SYD SCYTHE’S LOG SPLITTER GUIDE
There is an ever increasing demand for cheaper methods of heating the home over the last few years as the cost of oil and gas climbs higher and higher. This has increased the popularity of wood burners and open fires and, of course, burning logs is much more environmentally friendly so we can save the polar bears.wood-burner As a result the log splitter is becoming an essential machine for those households that have these installed in their homes. Now it is all very well doing the macho thing with an axe to show off the bulging, gleaming muscles, but it’s not that safe, especially for those of us who are accident prone and would end up burying an axe in their foot! So using a log splitter is the easy and safest option to split timber.
There is an array of machinery to choose from and the following should help you in making the correct choice for what you need for your circumstances and at the right price bracket. Most machines are mains electric but as they get more powerful and are asked to split heavier material, petrol engines are used to power the units. All machines, whether petrol or electric, have to be operated by both hands so that even idiots cannot get their fingers trapped between the ram and the timber. The way these machines work is that the timber is positioned on the machine between a V shaped metal plate and the ram, which is a moveable arm operated hydraulically so that when the machine is started, this arm moves along the bed of the splitter forcing the timber onto the V shaped plate and splits it. Most machines have this V shape but some have a multi-directional splitting ability (Multisplit), so you won’t have to split the log over and over again.
chopping-logs-axe With some machines the ram is adjustable, which does save a lot of time, as it can be adjusted so that it doesn’t have to travel so far on the bed of the machine. Very handy if time is of the essence. All these little benefits are explained in the description of the log splitters, so please study the specifications carefully to make the right choice.
It is also better to burn logs once they have been split and weathered outside as burning wet timber is annoying and wasteful. To weather your logs they should be left outside exposed to the sun and wind for at least six months and not stacked in a big pile as you will not get the airflow that is needed to weather them. Stack carefully making sure that they are in sunlight and that the wind can blow through and remove the moisture from the timber. If it makes you feel better to cover the top of the stack, do it, but I personally don’t like chasing tarpaulins across the county that have blown off! Ideal time is to split and stack early spring so that it is ready for October time.
Horizontal bench machines
These are the cheapest option and are placed on the floor or up on a bench and all are electric machines varying from four to seven ton splitting capacity. The big disadvantage if you cannot place it on a bench is that you have to bend down all the time to place and remove your logs. A little back breaking especially if one is getting on in life! There are a lot of machines in this category with the Mitox, Forest Master, AL-KO and Lawnflite prominent. As mentioned previously all machines have be operated by both hands, because if one lever is let go of the ram will stop moving. All these machines have transport wheels, some with larger ones, for ease of moving about and all are very powerful.
Horizontal machines on legs
These machines are built on a frame which provides the optimum working height so loading the logs would enable you to work at a height that is comfortable for your stature which therefore saves the bending down. They have more or less the same splitting capacity of the bench machines but are more user friendly because of the height you can work at. The outstanding machine here is the Al-ko KHS5200 which has won several awards over a period of time and is one of the best sellers in this category followed closely by the Mitox LS55X. Both are manufactured using heavy duty steel in the construction and are very easy to assemble and use
These machines are self explanatory as they work in the vertical plane as opposed to the previously mentioned machines that are horizontal. The benefits of these units are that they can take much bigger logs that are perhaps too heavy to lift onto the horizontal machines. Splitting capacities are therefore much bigger going up to ten tons. Most of these have heavy duty electric motors, but some such as the Mitox and Lawnflite have petrol engines. Petrol engines obviously produce much more power and are very handy if you are working out of range of an electric power supply. Once again please check on the specifications to tailor the right machine for your application.
There is another category of vertical splitters and that is those that can be towed. Not on the road but behind a garden tractor or car, around a large garden or estate. They also can be used in either the vertical or horizontal position depending what is the most comfortable position to use and go up to a mind blowing 25 tons splitting capacity.
So in conclusion, machinery is much more efficient and safer than man power and there is a machine for everyone. But of course if you want to use the traditional method buy an axe, get blisters, headaches and work up a sweat!