitter with a six hp engine will be enough though, and you can find a decent used one. 

Splitter is well worth the price of admission. 

Online doc henderson

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2021, 03:24:17 PM »
some of the big box/farm store models work well but over state their ton rating.  so make note of the cylinder size ect for comparison.  many use the same basic design.
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Online barbender

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2021, 09:50:09 PM »
Yes most of the homeowner models over rate their tonnage. Here's the thing- people always act like it's amazing that a splitter splits wood. "I haven't found a piece it won't split", well 2500psi delivered to a 4-1/2" hydraulic cylinder with a wedge on the end of it should go through about anything. There's no magic involved🤷🏽‍♂️
Too many irons in the fire

Offline Hilltop366

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2021, 11:03:22 PM »
I've been using a welding shop built splitter (Hall's Wood Splitters) that is rated at 20 ton, it has a 160 cc (5.5hp) Honda and a 2 stage pump. Because of the smaller diameter cylinder it is quicker cycle time than the average box store splitter which is good for small and medium size wood where it rarely goes to the second stage on the pump. In the bigger and knotty stuff it will drop to the second stage for a second or two most times. The reason is the wedge design, it is a tall and deep wedge that is very pointy and will cut across the tough crotch wood grain and knots well. Another interesting design feature is the side trays go back and forth with the pusher, it takes a little getting use to but works well for what I am doing which is splitting then putting in the tractor bucket to move across the yard.

All that to say that a high tonnage rating (large cylinder) with the same size motor is not always better it will make all your splitting slower for the ability to split a few really nasty pieces.

Online doc henderson

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2021, 10:35:49 AM »
more ton/power requires a stronger frame and wedge/pusher combo.  unless you want to spend a ton of money, I think that basic design has been tweaked and works well without imploding on itself.  I put a 5 inch cylinder on mine with a 2 stage pump.  I have a 32 inch cylinder and have a series of clip on stops that let me shorten it up for my standard 16 inch logs for the wood stove.  I bet the basic design has split the majority of homeowner wood in the country.
timberking B 2000, 277c track loader, PJ 32 foot gooseneck, 1976 F700 state dump truck, JD 850 tractor.  2007 Chevy 3500HD dually, home built log splitter 18 horse 28 gpm with 5 inch cylinder and 32 inch split range with conveyor 12 volt tarp motor

Offline sawguy21

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2021, 05:37:26 PM »
You will be limited with electric because of the service. The cheapie 6 ton Chinese units that run on 115VAC 15A household power are imho a complete waste of time and money, consider at least 240VAC 30A if the power is available.
Most splitters are gas powered because they are the most flexible, you can split and load anywhere. A 5.5hp unit with a 4" ram will give you 20 tons which sounds like a lot but probably the minimum for your hardwoods. If you have large rounds you will likely want one that can also split vertically, your back will thank you. Above all, buy a domestically produced unit with a brand name engine, the cheap imports have oddball fittings and fasteners that will fail and are not readily available.
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Offline luap

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2021, 07:12:47 PM »
I have owned 2 electric spltters. Can't recommend them unless you want  to split small wood indoors. The first one, the original buyer returned to the store under warranty. They replaced it but told him to keep it. I took it apart and found a piece of silicone sealant plugged a checkvalve. The ram was 1 1/2 inch diameter. takes 2 hands to operate, push a button and hold a lever. The ram stops 4" short of the wedge which can be overcome by using a scrap of wood for a pusher block or taking apart and blocking the relief port that limits the travel which was what I did. The other negative is you need a platform to raise it up or you will be bending over a lot. Nice and quiet and no gas engine troubles from sitting all year. So if it checks the right boxes, they do work.  

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2021, 11:26:05 AM »
FWIW I had a small unit with only 18" of stroke and a 4" beam with go kart tires. Real close to the ground .I think it was a 2.5 or 3" cylinder that originally had a 3 to 5 HP Briggs engine .The catch was it had a knife edge splitter not a wedge which takes less power .I used an Asian manufactured electric motor with an over rating of 5 HP which in effect was less than 3 HP by amperage draw,240 volt .
That thing was not fast but believe it of not would split 30" oak rounds .If they were really knotty a little help from a chainsaw would help it along .I just used a 250 foot roll of romex and could get it close enough to the source that wasn't a problem .I seriously doubted if is was as much as 10 tons of pressure .Sure was easier than a 5 pound splitting axe .I split a lot of wood with that  thing over a few years time .

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2021, 11:36:47 AM »
Now fast forward a few years and now my homebuilt which is more stoutly made than a Timber Wolf brand with an 11 HP Briggs,16 GPM two stage pump ,5" Parker super duty cylinder . Weighs most likely a half a ton and took me 20 years to amass the parts then 4 days to build .I gave the little tiny electric splitter away .It was free to me so I just payed it forward .So electric or engine driven there's a lot of options .Now a good stout farm boy with a good axe and a Babe Ruth swing can out run an electric but unless they are Superman they can't out last one .Work smarter not harder  ;)

Offline Gere Flewelling

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2021, 04:34:58 PM »
I have used home made hydraulic splitters for many years now.  I went from 16" split length to 48" split length and tried many options like lifting booms for big stuff, hydraulic lifting tables that worked much better, and finally saved up enough to purchase a new manufactured unit.  I researched a lot of manufacturers and at the coaxing of my son went with a Super Split splitter with a 9hp Honda engine.  It has no hydraulics and requires very little maintenance.  It will split all day on a tank of gas.  I have never found any large ash or elm logs that it would not split.  Though I was very skeptical at first, I have been pleasantly surprised at how well this unit works.  I bought the top of the line heavy duty model for around $6,000.00 and the thing has paid for itself in the two years we have used it. 8)  We sell about 50 cords a year and put up 8-10 for myself.  I really wanted a big box type hydraulic splitter but just couldn't afford it.  I have not regrets with the Super Splitter.  I suspect you may not as well if you go that route.  Good luck with your decision. 
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Offline GRANITEstateMP

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2021, 07:24:37 PM »
sauna freak,

if $ is the hard part, would renting a splitter for a weekend work?  I know of 2 local rental co's that rent real decent tow behinds. It'd mean bucking up all your rounds and doing the whole splitting part at once but you'd have no big up front purchase and zero maintenance too!  Something to think on
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2021, 07:56:29 PM »
 

 
I bought my splitter for half price from a rental store that was upgrading his rental units.
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Online barbender

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2021, 12:12:18 AM »
I have the exact same splitter, Magic. It works great, a lot of power but a bit slow. I bought a firewood processor last fall and I haven't started the splitter since😁
Too many irons in the fire

Offline sawguy21

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2021, 10:27:27 AM »
I would never process enough to justify the cost but they sure can move a lot of wood.
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Offline jmur1

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2021, 11:38:26 AM »
So the magic man one looks like it flips down.  I have a similar older model 17 ton champion.  The flip down is a very nice option if you now and again have some giant chunks and no lift table or crane or bucket.  I am just now putting together parts for a box design with all the other amenities of the bigger splitters.  I seriously doubt if I will ever get rid of the 17 ton machine.  It is so simple and light and easy to use - it would not be worth it to let it go.  Same comment on the power  - 17 tonnes acting on the small wedge drives it through any wood I have put on it.

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Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2021, 12:00:59 PM »
My home build is a tip up  .The danged thing using a 10" wide flange piling beam at around 70 pounds per foot and a 5" heavy duty industrial cylinder and a 2" thick toe plate it got too heavy for me to lift .I'm rather creative though and cobbled up a deal to use the hydraulics to tip it up and a boat winch to lay it flat .There was day I could lay it both ways but those days are in the past . If you can't cut the mustard any more get a bigger hammer they say or a longer wrench depending .BTW the Briggs engine is electric start because a large bore single cylinder engine  is a tad too much to rope start unless you are built like a gorilla .

Offline WI Fire

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Re: Homeowner wood splitter?
« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2021, 10:27:26 PM »
For most of my 46 years I've split all my firewood with an axe or maul of sorts.  Presently a Fiskars firewood axemaul, which works amazingly well on decent wood.  Problem, is, next year I'll be 47, and I don't see that number decreasing any time in the future.  Compounded to that problem, most of my wood isn't decent anymore.  My good, managed, Northern Hardwoods woodlot where I could cut anything dead, down or marked for cull is now a cul-de-sac infested subdivision, and other good woodlots have so far evaded me.  Gone are the days of high grading maple, red elm, small rounds of American elm and red oak for the house stove, and leaving the ugly gnarly logs and box elder for the fire pit or syrup boiler.  The ugly, gnarly, open grown logs are now my bread and butter as that's mostly what I can find for free.  Lots of Burr oak also.  Great firewood, but no fun with an axemaul.

I've decided to contemplate a splitter.  I'm not producing commercial firewood or burning a huge volume in a leaky old barrel stove, so I don't need a high production unit.  Anything priced very high would defeat the purpose of burning wood (cheap heat), so I'm looking at the electric models.  Wondering how effective they are at splitting some uglier wood.  Do they do it decently, or are they just for decent wood I'd be better off splitting with the axemaul?  The really nasty logs I'll probably still chunk with the chainsaw for boiler fuel, but it would be nice to be able to split the "5 whack" logs without having to take 5 whacks.  What am I looking at in terms of splitting force, usually measured in tons or pounds from what I've seen, to effectively split a semi-gnarly log of box elder for example?  Speed and production really aren't a concern, just looking to tackle some of the uglier wood in the pile without wearing out my back/shoulders.
What a great poetic description regarding the easy availability of the past wood lot. I split by hand trying every maul that was out there for better than 30 years. My shoulder, elbow and wrist joints began reflecting the concussion required for the ever tougher splits. 
Probably somewhere in the mid 2000's, I started investigating wood splitters. I ended up with a Canadian product, the "Split-Fyre", horizontal, towable, with bi-directional splitting, (faster and you can free up 'stuck' wood easily), a cylinder boxed below the two way wedge in a H-beam that stabilizes the travel and prevents wobble, and a small Honda engine. I also added the optional hydraulic lift, that also functions as a wood table.
I have never looked back with regrets. It's been totally reliable, and starts easily. It's not inexpensive in the market today. I do believe that Central Boiler sells the same product in a bright yellow versus red color, perhaps with easier availability. With care, this splitter will be operational long after I am. Hope this helps. I have grandsons who have appreciated the time we have spent together splitting and stacking wood.


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