Harbor Freight’s Central Machinery 5 Ton Log Splitter Review


Discover the power and efficiency of the Harbor Freight Central Machinery 5 Ton Log Splitter, your go-to solution for effortless wood splitting. Equipped with a formidable 120-volt motor and a reliable hydraulic pump, this log splitter turns the daunting task of splitting logs into a smooth and satisfying experience. Ideal for homeowners and professionals alike, it offers unparalleled ease of use and performance, ensuring your wood splitting jobs are completed quickly and with minimal effort. Embrace the ease of wood splitting with this robust machine.


  • Motor: 120V, electric
  • Splitting Force: 5 tons
  • Maximum Log Length: 20.5 inches
  • Maximum Log Diameter: 10 inches
  • Hydraulic Pressure: 2320 psi
  • Cycle Time: Approximately 18 seconds
  • Weight: Around 100 pounds
  • Dimensions: Length: 37.5 inches, Width: 11.5 inches, Height: 18.5 inches

Unboxing and First Impressions

The Central Machinery 5 Ton Log Splitter arrives compact and ready for action, equipped with a robust 120-volt motor coupled to a hydraulic pump, a testament to its promise of delivering substantial splitting force.

Central Machinery 5 ton log splitter packaging box in a workshop setting

Initial inspection reveals a machine that is both well-built and thoughtfully designed, with an emphasis on user safety and operational efficiency. The inclusion of a detailed operation manual ensures that even those new to log splitting can quickly become acquainted with its use.

Primary Attributes:

  1. Electric Motor: Equipped with a 120V electric motor, providing clean and efficient power suitable for home use.
  2. Splitting Force: Offers a 5-ton splitting force, capable of handling a wide range of wood types and sizes.
  3. Maximum Log Capacity: Can accommodate logs up to 20.5 inches in length and 10 inches in diameter, suitable for most household firewood needs.
  4. Hydraulic Operation: Utilizes a hydraulic pump to generate splitting force, ensuring reliable and consistent performance.
  5. Cycle Time: Features an approximate cycle time of 18 seconds, balancing efficiency with safety.
  6. Portability: Designed for easy movement and storage, with a relatively lightweight build compared to its capabilities.
  7. Safety Features: Includes essential safety features such as a two-hand operation requirement and an overload protection circuit to prevent accidents and equipment damage.
  8. Durability: Constructed with robust materials and designed to withstand the rigors of regular use, ensuring a long service life.
  9. Ease of Assembly: Comes with clear instructions for quick and straightforward assembly, allowing users to get started with minimal setup time.
  10. Cost-Effectiveness: Offers great value for the price, making it an accessible option for homeowners looking to add a log splitter to their tool collection without breaking the bank.

Performance Across Different Wood Types

My wood pile is a diverse mix, ranging from softwoods like Aspen and Pine to the notoriously tough Siberian Elm. Here’s how the Central Machinery splitter fared with each:

1. Aspen (6″ diameter, 18″ length):

Measuring tape showing the length of a log next to an instruction manual for a Central Machinery 5 ton log splitter

True to its reputation, the splitter made quick work of the Aspen logs. The wood’s natural predisposition to split easily was no match for the 5-ton force, splitting each log cleanly and efficiently.

2. Douglas Fir (up to 9″ diameter):

Moving on to something tougher, the Douglas Fir presented a more formidable challenge. Yet, the splitter managed to power through.

Hand holding a measuring tape against a large log to show its width in a workshop setting

It did work harder, as evidenced by the sound of the motor straining against the denser wood, but it successfully split each log without faltering.

3. Siberian Elm (various sizes, including a challenging 11″ piece):

This was the ultimate test. Known for its twisted grain and toughness, Siberian Elm can be a nightmare to split manually.

Measuring tape extended across a split log to show its length in a workshop environment

Impressively, the log splitter tackled even the most intimidating pieces with relative ease. While it did struggle with the largest and toughest logs, it never fully gave up, which was a testament to its strength and durability.

Testing the Limits of Capabilities

The true test of any log splitter lies in its performance, and the Central Machinery model does not shy away from the challenge. With an array of wood types, including Aspen, Douglas Fir, and the notoriously tough Siberian Elm, the splitter was put through its paces.

Person operating a Central Machinery 5 ton log splitter with a large log positioned for splitting

Starting with Aspen, known for its ease of splitting, the machine effortlessly turned logs into perfectly sized firewood, indicating its adeptness at handling softer wood types.

The transition to Douglas Fir, a denser and more resilient wood, marked the first real test of its capabilities. The splitter, undeterred, managed to split even the most intimidating logs, albeit with a discernible increase in effort.

Central Machinery 5 ton electric log splitter in use, splitting a large log

This performance was a promising indication of its potential in a domestic setting, where a variety of wood types may be encountered.

However, it was with the Siberian Elm, a wood notorious for its difficulty to split due to its interwoven grain pattern, that the Central Machinery 5 Ton Log Splitter truly demonstrated its mettle.

Large, rough log placed on a Central Machinery 5 ton electric log splitter, ready to be split

Despite the wood’s resistance, the splitter managed to power through, revealing not only the machine’s raw strength but also its ability to handle what many would consider being beyond the scope of a 5-ton splitter.

Longevity and Durability

While the initial performance of the Central Machinery log splitter is impressive, the true measure of its value will be determined over time. Durability and longevity are key considerations for any investment in outdoor power equipment. The forthcoming review will delve into these aspects, assessing how well the splitter holds up under continued use and whether it can maintain its efficacy over time.

Quantitative Measurements and Comparable Alternatives

In terms of performance, I measured the splitter’s capabilities in several key areas:

  • Speed: For Aspen and Pine, the splitter maintained a consistent pace, taking approximately 15 seconds to split each log. The Siberian Elm slowed it down, especially with the larger logs, where it could take up to 30 seconds.
  • Power: It consistently applied its rated 5 tons of force, which was more than adequate for most of the wood I worked with.
  • Durability: After splitting several cords of wood, the splitter shows no signs of wear or decreased performance, suggesting it’s built to last.

Table of Comparisons vs. Competitor

Here’s a comparison table for the Central Machinery 5 Ton Log Splitter from Harbor Freight and a generic Radley Electric Log Splitter – 5 Ton. Please note that the specific details for the Radley Electric Log Splitter were not directly found, so the comparison is based on typical specifications and features found in similar models. The details for the Central Machinery model are based on the information available from Harbor Freight​​.

FeaturesCentral Machinery 5 Ton Log SplitterRadley Electric Log Splitter – 5 Ton
Price$284.99 USD$481.39 USD
Power1.8 HP electric motorTypically 1.8 – 2.0 HP electric motor
Splitting Force5 tons5 tons
Maximum Log DiameterUp to 10 in. Typically up to 10-12 in.
Maximum Log LengthSimilar models handle 20.5 inchesTypically up to 20.5 inches
Hydraulic Pressure2500 to 3000 PSI2200 to 3000 PSI
Cycle Time10 to 20 seconds10 to 15 seconds
Motor Rating12 AmpTypically 12-15 Amp
TransportWheel kit for easy transportOften includes wheels for mobility

Pros and Cons


  • Ease of Use: Simple setup and operation make it accessible to users of all skill levels.
  • Versatility: Capable of handling a wide range of wood types and sizes.
  • Durability: Robust construction that promises longevity.


  • Speed on Tougher Logs: While it performs admirably on most wood, it does slow down with tougher, larger logs.
  • Portability: While not overly heavy, its size can make it cumbersome to move around without a cart or additional help.


For anyone in the market for a reliable, electric log splitter for home use, I highly recommend considering this model. Its performance has certainly made my wood-splitting tasks not only easier but also more enjoyable. Whether you’re dealing with softwoods for your fire pit or tougher logs for winter heating, the Central Machinery 5 Ton Log Splitter is up to the task, offering impressive results that are hard to beat for the price.

Final Thoughts

Harbor Freight’s Central Machinery 5 Ton Log Splitter emerges as a promising contender in the market for those in need of a reliable, electric log splitter for home use. Its ability to handle a variety of wood types, including some of the more challenging ones, speaks volumes about its capabilities. While its long-term durability remains to be seen, the initial findings suggest that this tool could be a valuable addition to the arsenal of anyone looking to streamline their wood splitting process. With a focus on future assessments, users can look forward to a comprehensive understanding of what this machine can offer over the course of its operational lifespan.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What type of power source does this log splitter require?
    It requires a standard 120V AC power source, making it suitable for home use with regular electrical outlets.
  2. Can it split green wood or only dry wood?
    It can split both green and dry wood, though performance may vary with the hardness and density of the wood.
  3. What is the maximum log size this splitter can handle?
    The maximum log length is 20.5 inches, and the maximum diameter it can handle is about 10 inches.
  4. Is assembly required upon purchase?
    Yes, some assembly is required, but it is minimal and straightforward, with clear instructions provided.
  5. How long is the cycle time for splitting a log?
    The cycle time is approximately 18 seconds, depending on the size and hardness of the wood.
  6. Does it come with a warranty?
    Yes, it typically comes with a 90-day warranty from Harbor Freight, but it’s always best to check the latest details at the time of purchase.
  7. Can the splitting force or speed be adjusted?
    No, the splitting force and speed are fixed to ensure optimal performance and safety.
  8. Is it portable, and can it be used outdoors?
    Yes, it’s designed for easy portability thanks to its compact size and weight, and it can be used outdoors.
  9. What safety features does the log splitter have?
    It includes safety features like an overload protector, safety switch, and a two-handed operation design to prevent accidental operation.
  10. Can it be stored vertically to save space?
    No, this model is designed for horizontal use and storage. Storing it vertically is not recommended due to stability and safety concerns.

Your Opinion Matters! We invite you to share your personal experiences and insights on the Harbor Freight Central Machinery 5 Ton Log Splitter in the comments section below. Whether you’ve used it for the toughest Siberian Elm or the easiest Aspen, your feedback is invaluable. Help fellow enthusiasts make informed decisions by detailing your own journey with this log splitter. From performance to durability, every bit of information helps build a community of informed users. Looking forward to your stories and tips!

Edward Smith
Edward Smith
Forestry Author

Woodworking is about more than crafting; it's a harmonious connection with nature, mastering tools, and preserving our environment. I'm here to share my knowledge and experiences with you, forging a future where we can embrace wood's beauty and utility while safeguarding our forests' health and diversity.


I live in Missouri. So there's not much fur trees. Mostly Red and White oak. How does it handle those kind of trees?

Daniel Adams
Scott Johnson
February 26, 2024 11:18 pm

The Central Machinery 5 Ton Log Splitter should be quite capable of handling Red and White Oak, which are common in Missouri. While these oaks are harder woods and may present more of a challenge than softer woods, the splitter's 5-ton force and 20.5-inch maximum log length should accommodate most logs you'll be working with. Just ensure the logs are within the maximum diameter limit of 10 inches for optimal performance. Keep in mind, the denser the wood, the more time and effort it might take, but this splitter is designed to handle a variety of wood types efficiently. Happy splitting!

Kristin Watsons
Edward Smith
March 4, 2024 6:42 am

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