What to Look For in a Vacation Home Log Splitter
When I was a kid, my grandparents used to take me and my family to their cabin every so often. Sometimes we’d go during my summer vacation, which was loads of fun, but most of the time we went during the winter months. I used to watch my dad and my grandpa chop wood out back for the fireplace, and it looked like so much work. Once I became a teenager, I got to join them and I saw exactly how much work it really was.
If you have a cabin or any other type of vacation home where you need to chop wood, then you’re definitely going to want to have some kind of log splitter. It makes the job so much easier, and is also much safer than dealing with axes. I put together this guide for anyone in this situation to figure out what kind of log splitter they need so they don’t have to break their backs chopping wood like I did.
Clearing vs Kindling
This is probably the biggest factor to think about before you even start looking at log splitters. If you’re only going to be preparing a few logs here and there so you can have a steady supply of firewood, then you’re definitely going to be looking at a manual splitter. There are some models that are specifically designed to create kindling wood, with a smaller chamber designed to work with smaller logs that are ideal for use in a fireplace. You can also choose a general manual log splitter, which can have a slide hammer mechanism that allows you a little more room to work with different types of wood.
On the other hand, if you’re going to be clearing a lot of wood from the property, or if you just don’t want to put in too much effort, then you might want to consider an electric splitter. These models cost a little bit more, but are incredibly easy to use and can help you clear a huge pile of logs in a matter of minutes. You might not need to do that much clearing on a vacation home, unless it comes with a lot of land that you need to maintain. This is really about making sure you get the right splitter for your needs without going overboard, because bigger models can be harder to store and require more maintenance.
Frequency of Use
If you’re going to be visiting your cabin or vacation home only a few times each year, then you’re probably going to want to choose a manual splitter. These models require practically no upkeep since there is no motor involved; you don’t have to worry about it breaking, rusting up, or getting damaged while you’re away. Plus, if something does happen to it and you need to get a new one, your out of pocket cost is still going to be pretty low compared to repairing a motorized splitter.
For those of you who make frequent visits to your vacation homes and will need to be splitting logs much more often, then an electric model might be a better choice. This really comes down to how much effort you want to put into splitting, and whether or not you can deal with the maintenance of the machine.
My grandparents’ cabin was in a pretty rural area, which meant it didn’t have any electricity. If your vacation spot only has a small generator or gas heating, then an electric log splitter is pretty much out of the question. Manual splitters don’t require any power, so they are a great choice in this situation. Even if you have a steady power source, it can also be a good idea to have a manual splitter on hand as a backup, in case of a power outage or some other unforeseen issue.
You could also choose a gas log splitter because they are completely self-sustaining. This type of splitter has its own gas engine that drives the hydraulics, so you don’t have to plug it into an outlet or any other kind of external power source. However, they can be a bit more expensive than other models. There are gas models that are pretty compact and portable, so don’t think you’re going to be stuck with a hulking machine. Just remember that gas models are loud and need to be operated outside, as they emit fumes from the gas motor.
Proper Storage Environment
The final thing you’ll need to think about is your storage situation. In most cases it’s not too big of a deal, because you can just move the splitter inside the cabin or house so it’s protected when you’re gone. Still, if you don’t have a lot of room inside, or if you’re concerned about getting the interior dirty, then you need to make sure you can store the splitter properly outside. If there isn’t any covered area there, like a shed or lean-to, you’ll either need to pick up a tarp or cover to protect it from the elements or simply get a manual splitter that you can leave outside without too much worry.
One Last Tip
I have one last tip for you, no matter what type of log splitter you choose. I would highly recommend picking up a pair of work gloves and safety glasses, as it will not only make the whole process easier but reduce the risk of injury. The gloves will protect you from splinters when you hold the wood, both before placing it into the splitter and, especially, when you take it out. Trust me, it will make a big difference.