Hydraulic Log Splitter is typically rated by their maximal hydraulic force, measured in tons. Some so-called dual-action hydraulic splitters use an anvil at either end of the track with a wedge that can split in either direction because it attaches to the upper surface of the piston (located beneath the track) instead of directly to the front of the piston. These models can increase your hourly output considerably because you don’t need to bring the wedge back to the start position before loading another log.

At the smaller end of the hydraulic splitter range, many lightweight horizontal bench-top or roll-around models exist in the 4- to 8-ton range. These machines are usually powered with electric motors, so they are quiet, and you can operate them indoors safely if desired. I’ve used 6-ton models that were quite capable of splitting 18-inch-long billets up to about 18 inches in diameter. Though ideal for splitting dry wood, these little powerhouses can be used effectively with wet wood up to around 12 inches in diameter, assuming it isn’t one of the more difficult-to-split species. If you have a few cords of relatively small stuff to split each year, and/or you like to work indoors, these comparatively inexpensive units make perfect sense. If you routinely have more wood to split and handle larger rounds, you will want to upgrade.

For folks who will regularly need to split green or dry rounds up to 24 inches long in the 12-inch-diameter or greater size, I would recommend you choose a splitter with at least 12 tons of power — 16 tons or more would be better. If you can, choose a machine that will operate in both vertical and horizontal configurations. The horizontal configuration makes it easy to load from the back of a pickup or off the top of a pile, and positioning the log for precision splitting is a snap. If your wood is located closer to the ground, it’s usually easier to work large and heavy pieces into position using the vertical mode (unless you opted for a high-end horizontal unit with a hydraulic log loader).

Whether powered with an electric motor or internal combustion engine, these machines will be heavy, and most are mounted on an undercarriage that makes moving them around pretty easy. One advantage to an internal combustion engine powered splitter is that you can take it to the woodlot or woodpile. The electric models in this range will likely require a 220-volt electrical source — certainly you can use them remotely if you have a portable generator of sufficient capacity. If you already have a tractor with a three-point hitch and hydraulic system (or a PTO and matched hydraulic pump), or a skid-steer loader, you can sometimes save money on the same capacity splitter by choosing the tractor or skid-steer mount option. The tractor will serve to power China Log Splitter and position the splitter.