The other day, I picked up one of these hand-operated hydraulic wood splitters, from Grizzly tool. It was reasonably frugal, $108. Freight for delivery is insane, $79, but it weighs ~100 pounds. Luckily, Grizzly Tools has one of their main warehouses just a few miles away from me over on the mainland, and when I was over there recently, I just drove by and picked it up for $0 delivery cost. The savings paid for my ferry ticket, gasoline, and lunch.http://www.grizzly.com/products/10-Ton-Log-Splitter/H6239
The reason I got this is that I have some really nasty tough wood here, with lots of knots or twisted burls, and some of it is a royal pain to split totally by hand - I was getting tennis elbow blasting through it with a sledge hammer and wedges, the splitting maul wouldn't even make a dent in those chunks.
This hydraulic unit eats them up.
One handle moves the ram forward semi-fast, but requires more force, the other handle moves the ram very slowly, using very little effort on your part, so you can start the split with the low-geared one, then speed things up with the other.
It is still a bit slow, so for me its best use is to break a problem round in halves or quarters, then do the rest with hand tools. It is great for team-splitting, one partner can produce halves, while the other deals with them.
It stows upright when you are done using it, so you can tuck it away in a corner of the garage or shed and not trip over it.