Splitter Advice

JSeery

Feeling the Heat
Feb 12, 2015
253
Irvington, NY
I'm hoping to get everyone's advice on a log splitter. Right now, I'm splitting everything by hand. I've got the Fiskars X27 and I enjoy splitting. I'm relatively young and my back is in decent shape. I've also got a sledge and wedge for the really tough stuff. If a piece is really stubborn, there's always the chainsaw or the firepit. Last winter was my first heating with wood, and I went through about 3.5 cords so I didn't think I really needed to buy a splitter. I'm working my way through a truck load of ash and black birch rounds, but there's a big standing dead red oak on my property I've got my eye on for the future.

I also have a lot of other projects I should be tackling around the house, and I'm starting to question the amount of time I spend splitting. I was thinking if I bought a splitter, I would go with a Timberwolf TW-P1 as that seems like the best out there, and I could get lots done with the 4 way wedge. But then I saw the Super Split/DR Rapidfire, and I was thinking that might be even faster. I also think that's a simpler design and might require less maintenance.

But then I started to notice that a lot of the long time burners on this forum have just a 5 ton splitter (in their signature block anyway). Obviously, that's more attractive from a price and storage point of view and I generally try to avoid buying too much tool for the job. Since those sit low on the ground, I can also see them being easier to work with as you don't have to lift the rounds far to get them on the splitter.

I suppose my question is whether a smaller 5 ton splitter will make my life much easier if I already feel pretty confident using the fiskars. Will it really help with the gnarly pieces? If not, should I just buy one of the bigger splitters I mentioned above to get things done quick and handle anything I throw at them?

I welcome any thoughts.
 

Jags

Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
18,093
Northern IL
Thoughts...
Neither type of splitter (kinetic or hydraulic) requires much beyond typical engine maintenance.
The 5 ton splitters are slow. They just are. I own one for resizing stuff or splitting kindling inside the wood shed.
The Timberwolf machines are known to be tough. In the same price range you have Iron and Oak which offers a fast cycle version of some splitters. Take a look.
The owners of the original Super Split(ers) build shrines around them.

There are a small handful of 20 ton machines on the market that do a fine job. Use the search function here to find hours worth of reading on them.
 
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JRitz187

Member
Oct 23, 2014
43
New Hampshire
My 2 cents...
I am only a weekend burner but picked up a 5 ton Harbor Freight electric splitter last year and have been very impressed with it so far. Of course I buy most of my wood split and use it to resize the larger chunks but have also scrounged and split some 24"+ rounds with it no problem. Although they wernt super gnarly uglies. As said above its slow but it also doesn't have to go back to 0 to pull the lever again, I've gotten pretty good with it and it's only a few hundo with the 20 or 25% off coupon which are easy to come by. At the very least it's super nice to have on the porch when I need to re-split something in the winter or get some quick kindling. Up to what you think you need, but not a bad way to get into the powered splitting world without dropping a ton of cash. If it's not enough for ya you could always save up through this season and get a larger one next spring and have the little 5 ton for kindling.

http://www.harborfreight.com/5-ton-log-splitter-61373.html
 

JSeery

Feeling the Heat
Feb 12, 2015
253
Irvington, NY
Thoughts...
Neither type of splitter (kinetic or hydraulic) requires much beyond typical engine maintenance.
The 5 ton splitters are slow. They just are. I own one for resizing stuff or splitting kindling inside the wood shed.
The Timberwolf machines are known to be tough. In the same price range you have Iron and Oak which offers a fast cycle version of some splitters. Take a look.
The owners of the original Super Split(ers) build shrines around them.

There are a small handful of 20 ton machines on the market that do a fine job. Use the search function here to find hours worth of reading on them.
Thanks very much. I hadn't heard of the Iron and Oak fast cycle and will check those out.
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
4,642
07462
I own a I&O 20 ton FS model with Honda motor. I love the machine hands down. The cycle time from cradle to cradle is around 7 seconds, I haven't had a piece yet that I couldn't split. I only have (2) gripes about the splitter.
1. the log cradles are horrible, there design causes the mounts to get caught on some large logs which over time causes the mounts to bend.
2. is when the splitter is in vertical mode there is to much play between the locking pin & beam, overtime this will cause the beam to start bending due to the beam constantly walking.
Other than that its a solid machine, I will own this splitter probably for the next 20 years or so.

Before you go and spend $2,500 on a band new one, it might be a good idea to rent one for the weekend, you can see howit operates, plus go through all the wood and have time to wrap up other projects before winter sets in. I'm 30 yrs old and in pretty good shape, I can easily split 6 cords a day using my splitter.
 
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Babaganoosh

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2014
713
NJ
3.5 cords in my opinion means you don't have to go nuts speed wise. Especially if you are working by yourself. I've got a 27 ton dirty hand tools and I really like it. You can probably save a little cash and get the 22 and it picks up a little speed wise. I've got mine with a work table which helps tremendously. Mine does vertical which is nice for popping any big rounds in half that you can't lift. I have used my buddies iron and oak which has a fixed wedge and no vertical option and I liked that one too. Can't say I have a preference on wedge on ram or fixed wedge. He has to use a sledge and a wedge to bust the big rounds so he can lift them onto the splitter. Just something to think about.

I also have a 5 ton electric that I use inside to fine tune the splits. I also use it outside occasionally when I come across a small scrounge and don't feel like breaking out the big splitter. The only thing I really don't like is that you need two hands to operate it (safety thing) but if you Google it there are some work arounds.

I say go with a 22 ton and enjoy your time splitting. You will split 3.5 cords a lot faster than you think.
 
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ccmac

Burning Hunk
Jan 1, 2014
200
Indiana
I have a 20 ton Brave model splitter (same company as Iron and Oaks). The quality of their build is very good. Personally I would not even consider a 5 ton electric unit. Just buy one splitter with enough power to do it all. The ones with a Honda motor would be what I'd get if possible. Mine has a Briggs which has been good to me but when it dies I'll replace it with a Honda. The Timberwolf you mention is a serious machine and will hold it's value real well. good luck and enjoy!
 

TreePointer

Minister of Fire
Sep 22, 2010
3,086
PA
If I were buying a new splitter today, I'd consider the following:

* Value splitter for anyone: DHT 22-ton (10.9s cycle time, $999 @Lowes)

* Good value with more tonnage: DHT 28-ton (10.5s cycle time)

* Speed for vertical/horizontal operation: I&O Fast Cycle

* Fastest speed with option for quiet electric operation: Super Split (the only maker who has a good track record for flywheel/kinetic models)

* Need a log lift? Timberwolf, American CLS (made in upstate NY), I&O

I'm on my 7th year with a Huskee 35-ton model (15s), producing 3-6 cords/year. I've been pleased, but if I were in the market for one today, I'd seriously consider a Super Split for the speed, or a DHT 22- or 28-ton splitter to save some $$ while getting decent speed for an hydraulic machine.
 
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jeffesonm

Minister of Fire
May 29, 2012
862
central NJ
I will counter everyone else and say keep splitting by hand!

I have probably 15-20 cords split in the last three years, all with the Fiskars. I am careful when I buck up trees to get the most straight parts and the least knots/crotches. Those I skip and stack separately, whole, in rounds. After three years I probably have 1-2 cords of uglies. I just got my hands on a splitter, and for straight grained stuff like ash, oak, etc, the splitter is definitely slower than by hand.

Get yourself a tire and the biggest round you can find as a base and then go to town with the Fiskars. Rent a splitter for the weekend maybe once every year or two and cleanup the uglies.
 

JSeery

Feeling the Heat
Feb 12, 2015
253
Irvington, NY
If I were buying a new splitter today, I'd consider the following:

* Value splitter for anyone: DHT 22-ton (10.9s cycle time, $999 @Lowes)

* Good value with more tonnage: DHT 28-ton (10.5s cycle time)

* Speed for vertical/horizontal operation: I&O Fast Cycle

* Fastest speed with option for quiet electric operation: Super Split (the only maker who has a good track record for flywheel/kinetic models)

* Need a log lift? Timberwolf, American CLS (made in upstate NY), I&O

I'm on my 7th year with a Huskee 35-ton model (15s), producing 3-6 cords/year. I've been pleased, but if I were in the market for one today, I'd seriously consider a Super Split for the speed, or a DHT 22- or 28-ton splitter to save some $$ while getting decent speed for an hydraulic machine.
This is very helpful. Thanks again.
 

JSeery

Feeling the Heat
Feb 12, 2015
253
Irvington, NY
I will counter everyone else and say keep splitting by hand!

I have probably 15-20 cords split in the last three years, all with the Fiskars. I am careful when I buck up trees to get the most straight parts and the least knots/crotches. Those I skip and stack separately, whole, in rounds. After three years I probably have 1-2 cords of uglies. I just got my hands on a splitter, and for straight grained stuff like ash, oak, etc, the splitter is definitely slower than by hand.

Get yourself a tire and the biggest round you can find as a base and then go to town with the Fiskars. Rent a splitter for the weekend maybe once every year or two and cleanup the uglies.
I like this approach. Definitely the lightest on my wallet, and leaves me the fun of splitting by hand. I might take this approach and, in the meantime, monitor craigslist with the knowledge I've picked up in this thread and only buy something if it looks like a great deal.
 

homebrewz

Minister of Fire
Nov 29, 2005
1,052
East Central, NY
I recently bought a used Harbor Freight electric splitter on craigslist. While I generally avoid their products, the previous owner used it little and took good care of it. I went with this because I mostly work from my own wood lot, and most of what I cut is in the 10" to 20" diameter range. I also have access to a 22-ton splitter, so anything the little splitter can't handle will go into a pile for later. I still enjoy splitting by hand, but am getting concerned about repetitive motion injuries. I use the splitter on the tailgate of the truck as the I pull the rounds out of the back.

While I've only run a face cord through it, I think it will handle most straight-grained pieces up to about 20" in diameter. It would not expect it to handle the oak on your property, but the branches would probably split OK.
 

Oldman47

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2015
1,011
Central Illinois
I like this approach. Definitely the lightest on my wallet, and leaves me the fun of splitting by hand. I might take this approach and, in the meantime, monitor craigslist with the knowledge I've picked up in this thread and only buy something if it looks like a great deal.
Even the uglies can be processed by hand. Noodle through the trouble area and come back with the Fiskars to do the rest of the work. I recently had a nasty crotch come along on a new round. This is the result that can be easily split.
 
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xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,040
Lackawaxen PA
If you plan to continue burning at 3.5 cords a year, I think you will need a splitter, eventually. Assuming your not going to buy spits. I split buy hand for 4 years, before buying a used MTD 20 ton for $500. It's a perfect size that most of us have. I say I could split by hand as fast as my splitter, but my body loves the splitter. I never had one of those electric 5 ton, so I can't comment.

So if money is not a big issue, I would invest in a full size hydro splitter, and skip the small electric.

Just make sure it splits vertical.
 

claydogg84

Minister of Fire
Sep 9, 2013
1,792
Salt Point, NY
Buy a Tractor Supply 22 ton and be done with it. They were Husky splitters, but I think they've changed the name. I started splitting by hand but simply have too much other stuff to do around the house. The splitter will cost you $1,100 or so and can easily be sold down the road for $600 - $700 on Craigslist.
 
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Isaac Carlson

Feeling the Heat
Nov 19, 2012
284
It isn't always about time or tonnage. I built a 15 ton splitter a few years ago and I have yet to find a piece it won't split. It uses a sharp wedge that is more like a good axe head and it cuts the rounds in half. The stroke is 24 inches, but I cut most of my wood to 16-18 inches. Cycle time for a full stroke out and back is about 12 seconds. For a 16 inch round it is much less. It takes 3 people to keep it fed, running, and get the wood out of the way fast enough. I had some friends over yesterday to help split and I found them putting rounds in sideways to be split. The splitter kicked down and cut them in half. I asked them not to do it again because it generates too much heat. That oil got hot quick. I plan on changing a few things on the splitter this winter if I get the time and cash.
 

Dmitry

Minister of Fire
Oct 4, 2014
837
CT
Similar situation to yours. I got 22 ton county line from tractor supply. Splits everything you throw at it . The have $100 discount for black Friday, usually. You can put optional cradle on it, helps tremendously keeping halfs from falling etc.
 

D8Chumley

Minister of Fire
Jun 25, 2013
1,808
Collegeville PA
I got my Troy Bilt 27 ton only because the 22 ton Huskee didn't come with a Honda engine. I wanted a used one but they aren't plentiful, and when you find one on CL it's sometimes beat and they still want a lot. I got mine with 18 months 0% financing at Lowes and never looked back
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,404
WI, Leroy
If you wish to avoid a gas engine, Ram Splitter ( made in Rockford Il)( I have no association with them) makes 3 residential electric units- far superior to any of the 4-7 ton electrics advertised , as all these originate in chicom territory. Their model range is 16, 20, 26 ton. these are full size splitters horz/vert or horz only.

I have a 4 ton electric HF at least 15 years old- a 12" round of beech it will not split - lacks the oomph. I use it mostly for resizing when I do not need to load for all day burns. Most of the little electrics require 2 hands to run and have you groveling on your knees.
There is another company with a 8t and 10ton electrics , can't remember the name ( again these are chicom units) ( advantage is single hand use)
In my estimation ( and I process any where from 10-20 cords or more in a year) 15 ton is about as low as I would go for universal use. Not all of us get perfect straight grained rounds my own large splitter is around 30 ton. Started off as a HF unit but has been Frankenstein-ed since its original purchase some 15 years ago.
Little electrics with a problem down the road- unknown area for me- conventional size splitter any make is a very simple open hydro circuit with many avenues of repair should something fail- not always necessary to go back to oem. Fact is most of the common splitters from the box stores are likely mostly sourced out of chicom territory regardless of brand name- Just the nature of things in todays world.
A note on split both ways type units- some are a screw feed system for the wedge and not hydro.
In reality a week end rental or 2 of a splitter could get your 3-4 cords split with out the large capitol outlay, Another option which might exist in your area is Craig's list- in my area there are a couple ads for have splitter will travel types.
 

Joey

Feeling the Heat
Buy a Tractor Supply 22 ton and be done with it. They were Husky splitters, but I think they've changed the name. I started splitting by hand but simply have too much other stuff to do around the house. The splitter will cost you $1,100 or so and can easily be sold down the road for $600 - $700 on Craigslist.
My feelings exactly.....good luck!!
 

schwaggly

Member
Sep 23, 2009
181
n.shore ma
I just pulled the trigger on a 28 ton country line/speeco with a 190cc Honda engine. I got a 4 way wedge all for under $1500. When I got home the air filter was gone at 40mph top speed. Called store and got a new one free but a pain. Reviews to follow.
Splitter itself is on sale at $1399 from $1499. The 22 ton at $999 looks good but might not push 4way that's why I spent the extra $$. IMG_20150829_142137784.jpg
 

CrufflerJJ

Burning Hunk
Jan 21, 2015
165
Ohio
Enjoy!
 

JSeery

Feeling the Heat
Feb 12, 2015
253
Irvington, NY
I just pulled the trigger on a 28 ton country line/speeco with a 190cc Honda engine. I got a 4 way wedge all for under $1500. When I got home the air filter was gone at 40mph top speed. Called store and got a new one free but a pain. Reviews to follow.
Splitter itself is on sale at $1399 from $1499. The 22 ton at $999 looks good but might not push 4way that's why I spent the extra $$. View attachment 160992
Nice. I didn't know TSC carried splitters with honda engines. I go for honda engines whenever possible, which is why I was considering the timberwolf. When I asked TSC whether they carried splitters with honda engines the sales rep said they didn't. The website also indicates the 190cc engine is a Kohler. And yet you were able to find one. I guess I'll try again in the hopes of finding a different salesperson. That price is very attractive for a honda powered 4 way wedge.
 

schwaggly

Member
Sep 23, 2009
181
n.shore ma
The TSC splitter 28 ton comes has come with the Honda engine for a while now. The website and some uninformed associates list it as a Kohler. The Honda 190cc engine is a low grade motor with out a cast iron sleeve. I have used a $99 HF 212cc Predator motor and I honestly believe that would be an upgrade. The Honda has no fuel cutoff, speed adjustment and the choke is a wire with 3/4" throw.
I split for a couple of hours and I am unimpressed. The first problem was the air filter and housing blew off at 35 mph on my way home from store. The second issue was it wouldn't start and needed a new plug. If I were to start over I would get the 22ton for $999 and forget about the goofy 4-way wedge. The 4way only worked on straight 12-14 inch rounds, I could split those on my 7 year old electric.

I would get the 22ton at TSC for $999 and wait for engine to die and get the $99 HF 212cc Predator motor/