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From the family cabin to the home hearth, nothing warms like a real log fire. However, laying in a winter’s worth of firewood is hard work, especially in regions that burn tough species like oak, hickory, or maple. An electric or manual log splitter makes the job much easier, allowing you to spend more time sitting by the fire and less time feeding it. Here’s how to narrow down your search for a handy helper at the woodshed.

This model has a 1.75HP, 15 amp electrical engine. Southland Outdoor Power

Anyone who has processed more than a cord or two of firewood has probably used a vertical, gas-engine splitter. While powerful, they aren’t necessary to handle the modest amounts of wood burned by the average homeowner. An electric splitter with a horizontal log bed is all you need. Some models only sit on the ground, so if you need more work height to relieve back strain, look for a unit with extension legs or one that can rest on sawhorses.

This model produces 13,000 pounds of pressure. WEN

Before investing in an electric splitter, measure the size of your firebox. An open fireplace typically burns logs that are 15- to 25-inches long, whereas wood stoves often require shorter stock. Splitters with a 20- to 25-inch long track that can handle rounds up to 10- or 12- inches in diameter should suffice for most fireplaces or woodstoves.

This model has a wide ring to keep fingers away from swinging tools. Mighty Hand

Even if you only burn the occasional fire, a manual splitting aide is still easier than relying on a traditional maul and wedges. Devices meant for small-diameter work won’t make processing whole rounds any easier, but when it’s time for the precision work or splitting kindling, a wedge seated on the ground can save time, energy, and fingers.