Best Manual Log Splitters – Top picks & Reviews

best manual log splitter

The best manual log splitter is a necessity if you heat your house with wood.

In the winter, you need your fireplace or woodstove to keep burning 24/7.  Keeping plenty of seasoned, chopped up wood to burn is #1 on your to do list.  Chopping wood by hand is physically demanding and takes a ton of time.  Stop breaking your back with hard work when you don’t have to.  Work smarter not harder.

Read on to see how a manual log splitter can make your chores that much easier this year (and every year!)

Best Manual Log Splitters Quick Chart

5 Best Manual Wood Splitters – Reviews 2020

After hours upon hours of testing and going through the technical specs and reviews that we gathered about manual log splitters, we were able to arrive at five of our top manual wood splitting tools.

We also included a buying guide that would cover everything that you need to know about log splitters, and this includes the features that you should be looking for and how to safely use your new wood splitter.

10 ton Hydraulic Log Splitter – Best For The Money

Best Manual Log Splitter


  • The wood splitter type: Manual, hydraulic.
  • The Split force: 10 tons.
  • Maximum length of log: 18 inches.
  • Maximum diameter of log: Six and the half inches.
  • Warranty: 1-year, limited.

This log splitter (which is hydraulic)  is made to make the splitting of small logs very easy to do, and it also relatively fast.

Even though the cradle would normally only accept logs that are 6.5 inches in diameter, many have claimed using this log splitter on logs that range up to 18 inches in diameter! There is basically no limit to the size so long as you don’t cut logs that are small in sizes.

One thing that limits this log splitter is that it’s only able to handle logs that range up to 18 inches. Using a manual log splitter with logs of this size is fine if you’re splitting softwoods and small-diameter hardwood logs. You should also know that the wedge goes about eight inches and this is different from the total length of the cradle of this splitter.

We love just how easy and quick this hydraulic log splitter is when compared to other splitters in its category.  However, when it is compared to the various other methods of splitting manually, it’s slow and good for splitting firewood for the occasional campfire.  You’ll want a more heavy duty model for splitting cords of wood to burn for heat.

This splitter is not lightweight, it is heavy, and the wheels that come with it are only great on  flat even surfaces like pavement.  We loved the catchers that are found on both sides of the cradle that prevent split wood from falling to the ground.  This will save you a whole lot of bending and lifting when splitting wood.

With the price of this splitter, many users were a bit unhappy that it comes only with a 1-year warranty, and this can be seen in claims by users who said that the hydraulic cylinder, when delivered to you, leaks.


  • It can split wood that has any diameter.
  • The catchers can be found on either side of the cradle.


  • Hydraulic Cylinder might leak
  • Wheels only good on pavement and flat surfaces

Sun Joe Log Splitter LJ10M – Best Hydraulic Manual Log Splitter – Top Pick

Best Manual Log Splitter


  • The Splitting type: Manual, hydraulic.
  • The Splitting force: 10 tons.
  • Max length of log: 18 inches.
  • Maximum diameter of log: 8 inches.
  • Warranty: It has a 2-year warranty.

We love this log splitter from Sun Joe.  It’s got extra space for bigger logs compared to other brands on the market.

This splitter can take logs that are 18 inches in length and eight inches in girth, while the hydraulic device has a splitting force that is 10 tons!

One major problem with this hydraulic log splitter is that it is can be quite slow.  It also struggles with hardwoods.  While using this log slitter we found that, although this log splitter can make its way through hardwoods that are not exactly big, it can disappoint you when you’re working with larger rounds of hardwood.

Unfortunately, the piston extends more than halfway into the wood, which means you’ll struggle to separate hardwood logs.  Sometimes, you might even need to cut them a second time. When you are using this splitter to cut softwood, this tool may be slow when you are using it back and forth.

This log splitter is very heavy,about 100 lbs.  It does come with wheels to help  you wheel it around to your woodpile.  We found that the wheels are very small, and they are only effective on flat and smooth surface like pavement.

We were quite satisfied with this splitter for being able to make firewood that is enough for your leisure use around your home. The hydraulic levers usually need less exertion like the other manual splitters would.  Sun Joe gives a two-year warranty on their splitter.


  • The hydraulic log splitter is very easy to use with little less exertion.
  • It accepts logs of up to 18 inches long.
  • It has 10 tons of force that is said to be good for soft wood.
  • 2 year warranty


  • Weighs 100 lbs
  • Wheels only good on flat surfaces
  • Struggles with hardwoods

Kindling Cracker Fireplace Manual Log Splitter – Budget Pick

Best Manual Log Splitter


  • The Splitting type: Fireplace log splitter
  • Maximum diameter of log: 5 inches.
  • Warranty: 5 years.

This is a small and cheap kindling splitter from the company, Kindling Cracker.   We love it for turning split wood into kindling to start a fire. This splitter is created to accommodate small logs not larger than 6.5 inches all around.

The special groove design means that you use less strength to split your wood than chopping it up with an axe.

We found that the kindling splitter is safer and easier to handle than having to use the axe to split similar pieces of wood. This durable splitter is made from cast iron and can handle you kindling chores easily.

Kindling Cracker gives you a 5-year warranty on this product.  This splitter also requires almost little to no special care seeing as it does not need to be honed for it to be able to work efficiently and it will not get worn out if you should leave it outside during the winter time – it comes with bolt holes on its base making you able to leave it fixed to a splitting stump.

One problem that we found with this fireplace log splitter, and for those who need a log splitter, is that it is made for a very specified purpose, and this is splitting kindling and wood for a fireplace. If you are someone who is in possession of logs that will be too large to be accommodated inside the splitter’s ring, then you will need to use an axe or a splitting maul to be able to cut down your logs.


  • 5 year warranty
  • It is not expensive, small, and very lightweight.
  • It is very easy to use, and it requires the use of little force.
  • It was designed with cast iron that makes it last nearly forever.


  • Can only handle wood up to 6.5 inches in diameter
  • Only made for kindling

Logosol Smart Manual Handheld Log Splitter – Best Slide Hammer Log Splitter

Best Manual handheld Log Splitter


  • The Splitting type: Manual, handheld log splitter
  • The Splitting direction: Vertical
  • The Splitting force:7 lbs.
  • Maximum length of log:6 inches.
  • Warranty: 2-year, 2-month guarantee for your money.

Customers like this log splitter from Logosol because of its safety when compared to the conventional wedge and hammer.

The thing that separates this slide hammer is its auxiliary arm that is found on the side of the wedge and guide rod.  This enables the hammer to get a very good grip on the wood during the first few hits.  It also reduces those nasty deflections.

The auxiliary arm does not limit the highest diameter of log that you are able to split, however, you will need to place the wedge so close to the edge of any log so to let the arm move past the edge of the log.

Logosol gives this handheld log splitter a 21-inch maximum log length, customers say that this tool can cut logs with more lengths if choose to use a mallet to push the wedge in further.

When you compare this device to a hydraulic splitter, it’s super lightweight, coming in at 7.7 pounds and very fast to use. Many buyers claim they are able to simulate a workout when they are splitting wood.   We found that once you’ve learned the perfect spots to start your splitter, you can conquer even hardwoods with this simple tool.

Buyers say that this manual slide log splitter is prone to breaking after you use it for several years, but there is always a hammer that you can replace it with that is always available for less than $10. Logosol also gives you a two-year warranty and a two-month money back guarantee.


  • It has an unlimited wood diameter and long length.
  • Its secondary arm helps to prevent it from slipping.
  • It is lightweight and fast
  • 2 year warranty


  • Elbow grease required

Timber Tuff TMW-11 – Best Portable Manual Slide Log Splitter

Best Manual Log Splitter


  • The Split force: N/A.
  • Warranty: 1-year, limited.

This very compact log splitter (that is also a slide hammer) from Timber Tuff is made to ease and simplify the process of manually splitting wood.  it has one job to do and it does it well.

This log splitter is made with a single-piece construction that makes it very easy to use from your first log that you split – all you need to do is to simply put the wedge on the log, get a grip of the handle, and the drop the hammer.

Many people who have used this product said that although the hammer alone is enough to get through even complicated hardwoods with enough force, adding some extra impact to the hammer drop will enable you to split faster than usual.

Because of the design of this hammer, there is no limit on the length and girth that this hammer can split.  From experience, we can tell  you that before you split larger logs, you should learn how to split with the grain of the wood.  The Timber Tuff will surprise you with its durability.

Also, without an auxiliary arm like that which we saw on the Logosol splitter, there is a huge possibility for this hammer to veer off a bit if you are not very careful to stabilize it when you are dropping the hammer.

This hammer’s wedge almost doesn’t need you to sharpen it so that it can work properly, although this is something that you can do with a metal file if you have an especially tough log to split. We love that the hammer is long-lasting, and there are  no signs of use with the hammer or handle breaking or becoming weak.   Timber Tuff gives you a 1-year warranty on the splitter.


  • There is no limit to the size of logs that you can split with this splitter.
  • Since this tool has a construction of a single-piece, it is very easy to both move around and wield.
  • It is very durable.
  • 1 year warranty


  • Basic wood Splitter
  • Elbow Grease Required
  • Must make sure to use splitter in a straight line

Manual Wood Splitter Buying Guide

If you need to chop firewood, how do you avoid the back breaking work?  How do you split wood fast while keeping yourself from getting sore?  If you heat with wood all winter long, you;re going to need to find a solution that fits your budget, is long lasting and gets the job done in no time flat.

Getting the best manual log splitter makes it very easy and quite fast to split logs using a hydraulic press or a solid wood splitter.  This let’s you get through splitting a cord of firewood without having to suffer through the aches that usually follow chopping wood all day (or all weekend!)

When we went out to search for efficient manual log splitters that are making waves among buyers today, we had to take a few features into consideration. One of the first, and, of course, important aspects of this tool that we looked at was its construction. And when we talk about the construction, we are talking about whether it is one that is manually operated, or the other variations of it.

Another thing that we took into account was if these tools were made to be used vertically or horizontally when splitting, not overlooking the amount of logs that these tools are capable of handling, seeing as the tools have to be equivalent to the logs that you have sitting in your compound. And finally, we took a look at the texture of each of these splitters since the splitter will be made to face substantial amount of force when you are cutting through tough wood.

Now that we have told you about our five top picks of manual log splitters, how do you choose between these models so that they can satisfy your splitting needs? Here, in this buying guide, we will cover everything that you need to be familiar with the features that separate manual log splitters, give you pointers on ways you can safely use these log splitters, we will also answer questions that are popular among users.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Manual Log Splitter

Manual log splitters have a wide range of designs  They can look very similar or can be quite different when it comes to how you use them. Here, in this guide, we will talk about some of the vital features that separate manual log splitters and help you grasp how these features may change how you use your splitter.

The Various Types of Manual Log Splitters

There are various types of manual log splitters, and some of these may be either easy or hard to use.  How much physical effort you want o put into chopping and slitting wood depends on your personal choice. Simple splitters will require more elbow grease than higher end hydraulic splitters.

The very popular kind of the manual log splitter on the market is the hydraulic log splitter that makes use of a hydraulic press that will help drive a wedge through the log that you aim to cut. Although this type of log splitter gives you lots of power due to the presence of the hydraulic drive, your having to get the wood a bit more forward will need you to move the handle back and forth, moving the wedge forward just a bit with every motion. The Sun Joe and Ironton log splitters are both hydraulic log splitters.

One other very common type of manual log splitter that we have is the slide hammer. The slide hammers typically have a very sharp wedge that protrudes from a metal rod, they also have a movable weight that you can slide to  rod’s top and then you can drop it on the top of the wedge so that you can drive it into the wood. When you successfully get the wedge in, you will need to use more muscle power to be able to disintegrate the wood into pieces. Both the Logosol and Timber Tuff splitters are slide hammers.

The kindle splitter, just like the Kindling Cracker model is one safe method than the conventional wedge and the hammer. What this tool needs is for you to put the piece of wood on the splitter and then you bring your hammer down on it, but due to the metal cage present, you do not need to hold down the wedge or the wood with your other free hand.

Horizontal Splitting Vs. Vertical Splitting

When it comes down to the smaller logs, there is no need to put too much thought into what ways they wood be cut, whether horizontally or vertically. But when you find it hard to move the logs that are bigger around, thinking of what way your splitter will work is something that would require enough thoughts.

The slide hammers and the kindle splitters are usually vertically splitters, although the slide hammers may have some more versatility to them since they do not need you to pick up the log before you split.

Note: You might choose to make use of the hydraulic splitter in the horizontal way, then you will need to put the log on it for you to be able to split it – this may prove to be something of an impossibility if you are working with larger logs. This is a very important factor for you to consider when you are choosing the type of log splitter that you want seeing as both the hydraulic splitters that we talked about are only made to be used in a horizontal fashion.

Log Length and Diameter

The splitter that you will be making use of will determine the length and the diameter of logs that you will be able to split. With the slide hammers, you will be able to split any log that comes in any diameter or length because you will be able to, for a continuous period, use the slide hammer to force the wedge in till there is sufficient power to break the log.

The kindle splitter, on the other hand, is usually restricted in diameter by the size of the metal holding cage, and when it comes to the Kindling Cracker splitter, the cage takes logs that only range up to 6.5 inches in diameter. The hydraulic splitters usually have limitations when it comes to the length and diameter of logs that they are able to accommodate since the log you will be cutting must be able to fit inside the cradle that is found between the endplate and the wedge. The hydraulic splitters that we talked about in this article are can only take logs that are of 18 inches.


The manual log splitters usually do not have enough parts that are movable and that are prone to breaking but a log splitter with a warranty is very important seeing as these tools will be made to face some kind of tough forces very frequently. The manufacturer’s warranties are usually different, on the hydraulic splitters, you can find warranties from one to two years, while on the hammers, you can get the same, and on the kindling cracker kindle splitter you will get five years.

How Does a Log Splitter Work?

Log splitters can be horizontal or vertical.  Now matter which way you stack your wood, they typically all work in the same way.  You place your wood on your wood splitter and then manually, hydraulically or using a gas motor, push the sharp, triangle (or axe shaped) hammer/wedge down onto the wood and apply pressure.  The hammer makes it way through the wood or wood round splitting it up for you.

You keep on splitting the wood until its small enough for your fireplace or woodstove and then move onto your next wood round.

How to Use a Manual Log Splitter

Before you use your new splitter, cut the ends of the log so that they are flat. You also want to make sure that the length and diameter of the log are not more than what your splitter is able to handle.

To use a hydraulic splitter, put the log in a way that one end of the log is against the endplate and then you slide the wedge against the front part of the log. You would need to engage the tool’s hydraulic device, moving the levers back and forth so that you can drive the wedge all the way through the log before you disengage the device and slide back the wedge.

For you to handle the slide hammer, you would need to firmly place the wedge on top of the log. After this, you should pull the hammer either midway or higher up on the guiding, dropping it to drive the wedge into the wood. If you choose, you can do this over again so that you will push the wedge way into the wood till you are able to break the log into two.

If you will be using the kindle splitter, then you should put the log inside the splitter’s cage so that the bottom of it is against the wedge. Once you are done, you can then use a hammer or a mallet to hit the top of the log and drive it through the splitting wedge.

Log Splitter Operation YouTube How To Video

Log Splitter Safety

Most modern log splitters are made to be much safe than the conventional methods of splitting wood.  You still have to be careful even with log splitters because they can still pose some level of danger when you are operating them because of the forces involved in the splitting process.

Log splitter safety means you should make sure that before you start wood splitting you are in proper safety gear like the boots and protective goggles because you can easily drop a huge log of wood or little pieces of wood might fly into your eyes when you are working.

Also, ensure that when you are hitting the wood or when you are moving the splitter your hands are not close to the wood or wedge. If you are not working alone, make sure that there is no one near the wood before you make impact or they could be the victim of a deflection.

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Log Splitter Accidents

You need to be vigilant when using a log splitter.  Even a manual log splitter can seriously injure you or anyone around you.  The force that is needed to split logs is huge.

Log splitter accidents can be devastating and life changing.  Most accidents happen when people aren’t paying attention and pull the handle that runs the hydraulic cylinder before removing themselves from the line of fire. You can easily lose a finger or a hand if you’re not careful.

If you are tired you should rest before (or even while) using your log splitter.  Always make sure to pay attention when using a splitter, it’s easy to get distracted or zone out with the repetitive motion of loading your splitter and stacking wood.  Don’t get too confident, and always wear your safety gear.

Log Splitter Tips and Tricks to Get the Most out of Your Tool

  • Wearing safety gear like goggles, thick gloves, steel toe boots and no loose clothing are out #1 tips.
  • Working with a helper means that you have to keep track of where they are, including their hands.
  • We recommend working along with your log splitter.  Keep your work area clean so there’s no danger of tripping on anything.
  • Don’t use drugs or drink alcohol before using your splitter.  This might include some prescription meds so check with your doctor or read the label.  Most medications say “do not operate heavy machinery” right on the label.  Listen to that advice and split wood another day.
  • Secure your splitter so it doesn’t randomly, and dangerously, move around on you while your splitting logs.
  • Make sure your splitter is on even ground before splitting.
  • Make sure you saw your wood round so they have flat, even edges.  Wood rounds with uneven edges when put under pressure from a log splitting wedge can rise up and fly right off your splitter and this is super dangerous.
  • Check all your lines, edges etc. each time you use your log splitter, even the manual versions.  Make sure all the parts look like they are in good working order.
  • Don’t forget to keep the wedge nice and sharp.  This makes splitting wood so much faster and easier on both you and your splitter.

In Conclusion

Well, in total, our top picks from the manual log splitters that we have tested and reviewed in this article are the Sun Joe LJ10m, the Logosol Smart Splitter, and the Kindling Cracker Firewood Kindling Splitter. These three splitters are made in different forms, so, having to choose between them depends heavily on the types and sizes of logs that you will be splitting.  Also, are you splitting smaller logs or just need some kindling?

We love just how easy and safe these models have made their work when compared to the traditional axe, and this can be seen with the cutting of kindling using the Kindling Cracker Splitter. The Logosol splitter has an auxiliary arm that is designed to handle deflections which is a safety hazard when using an axe.

The Sun Joe splitter, in our opinion, is the best manual log splitter for many since it has a hydraulic mechanism that helps to reduce the physical force that one would typically use when splitting wood and, this tool  able to cut wood that is eight inches in diameter.