1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Wood Splitter Advice

Post in 'The Gear' started by reaperman, Sep 30, 2007.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. reaperman

    reaperman Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Messages:
    168
    Loc:
    Central Minn
    Ok, I've been delaying the inevitable for a few years now, its time to buy a splitter. I'm sick of renting, just feel too rushed get it all done at once. And my back will be much happier if I split at my leisure. There aren't too many options in my area for splitters to purchase. I have Home Depot, and Menards, which both carry the identical splitter. Which doesnt appeal to me at all. I do have a Northern Tool store which is new in town. And the local chainsaw dealer who sells Timberwolf splitters. I've looked at the Timberwolf, and they do look like a great unit, but 2k, is a bit spendy. Northern tool does seem to have some nice units which are more reasonably priced than the timberwolf. And some of the units have a higher tonnage rating than the timberwolf for less $$. And the Northern 20 ton is a thousand less. I really dont split that much wood each season. Somewhere around 6 cords or so. Is there such a thing as overkill in a splitter. The one I rent locally has a 5hp briggs, 2 stage pump, and seems to work fine. I keep asking the shop owner to sell it to me, but he said he has rented that unit out for at least 15 years now and has no reason to upgrade to a new rental unit. Cant blame him, either. I know the honda gx engines are very dependable and used in all aspects of construction work. But if I'm only using it for 6 cords/year, an engine like that particular model may not be necessary. My woods is primarly red oak, and ash, which both split pretty well. Looking for input, please. Thanks.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    what about a 16 ton electric splitter, no noise, no fumes, no engine repairs, switch it on and off. it will handle 6 cords a year easily
  3. Rich M

    Rich M New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Messages:
    159
    Loc:
    NW Lower Michigan
    The Northern Tool splitters have a very good reputation, I would go that route for sure. 20 tons should be plenty for your type and quantity of wood. I don't recommend spending the extra for higher ton rating. The big 37 ton units with 9hp motors are more commericial grade, and the 27 ton units are usually under powered and slower. I've got a 22 ton Huskee with a 6.5hp and 11gpm pump and it splits everything I throw at it (mostly white oak) without ever bogging down. Cycle time is 14 seconds which is a fast enough pace for me. If you ever deal with large rounds the vertical/horizontal option is a great feature.

    I finally retired my maul this season and boy has it been nice.
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,815
    Loc:
    Michigan
    In your area there should be a Tractor Supply Store and they sell splitters too. We got ours at Quality Farm & Fleet, which was bought out by Tractor Supply...but they were the same things anyway.

    Number one in a splitter that I would recommend is to get one that you can stand vertical. Using a splitter and still lifting those blocks up onto the splitter never made a lick of sense to me. Get a 20 ton that you can stand and then you just roll the blocks onto the splitter...no lifting.

    5hp is plenty to run this type of splitter. Ours has a Briggs & Stratton. Our neighbor bought one with the Honda. Both have been trouble free. The only thing I don't like with the newer ones that have no throttle control, but you could put one on easy enough.
  5. budman

    budman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Messages:
    617
    Loc:
    Valley Cottage,NY
    Reaperman'I own a mtd from hd and split 6 cords a year i am now going on the fourth year
    and have not had one problem with it.So far i split 19 cords with it.
  6. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,022
    Loc:
    Waterford, WI
    I went the Northern Tool route and bought a North Star from them. It's a 20 ton with a Honda engine and I love it. It has ran flawlessly and handled everything I've thrown through it.

    I would say that any well built splitter in the 20 ton range with about a 5hp motor should take care of your needs very well and last a good long time. There are a lot of subtle differences between the different brands of splitters, but they are all built around the same basic design. I would agree that the ability to split horizontally and vertically is very important. I also liked the fact that the wedge on mine wraps around the I-beam, rather than riding in a channel mounted to the top of the beam. That channel just looked like a good spot to get clogged up with all sorts of debris. The unit I bought also has a cradle on either side of the beam to keep the logs from rolling off and to help hold them when split. I would also say that auto return is a must, but most of the splitters I looked at had this feature.

    One thing that I don't like about the North Star is that mine doesn't have a hydraulic fluid filter. That's not a tough thing to add though; it just keeps sliding down the list of things to do.
  7. budman

    budman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Messages:
    617
    Loc:
    Valley Cottage,NY
    MrGriz i would have bought one from NT but i do not have a store any where near and they
    kill you with shipping. :ahhh:
  8. Rich M

    Rich M New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Messages:
    159
    Loc:
    NW Lower Michigan
    Same here.
  9. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Messages:
    1,022
    Loc:
    Waterford, WI
    I'm not shilling for Northern Tool, just reporting on my experience with their product. In the end, there were only a few slight differences that pushed me to go that route; and the fact that I was sick and tired of looking at splitters and just wanted to get out and start splitting some wood.

    When you look at the mechanics of a log splitter, they are all basically the same; motor, pump, valve, ram, wedge, beam etc... As long as the basic components are of good qulaity, the rest is almost asthetics. Some have controls in a bit easier to reach place or offer a few extra bells and whistles. Unless you're making a living out of splitting wood, any 20 ton ish, about 5hp splitter; put together out of decent quality components should do just fine.

    FWIW, if there wasn't a Northern Tool close by, I would not have paid the shipping for their equipment.
  10. carbon neutral

    carbon neutral Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    Messages:
    304
    Loc:
    S.E. Connecticut
    Hi, I also broke down and bought a wood splitter. I looked at several different units and found that Harbor freight actually carried a nice wood splitter. I know harbor freight isn't known for the best quality tools but I am happy with the unit I bought. It has a subaru (robin) 6hp engine, a barnes hydraulic pump, and has a 22 ton ram. The I-beam is very heavy duty and over all the unit is as well made as any other that I have seen or used in the past. I paid $860 for it 2 years ago and shipping was free. To date I have had no trouble with it and would definately purchase it again. Hope this helps. Dave
  11. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    29,142
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Yeah that is something Harbor just started this year. They will ship splitters you order to the local store on the truck with stock orders so you don't have to pay shipping for it.
  12. carbon neutral

    carbon neutral Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    Messages:
    304
    Loc:
    S.E. Connecticut
    I don't know about shipping to the store, when I ordered they sent the splitter to my house. Perhaps it varies with region or the higher cost of fuel forced Harbor Freight to cut back on a relatively generous shipping policy. I did want to add that mine is also horizontal/vertical and would highly recomend this feature with any unit someone may buy. I rarely use it in the vertical because the wood I split isn't that big in diameter, however because the splitting wedge is on the ram as opposed to the I-beam I only have to lift the log section onto the I beam once. I then splt the log in half the one half drops off the side and then I split the other half as many times as needed to get the size I want. Pick up the first half that fell off and repeat. With the wedge on the I-beam the wood gets pushed off the end each time and would need to be picked up with each split. My back aches enough from splitting wood so the fewer times I have to bend over the better.
  13. Rich M

    Rich M New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2006
    Messages:
    159
    Loc:
    NW Lower Michigan
    Mine has a vertical shaft motor, one of the reasons it's only $1000. This puts the pump and filter below the motor and at greater risk during towing. For the price I can live with it but it's more than aesthetic.

    I liked the Northern Tools splitters for, among other things, the 4 way splitter option.

    I chose mine based on:

    1) price (mine had been used as a demo for about 10 pieces of wood - 10% discount = $900 + tax)
    2) locally available (50 miles, I brought it home on a trailer - no way would I tow the splitter that distance)
    3) parts availability/brand reputation (Huskee is made by Speeco, they have good customer service)

    You are absolutely right that any 20(+) ton splitter will do the job regardless of brand. The 4 mentioned in this thread all have happy owners.
  14. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    check out "The Gear" section of Hearth.com, there is some good information in the reviews for splitters (including the Harbor Freight)
  15. budman

    budman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Messages:
    617
    Loc:
    Valley Cottage,NY
    I always put mine in the vertical and sit on a round while i split and keep other round
    to the right of me for the beer can. :roll:
  16. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    29,142
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Yep, no better feeling in the world than having to stand up and split the "stool" because it is the last one.
  17. budman

    budman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Messages:
    617
    Loc:
    Valley Cottage,NY
    Hit the nail on the head did ya. :lol:By the way BB i know where you gots that avtar from
    it starts with arb. :mad:
  18. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    The thread seemed more appropriate to "The Gear" so I've moved it over. While I was att it, I fixed the title spelling.

    Gooserider
  19. bjorn773

    bjorn773 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2007
    Messages:
    233
    Loc:
    Rockford, Illinois
    I have to agree with those recommending the vertical option. I personally have only used mine horizontal once. I can't see the logic in lifting every piece up there. Most of my stash this year came from a 35 inch oak, so lifting was not an option. I have a 25 ton Speeco, 9 hp briggs motor and have not stopped it yet. I have however bent the base that is welded to the I beam (1 1/2" plate steel). Now that's a testament to the power of hydraulics. The 9hp is probably overkill, but may also be why I've not been able to stall it with anything I've thrown at it.
  20. computeruser

    computeruser Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2007
    Messages:
    343
    Loc:
    East Lansing, MI
    With a Northern Tool store nearby, I think that your decision on where to buy will be a simple one.

    I upgraded to a splitter this year, after a couple years of splitting by hand. In the past year I was getting too many gnarly, knotty pieces of hickory, maple, and whatnot, that splitting by hand was tedious and stopped being fun. I wanted to find a splitter that was light and small enough to fit in my small garage and to single-handedly load into my trailer. And I wanted a horizontal-only unit.

    In the end I went with a Timberwolf TW-P1, with a 4-way wedge. If y'all knew what I paid, you'd probably have a heart attack and some serious jealousy; suffice it to say, I got an incredible deal. I would have had a harder time justifying an entry-level Timberwolf at $1800-2000, and would have given serious consideration to the merits of either going with one of their larger/faster models, or going with a Northern Tool or Speeco/TSC machine.

    I think that the decision to go horizontal or horizontal-vertical will depend in large measure on three factors: what you're splitting (species, size), whether you work alone, and whether you intend to break huge chunks apart with your saw first. I split whatever I get, from 8" cherry and ash up to 70" oak. I have the ability to rip blocks into manageable chunks and often split with friends, so most everything can be broken down to pieces liftable by one or two people. For me, the horizontal choice was the best one.

    Another consideration with the horizontal models is the ability to run a 4-way wedge. I am SO pleased with the 4-way that I have on my splitter, especially for smaller logs. I split most of my wood smaller than most of y'all, since I burn in fireplaces and firepits, and split for family and friends who do the same. The ability to split a 12" log into quarters in one pass is a great thing for my splitting activities; it would take two or three passes with a regular wedge setup. The scale of efficiency that comes from the ability to run a 4-way more than makes up for the lifting of the logs, in my opinion.

    Yet another point to consider is the quantity of wood you'll be splitting per session, and what you plan to do with it as it falls off the splitter. The horizontal-only splitter piles the wood beyond the splitter operator's work area, and when the pile gets too big the logs being split either push the top of the pile away to make more room, or they push the splitter away from the pile. Either way, it is possible to split all day without having to dig out of a pile of split wood, or to have logs falling on or popping in the direction of the operator. Again, you may or may not see this as a virtue, but it is worth mentioning anyway.

    Lastly, tonnage: 20 tons will split darned-near anything you care to split, and this is usually what a 4" cylinder is marketed as being capable of producing (calculated at 3000psi, which few splitters operate at anyway). Paired with a 11gpm or 16gpm pump, you'll have 13 or 9second cycle times, respectively. A larger cylinder will require a substantially larger pump (22, 28gpm) and larger engine (11hp, 15hp+) to produce workable cycle times. The idea of a 20second cycle time seems crazy to me, but that is what some of these massive tonnage budget splitters are going to give you.

    Anyway, I just wanted to share a couple thoughts on the virtues of the horizontal-only splitter, since it seems to be an underappreciated tool in this thread!!
  21. reaperman

    reaperman Member

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2006
    Messages:
    168
    Loc:
    Central Minn
    I appreciate all of the input. I havent decided which one I want yet, but I do like one of the Northern Tool splitters in particular. Its the 30 ton unit, with the honda 5.5 GX. I will still check with the local chainsaw dealer with the Timberwolf and see if he will budge on his price. I have purchased many items from him in the past. Including my current wood furnace, chimney, a few weed eaters, leaf blowers, lawnmower,etc.

    The vertical option is definately a plus, but a horizontal unit isnt out of the question. The unit I have been renting is horizontal only. I have found it easy to take the bucket of my Bobcat and place it flush with the bottom of the ram/splitter, on the opposite side of the wood splitter as the operator. When the log splits, one half just falls into the bobcat bucket instead of falling on the ground. This way I dont have to bend over to pick them up and I just put all splits into the bucket until its full and dump-er out on a pile.

    I figure the price on the NH splitter is $1500, plus tax another $100, 8-9 gallons of hydro fluid, I'm getting close to a Timberwolf. I'll keep you posted.
  22. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    Messages:
    6,737
    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Just as a side note, I wasn't able to do it consistently, but I was frequently doing 2-4 way splits with my friends splitter in vertical mode. I would be splitting slabs off the side of the log to get roughly square chunks, then I would come down once or twice in one direction, but not let the splits fall completely apart, then turn the block 90* and come down again, making 4-6 splits in 2-3 ram cycles.

    That said, I can't see any reason why one wouldn't be able to run a 4 (or more) way wedge on a vertical unit as long as it was strong enough. Given that I was having the occasional gnarly round that made me have to make multiple tries, and / or really strain to get through the log with a single wedge, I'm not sure a 4-way would really give that much of a big productivity boost, but I guess that depends on what you are splitting. The gnarly oak that I was doing it definitely would have been a mixed bag.

    My method of operating was to set up the splitter vertically as close to the left side of my log area as possible (I wouldn't call it a pile, as most of the logs were just laying on the ground where they fell while being cut, or I had shoved them to get them out of the way) I would pull a log into the splitter from my right and start working on it. As I got a split the size I liked, I'd lob it as far as I easily could to my left, creating a "finished splits" pile. After a while I'd run out of easily reached logs, so I'd get up and queue up a few by rolling them over to where I could reach them while sitting in front of the splitter.

    After a while my "done" pile would get big enough that it was starting to get close to my working area, and at the same time I'd be starting to have to roll the logs further than I liked in order to queue them up. So I would stop the splitter, and move it over 10 feet or so to the new edge of the log area and repeat... I ended up with about 3-4 moves, not a big deal, and this was while splitting up rounds that were a struggle to even get into position on the vertical splitter while working by myself - I could never have gotten them onto a horizontal unit, and I suspect that an electric would have laughed at them...

    Even if there were multiple people, I still think a vertical unit might be best - have one person sitting in front of the splitter working it, while the others feed him logs and / or take away the finished splits.

    While Computeruser makes some nice points about the setup for doing horizontal, I am still of the opinion that vertical is better for most setups when you don't have extra people or equipment around to help with it... (and I note that there are very few vertical only units - a dual mode unit is probably the best for maximum versatility.

    Gooserider
  23. GeeWizMan

    GeeWizMan Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2006
    Messages:
    93
    Loc:
    Suburbs west of Detroit
    Excellent discussion here everyone. I can't add much except to say that when we bought our log splitter 12 years ago, a Huskee from Tractor Supply, I thought that I would never use the horizontal position and I was wrong. I do use the vertical position more often, but I am glad that I can put it in the horizontal position from time to time. Especially when I have people helping me by bringing me logs to split and taking away the splits. It is nice to have the flexability to go both ways. :cheese:

    George
  24. rbcss

    rbcss New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Messages:
    25
    Loc:
    Windsor, Ct
    I agree with this message there really not much to a splitter. I would go with a veritcal option and a motor that has a throttle you can kick up. my neighbor bought one from Lowes with a stioniary throttle and everytime it hit a log it seem like the engine wants to die and it's extremly SLOW. I have one through Northern for around 20 years and hundreds of cores of wood and never had a problem until this year when the engine finialy blew. I repowered it for less than 200.00 dollars, and 20 minutes of my time. and expecting to split hundereds more.
  25. BurningIsLove

    BurningIsLove New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2006
    Messages:
    353
    Loc:
    Billerica, MA
    We do the same method that Craig mentions (splitting most of the way, then rotating 90 degrees and doing it again) w/ our Harbor Freight splitter. It is definitely powerful enough to support a 4 way wedge, so we're considering a(nother) home-made modification to the splitter to make changing wedges easy. Sometimes when I'm splitting a monster, knotty round it would be nicer to have the standard wedge vs. a 4-way.

    As for vertical vs. horizontal, I did 2 hours vertical, then 2 hours horizontal, then 2 hours vertical. I found my back hurt a lot more running it in horizontal mode as I was constantly stooping to hold the log in place on the beam and going up-down-up-down. Squatting while operating it vertically didnt make it sore. I definitely also like the idea of keeping a round next to me to hold a cold beverage. :)
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page