How to Adjust the Pressure on Your Log Splitter for Optimal Performance

Gas-powered log splitters use a hydraulic pump. This pump compresses hydraulic liquid under pressure to the point that the pump piston starts to release.

The piston releases the right amount of force to split a log. Most gas log splitters have adjustable hydraulic systems to adjust the pressure to maximize efficiency.

Log splitters come in different sizes depending on the force that the hydraulic pump can deliver. However, the wood splitter type also affects the force you need to produce since some trees are softwood while some are hardwood species. Remember, the harder the type of wood, the more force you need to split the wood.

How much pressure should a wood splitter have?

The amount of pressure a wood splitter must have will depend on the hardness of the wood that you’re trying to split. And you don’t need to purchase a separate wood splitter for softwood and hardwood. As long as you’re splitting wood of the same size, you can use the same splitter. All you need is to adjust the pump pressure.

Greater pressure is needed to split hard woods while less is needed for soft woods. Prevent overheating of your motor by adjusting the pressure before you start splitting hard woods.

How do you adjust the pressure on a log splitter?

Pressure adjustment takes only a few minutes. You don’t even have to use any special tool to do so. You just need a regular flat-blade screwdriver to make the necessary adjustments. Here are the steps:

1.  Start your wood splitter engine

Before you can adjust the log splitter pressure, you need to power your engine. The engine has to be on so you can easily find out its capacity.

Engine start switches depend on the model of your splitter. Usually, you start your engine by pulling its cord or turning the key in the case of key-ignition units.

Once the wood splitter engine is powered on, the hydraulic fluid will eventually warm up. Once it reaches the idling speed, you may now move to the next step. Take note, an engine picking up speed must be at the idling pace. This will help you effectively test its capacity.

2.  Remove the shields to expose the pump and hydraulic cylinder

Remove the engine shields to expose the hydraulic pump, hydraulic pump inlet strainer, system relief valve, and other splitter pumps. Also known as the splitter guards, you may need to use a screwdriver to remove some screws or a wrench to loosen bolts to expose the system. Once the guard has been removed, you now have easy access to the adjustment controls.

While the engine shield is off, check the hydraulic tank, pump lever, pressure switch/switches, piston rod, relief valve, and other components.

3.  Place the wood splitter control valve to neutral

Once the engine is at the idling speed, set it to neutral position. Look for the level and place it to neutral. Gas-powered splitters come with this feature so it’s very easy to find it on your machine. At this point, the machine is fully exposed and thus, you must avoid any moving parts like the split wedge.

A typical log splitter will have an existing installed power source. Check that this power source is working smoothly before you adjust it. Remove any dirt build up especially on the standard tubing, lock nut, extra tubing, etc.

Whether you have a bigger pump or a smaller pump, you can place it in a higher pressure or increase pressure by first placing the valve to neutral.

4.  Find the adjusting screw of the hydraulic pump inlet

As the pump is in neutral, you may now start adjusting it. Locate the screw that will regulate the pump’s pressure. Usually, the screw is behind the cap along with the hydraulic jack. Take the cap off and you’ll find the screw. In some wood splitter models, the screw is found along the side of the pump. Use a flashlight to locate the screw or check your owner’s manual to safely locate the screw.

5.  Use a screwdriver to adjust the screw control valve

Use a flathead screwdriver to make adjustments. Turn the screwdriver pump clockwise to increase the pressure; turning the screwdriver counterclockwise will reduce the pressure.

If you’re unsure or you have a foreign brand wood splitter, check the owner’s manual for ways to adjust the hydraulic pump pressure. If your system has a hydraulic gauge, check this gauge as you make the adjustments.

6.  Check the pressure

Check the log splitter pump capacity before you set it to a certain speed. Turn the adjustment screw clockwise and listen to how the engine sounds. If it sounds weird or it sounds as if it’s losing control then it may have reached its highest point or maximum pressure limit. In some models, if the engine shuts off then it has reached the limit.

Use the screwdriver to adjust the pressure in the log splitter fixed displacement pump. Don’t worry if you’re doing the correct thing.

As long as you start the adjustment as the engine has reached its limit then you can proceed with reducing the pressure. Adjust the pressure carefully and once you’re content, you may now replace the shield.

7.  Place the wood splitter shield back in place

You’re done with adjustment so the last thing is to return the shield from its previous place. Screw everything in place and power on your log splitter.

If you think that the splitter needs extra adjustments, simply open the shield and adjust with the screwdriver.

Some important points to remember

When adjusting your log splitter pressure, remember the following pointers:

  • Adjusting a gas-powered log splitter is the same as adjusting the pressure of an electric log splitter. This is because electric splitters also come with a hydraulic cylinder. The adjustment screw will likely be located at the same spot.
  • A manual log splitter does not come with a pump. You can fine-tune the pressure by adjusting the wedge’s position. This kind of log splitter uses your strength to exert pressure, you can vary the pressure placed on the log from the amount of force you use. Most manual log splitters can produce up to 10 tons of force only.
  • Sometimes you need to revert the pressure to its previous reading. You can always do this by following the same instructions as above. As long as you take note of how far you adjusted the screw, you can return the splitter to its previous setting.


Log splitter pressure adjustments is one of the most important things you need to learn when using a gas-powered log splitter. Electric log splitters may be adjusted as well and the steps are similar to adjusting a gas splitter.