If you cut your own wood for your wood-burning fireplace, a gas-powered log splitter can make your life much easier. You know how much sweat and effort is required to split the sections of logs, called rounds, into small pieces suitable for burning. Even the softest of woods can require several swings of a heavy ax to make a single split. Hard, knotty woods are even worse. If you’re tired of all that work, a gas-powered log splitter may be just what you need.
Gas-powered log splitters are machines designed to quickly split rounds using a hydraulic mechanism. The round is placed on the splitting platform, with one end against the foot of the hydraulic mechanism. When the mechanism is engaged, it pushes the round into a wedge or blade positioned at the opposite end of the round. As the round is pushed, the wedge enters the round and eventually forced it into two halves. After the round has been fully split in two, the hydraulic mechanism is retracted. The halves are then further split into smaller pieces using the same procedure. In most cases, this process greatly improves splitting time and is far less physically demanding than the swinging of an ax.
Typically, a log splitter is rated according to the force its hydraulic mechanism can provide. In most cases, gas-powered log splitters begin at about 10 tons of force and range to over 30 tons for heavy-duty commercial models. For home use, 16-ton models typically supply plenty of force to easily split hard, knotty rounds. Very large trees dealt with in commercial situations will require larger machines. Most gas-powered log splitters are set on wheels, though they are usually rated only for off-road use when towed behind an ATV or tractor.
When shopping for a gas-powered log splitter, consider how high the splitting platform is off of the ground. You will have to lift the rounds onto the platform to do your work. If you intend to split very heavy rounds, look for a log splitter that can be configured for both horizontal and vertical splitting. When such a splitter is converted to vertical use, you don’t have to lift the round off the ground. You just need to roll the round close to the machine and tip it into place.