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How to Choose the Best Wood Chipper

Views: 68     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-03-25      Origin: Site

If you're someone who loves working in the yard or maintaining a garden, you know how important it is to have the right tools. One such tool that can make your job easier is a wood chipper. A wood chipper machine is a machine that can turn branches, twigs, and other yard waste into small chips that can be used for mulching, composting, or other purposes.


However, with so many different types and models of wood chippers available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your needs. In this Wood Chipper Buying Guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about picking the best one for your yard work.


How to Choose the Best Wood Chipper


What is a Wood Chipper?

A wood chipper is a machine that is designed to shred wood into small pieces or chips. It typically consists of a hopper or a feed chute, where you insert branches, logs, or other wood debris, and a set of rotating blades or knives that chop the wood into smaller pieces. The wood chips can then be used for a variety of purposes, such as landscaping, gardening, or fuel. Wood chippers come in different sizes and capacities, ranging from small portable models for homeowners to large industrial machines used in commercial settings.


Types of Wood Chippers

There are several different types of wood chippers available on the market, each with its own set of features and capabilities. Here are the three main types based on their power source: electric, gas, and PTO.


Electric Wood Chippers

An electric wood chipper is a machine that uses an electric motor to power a cutting mechanism designed to shred branches and other pieces of wood into smaller pieces, called wood chips. These machines are typically used by gardeners, landscapers, and homeowners to dispose of fallen tree limbs, trimmings, and other yard waste. Electric wood chippers are generally quieter and more environmentally friendly than gas-powered models, and they are also typically easier to maintain and operate. They come in various sizes and designs to accommodate different types and sizes of wood, and some models even include additional features such as a vacuum and bagging system to help with clean up.


Gas-Powered Wood Chippers

A gas-powered wood chipper is a machine that uses a gas-powered engine to drive a cutting mechanism designed to shred branches and other pieces of wood into smaller pieces, called wood chips. These machines are commonly used by landscapers, tree removal companies, and homeowners with large properties to dispose of fallen tree limbs, trimmings, and other yard waste. Gas-powered wood chippers are typically more powerful than electric models, allowing them to handle larger and tougher pieces of wood. However, they are generally louder and produce more emissions, making them less environmentally friendly than electric models. Gas-powered wood chippers also require more maintenance than electric models, including regular oil changes and spark plug replacements. They come in various sizes and designs to accommodate different types and sizes of wood, and some models even include additional features such as a vacuum and bagging system to help with clean up.


PTO Wood Chippers

A PTO wood chipper is a machine designed to be powered by a tractor's power take-off (PTO) system. This type of wood chipper is commonly used by farmers, rural landowners, and larger-scale commercial operations to process wood waste into smaller pieces. PTO wood chippers are typically more powerful than electric or gas-powered models, allowing them to handle larger volumes and tougher types of wood. The machine is attached to the tractor's PTO shaft, and the tractor's engine powers the chipper's cutting mechanism. PTO wood chippers can handle a wider range of wood sizes and types, making them suitable for processing large tree trunks and logs. They come in various sizes and designs, and can be mounted to the tractor's three-point hitch or towed behind the tractor. PTO wood chippers are typically more expensive than electric or gas-powered models, but they offer greater efficiency and versatility for large-scale wood processing operations.


Factors to Consider When Choosing a Best Wood Chipper

When choosing a wood chipper, there are several factors to consider to ensure you get the best one for your needs. Here are some of the most important factors:

Capacity

A wood chipper's effectiveness is determined by its capacity, which refers to the maximum diameter of branches it can successfully chip. For instance, a tractor wood chipper with a 3-inch capacity can only process branches with a diameter of 3 inches or less. The capacity of a chipper can range from 1 to 4 inches depending on its type and engine size. Generally, a larger capacity is preferred, but it also increases the cost of the chipper, much like the reduction ratio.


Cutting Blades

Wood chippers utilize two types of cutting blades, either fixed blades known as knives, or hinged blades, also known as hammers, to break down yard waste. The preferred material for both types of blades is hardened chromium-alloy steel, which has the ability to bend instead of chipping and can be sharpened multiple times before requiring replacement.


The ability of a wood chipper to effectively cut through the material that is fed into it is a crucial factor to consider when purchasing. Buyers should take into account their intended usage for the wood chipper. For smaller branches and clippings, an electric wood chipper is adequate as it can shred branches up to 2 inches in diameter. However, those dealing with larger material should opt for a gas or PTO chipper, which can handle materials up to 4 inches in diameter. Some commercial wood chipper models can even handle branches up to 7 inches in diameter, but these tend to be more expensive than the average residential wood chipper.


Shredding Chute

Many wood chippers come with two different chutes for feeding materials into the machine. The first is a long, narrow branch chute designed for feeding thick branches, while the second is a wide shredding chute, also known as a hopper. The shredding chute has a broad funnel shape that compresses bundles of thin, pliable twigs and branches so that they can come into contact with the blades more efficiently. This separate chute is ideal for shredding less rigid materials such as weeds, leaves, grass, and other soft plant waste, making it a useful tool for common yard work. Some people consider it to be the best residential wood chipper.


Although a leaf shredder can also handle this job, a wood chipper with a built-in shredding chute can achieve the same results in a more cost-effective and space-efficient manner. However, a wood chipper/leaf shredder combination will cost more than a model without the shredder.


Reduction Ratio

A wood chipper's reduction ratio is a measure of the size of the chips it produces compared to the size of the original material. Typically, most wood chippers have a reduction ratio between 8:1 to 20:1, which means that it can reduce the material to 1/8th or 1/20th of its original size, respectively. For most applications such as garden mulch and surface coverings, a higher reduction ratio is usually preferred. However, chippers with higher reduction ratios tend to be more expensive.


Weight and Mobility

When purchasing a wood chipper, weight and mobility are important factors that many buyers tend to overlook. For yard work, it is usually best to go for a small wood chipper that is easy to move around. A wood chipper that is too large or lacks sturdy wheels can hinder efficient yard cleanup.


It is advisable to look for wood chippers with robust stands and large wheels capable of moving over grass, paving stones, deck boards, sticks, and other obstacles on the ground. It's worth noting that the heavier the wood chipper, the harder it will be to move across uneven ground or up steep inclines. For larger properties with fewer trees, a lightweight wood chipper may be a better option as it can be moved around the yard quickly and efficiently, without causing significant fatigue.


Diameter of wood you need to chip

To select the appropriate wood chipper, consider the diameter of the wood you'll be chipping. For chipping branches up to 1 and 3/8 inches in diameter, an electric wood chipper will suffice. For chipping branches up to 7 inches in diameter, a gas chipper is suitable. For commercial applications, a wood chipper that can chip branches up to 10 inches in diameter is recommended.


Power source

Wood chippers can be powered by gas, electricity, or manual labor. Gas-powered chippers are the most powerful and suitable for large jobs, while electric chippers are quieter and more environmentally friendly. Manual labor chippers are only suitable for small jobs.


Safety features

Look for wood chippers with safety features such as a feed chute that prevents hands from getting too close to the blades and an automatic shut-off switch in case of emergency.


Our Top Picks of Wood Chippers 



How We Tested the Best Wood Chippers

To test the best wood chippers, we followed a rigorous and systematic process. First, we researched and selected a range of wood chippers from reputable manufacturers, considering factors such as price, power, capacity, and customer reviews.


Next, we assembled a team of experienced testers who were familiar with using and evaluating wood chippers. They evaluated each machine based on several key criteria, including ease of use, safety features, performance, and durability.


During the testing process, we ran each wood chipper through a series of tests designed to assess its performance and capabilities. For example, we tested each machine's ability to handle different types of wood, including both green and dry wood. We also evaluated how well each chipper was able to shred and reduce wood into chips or mulch.


Finally, we analyzed the test results and compiled our findings into a comprehensive report. Based on this report, we identified the top-performing wood chippers in each category and provided recommendations for consumers looking to purchase a wood chipper.


The Advantages of Owning a Wood Chipper

Owning a wood chipper can provide a variety of advantages for homeowners and businesses alike. 


1. Efficient disposal of yard waste: A wood chipper can quickly and easily turn branches, leaves, and other yard waste into small, manageable pieces that can be easily disposed of or used for other purposes.


2. Improved yard aesthetics: By removing dead branches and other debris from your yard with a wood chipper, you can create a more attractive and visually appealing outdoor space.


3. Cost savings: By using a wood chipper to dispose of yard waste, you can save money on disposal fees and reduce the need for costly professional landscaping services.


4. Mulch production: A wood chipper can also be used to create high-quality mulch, which can be used to improve soil health and moisture retention in garden beds and other areas of your yard.


5. Versatility: Wood chippers come in a range of sizes and styles, making them suitable for a wide variety of landscaping and yard maintenance tasks.


6. Environmental benefits: By using a wood chipper to dispose of yard waste, you can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, which can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the environment.


Maintaining a Wood Chipper

Maintaining a wood chipper is essential to ensure its long-term functionality and safety. 


1. Regularly inspect your wood chipper: Before each use, inspect the machine for any signs of wear or damage. Check the blades, belts, and other components for any signs of wear, and replace them as needed.


2. Keep the machine clean: After each use, clean the machine thoroughly, removing any debris or buildup that may have accumulated. This can help to prevent rust and other forms of damage.


3. Use proper lubrication: Regularly lubricate all moving parts of the machine to prevent excessive wear and damage. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the proper type and amount of lubricant to use.


4. Sharpen the blades: Dull blades can reduce the effectiveness of the machine and can increase the risk of injury. Sharpen the blades regularly to maintain their effectiveness.


5. Use proper safety precautions: Always wear appropriate safety gear when using the machine, including eye and ear protection, gloves, and sturdy footwear. Make sure to follow all safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer.


6. Store the machine properly: When not in use, store the machine in a dry, covered area to protect it from the elements and prevent rust or other forms of damage.


Video of How A Wood Chipper Work



FAQs


Q. How do you use a wood chipper?

Here are some general steps on how to use a wood chipper:

1. Read the manual: Before using a wood chipper, it is important to read the manual carefully to ensure you understand the machine's features and safety guidelines.


2. Safety gear: Wear appropriate safety gear, including eye and ear protection, gloves, long sleeves, and long pants.


3. Preparation: Clear the area around the wood chipper of any potential hazards, such as rocks or other debris. Check the wood chipper's blades and make sure they are sharp and in good condition. Ensure that the wood is dry and free of any foreign objects, such as nails or metal.


4. Start the machine: Depending on the model of the wood chipper, you may need to use a pull cord or electric starter to start the engine. Allow the engine to warm up for a few minutes before feeding wood into the machine.


5. Feed the wood: Feed the wood into the wood chipper's chute one piece at a time. Use a push stick to push the wood through the chute if necessary. Do not put your hands near the blades or the chute.


6. Monitor the output: Watch the output chute carefully to ensure that the wood chips are coming out correctly. If the machine starts to clog or the chips become too large, turn off the machine and clear the blockage before continuing.


7. Turn off the machine: When you are finished using the wood chipper, turn off the engine and allow the machine to cool down. Clean any debris from the blades and chute before storing the machine.


Q. What shouldn’t I put in a wood chipper?

To ensure your safety and the protection of your equipment, it is important to only feed branches into your chipper that fall within the size range for which your machine was designed. Avoid placing any branches that may contain nails or screws, lumber, excessively sappy wood, long vines, palm fronds, or other fibrous materials into the chipper.


Q. How big a wood chipper do I need?

Electric wood chippers are designed to handle small and midsize twigs and branches, making them suitable for most users who only need a machine with a 1.5-inch cutting diameter. However, if you have older trees on your property or want to process leaves and other finely textured materials, a larger gas-powered chipper may be necessary. These models have a hopper for grinding fine materials and a larger branch chute that can chip branches up to 3 inches in diameter.


Q. How do you clean a wood chipper?

Before beginning any maintenance process on your wood chipper, it is important to follow safety protocols. First, turn off the engine and ensure that all moving parts have come to a complete stop. Next, disconnect the spark-plug wire or power cord to prevent any accidental start-up.


To clean your wood chipper, start by removing the flail screen and clearing away any large debris. Clean the flail screen separately, and then use water and a brush or dry cloth to clean the chute and the area around the muffler. Avoid using high-pressure water sprays as they can contaminate the fuel system.


Q. When should a wood chipper’s blades be sharpened or replaced?

The frequency with which a wood chipper's blades should be sharpened or replaced will depend on several factors, including the type and amount of material being processed, the frequency of use, and the quality of the blades.


As a general rule, it is recommended to sharpen the blades of a wood chipper after every 10-15 hours of use. This can help to maintain the efficiency of the machine and prevent excessive wear and tear on the blades. However, if you notice that the chipper is struggling to process material or producing uneven chips, it may be time to sharpen the blades even if you haven't reached the recommended 10-15 hour mark.


In addition to regular sharpening, the blades may need to be replaced entirely if they become damaged or worn beyond repair. Signs that the blades may need to be replaced include visible chips or cracks, uneven wear patterns, or difficulty in sharpening them.


Ultimately, the best way to determine when to sharpen or replace the blades is to regularly inspect them for signs of wear and tear and to follow the manufacturer's recommendations for maintenance and replacement. Keeping the blades in good condition is crucial to the overall performance and longevity of the wood chipper.



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