Do It Yourself Home Built Log Splitter Design Plans

Log Splitter Tonnage Ratings

Choosing the right log splitter requires many questions including

For many manufacturers the tonnage rating on log splitters is inconsistent at best. The way they rate their tonnage from brand to brand offers way too many variables. So knowing the actual force a log splitter can provide, or tons of pressure, may be a crapshoot of a guessing game. The owners manual for the splitter you are considering may be able to shed some light.

Choosing The Right Log Splitter - Size / Tonnage

Hydraulic Log Splitter Tonnage Guide

Log size is one factor you need to consider when sizing up your log splitter. It's wise to determine what type of wood you will commonly be using, and how large these logs usually get. Determine the largest diameter log you intend to split by measuring the width. This will help determine what tonnage rating you’ll need. Log length doesn’t effect the tonnage calculation, but you do need a log splitter that with work with the standard length of log you intend to split. Generally 24" or 30" lengths, measure your fireplace to see what maximum log length can be.

General Required Log Splitter Tonnage Rating for Log Diameter and Wood Hardness.

HARDNESS 300-600lbs 601-900lbs 901-1500lbs 1501-2200lbs
DIAMETER TONS TONS TONS TONS
6 INCHES 4+ 6+ 7+ 10+
12 INCHES 12+ 15+ 20+ 22+
18 INCHES 20+ 20+ 26+ 26+
24 INCHES 27+ 27+ 30+ 30+

Hardness of a tree is primarily related to how dense the wood is. The more dense the type of wood, the more force required to split the logs.

Different types of wood vary in the require pounds of force needed to split its logs. The charts below refer to the Janka test which measures the hardness of various wood species based on the pounds of pressure required to embed a steel ball half way into the wood.

Examples Of Wood Hardness Ratings

SPECIES FORCE SPECIES FORCE
Alder 590 lbs Elm 1540 lbs
Ash 1320 lbs Fir 710 lbs
Aspen 420 lbs Hickory 1820 lbs
Basswood 410 lbs Locust 1700 lbs
Beech 1300 lbs Magnolia 1020 lbs
Birch 1470 lbs Maple 1450 lbs
Boxelder 720 lbs Oak 1620 lbs
Buckeye 350 lbs Pine 860 lbs
Catalpa 550 lbs Poplar 540 lbs
Cedar 900 lbs Spruce 510 lbs
Cottonwood 430 lbs Sweet Gum 850 lbs
Dogwood 2150 lbs Walnut 1010 lbs

This chart is commonly referred to as the Janka Hardness Test. The Janka hardness test measures the denting and wear resistance of different types of wood. The test uses force to determine the pressure required to embed an 11.28 mm (.444 in) steel ball half way into the woods surface. This leaves an indentation in the wood that is half the diameter depth of the steel ball and this determines the Janka Wood Hardness Ratings for each species of wood tested.

click to open Janka wood hardness chart >

The log width and hardness is all that is required to determine what tonnage rating you will need for your log splitter.

Cycle speed and log length are other considerations that should be addressed to ensure the log splitter properly meets your needs.

These factors can be found in the owners manual or specification sheet for the log splitter you are considering.

The average rental size unit in the United States is a 26 ton log splitter.

Log Splitter Considerations

Here are some things you should look into:

Final Notes: How Many Tons Will You Need?

The bottom line is that the tons of pressure you’ll need in your log splitter performance is directly related to the size, type, and condition of the wood you’ll be splitting. Take all the following points into consideration:

As a general guideline, be sure to choose a log splitter that can split the biggest, hardest, and most difficult logs that you’ll be working with.