Manual Log Splitter

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A manual log splitter is the most traditional, old fashioned way to split your firewood.

No gasoline engines, no PTO from a tractor, just your energy and hard work are used to split the wood.

Although this may sound tiring, new technology has helped make splitting logs by hand much easier.

Manual splitters are more compact, lighter, easier to transport and cost less money than a power splitter.

Choosing which type or model is a matter of preference but also depends on how much wood you need to split.

There are many different models and styles of manual splitters but here are some of the most popular styles available.

What Is A Manual Log Splitter?

Technically, a manual log splitter is any kind of product that will help you split a log by using the initial force that is generated by you, the operator, rather than by some kind of hydraulic force.

Rather than using power to drive a piston from electricity or gas, you’ll be responsible for all of the input.

There’s a misconception out there that a log splitter needs to be expensive and either gas- or electricity-powered in order to get the job done.

That’s not the case.

Manual log splitters can be just as effective and more reliable in the event that you don’t have access to these two things.

There are some other benefits associated with using a manual log splitter, too.

For example, it tends to be more compact and lighter as well as less expensive to use.

If you’re new to splitting firewood, you may find that the learning curve for using manual log splitters isn’t quite as steep, easier - learning how to cut and split your own firewood might become less of a daunting task.

Manual log splitters also offer an efficient mode of functioning that is traditional and direct.

You don’t need to have a lot of know-how in order to operate one of these machines.

Splitting Axe

Although a splitting axe isn’t technically a manual log splitter machine, perse, it still deserves a spot on this list of manual log splitter options.

It’s the original log splitter, after all!

The splitting axe is a hand held axe designed to split the wood fibers apart and not cut them.  

The newer models have fiberglass handles and are lightweight, allowing you to swing them for hours without becoming too tired.  

The Fiskars X27 splitting axe is a highly recommended splitting axe with great reviews.

Fiskars x27 Super Splitting Axe

The fiberglass handle makes it light and the axe is extremely sharp. 

The head of the axe is designed to easily split through the toughest logs and the fiberglass handle makes it strong and durable

After years of using a maul to split firewood I purchased this splitting axe due to the amount of satisfied people who have used one.

Wow.....what a nice axe.

It splits great and it's much easier to swing than a heavy maul.

Manual Hydraulic Log Splitter

The manual hydraulic log splitter uses hydraulics to split the wood.

These splitters are powered by hand, pumping handles back and forth similar to pumping up a jack. 

The hydraulic piston forces the wood through a wedge, splitting the wood.  

The design concept is similar to the gas powered hydraulic splitter only the gas engine is replaced by you!

The manual style is much lighter and cost less than a power model.  

The obvious downfall is the amount of time it takes to split a piece of wood compared to the gasoline model.

If you do not have a large amount of wood to split, the manual hydraulic log splitter could be a good choice.

Slide-Hammer Manual Log Splitter

The slide-hammer manual splitter uses a wedge attached to a pole with a sliding hammer action that drives the wedge through the wood.

This type of splitter is compact, lightweight, inexpensive and easy to transport.  

It's a good choice for splitting small diameter wood, softwood, or small amounts of hardwood.

Logosol Smart-Splitter

The slide-hammer may take more strokes to split the wood compared to a splitting axe, but it's safer because you're not swinging a sharp blade near your body.

If you don't have a lot of experience swinging a splitting axe or maul, they can be very dangerous.  

A glancing blow on the side of a log can cause the axe or maul to deflect towards your body and legs, possibly causing serious injury.

In the end you'll just need to determine which type of wood you're going to split and how much wood you're going to need.

Kindling Splitter

Another type of manual log splitter you might want to consider is one that’s designed just for kindling.

In most cases, an axe will work just fine to split small bits of wood for kindling.

However, you can also buy a specialized kindling splitter that is perfect for the task.

You might consider an option like the manual splitter by Hi-Flame, which is affordable and smaller, making it easier to store.

Although it can’t handle large, heavy logs or huge volumes like an electric or gas-powered log splitter, it’s more portable and perfect for campgrounds and other tasks where portability is essential.

Are Manual Log Splitters Any Good?

Manual log splitters might require a bit more labor than other kinds of log splitters, but they’re still a good option if you’re trying to find a way to get your firewood done for the winter.

In fact, a manual log splitter is a good option for lower volume wood splitting, such as what might be required for camping, hiking, or minimal home use.

There are some manual log splitters that are much more portable than others, which might play a role in the overall diameter of the wood that you can split.

Just keep in mind that with a manual log splitter, you are going to need direct manpower in order to complete your job.

There are some safety issues if you aren’t careful about where you have your hands positioned - hands tend to be common victims when it comes to injuries afflicted while operating manual log splitters.

Of course, if you are attentive at all times and take the right safety precautions, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about this anyway.


Overall, any manual splitter will work to split firewood.

The question is how much wood do you need to split and how much money do you want to spend?

Just because you have a lot of firewood to split does not necessarily mean you have to go out a buy a gasoline powered hydraulic log splitter.

We have split firewood for decades without the use of gasoline engines.

A little sweat and the right tools are all you need!


About the Author

Nick Greenway

Obsessed with firewood, Nick is behind over 350+ of Firewood For Life's articles, as well as countless reviews, guides and YouTube videos to help readers like you reduce heating costs and create the perfect fire.