What Size Log Splitter do I need? [3 steps for Perfect Tonnage]

By Power Tools

September 13, 2019

I would rather use a log splitter than wasting my energy on chopping wood with an axe. This is an intelligent way of doing work with less effort.

what size log splitter do i need

Buying a log splitter often results in extreme confusion just because you don’t know the log splitter size you need. I also passed that condition once.

If you have ever asked, “what size log splitter do I need?” while searching for a log splitter online or in a nearby store, then this article is for you.

Just to confirm you know, let me give you a quick note on how a log splitter works.

Log splitter depends on concentrated pressure on a small surface area to push through the log. This pressure is transferred by log splitter wedge.

So, how to know the amount of pressure that you’ll need?

Well, selecting the size of a log splitter depends on the log size you’ll be working on a regular basis. For this particular equipment, measurement of pressure is tonnage. The requirement of tonnage depends on a few things:

  • The size of the log that you’ll be working on, length or diameter both counts
  • Green or seasoned wood
  • The hardness of the wood

What Size Log Splitter Do I Need in A Picture

log splitter tonnage
Image Courtesy logsplitterdirect.com

Now, let’s learn in-depth about those three things to consider while selecting log splitter tonnage.

Size of the Log

You might have seen fiber-like setup down the length of a cut tree trunk. This is what is known as the wood grain. If you have no idea about that, let me do a brief for you.

Wood or tree are made with cells like us. These cells are fiber-like, long and they are seen to the lengths of tree trunk or branches. This is the only thing that holds the log stronger from the beginning. When you cut a log, you can see this grain.

As these grains hold the log together, log splitter splits this fiber horizontally apart with pressure. But, to cut log you’ll need a bigger force as a chain saw.

Log splitter depends on only shear pressure of the wedge to split log. That’s why the bigger the log is in diameter the higher the tonnage requirement will be.

In short, a 4-ton log splitter will be fine for 6″ log but that will never work for a 16″ log. On top of that, you also need to consider whether the log is seasoned or not. Which will be discussed in the second point.

Green or Seasoned Wood

Freshly cut wood is hard to split as they require more pressure. Green logs are freshly cut or a few days old. They hold moisture that they had during the part of a living tree. This moisture results in a stronger bond between the fiber.

On the process of aging or seasoning, this moisture evaporates, leaving the log dry and brittle. Dry logs are close to brown color.

As there is little moisture in dry logs, they burn really well. At least six months of seasoning results in good dry logs. Dry logs require less tonnage for splitting.

Freshly cut green logs contain moisture and require large tonnage to split. This tonnage requirement is independent of log size. Which means, a log of 12″ size but green would require 16 Ton capacity, whereas, the same log but dry would require 7 Ton capacity log splitter.

Please check out some log splitter reviews I wrote on the article.

I highly recommend to properly season the logs before splitting. This will surely help you save on your pocket as you’ll not require high tonnage.

Density or Hardness of the Log

Density and hardness is the space between fibers inside a tree. The more space they have the less hardness they have! Which in results, a low tonnage splitter.

Woods high in hardness require more tonnage. You can decide this tonnage requirement by looking at the classification of woods. Depending on the space between fibers trees can be divided into two categories:

  • Hardwood: They are dense wood and have little space between fibers.
  • Softwood: They have more space between fibers.

You can also determine what kind of wood you’ll work with by looking at the Janka scale of hardness:

janka scale for log splitter hardness

The higher the rating the higher the hardness. Higher hardness requires higher tonnage splitter.

This is not an issue whether you should get an electric or gas log splitter. All you need is to determine the exact tonnage you need. Depending on the tonnage requirement you can decide on the fuel type splitter later. If you can determine the hardness or tonnage you can definitely save some bucks.