Logging refers to the practice of felling trees mainly for the purpose of obtaining timber. While the bigwigs of logging industry have state-of-the-art logging equipment at their disposal, it is not viable to use the same machines on a small scale at home - cutting wood for the fireplace for instance.
Working on the lines of simple machines, a log splitter - aka a wood splitter, is an equipment which can save your precious time and energy by making the tedious task of splitting wood much easier than you can think.
Logging Equipment for Home Use
There exist two types of log splitters:
- Mechanical log splitters - which predominantly rely on electrical force, and at times on hydraulic force.
- Manual log splitters - which rely on human force, wherein the person is supposed to use hands or feet to pump the wedge and split the wood.
A log splitter, as its name suggests, is an equipment to split logs of wood into two or more halves. Of the two types mentioned here, the mechanical splitters score over their manual counterparts when it comes to speed. There also exist hybrid variants which use both - electrical and hydraulic force.
Though mechanical log splitters are much more efficient than their manual counterparts, one cannot deny the fact that they are quite costly as well. Other than the advantage of low costs, manual splitters also boast of being lighter, safer and make less noise.
The foot operated manual log splitter for instance, is considered to be an apt option as you can hold the large piece of wood with your hands while you operate the machine using your legs.
While mechanical splitters are considered to be too costly by many, manual log splitters draw criticism on the basis of efficiency. This, in turn, means that the best way out is to build a small mechanical log splitter of your own. By building it on your own, you can save half of what you would spend on buying a new one.
How to Build Log Splitter
A log splitter is either operated by an engine or a hydraulic pump; and therefore opting for a decent engine or pump is one of the basic requirements of the machine if you intend to make it stronger and efficient.
It is also wise to build the machine on a wheeled platform as you will require to take it around. While choosing the cylinder or hydraulic pump for your log splitter, you need to make sure that you choose one with a working pressure of 1500 psi. Similarly, an ideal log splitter blade will be 8 x 5 inches, cut out from ¼ inch thick plate of iron or steel.
To start with, you need to take four equal sized blades of iron or steel, and cut each of them at an angle of 45 degrees at the end - in the shape of a trapezoid. Next, sharpen the blades, by running their edges along the grinding wheel on both sides. After you have sharpened them, take two blades and line them up together to form a pointed edge.
Next, clamp these blades at the edge (Note: This can be risky as the blades are very sharp, and you will have to use a vice to hold the blades together.) and weld them together using a gas welder. Without removing the blades from the vice, line up the third and fourth blade on either side, and gas weld them to the first blade to form a four-blade point.
Next, take an iron pipe - 16 inches long and at least 2¼ inch thick, and cut a section using a metal saw sporting a carbide-tipped blade. Mark four aligned connection points; making sure that they match the orientation of the four blades.
You can use a protractor to measure these points. Cut along these marked regions to form a notch of an inch in the pipe. After lining the first blade on one of the notch on the pipe, slide the entire fabricated blade structure into it.
First, attach it to the pipe by tack-welding, and then use gas welder and filler bar to strengthen the assembly. Lastly, grid out these welds as sharply as possible, and your four-blade homemade log splitter with the capacity of splitting a pickup full load of wood within half an hour is ready.
You can use it with or without hydraulic power, though the use of hydraulic pump is recommended as it will make the task a lot easier. The process of installing hydraulic pump will depend on which model you opt for. The installation manual, which comes along with the pump, will guide you through the entire process with ease.
You just need to ensure that you take necessary precautions, like keeping the hydraulic pump deactivated, when assembling the blade assembly to it. As with installation instructions, even precautions will be enlisted in the manual, and considering the risk of working with sharp log splitter blades, it is not at all wise to ignore any of these precautions.
Even the manual log splitters which can be operated by hand or foot ease the enormous amount of exertion required to cut wood with an ax or a saw.
It is a handy equipment which saves time, and doesn't require tiring physical efforts from you. And if, at all, you have some reservations about working with tools like gas welder and carbide-tipped blade, you can always resort to professional help to pull off these tasks.