In order to save on energy bills, many people use wood stoves to help make ends meet. A four-way mechanical log splitter can reduce time needed to prepare a load of firewood. Gas-powered and electric log splitters are available, but the simplest and most dependable is a manual hydraulic splitter. Making a log splitter requires welding skills, but with a little research any physically fit person can take on this project.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Pencil and paper
- H-beam, 6 by 6, 3 feet
- Four-way steel wedge
- Hydraulic bottle jack
- 4 steel plates, 6 by 14, 1/2 inch
- 1 steel push plate, 6 by 6, 1/2 inch
- 6 steel plates, 4 by 2, 1/4 inch
- 4 bolts, 1 1/2-inches long, 1/4-inch diameter
- Steel drill bit, 1/4-inch diameter
- Custom jack head screw
- Welding equipment
- Steel primer and paint
- Hydraulic bottle jack handle(s), 3 foot
Sketch a 3-foot-long horizontal steel H-beam as the base, flange up, and draw vertical steel plates 6-by-14 inches at each end of the H-beam protruding up from the beam 8 inches. On the ends, centre 6-by-14 reinforcing spines, vertically and perpendicularly attached. Sketch the hydraulic bottle jack and the four-way wedge mounted horizontally facing each other and mounted on plates at opposite ends. In the middle of the H-beam, sketch the six small plates that will keep the logs from falling off, as described in Step 6.
Collect your materials, tools and welding equipment. Purchase the steel plates and steel H-beam at a local steel yard and rent the steel welding equipment for an afternoon. A hydraulic bottle jack and a four-way log splitting wedge are shown in the references.
Drill a hole 1/4 inch in diameter through each of the four corners of the bottle jack base, and place the jack squarely on one end of a 6-by-14 plate, one inch from the end. Use a pencil to mark the hole locations on the steel plate and drill the four holes.
Weld two of the 6-by-14 plates in a vertical position flat against the butt ends of the H-beam. Weld the other two 6-by-14 plates centred vertically and perpendicularly on the outside faces of the end plates as reinforcement. The "Mother Earth News" website in the references has welding directions.
Remove paint on the bottom V surface of the four-way wedge using a wire brush disc on an electric drill. Weld the bottom V of the four-way steel wedge onto the end of the H-beam and end plate opposite the bottle jack.
Weld the six 4-by-2 steel plates onto the H-beam's central log-loading area, approximately 6 inches apart from each other, so the logs won't fall off. Weld them to the beam angled up approximately 20 degrees under the lip of the beam's top flange. Make sure they won't block the moving action of the bottle jack head plate.
Drill a 1/4-inch hole in the centre of the 6-by-6 inch push plate. Screw in a longer screw of the same thread and diameter as the original jack head screw but long enough to affix the new push plate.
Paint all the steel with an appropriate protecting primer and top coat so it won't rust. Mount the bottle jack onto its 6-by-14 inch end plate with the 1 1/2-inch bolts, nuts and washers. Insert 3-foot cranking pole, or two poles if you have a two-handled jack.
Tips and warnings
- You can find a bottle jack with two handles online, which will allow faster operation.
- At any time you can switch the manual hydraulic jack for a gas or electric powered one.
- If you don't have a jigsaw to cut the steel plates to size, a metal shop with a band saw can do this.
- Always use proper safety protection when building and operating your log splitter, including appropriate eye protection and gloves.
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