How to Build Your Own Log Splitter


Are you sick and tired of splitting your wood by hand? Is the good old ax giving your hands blisters and making your back sore?

It might be time to consider a log splitter to take some of the pressure off.

Log splitters can be expensive, and not everyone will be able to afford one. However, there is an alternative: make your own! 

For those people willing to have a go at creating their own log splitter, this article will outline everything you need to know about the machine and how can you can make your very own.

Throughout this post, we take a look at:

  • What is a log splitter?
  • What are the advantages of having a log splitter?
  • How can I make a log splitter?
  • How can I use a log splitter safely?
Wood being split using a log splitter wedge, close up picture with stack of split wood in background.

How can I make a log splitter?

When it comes to making a DIY log splitter, you have two options:

  • A simple model that involves a cutting blade being operated manually
  • A more complex hydraulic log splitter that is more complex to build but will likely result in better performance.

Using a log splitter can save time and energy when you’re trying to chop wood apart.

Unfortunately, store-bought splitters can cost thousands of dollars for a decent machine.

The good news is that you can make a DIY log splitter with your own parts if you’re mechanically inclined and patient.

So, do you want to know how to build your own log splitter?

The main things you’ll need is a wheel axel base, a sharpened cutting wedge, a tank for the fluid, and a few other parts.

You can use the axel to tow your splitter around to move it from place to place.

Before we get into the plans, let’s check out what materials you’ll need to get the job done.

What Materials Do You Need to Make a Log Splitter at Home?

Making a log splitter at home will save you quite a bit of money. You’ll need quite a few parts, but they’re not too hard to find if you look around at local hardware stores, junk lots, and Craigslist.

Here are the materials that you’ll need:

  • A cylinder that’s at least four inches in diameter
  • An engine that’s five horsepower or more
  • A wide, sharp wedge is a necessity when you’re building a log splitter. The sharpness will allow you to smoothly cut through a log, while the width pushes the log apart evenly.
  • A hydraulic system with a relief valve. If you don’t have a relief valve, it can explode or break very quickly. The amount of pressure that builds up is incredible, so use the relief valve to release the pressure and keep operations running safely.
  • Use pipes that can withstand at least 2500 PSI (steel water pipes won’t work).
  • For the oil, use clean hydraulic oil or non-detergent motor oil.
  • When you’re picking out the hydraulic pump, make sure that you choose one that is a positive displacement type, which could be a gear or a vane pump.
  • Securing straps or latches to keep the cylinder in place at all times.
  • Vent the tank to prevent the fluid from creating too much pressure as the log splitter starts.
  • The suction line needs to have a greater width than the pressure line because it’s harder to pull oil than it is to push it.

Note: You don’t need the return line to be a high-pressure hose since it won’t be dealing with the fluid buildup.

Where can you get these materials?

Most of the materials listed above can be purchased at stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other department stores that have tools and hardware.

You can also buy many of the items on Amazon and other online retailers if you want them delivered right to your front door.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to look around in junkyards and on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Craigslist to find an axel and a few of the other parts.

All in all, everything will cost you far less than you would’ve spent on a brand-new gas-powered log splitter. It’s also much more fun to make it yourself!

Log splitters range between $1000 to $10,000 for a good one, but you can make your own for only a couple of hundred dollars. The total cost could be even lower if you already have some of the common parts that many homeowners keep.

DIY Basic Log Splitter

To build a basic log splitter, you will need to create a system that drops a blade onto the pieces of wood with enough force that it splits. 

  1. Begin by attaching a blade to a long arm. 
  2. Set up the frame with a spring that will bring the blade up to starting position after each swing. 
  3. Use a spring that is big enough to attach a weight to it. This will give the blade more force as it comes down. The frame will also need a way to hold the wood in place, so it doesn’t move under the force of the blade.

This describes a basic log splitter model that needs to be manually operated.

The user will need to pull up for each swing, and the machine will bring the blade down to split the piece of wood.

While it may improve performance and hopefully relieve some of the pressure being put on your back, it is unlikely to be significantly efficient for big piles of wood.

DIY Hydraulic Log Splitter

This model is much more complex to build, but if you persist you will reap the rewards. This design cuts the wood vertically, further reducing the lifting you need to do to split the wood. 

  1. Begin by building a sturdy frame that has a holding place to keep the piece of wood still.
  2. Build a pedal that will be used as a lever to trigger the valve, which will transfer power to a tank. 
  3. The energy will then be pumped through a cylinder, using the pressure to drop the blade down on the piece of wood. 
  4. The valve and spring system will return the blade to its starting position after the wood has been split. 
  5. To use, simply step on the pedal for each swing.

What are the advantages of a log splitter?

There is a range of advantages for using a log splitter over the trusty axe. If you are considering building your own log splitter, it’s worth taking a look at these benefits to confirm its worth.

It will be better for your body

Splitting wood with an ax can take its toll on your back and shoulders, not to mention the hard callouses that will form on your hands.

If it’s all becoming too much, consider changing to a log splitter. It will take a lot of pressure off your body by doing all the hard work.

Just make sure you get the right size of log splitter to ensure you’re not still having to use a lot of your own physical force.

It will be quicker

Using a log splitting machine is much quicker than splitting wood by hand.

The machine is very efficient at spitting out useable pieces of firewood; all you have to do is operate it.

It can make wood pieces a uniform size

Logs can be difficult to split, and the various knots in the timber often mean they break int unique shapes and sizes.

Make it easier to stack your firewood by using a log splitting machine to split your wood.

This will create the perfect sized kindling that can easily be stored for future use.

It can be used for hardwood

Hardwood is practically impossible to split with an axe. As the name suggests, it is simply a hard material that usually requires more power than a single person has.

This is where a log splitter really comes in handy. 

Forget about the days where you had to wrestle an axe, swinging it over your head time and time again, just hoping to make a dent in the piece of hardwood.

A log splitter will take away this effort and turn your hardwood into small, useable pieces of kindling.

What is a log splitter?

A log splitter is a machine that will help you cut firewood easily. 

Essentially, it takes pieces of wood that have been pre-cut using a chainsaw or saw bench and turns them into useable pieces of firewood and kindling (all without the use of an axe and extensive physical exertion!). 

The wood splitting process becomes much quicker and easier, producing a pile of firewood in a fraction of the time it would take to use an axe.

For those of you who are interested in the mechanics of it all, log splitting machines are using fluid power to operate. 

To split wood using a log splitter, you first need to place a piece of wood in the machine. The operator presses a button that shifts a directional valve. This move sends fluid to the end of a hydraulic cylinder, which causes pistons to move up and down.

The log is engaged in the machine, and pressure is built through the movement of fluid, forcing the machine to split the wood.

Every machine varies slightly, so the operation manual should always be consulted before you start using it. 

Some machines are powered by gasoline, while others use electricity to operate.

It depends on your preferences and requirements as to what machine is best for you. 

Make sure you do your research and to determine whether you need a large or small log splitter, and other criteria.

How can I use a log splitter safely?

These tips will ensure you and the people around you remain safe when operating a log splitter.

  • Wear protective gear. Always wear protective eyewear and gloves when operating a log splitter, including a DIY version.
  • Never operate with children around. Check your surroundings and clear the area of children before beginning operation. They could be seriously injured if they get in the way of the blade or impacted by flying debris.
  • Don’t operate under the influence. You should only operate a log splitter when your mind is clear, and you have the ability to focus. Never touch this machine if you have consumed mind-altering substances, including alcohol.
  • Always check the logs first. Check each log as you put it in the machine. Some have different knots and shapes that will cause them to turn or splinter off.
  • Operate with appropriate lighting. Never operate a log splitter in the dark when you can’t see what you are doing.

Conclusion

Here are some of the key points you should take away from this post:

  • Log splitters are valuable machines. They can make it easier and quicker to cut firewood, while also taking a lot of pressure off the user’s back.
  • Log splitters can be expensive to buy, but it is possible to build one yourself. There are two options: a basic, manual option or a DIY hydraulic system.
  • Always adhere to safety warnings when operating a log splitter. You should never use this machine without protective wear, with children in the area or under the influence of mind-altering substances.

Stuart

Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Living the Outdoor Life is a place for him to share what he learns while creating his perfect outdoor space.

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