What Size Log Splitter Do I Need? Everything you need to know

By Power Tools

February 6, 2020

Log splitters can make a world of difference in the way you go about splitting wood. These handy devices allow you to save a lot of time and effort on this labor-intensive task and many wood splitters are much safer to use than the traditional ax. 

If you are shopping for the best log splitter then it is important not to be too hasty or impulsive when you buy. There are many out there who buy the first and best tool they can find only to realize later on that the tool isn’t suitable for their needs or they feel cheated when they end up paying for something they hardly ever use.

If you want to make the best possible choice then it is important to find out more about all the different types of log splitters available on the market. What is even more important is to find out what type of log splitter you need considering the amount of chopping you need to do. 

What Size Log Splitter Will Work Best For Your Wood Splitting Needs?

Splitting your wood can save you a lot of money compared to purchasing packs of split wood. Splitting your wood also allows you to clear waste such as tree stumps from your surroundings. But before you go and buy an ax or wood splitter, it is important to identify how much wood splitting you will be doing and what type of wood you are most likely to split.

What Does Your Typical Woodpile Look Like?

There are quite a few different types of splitters available on the market. Some are best suited for softer woods while others can handle harder wood types. Some can only handle small stumps while others have the capacity and strength to easily split huge trunks. 

To identify the right splitter you must first identify what your typical woodpile usually looks like.


Consider wood hardness

The harder wood is the higher tonnage or pounds of force will be required to split the wood. Here is a quick look at the hardness of different wood types;

Soft woods


Hard woods














































Sweet Gum




Wood hardness is also affected by the diameter of the tree stump.  The older or thicker a tree is, the harder the wood becomes. Here is a quick look at the hardness differences of wood based on the stump diameters;


300 – 600lbs





4+ tons

6+ tons

7+ tons

10+ tons


12+ tons

15+ tons

20+ tons

22+ tons


20+ tons

20+ tons

26+ tons

26+ tons


27+ tons

27+ tons

30+ tons

30+ tons

As you can see, the force required for splitting wood increases dramatically with the diameter of the woods. Typically, homeowners only split wood pieces that are about 6” in diameter. For these wood pieces, a 4 – 10 ton wood splitter should be sufficient. Most homeowners focus on softwood types. For your softwood pieces, a 4-ton splitter can also be a very good pick.

Wood splitters with a strength range of over 10 tons typically are not for home users. These machines are quite expensive and are mostly used for commercial or conservation purposes.

A Note on Tonnage

The splitting force required for woods increases as the wood dries out. As timber seasons, these wood pieces become a lot harder and more splitting force is required for cutting these woods. If you are planning on splitting seasoned woods then be sure to pick up a splitter with a greater force than you require. 

Homeowners that split a lot of wood regularly should consider something around the 25-ton range. These larger splitters may seem extreme but is a much better investment if you expect your device to handle lots of wear and tear while splitting lots of wood.

4 What Size Log Splitter Do I Need

Consider your typical woodpile size

Some of us only enjoy occasional barbecue sessions or camping trips while others burn their way through a lot of wood daily to keep their homes nice and cozy and their wood stoves or smokers alight.

The most expensive wood splitter probably won’t do you much good if you only need firewood occasionally. It is also important to consider the amount of wood you will be splitting daily because some machines are not designed to handle mass volume work every day.

A simple, manual splitter is a better pick if you are not doing a lot of splitting too often.  These manual units are also better for camping expeditions because you don’t need to connect it to any power source and you can split wood in any given spot.

Electric and gas-operated wood splitters are better for those that do a lot of wood splitting. These machines can handle as much as 120 stumps an hour and many units are hands-free to help reduce your workload as much as possible. 

Consider traveling

Some of us prefer to do our log splitting chores in a dedicated spot. These comfort zones allow you to set up everything you need for splitting and electric machines fair best in dedicated work areas because they are so easy to use and quick to start up. In dedicated areas, you are not limited when it comes to the size and weight of your machine. 

If you want to split wood in different locations then it is always best to invest in something small and portable. A lightweight unit with an easy carry handle is best for those who love to take their wood splitters along on camping expeditions.

The performance of log splitters vary based on the type

As said before, there are quite a few different types of log splitter concepts available on the market. The strength and size of these splitters vary based on their design.

Manual splitters – Manual log splitters are the ones that rely on your strength to function. There are hydraulic types that split logs using lever actions and there are types that require you to use a hammer to split logs. As you can imagine, the strength capabilities of these splitters depend on your physical capabilities.  You also need to use a lot more force on hardwoods compared to softwoods. Manual and small splitters that require the use of a hammer typically offer a strength of around 4 – 6 tons where a manual hydraulic unit could offer strength of around 10 tons.

Electric splitters – Electric splitters are more compact than gas splitters and many of these units are super easy to use and can even be operated with just one hand. The price range of electric splitters depends on the type you purchase. Large, professional splitters with lots of strength are usually more suited for commercial use because they can be expensive. Homeowners typically choose electric splitters with a strength that ranges around 4 – 8 tons.

Gas splitters – Gas wood splitters offer a lot more brute strength. These units are bigger and more challenging to move about and they can be noisy but they are pretty strong. The strength of gas wood splitters typically ranges around 8 – 25k for domestic users.


The size of the log splitter vary based on the type

Most homeowners need a splitter that can handle logs around 6” in diameter. For these smaller logs, your average manual splitters and electric splitters are usually sufficient. For larger logs, you do need something more powerful and with larger capacity such as gas type wood splitters.

It is also important to check the stump size compatibility of the splitter before you buy it. These machines usually have a frame that can only support logs up to a certain size. Manual hammer splitters can handle logs of around 6-7”. Your average electric splitters can handle much bigger logs of up to 10” in diameter although the motors or splitting force of these machines might not be powerful enough to handle hardwood wood types.

Splitting seed and machine type

If you are only splitting a few pieces of wood now and then, then you don’t need the fastest tool on the market. A log splitter with a 2-way wedge could be sufficient. But if you have to chop your way through a huge pile of wood then it is best to look for a wood splitter that offers good performance.

The speed of a wedge type splitter depends on the user. You can only chop that much wood until you might feel tired, although some men can chop quite fast. Electric and gas-operated splitters are usually much faster. Many home splitters can chop their way through up to 120 logs per hour. These splitters are much better for those who use a lot of firewood or for those who have a lot of wood that needs to be processed real quickly.

Remember that bigger is not always better

We all love the idea of owning a huge and powerful machine that splits thick 10” stumps in seconds but these huge splitters are not always worthy investments. Budget-wise, large splitters are expensive and it could be cheaper to go out and buy wood instead of investing in your tool. 

A huge and chunky machine could also be very hard to transport and can take up a lot of space in the garage when it is not in use.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to size is functionality. A huge and elite machine doesn’t help you much if you would rather be out there in the wild chopping wood next to stream of water or if you only plan on using it every once in a blue moon.

How brand should affect your sizing decision

Wondering how something as simple as a brand name can affect your decision on the right sized machine to buy? Well, it is simple. Cheaper brands manufacture more powerful machines at more affordable prices but these units are hardly ever as durable. The price of quality and reputable machines might be higher but the strength and durability of these machines could make them a more worthy investment. 

Entry-Level to Professional

Your skill level can also impact the size of the splitter you need. If you are just starting to split wood and are not sure if this is a hobby that is bound to stick then always choose something small, portable and durable. If you are a professional log splitter then it is best to invest in something big and more powerful that can get the job done quicker. 


To sum up

Everyone has different needs when it comes to splitting wood. Some like huge machines that allow them to split wood using just one hand and others prefer something that offers more of a workout and that is more portable and small.

Typically, home users don’t need a log splitter with a splitting force of over 30 tons. Anything above 25 tons is best suited for commercial use and could be a waste of your money. You also are not very likely to split logs with a larger diameter than 8” at home. It is better to resize those occasional larger stumps than to buy a bigger machine. 

Both electric and manual splitters can be handy investments for home use. Manual splitters tend to be more mobile, they are more affordable and they can be quite effective. Electric units are quicker, more powerful and easier to use. Here it boils down to the frequency of use. If you are splitting wood every day then indulge in an electric splitter. But if you only split wood occasionally on camping trips then a manual log splitter can be a better investment, especially if you consider the fact that you will also be building strong muscles and toning and shaping your arms.