How Many Tons Do I Need

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Dec 16, 2021
I'm looking to buy my first splitter, and finding conflicting information about how big of a splitter I need. I would very strongly prefer something electric (I've completely managed to avoid small engines around the homestead so far), but only if it will actually split the logs I have. I was looking at the Boss Industrial 7 ton (the 10 ton seems perpetually out-of-stock), and I'm hoping to split primarily oak and hickory, up to about 14" in diameter (though mostly smaller) and no more than 16" in length. The logs are all pretty straight - very few knots or anything in them. I rented a splitter last year that had no trouble, but it was a 22 ton gas version, so I'm not sure that that tells me much. Folks who've used an electric splitter - is this plausible? Is the Boss Industrial a decent option?


Minister of Fire
Dec 22, 2014
Helena MT
I have owned two electric splitters. My first was one like you are showing, with the cylinder enclosed under the beam. This type does not last very long, they start to leak internally and they really can not be fixed. I would highly recommend an electric that has a traditional hydraulic ram above the beam that can be fixed if it starts to leak. This looks to be the best from my research.



Feeling the Heat
Dec 3, 2020
Western MA
That Swisher is a beast.

I bought one last fall and it has laughed at everything I've put through it so far, some of it 2' diameter plus. Really nice to be able to split without earplugs and not having to breathe in exhaust fumes. I really like using it in the vertical position for bigger stuff. This is a very high quality, heavy duty machine.

It's in a different price point than the small electric ones though, so not sure if you are looking to spend that much money, but I figured if I bought a gas splitter I'd pay close to the same amount, so why not spend a little more and get the one I really wanted. Felt good to support American workers too since Swisher makes their equipment right here in the US.



Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
I don’t have experience with the particular 7 ton splitter you are considering, but I have used a 5 ton electric for years. It split most of our wood in Virginia, but it had its limits. With huge red oak rounds, my husband had to split them with a sledge and wedge before the splitter could handle them. (They were also huge enough that we had to split them anyway to move them to our trailer since we were scrounging wood in a nearby neighborhood, and we couldn’t move the rounds otherwise. I think he had to split some of those big quarters even further for our splitter, though.). We split lots of oak with it as well as some hickory, cherry, beech, maple, and pine. I would expect 14 inches in diameter and 16 inches long to be no problem. If something doesn’t want to split all the way at first, we occasionally shift it and find a better spot. Overall, we have been very happy with the relatively small investment we made years ago. It can’t do everything, and it’s not super fast, but it gets the job done within reason, and is nice and quiet. Even some of my children have been able to help operate it.

We now live in Texas and burn most of our wood unsplit because it’s not huge and it seasons very quickly in our heat and storage conditions. Our splitter still works fine, though, and gets put to some occasional use. Recently, however, it quickly hit its limit on Live Oak (the species Quercus Fusiformis). It’s just too dense, and my husband couldn’t even get a start with a sledge and wedge. We don’t have enough Live Oak that large (which isn’t really very large-it’s just the grain) to make it worth a big investment in a more powerful splitter. For those pieces and the awkward knotty cedar stumps we sometimes cut, my husband can noodle the pieces into stove size for us with the chainsaw. That might be an option for you if you occasionally get wood that a small electric splitter can’t handle.

Isaac Carlson

Minister of Fire
Nov 19, 2012
NW Wisconsin
Tonnage is not the name of the game, a sharp slender wedge is. I built my own splitter. It has a 3hp motor on it and an 11 gpm pump.
It makes about 20 tons. I made a slip on 4 way wedge for it and it does very well. I can easily split a cord an hour with it. There are commercially available splitters that are pretty good.

I noodle big rounds to get them down to size.

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Dec 16, 2021
I wound up rolling the dice on a 5 ton Ryobi splitter from the local big box store, on the grounds that if it didn't work for some big rounds I had waiting to be split, I could easily take it back. Fortunately, it's had no trouble with the 14-16" hickory, or any of the other logs I've thrown on there (although I've only done a few dozen logs). It's pretty slow, but not hard to use, so I don't mind the speed, and for $300 I think it'll be worth it even if it's not super long-lived. Probably not a good idea for a commercial seller or someone using 10 cords/yr, but for what I need it for (2 cords/yr) it seems like a good option.
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