Written by Terry Smith

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Best manual log splitter [UK]: Heavy duty and home use manual log splitters compared

This article was last updated on October 21st, 2021 at 9:57 pm

If you fancy a manual log splitter over an electric log splitter (or even a petrol log splitter)I know you’re looking for a sensible way to exercise and to save a bit of money – and not to mention you get up to 10 tonne heavy duty manual log splitters that can be transported anywhere with no fear of a power cut or engine failure! Given how well geared they are with the pumping, you can split most logs with a heavy duty manual splitter that a 10 tonne petrol log splitter could handle. Also, they cost a fraction of the price and don’t need a store of petrol in jerry cans! The point is, the right manual log splitter is by no means a second pick!

There are a few very viable manual log splitting methods now, this market has advanced in terms of technology and availability considerably in the last few years, and since I updated this article, there’s a new top manual log splitter in town! You have your obvious pedal operated and hand pump log splitters. However there’s now two other cool methods though not designed for the biggest logs:

Firstly the kindling hatchet style with a large weight attached to a straight pipe. This is thrust into the timber and splits nicely. A bit vague to follow so worth taking a look at my in depth review. They call it the SMART SPLITTER.

The other more interesting and recent development is the Kabin Kindle Quick Log Splitter and has now taken the top spot 🙂 Why you ask? Well I feel it has the edge but a read of my review will clear it all up!

Top manual log splitters in the UK – editors choice:

Best manual log splitter: Kabin Kindle Quick Log Splitter

Top heavy duty manual log splitter: Forest Master Ltd DUO10T Log Splitter

Best budget pick for manual log splitters: Sealey LS450H Foot Operated Horizontal Manual Log Splitter

Best alternative hand pump manual log splitter: Charles Bentley 10 Ton Hand Operated Heavy Duty Hydraulic Log Splitter

How to pick the right log splitter for you

If you’re looking for a heavy duty log splitter then in my opinion the new standard is pedal operated. For a start your legs are stronger but aside from that they are much easier to use standing up right. Sorry about their sales video (I’d turn the volume off) – I’ve started it the right place though. You can see just how easy that one is to use. The DUO10T Log Splitter is even easier.

If you don’t need that much power and it’s more about splitting little logs you definitely want to look at the SMART SPLITTER and the Kabin Kindle. For the average log burner at home and a guy that gets a couple of loads, maybe even a few every Winter then this will easily manage what you need in the log shed.

The biggest decision by far though is working out if you want to use your hands or feet. After that, this review has you covered so let’s look at the best manual log splitters available in the UK at the moment:

You’re wondering how this new product has catapulted into top spot to feed your average log burner? Well it ticks all the boxes for me. It’s safe to use, really light weight for the diameter and length of log it can split, and the cradle allows you to drop most logs onto the wedge so you can focus on give the log a whack with the sledge hammer.

Now the biggest issue for me with this unit is the diameter of timber – it can handle 6 inches. It would be great if they made a bigger one but as it says – kindling.

Now the Kabin Kindle Quick Log Splitter only weighs 12 pounds, which is super easy to carry about the garden. As long as you’ve got a sturdy level base, simply place in your log, whac it with a mallet and the rest is history as they say!

There’s been a couple of complaints of the splitting edge not being sharp and the frame folding. I have to say this must be a manufacture dud because this thing handles six inch logs normally with ease. Overall it’s a great little unit for the home.

Pros:

  • Super light – at only 12lb its half the weight of any log splitter in this review
  • Well priced – one of the the cheapest in this review
  • Nice and safe – the edge is dull and tucked away. you only strike near the blade at distance with a hammer
  • Small unit so easy to store in a cupboard or tucked away.
  • Absolutely no setup at all. Just put it on a level ground and go.

Cons:

  • Can only handle 6 inch logs so not ideal for heavier work
  • Some complaints of quality issues but limited

This new design is a cracker I have to say. It ticks all the boxes and is probably the way forward unless you give up on manual and go electric. I mean look at the stats:

  • weight: 12kg
  • log split size: 400mm diameter no problem
  • log length: 45cm so plenty
  • force: similar to conventional arm operated splitters but applied with gravity so much easier
  • price: cheaper than all the other options for this size log by some distance

If you want space saving manual log splitter that literally weighs 12kg and can split 400mm logs (yes you read that right) then this might work well. You can handle pretty big logs too and there’s minimal upfront setup out the box. If you’ve never seen one of these then be prepared for a cool tool 🙂 that ACTUALLY works.

Firstly the setup is about literally a few minutes. You’ll need to sort yourself out a solid log base and attach the log splitter. Don’t worry, normally log splitters are extremely heavy. This thing comes with the distinct advantage of only being a couple of stone including the ram weight.

You simply lift the weight and sling it down. With both hands firmly on the weight. Personally I would wear gloves in case you slip or run your hand into the base as you throw the weight with an over follow through. Here’s a look at that with credit to Forest Master as this is a snap from their video that simplifies the process:

Two hands on the weight and slide it up, then sling it down and watch the magic from Forest Master

It’ll need a decent bit of force and probably a few throws of the weight to get it to split but what you lose in cut time, you more than make up for in adjustment time for different height logs. A few strikes and you’ve split a decent size log:

Cuts through chunky reasonably knotty logs with a few good strikes

Unlike a conventional log splitter this one has the distinct advantage of changing height effortlessly. You simply lift the ram as you can see in the picture below:

Adjusting the height for the log splitter is as simple as lifting it onto the log – image credit: Forest Master

You can see a wedge on the right of the log above. If you do get a really knotty log you can place an additional wedge under the base once its stuck in the top to double up the split from both ends as you use the rammer a second time.

If I had one request it would be to make the arm slightly longer to keep your arms away from the ram slider a bit more. However it’s appreciated the further away the less balance you would have. I’ll contact them to find out if they’ve tested this and update you soon.

So overall without any question this is my pick for the best manual log splitter. Well done to Forest Master for the implementation and design of this splitter.

Pros:

  • Only weighs 12kg and can split a 400mm log!
  • Great for exercise – you need to give it a good throw down
  • Easy to setup – just crew into a solid log base and you’re ready to go.
  • Sensible pricing – in the budget end of the products in this review

Cons:

  • Can get caught a bit on gnarly timber
  • Not suitable for massive long logs


I’m a fan of the Sealey LS450H Foot Operated Horizontal Manual Log Splitter and it’s no surprise many agree. Firstly its a foot pump pedal which in my opinion is much better than an arm workout unless it’s the unconventional rammer I’ve chosen as best manual log splitter above :). Some may disagree so move onto the next review if you want an arm burn of note :D. If you wan’t minimal fuss however on a tight budget this is a cracking manual log splitter. Don’t let me jazz this up though, it needs a good bit of leg work to split up logs.

Right out the box it requires minimal assembly which also lends itself to folding away too. Well designed on the space saving front it’s pretty compact too. I would say though, this is by far a heavier, more robust option so you can look at it two ways. Either heavy to lug about and setup or excellent structural bulled quality. Are you a glass half full or half empty type? 😀

There are plenty of manual splitters that claim big tonnage in terms of squeeze pressure. I ask you then, with this rated at a merger 1.2 tons, how is this the best manual log splitter? The answers simple, it does its job cracking knotty logs with minimal fuss and effort. There are very few knotty logs it can’t handle.
It comes with it’s drawbacks though. When I tested it I found that I needed an 8 inch log. This gave me the ability to swap the log over if it didn’t split first time. I’d like to see the bar push a bit closer to the axe head. This would definitely help break down more stubborn knotty logs.

I wouldn’t try splitting more than a ten inch diameter either. I’d like to see the bar push a bit closer to the axe head. This would definitely help break down more stubborn knotty logs. Though with those constraints I will say it’ll handle just short of half a metre so if you cut or are supplied with long-ish logs with medium diameter then this is just the kit.

Sealey LS450H Foot Operated Horizontal Manual Log Splitter

Pros:

  • Cheapest manual log splitter – a real bargain
  • The pedal pump takes away much of the strain
  • Over a tonne of force – plenty for smaller logs

Cons:

  • No good for big logs – not heavy duty enough
  • Some QC issues but a reliable seller so replacement no issue.

4. Charles Bentley 10 Ton Hand Operated Heavy Duty Hydraulic Log Splitter

If you’re looking for a conventional manual log splitter then the Charles Bentley 10 Ton Hand Operated Heavy Duty Hydraulic Log Splitter isn’t a bad shout. It has tons of power for small to mid sized logs. It’s well built and being Charles Bentley the customer service is good too. This is the real deal for a good workout!

One lever pumps faster and the other slower. The idea being the faster piston brings the log against the splitter quickly and then the slower pump is designed to push into the splitter and split the log. This massively reduces the time between splitting logs and well thought out. It’s a robust bit of kit with limited failures (they do happen when ten ton of pressure is involved). At 40 kg this isn’t too heavy to move about, especially given the wheels help mobilise it well.

Word of warning, given the way this is setup. You’ll find an 8-9 inch log minimum is best If you go shorter, the log may not push through the splitter deep enough to split the log as the stammer stops short. This is no problem at all if you have 8 inch and up logs. Just worth a mention if they are really short, in which case they probably don’t need much splitting anyway!

I would also say keep an eye out on the seals. Sometimes too much pressured can cause them to leak oil. It’s a rare problem but worth a mention

Overall a very decent product from Charles Bentley.

Pros:

  • Can dismantle a massive log with minimal effort considering it’s manual.
  • Not too heavy at 40kg so can be moved.
  • So powerful you need a minimum of 8 inch log

Cons:

  • I prefer the pedal foot operated version
  • So good it’s sold out often
  • The odd oil leak – when used at highest pressure point with huge logs

Another Forest Master splitter that made the top pick – this one a conventional splitter that offers both arm or foot pedal use (not sure what madness would make you use the arms other than for a workout :D)

The big thing for me with any manual splitter is an adjustable blade position so you can start the cut immediately. It’s quite clear to me that Forest Master themselves genuinely split logs so they understand what we need to make an optimal performing splitter. Their system allows you to adjust the position easily meaning less pumping per split log for maximum efficiency. Talking efficiency, they’ve made a good improvement too. A quick release for the foot pedal which saves time releasing the ram on their 2021 model.

You can split a decent length log too. Half a metre using it horizontally or vertically. The diameter is 30cm so plenty of scope to cut big logs if you need the power and in horizontal position you can split much wider than 30cm. I would say though, unless you do need all that power, I still prefer the Forest master smart manual log splitter on price, performance, and portability for smaller logs and this for larger.

I prefer the vertical position and despite advertising this as a 30cm diameter cut, it’ll smash that to pieces and take much more. I will say though, the height of the pedal isn’t ideal for anyone with bad knees. Naturally the machine attempts to take advantage of a big sweeping lunge for maximum pressure which makes sense, except you need to get your knee up high enough to do so. If you have grief with the knees as I do sometimes then turning it horizontal and working the ams is probably a fair option and solution.

At 35kg it’s pretty mobile and while the wheels are small it does make it easy on flat hard surfaces to reposition if necessary.

Overall a great big if you need a heavy duty manual log splitter.

Forest Master Ltd DUO10T Log Splitter

Pros:

  • Massive cut power – the 30cm diameter is just being nice – it’ll go more
  • Not expensive at all for the power
  • Well designed – the duo blades help split log from both sides
  • don’t need to be strong at all to use this

Cons:

  • Hard to find fault with this classic pedal log splitter
  • Being super picky you might say the wheels are on the small side for manoeuvring.

Why buy a manual log splitter?

Are you looking for a hand pump or foot pump manual log splitter? If you just want to get the job one a foot pedal seems easier – but is it? My pick for the best manual log splitter is a super arm operated design from Forest Master.

You can give your arms a real workout with a 10 ton manual log splitter 🙂 without the need to waste time or money at the gym or use the Forest Master I have highlighted for you 😀

So here’s a guide to the best log splitters where we show you the best value based on quality of hydraulic ram, how easy it’ll split tough knotty logs, the range of log length it can handle, safety, and of course manoeuvrability.


About Terry Smith

I’m Terry Smith from gardentoolbox.co.uk, a professional landscape designer, hobbyist gardener, and barbecue fanatic with 20 years experience building and restoring. So as you go through my site you'll watch me document some of the professional garden installs I make as well as the major projects I take on at home. While sharing those experiences and guiding you, I'll be recommending some great tools I use to enable this along the way so you can really buy in confidence. Always feel free to pop me a message: info@gardentoolbox.co.uk

View all posts by Terry Smith

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