Log Splitter Buyer's Guide

Log Splitter Buyer's Guide
May 27, 2022


You have a lot of questions before you buy a wood splitter. Do I need power, speed, or both? How many tons of force do I need? We have the answers! In this article, we'll address all the factors you need to consider when buying a log splitter.

Operational Factors

The first thing you need to determine when deciding what kind of log splitter to buy is how many tons of force you need. Do you need power, speed, or both? And what type of wood you split is going to be a big factor in making this decision.

Softwood like pine, cedar, and cypress split easily and won’t require much tonnage. If you are splitting mostly soft, straight-grain, or dry, seasoned wood, 22 to 28 tons of power will suffice.

If slow-burning hardwood will be in your wood stove this winter, then how many tons of force your log splitter can produce is much more of a factor. Types of hardwood, like oak, ash, and poplar require a little more power to split. Especially a hardwood-like elm, which is extremely difficult to split because of its interlocking grain.

A 37-ton splitter like the RS-537 or RS-737 will make short work of most variations of hardwood. With 37 tons of power, that “un-split-able” pile will start going away real quick. It has the tonnage to bust through large-diameter rounds, and will even handle that tough, green wood.

The speed of your log splitter may be a more important factor in your buying decision. A fast cycle time, as you will enjoy with the RS-322, a 22-ton log splitter, is a great choice. The 300 series of wood splitters also comes with a hydraulic log lift, making the back-breaking task of lifting logs onto the beam a thing of the past.

The 700 series is fast enough to compete with some wood processors. A two-man team can produce a cord of 30-inch wood to feed the hungriest outdoor boiler in an hour – sometimes less!

Bottlenecks are an important operational factor. Oversize ports on valves and cylinders increase flow while reducing friction - in other words, heat - an operational factor in a log splitter’s hydraulic system. Our splitters all have a large fluid capacity and ¾ inch ports where it matters most, keeping hydraulic fluid cool and flowing freely.

Technical Factors

How many tons of force and how fast a log splitter depends on its cylinder, power source, and pump. You can’t get more power or speed by just increasing the size of one of these components. All three are the heart and soul of any log splitter.

Consider a log splitter’s cylinder. The cylinder's inner diameter (ID) and the outer diameter (OD) of its rod is the specs that matter most. Thanks to good old fluid mechanics, the larger the rod OD, the faster it will retract, reducing overall cycle time.

The length of the rod will also be an important buying factor. If you need longer pieces of wood to burn more efficiently in your furnace or outdoor boiler, then a log splitter with a 30” stroke, is ideal for your purposes.

The engine on your splitter must be able to maintain 3,600 RPMs under load to be a viable source of power. We only use commercial-grade motors on all our log splitters. That means they are more than capable of powering your log splitter, cord after cord, season after season. A cast iron sleeve and overhead valves (OHV) are specs of a true workhorse. Low oil sensors that stop your engine before any damage can be done, are standard on a RuggedMade log splitter engine, taking that fear factor out of the picture.

The hydraulic pump completes the trinity of the overall performance of your log splitter. Pump size does matter and, in this case, that means flow rate. A log splitter's flow rate is how many gallons per minute (GPM) of hydraulic fluid the pump can push through the system. Flow rate directly correlates with how fast your cylinder rod will move in and out. In order to supply your pump with a sufficient amount of fluid, the fluid capacity of your log splitter's hydraulic tank should be about half the GPM of your pump. So, a 16 GPM pump needs at least 8 gallons of hydraulic fluid supply.

You can easily add a value pack of Hydraulic Fluid to your log splitter order, and hydraulic fluid value packs purchased with a log splitter ship free! Yes, you can get hydraulic fluid anywhere locally, but when you buy it from RuggedMade, you're getting a premium product, you'll know you have the correct fluid type, and knowing it will arrive with your new splitter means no special trips to hunt it down. When you already have the right hydraulic fluid on hand, you can just build it, fill it and get splitting right away!

Engine Choice

The convenience of electric start is a no-brainer for those of us who have previously only dealt with pull start engines. Our electric start option will not break the bank like you may have seen with other sellers. We offer a great gel cell battery at a great price, so you know you are getting the right size and amps. Gel cell batteries are completely sealed (no assembly required), they're maintenance-free, and they're more resistant to vibration. Best of all - just like with hydraulic fluid - batteries purchased with a log splitter ship free!

What Are My Blade Choices?

A 4-way blade is more than twice as fast as a simple blade. Once you split four ways, you will wonder why you never did before.

RuggedMade log splitters all come standard with a 4-way blade because we are log splitter people and we understand why you should not be without that feature.

Horizontal vs. Horizontal/Vertical

Both types of log splitters can split logs that are too heavy to lift. Determining which type is best for you largely depends on your budget and if you want to split large rounds on the ground or not.

Horizontal/Vertical style, splitters that can tip up into a vertical work mode, allow you to split a log on the ground that you do not want to lift onto the beam. It is a design feature that makes the machine cost less.

The horizontal style (push-through) splitter's design allows for a more efficient continuous flow of split wood onto a catcher tray or conveyor belt. RuggedMade horizontal splitters also all have hydraulic log lifts, such as on the RS-300 Series and RS-700 Series.

RuggedMade horizontal style log splitters also come with a very useful feature you will not find anywhere else: the stroke restrictor. With this device in place on your beam, you can split shorter rounds without making the rod travel more than it has to. For instance, the RS-700 Series splitters with 30" strokes can split 30" pieces of wood. But when you bolt the stroke restrictor onto the beam at the 24" slots, when the rod retracts on the return stroke, it will hit the stroke restrictor, popping the valve into neutral. This saves 6 inches of unnecessary rod travel. Anyone who splits a lot of wood knows it's all about speed and efficiency!


All our models are ergonomic and easy to configure for storage and towing. RuggedMade log splitters are all designed with the operator in mind. Where every component is on the splitter was taken into consideration, leaving room to stand and operate safely and comfortably.

With a waist-height work surface (about 31” from level ground to the top of the beam), bending over is minimized and your back will thank you for that. Centrally mounted valves mean no unnatural reaching to work the controls, and they can be operated from either side.

Log lifts can be installed on either side of the horizontal style models. Operators working solo usually install the log lift on the same side as the engine for convenient loading, splitting, and engine operation. When two or more people are working with the splitter, the log lift can be installed on the opposite side of the engine so people do not get in each other’s way.


RuggedMade products allow you to tackle the tougher logs that light-duty splitters from big box stores cannot handle. Heavy gauge steel is used throughout, including structural steel beams, the tongue, the cradles, the log stripper, the blade, and the tank. Most of our steel is laser-cut (not stamped) and the precision and strength we put into the quality of our welds mean you are splitting with a machine that can stand the test of time.

Loaded with features and build quality usually found only on machines three times the price. RuggedMade splitters are priced right for typical homeowner use, for the rancher/landowner, or for the independent firewood seller.

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