DIY Log Splitter Loading Arm

Rural ingenuity makes splitting firewood easier with a homemade log splitter loading arm.

Log splitter controls

A pair of push buttons are used to operate the loading arm, and a control lever operates the splitting wedge.

Photo courtesy FARM SHOW

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Ed Hollmen, Marion, New York, wanted a log splitter that would be easier on his back, so he designed and built a heavy duty vertical splitter that’s equipped with a log loading arm.

“It makes splitting logs a much easier job, because very little lifting or bending is required,” says Hollmen.

The splitter stands almost 10 feet tall and weighs about 2,000 pounds. A 12-volt winch is used to raise and lower the 5-foot-long loading arm, allowing Hollmen to stack logs from ground level and then raise the arm for use as a table. When he’s done splitting logs, the arm folds up vertically for transport.

“The loading arm can easily pick up a 24-inch-long, 24-inch-diameter log,” Hollmen says. “I like to line up logs on the loading arm platform before I start splitting them so I can work faster.”

He started with a 13-inch-wide by 7-inch-deep, 1/2-inch-thick steel I-beam he found on Craigslist, along with some surplus 1/4- and 3/16-inch-thick steel panels.

A 12-hp Kohler electric start engine from a Cub Cadet is used to drive the splitter’s two-stage hydraulic pump. It powers a 24-inch-long, 4-inch-diameter hydraulic cylinder, which is operated by a splitter valve with a detent in the return position.

Hollmen also developed a two-stage splitting wedge that he says is extremely efficient. The wedge consists of a 1-inch-thick “razor sharp” blade made from tool steel, with a block mounted on either side of it. The log is placed on top of two serrated blocks placed about 6 inches apart.

“The raised blocks help keep tough logs from blowing apart,” Hollmen says. “The system is designed so the wedge can split most logs using only the low-pressure stage of the pump. For tough logs, the wedge will automatically kick down into the second, high-pressure stage and cut right through them. I designed the system so I can add a four-way wedge if I ever need to.

“I’ve used it for six years now, to split about 100 face cords of firewood, and haven’t yet found a log it wouldn’t split or cut.”

The back of the splitter has a pair of push buttons to operate the loading arm and a control lever for the wedge. Hollmen made the hydraulic oil reservoir from a used 13-gallon air compressor tank, and part of the frame and axle are from an old boat trailer.

“I made the splitter’s hitch adjustable for height so I can tow the splitter level behind different vehicles,” Hollmen says.

You can see the splitter in action by going to FarmShow.