A log splitter has two main components, the ram and the wedge. The ram is usually a hydraulic piston driven by some kind of motor. A manual log splitter has a lever attached to the ram hydraulics and is driven by the operator, just like a floor jack for an automobile. The hydraulics for the ram can also be driven by either electric- or gasoline-powered motors. Log splitters are rated by the amount of force the ram is capable of producing. Most commercially available models for residential use are rated from 12 to 20 tons. Commercial-use log splitters can be rated from 20 to 30 tons or more.
The ram forces the log section into a wedge, which is mounted onto the frame of the log splitter. The force applied to the log causes it to split along the grain against the wedge. The wedge is either "2-way" or "4-way." The 2-way wedge splits the log in half; the 4-way wedge splits the log into quarters.
Safely Operating a Log Splitter
First, the operator must wear safety glasses and gloves for protection. The logs must be cut into suitable lengths for the splitter. The operator should handle the logs from the sides and never put his hands between the ram and the log or the log and the wedge. No one should be touching the log while the splitter is in operation. The operator should be behind the ram, with the ram pushing away from him if he is using a horizontal log splitter. For a vertical log splitter, he should avoid standing on either side of the splitter while it is in operation. Finally, he should wait until the ram is completely disengaged before approaching the splitter to pick up the split wood. The operator should read and follow the manufacturer's operation manual for the specific splitter being used.
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