A log splitter is a useful tool that especially comes in handy during the cold winter months. Instead of spending hours trying to chop up firewood with an ax, you can do the same job with a log splitter using less effort in an hour or less.
However, the price of log splitters can go as high as a few hundred dollars, and this can be a little steep for some of us. But with a little effort, you can already build your own log splitter with a hydraulic jack for just a quarter of the price – or less if you already have the needed materials lying around in your home.
In this article, I will give you a step by step guide on how to make a log splitter with a hydraulic jack.
You Will Need
Before we begin with this tutorial, make sure that you already have these items ready. If you’re the average handyman, you may already have these in your toolshed. Otherwise, you can easily buy them at your local hardware store.
Here are the tools and materials that you will need for this tutorial:
- Hydraulic jack
- Sheet metal
- Steel beam
- Hydraulic hoses
- A single-blade wedge
- Steel bracket clamps
- Acetylene torch
- Welding mask or protective goggles
- Protective gloves
- Castor wheels, in case you want the added mobility to your log splitter.
Step 1: Build the Frame
The first step is to build the frame for your log splitter. This is necessary to provide enough support for your hydraulic jack while it works to push the wood onto the wedge.
Try to build the frame in the shape of a sawhorse so that you have enough support from its four legs. The size of the top of the frame would depend on the size of the hydraulic jack, the wedge, and the wood you will be cutting.
Once you’re decided on the measurements you’ll be needing, weld all the necessary pieces to form your frame. In doing so, make sure that you are wearing the necessary gear to protect yourself during the process.
Step 2: Build the Sliding Block
The sliding block is the portion of the log splitter where you will be placing the wood. This will help the hydraulic jack smoothly push the wood onto the wedge. This also helps hold the wood securely in place.
There are no specific measurements as to the sliding block – it really depends on the dimensions of the wood that you will be frequently used, so weld the sliding block accordingly.
As a tip, make sure to use additional shims and keep on testing the sliding motion of the block. Once you’re satisfied with how your sliding block glides, we can now proceed with the next step.
Step 3: Mount the Jack
Now, we proceed with mounting your hydraulic jack – the most essential part of your log splitter. Simply position the jack on one end of your frame with the sliding block right beneath it.
Making sure that the jack is properly in place will guarantee that the sliding block will be effectively pushed towards the sharpened wedge.
Once you’re done determining where the hydraulic jack should be mounted, secure it in place by putting a collar around the neck of the jack and welding the collar onto the frame. Otherwise, you risk having a wobbly log splitter as you try to push the wood onto the wedge.
Step 4: Attach the Wedge
At the opposite side of where you mounted the hydraulic jack, begin to weld the blade into place. Bear in mind that the hydraulic jack will push the piece of wood onto the blade, so you have to mount the blade facing the direction of the jack.
If you could not find or buy a single-blade wedge to attach, you can simply weld pieces of metal into a sharpened wedge. Before you weld the wedge, take note of the kind of wood you will be cutting and the pressure that the hydraulic jack can apply. This will guide you as to the wedge angle that you will need to effectively cut wood with it.
But as a general rule, since these hydraulic jacks are operated manually, you may have to use a sharper wedge for more effective log splitting – just make sure that the wedge is securely welded onto the frame.
Step 5: Attach Wheels
This is actually an optional step, but I would recommend attaching trolley wheels onto your homemade log splitter.
Bear in mind that the finished product will be heavy, so having to take it out every time you want to use it can be quite a chore. Attaching wheels underneath the platform will allow for better mobility, giving you more options as to where you could use it.
You can either use castor wheels or trolley wheels for this step. These wheels can be easily attached by using screws.
Some heavy-duty castor wheels are available in case you’re using heavy hydraulic jacks and high-density wood. While you’re at it, make sure you buy the ones with a lever that stops the wheels from rolling. This will make sure that your log splitter will stay in place even while it’s cutting wood.
And there you have it – you have successfully created your own log splitter with a hydraulic jack.
Step 6: Test Your Machine
The best part about making your own equipment is that you can adjust it according to your liking. This is especially true even for your homemade log splitter.
Now that you are finished with building your machine, you can test it out to determine its speed and capacity. You can begin by using logs from smaller softwood trees and gradually increase to larger hardwood trees.
As you test out your log splitter, take note of how the sliding block works and how your frame holds up. This is usually a sign that you have reached the machine’s capacity.
Also, take note of how effective the wedge is at splitting the wood. If you notice that it is not as effective at slicing through the log, you can always try to sharpen it or replace it with a wedge with a more appropriate angle.
Keep on testing your machine until you find the setup that you’re most comfortable with.