A mechanical log splitter is a great tool for anyone who cuts and splits a lot of firewood. If you have the ability to cut and weld steel and mechanical knowledge, you can build your own. You can often find used automobile axles and wheels or old trailers at salvage yards to cut the cost. You also can buy components and find detailed plans at home improvement and similar stores or online, usually for under £13.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Welder/cutting torch
- Hydraulic cylinder and pump
- Hydraulic tank
- Hydraulic hoses
- I beam or similar strong bar
- Steel pipe
- Trailer or other wheeled device (optional)
Decide whether you want a vertical or horizontal splitter and whether you want it fixed or mounted on wheels. Those options will determine specifics of how you build your log splitter. A vertical splitter stands upright, and logs are loaded onto a base; a wedge then is driven down to split the wood. A horizontal splitter operates similarly, except the log is loaded onto a horizontal platform. Either style can be mounted on a trailer or wheels; the horizontal version is used on that platform. The vertical style is raised upright for operation.
Build a base. You can start with an axle and wheels from an old car, the frame of an old utility trailer or just angle iron welded into a rectangle. This will be the platform to hold the components. Install an I-beam or pipes the length of the frame, to hold logs as they are being split. Weld a solid base at one end for the log to sit against. Your splitting element and engine will mount at the other end.
Make your splitting element. This is a wedge and hydraulic system (cylinder, pump and hydraulic tank) and engine. You can buy a wedge, similar to those used in big splitting mauls, or weld one from steel blades cut at an angle and welded into a point. The hydraulic cylinder, pump and tank will vary depending upon what you have or choose to buy. The cylinder should be at least four inches in diameter and 18 to 24 inches long. The wedge will be welded to a pipe, which attaches to the cylinder. (Some variants have a large fixed wedge with a "push plate" on the end of the cylinder to drive the log into the wedge.)
Connect your engine and hydraulics and install switches and controls. These links will vary with the type of engine and the specific hydraulic pump or system you bought. You will have to rely on user manuals or your own technical skill to make these connections, although some log-splitter plans may include directions. Hook up the engine to drive the hydraulic pump, which will drive the cylinder.
Tips and warnings
- Get specific instructions for installing your engine and hydraulic system before you start, as variations may affect the way you build your platform.
- Don't try cutting and welding steel unless you are skilled in those functions.
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