Thinking of buying a gas splitter

MainePatsFan

Member
Nov 24, 2007
67
Southern Maine
I have cut up two 80' red oaks into about 60 18-24" diameter rounds and many smaller rounds. I have a splitting maul, wedges, and all that. I have split simple 10-14" rounds of various species in the past, but when I tried my hand at a 22" red oak round, my maul was just bouncing out and I think I actually heard the other rounds laughing. Make no mistake I am an amateur. I spend all week in front of computer monitors, and pretend that I am a farmer/landscaper/lumberjack/handyman for two days on the weekend. So I am thinking of buying a $1000 gas splitter for two reasons. The work required in just cutting up two red oaks with a chainsaw is about my limit. I have to try to get everything related to my homestead done in just two days over the weekend. I realize that even using a gas splitter is work and will take some time, but I think it is really the only option if I want to cut and split my own firewood. I live on 3 acres of woodland, but surrounded by 100 acres of conservation woodland of which I have been allowed to harvest certain trees most of which are red oaks all about 70-100 years old.

So I think it will be a good purchase, but a part of me feels like I should be able to split this stuff by hand, and feel like I am giving up too easily. But I turned 50 this year and will admit that it takes me longer to recover from a full day of manual labor around my property, than it did 20 years ago.

So I ask all of you seasoned woodsmen, is a gas splitter a good purchase if you want to cut your own firewood every season and your time is short and your body is aging?
 
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Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
1,834
Marshall NC
I split all my wood by hand and I burn lots of wood. I am 69 years old. I have a Fiskars and one of these splitting wedges.


Get a ten pound hammer and you can bust up just about any oak drum. If the Fiskars won't get it the Wood Grenade will.
 
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JimBear

Minister of Fire
Dec 15, 2017
546
Iowa
You may be able to rent one for a weekend for the short term & wait on the one you want to go on sale or give you time to shop around. Several folks have said that Black Friday is a good time to purchase one. BUT given its 2020 it is hard to tell what’s going to happen...
 

Grizzerbear

Minister of Fire
Feb 12, 2019
815
SW Missoura
I enjoy hand splitting. It is a good clear your mind stress relieving exercise for me. That being said their are times when a hydraulic splitter is warranted. They are a lot faster most of the time and at 32 years old there are times when I even want a break. I also refuse to use wedges. That's what a hydraulic splitter is for to me. No reason to feel guilty. Get one bud....you will be glad you did.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,113
Palmyra, WI
For 10yrs I hand split most, and rented a splitter for the leftovers that I couldn't do by hand. Try splitting when the rounds are frozen, sometimes that makes a big difference. Now I have a splitter. It's easier to get lazy midwinter when I could be out swinging an axe. But I was done with it. The satisfaction wasn't there. Plus an unrelated shoulder injury made it impossible for quite a while. Splitting a years supply by hand takes a lot of time. With a splitter, rented and really moving and focused, 2.5 cord in 3.5hrs plus 1/2 hr to run the thing back to the store. Now, I diddle around, split for a couple hours, stack some, put it all away. Far easier than trying to make a rental pay.
 
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WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
Since your getting free red oak, one of the best woods to burn but it can take up to 3 years to properly dry I’d say spending on a nice splitter is justified. I bought my first and then my current splitter both on Black Friday sales at Menards and they always have them on sale then but you might not have one near you. a 22 ton splitter will split most everything you can put on it except maybe some big elm but you can move it around and split it in the edges- maybe, it just takes a bit longer. If you will be splitting in the cold put auto transmission fluid in it. Try to use non-oxygenated gas in it too unless your burning up tank after tank. But when your ready to let it sit put the good gas in it and turn the gas valve off and let it run out of gas in the carb.
 

thewoodlands

Minister of Fire
Aug 25, 2009
13,348
Foothills of The Adirondacks
I have cut up two 80' red oaks into about 60 18-24" diameter rounds and many smaller rounds. I have a splitting maul, wedges, and all that. I have split simple 10-14" rounds of various species in the past, but when I tried my hand at a 22" red oak round, my maul was just bouncing out and I think I actually heard the other rounds laughing. Make no mistake I am an amateur. I spend all week in front of computer monitors, and pretend that I am a farmer/landscaper/lumberjack/handyman for two days on the weekend. So I am thinking of buying a $1000 gas splitter for two reasons. The work required in just cutting up two red oaks with a chainsaw is about my limit. I have to try to get everything related to my homestead done in just two days over the weekend. I realize that even using a gas splitter is work and will take some time, but I think it is really the only option if I want to cut and split my own firewood. I live on 3 acres of woodland, but surrounded by 100 acres of conservation woodland of which I have been allowed to harvest certain trees most of which are red oaks all about 70-100 years old.

So I think it will be a good purchase, but a part of me feels like I should be able to split this stuff by hand, and feel like I am giving up too easily. But I turned 50 this year and will admit that it takes me longer to recover from a full day of manual labor around my property, than it did 20 years ago.

So I ask all of you seasoned woodsmen, is a gas splitter a good purchase if you want to cut your own firewood every season and your time is short and your body is aging?
Since I started burning wood in 2008 or 09 we've had a splitter, I've seen posts from guys that had always split with a maul and started having problems with their shoulders and ended up buying a splitter, they wished they had bought one earlier.
 

Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,585
Woolwich nj
I did some splitting by hand. with the amount of time it took and the amount of labor I went to a gas splitter. Every so often I still pull out the wedge and maul and take a 24in round and split it up. For the majority of splitting its a gas splitter. Theres just to many other things that need to be done. Getting wood, cutting to rounds, stacking. I have a greenhouse, large garden. Going to a gas splitter makes more free time for me to spend with the kids and extra relaxation time. I have a job the requires me to labor so I'm not trying to beat myself up on the weekends.
 

Lakeside

Minister of Fire
Feb 6, 2009
561
Mike's World
I should be able to split this stuff by hand
Keep in mind your health.. Splitting by hand has a risk of carpal tunnel and other injuries to your body. While I agree that some phyical exercise is always good. Trying to find some balance is best.

Good luck with you splitter journey.
 

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
1,834
Marshall NC

Here I was splitting black walnut last May. Usually black walnut is easy to split with the Fiskars. For this drum I had to use the Wood Grenade to bust it into quarters. After that it was back to the Fiskars.



Here is my brother last March showing a white oak drum who the boss is. This was a great score, we got 3 Nissan pickup loads of this premium white oak, and it was off of Craigslist.

My brother and I both enjoy splitting by hand. We are both 6-3 so we have good mechanical advantage.
I come to wood that is impossible to split by hand, like hickory, I give it a pass.
I really enjoy splitting the firewood and it is great exercise.

I can understand, if y'all are injured etc that you would get a mechanical splitter. To each his own, I guess.
 
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ABMax24

Minister of Fire
Look at it a different way. What's your time worth to you? If you can save a day or two a year running a splitter can you put that time to effective use on another project to help justify the splitter?

Up until last year I've always split wood by hand, first for my parents, but when we put in our stove last year we bought a 6 ton electric splitter. It's not really much faster than splitting by hand, but because of the lower physical exertion I can split for longer periods at a time. Now I'm on the search for a gas splitter, ideally one with a 6 way head to really quicken splitting.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
349
SE WI
I went 3rds on a splitter with my Mom & brother, so for $350 I had all the access I needed. I did most of Mom's gathering & splitting. She has since passed and my brother lives 3 miles away. I haven't had a round yet the 22 ton couldn't split - up to 42" silver maple and oak to about 28". Gotta tilt the beam, slide them in and spin when they're that big... It's still lots of work but less wear & tear on the body.

Guys who have lots of free time or don't burn a lot might be ok splitting by hand, but I've got way too much other stuff to do to spend that much time splitting... Sounds to me like it'll be a good investment for you. Like previously stated, with red oak you'll need to get 3 years ahead.
 

BIGChrisNH

Minister of Fire
Dec 16, 2015
536
New Hampshire
If you plan on splitting and keeping a good supply of wood on hand, get a splitter for sure. Hand splitting can be fun but a splitter is a great investment. Mines 14 years old and still chugging along
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
3,231
Eastern Ontario
I split everything by hand until I was 50 hurt my
rt shoulder stopped that
1st splitter tractor driven (Hydro)
still have and use . 5 years ago bought a 20 ton
gas driven splitter love it easy on fule and my
body 71 and still using it. do the odd one by
hand so I can say I hand-split wood but would
never give up my 20 ton best investment I made
 
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fvhowler

Member
May 4, 2018
57
Heart of NC
I split with a gas splitter and a monster maul. Most rounds 20" or less I will split by hand and anything bigger or knottier goes to log splitter. If you get a gas splitter, I warn you, you are not getting out of work. That splitter will work you and moving those bigger rounds is tiring. Heck, I'm just as tired not matter which method I use. Another piece of advice...always move your wood down hill, its much easier that way. Once I drop off my latest wood scrounge in the truck, I move all my split wood by hand and wheelbarrow. My splitting area and stacks are on high ground, the house is slightly down hill.
 

fbelec

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2005
2,949
Massachusetts
definitely buy one. it will be easier to split more than you need for storing and get years ahead. and the wife won't be saying all you want to do is wood
 

kennyp2339

Minister of Fire
Feb 16, 2014
5,430
07462
I do both, when casually splitting its done by hand, I enjoy splitting Oak and Ash rounds this way since they're pretty easy to pop open (with oaks wait for them to freeze or start on the outsides of larger rounds, then hit the middle)
When its time to do bulk splitting to get the pile done and over with, I break out the splitter and usually have 4 cords done in a 2 day weekend, working but not to hard, all depends on the situation.
I also do a thing when hand splitting, I'll take a round start working on it, if it gives me a hard time, I roll it to the side reserved for the splitter and move on to the next one, also helps when you have a substantial log underneath the splitting log so the ground doesnt absorb the shock.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
18,322
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I was paying 50$ for a one day splitter rental. It takes me 2 days minimum to split 5 cords, though I would prefer to stretch that out over two weekends. Splitters cost about 1000$. Easy math is that you get a free splitter after 10 years but even more important is that the splitters hold their value exceptionally well. If you can even find a used wood splitter it will cost most of what a new one does.
 
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MainePatsFan

Member
Nov 24, 2007
67
Southern Maine
I brought home a brand new Champion 27-ton splitter from Home Depot. They knocked a $100 off the price when there was a snafu trying to open a HD credit card to get $100 off $1,000+ purchase. I didn't get to use it too long as I was just filling it with fluids and getting used to how it worked, but I am already in love. I love how it slows slightly when first hitting a 22" round and then just breaks through as if saying, "Yeah, right, you think you can stop me?" This red oak is so fibrous (is that the right word) that I have to let the splitting wedge go all the way down many times to split it completely. I can see how it would be faster if the wood just popped apart at the first split. I also have to support the part of the round not on the plate with a 2x4 to keep it level because I am definitely splitting these heavy rounds in the vertical position. I end up using another round as a stool to sit on while I am doing it and it is comfortable like that. When I get up from my desk where I work from home all day and look out the window I see it down there and I feel like playing hooky and going down there to split wood all day. :)

Thanks for the advice and the encouragement. I can see a lot of fun
 
Jun 8, 2020
103
Craig County, VA
Using a gas powered hydraulic splitter is the only way to go at least in my situation. I live in an area which there is a lot of sugar maple and my maul and wedges tend to just bounce back out without phasing the wood. I got a couple of loads of ash this summer and even with a gas powered log splitter, it still struggled to get through it with all of the splintering going on. When I get oak, I can usually bust it fine with a maul, but it is so much easier with a splitter. It is still work getting large rounds into place and/or picking up the pieces if you are splitting horizontal, so it does offset some. I burn about 12-13 cords a year and would not think about trying to split that much wood without one.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
349
SE WI
Holy cow! 12-13 cord a year in VA!?!? I'm in WI and only did 5-6 cord with the smoke dragon, should be down now with the new EPA stove(Unless burning softwood in shoulder season has me burning more volume "lower quality" wood...). What all are you heating and what are you burning it in? It sounds like you're burning quality wood...
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2011
1,969
Winter WI
He might mean face cords. That many full cords is a lot of wood! In my small 900 sq ft home I only burn 2 cords and it gets cold here, so cold they called it Winter Wisconsin lol.
 

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
349
SE WI
He might mean face cords. That many full cords is a lot of wood! In my small 900 sq ft home I only burn 2 cords and it gets cold here, so cold they called it Winter Wisconsin lol.
Ahhh... didn't think of that. Would make a lot more sense. I remember reading a post from someone in Alaska who burns 14 full cord (I think it was mostly softwood), which I could believe but certainly wouldn't want to process every year...