Best Kindling Splitters

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
107 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best kindling splitters

Last Updated August 2019

Dry kindling makes it easy to light open fires and stoves. Traditionally, a nice, sharp axe has been used to cut kindling. It’s still an efficient tool for the job, but as the kindling gets smaller, you almost always have to hold the piece you’re splitting. Many people aren’t comfortable getting their hands that close to a blade! That’s where a kindling splitter comes in. The aim of a kindling splitter is to be safe enough for the least experienced person to use.

We’ve done our research and recommended a few of the best options here. In the shopping guide below, we discuss the features that can help you choose the right kindling splitter for your needs.

It’s not a good idea to set up your kindling splitter on paving slabs. There’s a good chance they’ll crack. A level tree stump or a large log on a stable surface is ideal.

Key considerations

You’d think that kindling is a pretty simple product, yet there are a surprising number of ways to make it, including an axe, pole splitter, hinged splitter, and kindling splitter.

Axe

If you’re comfortable using one, an axe is a fast and easy way to cut kindling. It’s also a versatile tool. Other types of kindling splitters are single-purpose tools, but an axe can be used for all kinds of woodland cutting, trimming, and splitting tasks. You can also take it with you when you go hiking or camping.

If you’re choosing an axe, a length of between 12 and 18 inches should give you sufficient leverage and good balance without being too heavy. If you want a multi-purpose tool, a handle at the shorter end of that range is easier to carry around. You don’t need a large axe-head to split kindling.

Price: You can buy a cheap axe for a few bucks, but you’ll probably end up disappointed by the quality. The blade, in particular, tends to be poor and need frequent sharpening. A high-quality axe costs $30 to $45, but it should last a lifetime.


Pole splitter

A pole splitter is a bit like an axe-head fixed on a vertical pole. It takes a couple of minutes to set up, but once fixed, you simply slide the blade up and down the pole. It offers more accuracy for the inexperienced woodcutter, but sometimes you still have to put your hand in the path of the blade. There are several different components, which some people find overly complicated.

With pole splitters, think about overall construction and materials. These devices can be lightweight, which makes them fairly easy to move around, but they aren’t as robust as other options. Pole splitters usually have a recommended maximum log size, so check that, too.

Price: The few sliding pole splitters we found are similar in price to the best manual models, at just under $100.


Hinged splitter

A hinged splitter is a backing plate with a long, lever-like blade that’s hinged at one end. The principle is similar to a guillotine-like paper cutter. The device is fixed to a convenient vertical surface, such as a wall or post, you rest the log against the back plate, and push the blade down and through. It’s quite safe because you’re splitting away from you, but it does rely on arm strength to split the kindling, which might be a challenge for some.

Price: You can find wall-mounted cast iron hinged splitters for $150 to $200.


Kindling splitter​​​​​​​

Instead of taking the cutting edge to the log, a kindling splitter hammers the log down onto a blade.

Material: Kindling splitters are made from either steel or cast iron. Some of the latter are quite decorative in design. The  most basic models are made of a simple upright sheet of steel welded at a right angle to a stand.

Blade: The blade doesn’t have to be razor sharp to be effective because the applied force splits the wood grain quite easily.  More advanced blades are contoured to split the log into numerous pieces of kindling with one blow. Most blades are cast as part of the structure. We have also seen removable blades made from a mixture of steel and titanium. These are very hard and take a good edge, which helps if you have particularly dense wood to split. Normally, that’s not an issue, and the fixed-blade type is more than adequate.

Hoop: A hoop around the top of the kindling splitter means you seldom, if ever, have to hold the log you’re striking. These tools are simple and efficient. The most important dimension to check is the diameter of the hoop because that’s going to define the maximum size of log you can split. This diameter varies from about six to nine inches.

Weight: While tool weight is sometimes seen as a disadvantage, it’s unlikely you’ll be moving your kindling splitter around very often, so in this case it usually means a more robust casting – and that’s never a bad thing.

Holes: For added stability in use, it’s nice if the base is has pre-drilled holes to allow the kindling splitter to be bolted down.

Price: Manual kindling splitters of the type we’ve focused on here start at around $40 for a welded metal device that’s little more than a sturdy upright blade, and run to around $120 for the highest-quality cast iron tools.

A tall kindling splitter with a wide opening will allow you to split much larger logs. You might not need an axe at all.

EXPERT TIP

Cast iron is prone to rust, and protective coatings wear through eventually. An occasional cleaning and a wipe with an oiled cloth will keep corrosion at bay.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

A kindling splitter might be a very simple tool, but there are one or two precautions you should take to avoid unnecessary accidents or injuries.

  • Always wear sturdy gloves. Wood splinters are painful.
  • Always wear eye protection or a face shield. You never know exactly how a log will split, and small shards might come off at odd angles.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots. Logs can be quite heavy. Protect your feet against anything falling on them.
  • Make sure the kindling splitter is on an even surface, upright, and doesn’t wobble. If it has fixing holes, screw or bolt it down for maximum stability.
  • Think about your back. You don’t need a huge pile of kindling to start a fire, so split in small batches to avoid undue strain.
DID YOU KNOW?

You don’t need huge force to split kindling with most of these tools, so you don’t necessarily need a large, heavy hammer. A rubber mallet can be an effective alternative.

Other products we considered

A good axe is always an option, and the Estwing Sportsman’s Axe is certainly a beautifully made and versatile tool. The one-piece forging means you’re never going to break the handle, nor will it wear loose, and the leather grip is nice in the hand. The EasyGoProducts EGP-WSPL-001 Jack Jr is a low-cost, basic, but well-made device. It’s light enough to be reasonably portable, but it has four holes for bolting down if you prefer. And the company’s Jack Axe Wedge Splitter has good capacity and will split a log into four pieces with one strike.

It’s not recommended that you use large pine logs and other soft woods on your fire or in your stove because of the resin, but they’re fine for kindling because the wood lights easily and burns through quickly.

FAQ

Q. Will I need to sharpen a kindling splitter?
A.
The common type of kindling splitter where you force the log down onto a blade needs little or no sharpening. The wood is split and the fibers forced apart rather than actually cut. If you feel it has gotten worn and you want to sharpen it up a little, a couple of minutes’ work with a medium-grade file will do the trick. If you’re using an axe, it’s not only more efficient, it’s actually safer when sharp because the blade is much less likely to be deflected.

Q. Is a kindling splitter safe?
A.
Absolutely. Your hands don’t go near the blade while you’re splitting, so there’s no danger of cutting yourself. You do need to hit the top of the log with a hammer or mallet, so just make sure to keep your fingers out of the way.

Q. Does a kindling splitter need any maintenance?
A.
A basic cast iron model will last for years with very little attention. You can clean it with a stiff brush and warm soapy water and remove stubborn deposits with mineral spirits. An occasional wipe with a light oil will help prevent rust, and if you like the decorative appearance, you might want to give it a coat of paint every couple of years.

Mechanical kindling splitters have moving parts that work better if kept clean and lubricated, but it usually only takes a few minutes. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, of course.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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