Harbor Freight Log Splitter
“He who chops his own wood warms himself twice.”
Words of wisdom from my grandfather Ralph.
Yeah, my daughter snickers at this saying too. But only because she doesn’t split the firewood…
It may be hard to believe, but it does get cold in Texas. Just not very often or for very long.
We’ve had several weeks of cold weather here, and I’ve been putting all this dead oak from the drought to use in the fireplace.
The Fat Rancher likes to think of himself as burly. However, splitting logs isn’t how he likes to demonstrate his manliness. Yup, “better livin’ through power tools” has always been my motto.
So when I started looking for a wood splitter, I took it pretty seriously. 20 ton, 30 ton, skid steer, tractor or gas engine powered, I looked at a bunch. And the prices pretty much ran the gamut.
Then I spied the Predator 20 Ton Log Splitter from Harbor Freight.
Now, this splitter has a smaller tonnage than some other power splitters. But it is very unique from others in one very special way: The location of the hydraulic cylinder.
Most splitters have the hydraulic cylinder (HC) in line with the wedge. That is, the HC is on top in line with the log. Now this may transfer the most power to the wedge, but it also means that logs can be split in only one direction of the HC.
The Predator, however, has the HC under the log bed. This means that it can have a dual sided wedge, and split logs in both directions. This makes the Harbor Freight Log Splitter unique.
This may seem trivial. But as anyone who has spent time splitting logs can tell you, the return time to reposition the wedge is often the same amount of time to drive the wedge. This means that splitting in only one direction splits 1/2 the wood in the same amount of time that splitting in both directions.
The result is that, instead of cooling your heels while a conventional wedge reverts to the open position, you are reloading your splitter at each end of wedge travel. This dramatically increases the throughput of the splitter. Place a log, split it in half, take a half and move it to the other side of the wedge and return.
The Predator has a capacity of 23.5″ length and 16″ diameter. This, and the 20 ton strength has been more than adequate for the trees felled on Hidden Oaks. I have yet to run into a log that couldn’t be split properly.
The splitter comes with a 6.5HP Predator gas engine with, very importantly, a fuel cutoff valve. If you have had the “ethanol blues” before, you know that leaving fuel with ethanol in the float bowl of an infrequently used power tool will bugger it up but good. So every time I shut down the engine, I run the fuel out of the carb. That way, when I get ready to start it again, no fuss.
I’ve never had a predator powered tool before, so I was cautiously optimistic that it would be reliable. I’m happy to report that after two season, there have been no issues with the splitter.
The splitter comes on wheels and has a 2″ ball coupler. It’s not designed for road use, but rather hauling around the ranch (which I do with the Mule). I bought a long BBQ grill cover from Home Depot to cover it. It fits nicely with two hook/loop straps to keep it from blowing off.
The Splitter proved hard to find in the Harbor Freight stores. I think it is a combination of popularity and bulk that conspire for low inventories. However, it is readily available from the warehouse. You will have to spend $75 on freight, but since the splitter is normally only $749.99, you are still saving a bunch over the big-box stores.
The product comes in a crate and requires final assembly. This includes assembling the frame, wheels, and coupler. Be sure to buy some hydraulic fluid and oil to complete the assembly.
The control, ram, engine and pump are preassembled on this Harbor Freight Log Splitter. They need to be mounted and tubing installed.
Packaging was great, with all small parts and connectors blister packed on a card (helps keep small items in sight until assembly).
Completed Harbor Freight Log Splitter fired right up and was ready to go.
At $750 (plus shipping) the Harbor Freight Predator log splitter is a great value. Surprisingly, HF doesn’t do a very good job of highlighting the most awesome feature of this product: Bidirectional splitting. Go figure.
Is it the beefiest splitter on the market? No way. But it does an admirable job on a budget. I’m into my second season and there are no issues. I’ll follow up on this thread if there are any changes.