Since I’m ranting about firewood, I want to endorse two products. I’ve already written a review of my woodsplitter here and my chainsaw here and I still recommend both products. I bought both several years ago and have used them fairly hard. I’ve had to do the usual routine maintenance and anything else is due to my stupidity and not the product (I’m thinking about woodsplitter tires which I simply overused.) If they were junk I’d know by now.
Both are name brands that don’t play pussyfoot with product designations (so you know model X from one vendor matches model X from another vendor). The make and model is important so think it over carefully, but once you’ve made your choice you don’t save much (if any) based on where or from whom you buy the model you’ve selected. Not all products are like that but I’ve found no huge upside to comparison shopping for Troy Bilt or Stihl.
I bought both locally several years ago but I had the option to buy the splitter on-line. If I were to do it again I’d buy it from Amazon and spare myself some hassles from the local guys. (This whole e-commerce thing isn’t all about iPads and collectors Star-Trek plates you know!) The whole idea of trying to establish a rapport with local service guys is bullshit and we might as well put a stake in it. Unless you live in 1950 they won’t recall you fondly or give you better service or even care whether you live or die. My local guys hose up most interactions, probably shouldn’t be using tools, and would rather be selling something like basketballs. My point being that buying on Amazon and having delivery straight to the house is a miracle and I wish I’d done it rather than letting those chimps get their greasy mitts on my money.
As for my recommendations; am I biased observer? Hell yeah. I bought both products myself and I tend to think I’m a pretty awesome guy. Secondly, if you buy ’em I get a tuppence and a pat on the head from the corporate overlords at Amazon. I’ll enjoy the cash but that doesn’t mean I’m trying to sell you crap. The stuff I recommend is what has served me well.
I own a Troy-Bilt 27 Ton Hydraulic Log Splitter with 160cc Honda Engine. I’ve had good luck with Troy-Bilt products and the wood splitter in particular has been a big win. You can buy from Troy-Bilt on-line and the price is just about as good as you can possibly get. (Nor will they kill you on shipping.) The link on the Troy Bilt website is here.
Unfortunately, Troy Bilt’s website is proof that there are companies in 2015 that still can’t manage a decent web presence. Go figure? They’ve got the goods and a killer shipping deal but I just loathe their website. YMMV. Having made a zillion purchases through Amazon I’m happier with Amazon. Here’s the lame little image you’ll find on the Amazon web site:
This is a representation of the product at work:
I bought mine about five years ago. The price has gone up a bit (like the price of everything else… despite the fact that there’s supposedly no inflation… but that’s another story). Also the components (mostly the engine) seem to fade in and out. Models with Honda engines seem temporarily rare. I figure there’s a factory somewhere that ran out of widgets in a way that affected a container ship in Timbuktu? I found two options; a Honda Engine or a slightly larger non-Honda Engine that costs a little less. Odds are both engines are fine and even the sexy Honda makes an unholy racket. But I bought a Honda and like it so I can’t say much about the other engine. Both are Troy-Bilt products shipped by a third party. I’ve never bought from either one, I wouldn’t expect hassles but you ought to do due diligence (make sure it comes with hydraulic fluid, etc…). Caveat emptor and all that.
I own and recommend a Stihl MS 361. Stihl is like Troy Bilt in that I never find it cheaper or more expensive by comparing stores. What this means is that if you find a Stil Model X in wherever, you’re unlikely to save a bunch by driving to six other stores (which is what I tried).
I couldn’t find Stihl on Amazon. They should be drawn and quartered for that. I’m going to assume there’s an army of lawyers shitting on free trade in a legal (but dangerous) tool, so screw them and their European aversion to selling stuff on the internet. (Note: while you don’t see a lot of complete Stihls on-line you can probably buy most parts in a heartbeat. As soon as I break something I’ll put that theory to the test.)