Properly maintaining one’s land often requires the thinning of trees so that other trees can thrive. Splitting the wood afterward is a noble and admirable thing to do oneself. However, sometimes, the size of the logs can greatly hamper the lumberman’s efforts.
There are three basic ways to split wood. One may use a basic splitting maul, or ax which is very labor intensive. This method can ineffective to use for splitting large logs or logs that contain a lot of knots. The second choice is a manual log splitter. This type of splitter usually has a ten-ton hydraulic jack that is pumped with handles. The third and most effective type is the gasoline powered hydraulic jack.
Manually transporting large logs can be next to impossible at times. This is when a hydraulic wood splitter can come in handy. The wood splitter can help lighten the load by splitting large pieces of wood in record time. Ideally, a good wood splitter will have between 25 – 30 tons of power, and will be able to handle logs that are around 24” long and as many as 30” in diameter.
Before using any hydraulic wood splitter, the owner should read the safety instructions very carefully. Hydraulic wood splitters are powerful machines. While most hydraulic splitters are easy to use, they are complicated in their construction and have the potential to cause injuries.
The first thing involved in operating the typical hydraulic wood splitter is turning on its engine. This is what gives the power to the hydraulic pump that splits the wood. When the engine is fully running, a log is placed against the stop at the head of the splitter. The stop is generally a fixed piece of thick metal at the outermost edge of the splitter’s head. The wooden log rests against it while it is being cut. Once the wood is securely in place, the hydraulic jack should be engaged.
The hydraulic jack has what appears to be a piece of metal similar to a large ax head. It works by prying the log in half directly through the splitter. Some hydraulic wood splitters only partially split the wood. In these cases, the operator of the device should turn off the hydraulic jack and simply separate the two pieces of wood by hand. To avoid accidents, it is important to turn the jack off before reaching in to separate the two pieces of wood. Other hydraulic wood splitters will split the wood completely in half. In this case, the wood will fall on either side of the splitter. Again, for safety reasons, it is important that the operator of the machine stand clear of where the wood falls to avoid injury.
The better hydraulic wood splitters will not only cut wood from a horizontal position, but will also be able to be converted into a vertical log splitter to give the operator a choice. The vertical position is best for extra heavy logs that can then be rolled into place rather than carried. When the bed that holds the wood is tilted into the vertical position, the piston that holds the wood converts to operate in an up and down motion rather than in a side to side motion. The piece of metal that acted as the horizontal stop will now act as a foot that lies flat on the ground.
To operate the splitter in the vertical position, the log piece should be rolled onto the metal foot and leaned flat against the back of the machine with the engine disengaged. Only once the log is securely in place, should the engine be turned on. Next, the valve should be lowered. This will cause the splitter to strike the center of the log to for a split down the center. Again, it is important to stand clear as the wood will fall from side to side.