Picking a Log Splitter Style: Vertical or Horizontal

When shopping for log splitters, you'll find there are two basic styles - vertical and horizontal. If you're not sure which is best for you, watch this video as Jared and Jake from @Dude Ranch DIY discuss the pros and cons of each style.

Video Transcript

Welcome back to RuggedMade. I'm Jared and I'm here with Jake from Dude Ranch DIY. How's it going, everybody? So, Jake's been visiting with us and we've been having a lot of fun playing with all the different machines. One of the most common questions we get from folks is trying to figure out what are the differences and pros and cons between this style of splitter, which is what we would call a horizontal vertical or tip-up splitter and this style of splitter, which is a horizontal or a push-through log splitter. So, we've got the advantage of having Jake here. He's kind of a splitting pro, so we thought it'd be a good topic to discuss and we can feel our way through and figure out when does one make sense versus the other.

So, Jake, you've operated both kinds of machines. I mean, you have one of our early 700-Series and I think your first splitter was more this style, so when this question comes up with you, what do you usually say? I think there's obvious pros and cons to both, as you kind of said. I think if you're more of a homeowner splitting firewood for yourself and you're not looking for the super-high production or to maximize your time as much and you just enjoy splitting or you're, maybe, just by yourself, I think this machine is a great alternative to a push-through style splitter. Mostly because if you have the small, nice rounds that you can easily pick up, you can use it in that horizontal, really ergonomic position. But, if you have large rounds, like the ones standing next to me, you can also have it in that vertical position that it just was and you don't have to worry about having to somehow pick them up or have another person there to help you get it into this horizontal position, which is really nice if you are by yourself or limited in your equipment resources.

Yeah, I think raising equipment resources is a great point. Some people who have expressed an interest in a horizontal machine, which pretty much has to have a log lift, sometimes people say “but I've got a Bobcat” or I mean, you've got a Kubota tractor. Yeah. We've got the John Deere here on the ranch. So, we've had people say, “You know what? I like those features but I like to bring my logs right up to the splitter in the bucket of my tractor.” Right. So, it's not like we try to convince people that they need to have a log lift to get the job done. So, between the vertical position that we just saw this in… I mean that log no one's lifting that into this position. Right, and I think if you don't have a tractor or a piece of equipment to bring a massive log like this to, it's fairly easy to just, as you're doing right here as I'm talking, popping it up and then you can just roll this log right over to it, plop it down, it'll bust it up into four pieces with this nice four-way wedge and then you're off to the races. And, even once you quarter it up or maybe split it up into eighths, you can go back and flip it back to that horizontal position once you have manageable pieces. That way, you're not bending down or sitting on a five gallon bucket or something like that. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it is nice to have the machine up at waist height. Both of these machines are right around average waist height so you're not really hunched over too much. Right.

Now, what about the horizontal? Because, that's what you went with for your production and you're doing a mix, I think, of home heating and you're selling firewood. Right. Now, I mean, the horizontal push-through style, I think, definitely has some features that are nice to have that this style splitter just can't have based on its horizontal-vertical nature. One of the biggest is obviously having this log lift. If you're looking for the higher production maximizing your time you can load up this log lift with one massive round and break it into multiple pieces, throw all those pieces back onto here, and they're right here within arm's reach to be able to send through the splitter. Or, if you're working with smaller wood where this style splitter in the horizontal orientation really shines, you can stack up 10-15 rounds right here on this lift and send them through one time and you just push them through it makes a lot of firewood really quick. Another nice, really nice feature that I like to have is this log catch tray because when you do send through a big round and it breaks it into four pieces, this log catch tray catches all four of those pieces. That way, you don't have to then go, bend down, and pick them up off the ground just to get them back up here. They're already there and it gives you a little bit of leeway as far as having to move the pieces from here to here because it can hold quite a bit of material at once.

Yeah, and we know a lot of people like to put a cart, a little garden trailer, or even a conveyor at the foot of this and get into kind of a process. Yeah. It can be very efficient, and I think that's where this machine really shines. If you are looking for that higher production because of the catch tray, you're able to have a tractor bucket or a conveyor or a dump trailer or something right at the end of it and it just pushes the wood in. Yeah.

So, I think we've talked numerous times about productivity and I think that's about how much throughput, how much how many cord can you split per hour given X number of people and what kind of wood you have. Right. And, I think that does matter for a lot of people, especially people who are heating their own big barn or a garage or selling the wood. Yeah. Time is money and that matters. And, I think where a lot of the speed and efficiency comes from on a machine like this is the fact that you’ve got a push plate pushing against the blade and after that split, you just go right to the next split. You don't have to handle it again. Right. And, as you know, so our viewers can see in some of our other videos when we are splitting with the 500-Series, after that split, you still have to take a little bit more fumbling around and stuff. And, a point that you brought up, is how many people you have working with you. I think if you consistently have multiple people working with you, this style splitter is nice because as people have probably seen in my videos, I'll be running the splitter and I'll have a second person there keeping this log lift tray loaded with wood ready to go. Whether it's already split pieces that need to be re-split or just loading it up with smaller rounds to keep the process moving. Yeah.

But, when I started talking about it, with having to handle the log again or the pieces on that machine again to put them somewhere, it sounds inefficient, but then I realized that a lot of times you have to handle it to get it into a car anyway. Some people stack, some people split right near where they stack, and one of our upcoming videos is actually going to be kind of a “How to Stack” where we'll be showing a few different options for stacking wood. So, again it really depends on each person's setup, how much wood they're trying to split per year, where they split, and where they stack, which is why I think it's a fair question. I'm glad we got a chance to talk about it. Absolutely.

It's really not a matter of in all situations one machine is more effective than the other. No, it's definitely not. Each machine shines in different areas, and I think it's all based on what type of splitting you're doing, how often you're splitting, the size of trees around you, and how many people you have. Yeah, and one thing that you really can't ignore is people's budget. Right. The machine like the 500-Series - that horizontal vertical - it doesn't need as much equipment, fewer valves, fewer hoses, less metal, so it is a little bit simpler and that allows it to be more affordable for some folks who just don't need all the features of a machine like this. Absolutely. And, that's why it's still in the lineup and still serves people very well.

I think that covers a lot of the considerations that people should be thinking about when they're trying to make their decision about which of these styles of machines is right for them. It's [been] really helpful to have you come up and talk to us about it, Jake. Appreciate it. It's been my pleasure. Yeah. So, be sure to check out Jake's channel, Dude Ranch DIY, and hopefully we’ll have some more videos coming out with Jake soon. For sure. Thanks for having me, Jared. All right.