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Landpower’s Complete Guide to… Wood Chippers and Wood Shredders

Everything you ever wanted to know about wood chippers, shredders & stump grinders

Wood Chipper and Wood Shredder Buying Guide - Landpower UK

Back to basics

Most of you will already be aware of the basics, but for the sake of argument we’ll just go over them briefly. Wood chippers and wood shredders are large outdoor power tools that are designed to reduce the bulk of parks and garden waste and make disposal easy.

They are especially useful to gardeners, landscapers and arborists (tree surgeons) in areas where it is illegal to dispose of garden waste by landfill dumping or open burning. The output from wood chippers and shredders can be recycled and used to pave walkways, line flowerbeds, and create compost.

Wood chipper or wood shredder?

Understanding the differences between wood chippers and wood shredders is an important first step in making a purchase.

If you are buying a wood chipper or shredder for commercial use, make sure they are built of heavy-duty materials – these will be more durable than those that are purchased for home use. Also, think about how often the machine will be used and where it will be stored.

Wood chippers

A tree chipper or wood chipper is a machine used for reducing wood (generally tree limbs or trunks) into smaller woodchips. They are often portable, being mounted on wheels on frames suitable for towing behind a truck or van.

When having a demonstration, be sure to test the machine on all the types of material you are likely to require chipping. Don’t buy a wood chipper if the material is contaminated with soil, stones, nails etc. or is wet soggy green waste material.

Wood Shredders

At first appearance, wood shredders can look just like small wood chippers. They have a chute for feeding material in and an opening for the material to be ejected out. Inside, wood shredders have semi-blunt blades, called flails, which are used to break down small pieces of organic material. Many shredders have the option to choose what size the finished pieces should be. This flail system mashes and shreds items, producing small pieces that can then be composted or used as mulch.

Due to a small engine size and the fact that the flail is mostly blunt, wood shredders do not have the power or energy to break large branches down. They are most useful for small open spaces, home gardeners, and people who have leaves and small branches to shred. The smallest types of wood shredders have nylon cutting string inside instead of a metal flail.

These shredders work the same way that a weed whacker does except that the strings are vertical and attached to a central drum. These shredders are only made for leaves and other soft material and are most often referred to as "mulch" or "compost" shredders. They are not considered wood shredders since they cannot handle hard objects of any kind.

Timberwolf Wood Chippers and Wood Shredders

Things to Consider Before Shopping for Wood Chippers or Wood Shredders

There are many choices available for people who are looking to buy a wood chipper or wood shredder. People may find the task daunting if they don't know where to start. The following questions should be answered prior to shopping to help narrow down the choices.

Is the Outdoor Power Tool for Home or Commercial Use?

Wood chippers and wood shredders that are purchased for commercial use should be built of heavy-duty materials and be more durable than those that are purchased for home use. Also, consider how frequently the machine will be used and where it will be stored.

How big is the Property or Project Area?

Knowing the size of the project is essential to finding the right machine for the job. Large areas with a lot of branches will require a machine with greater mobility and chopping capability. A single yard with minimal yard waste, such as leaves and twigs, will be fine with a small machine.

Setting the basic parameters for the usage of the machine will make it easier to decide whether to buy a wood chipper or wood shredder.

Wood Shredders

Wood shredders often resemble small wood chippers in outward appearance. They have a chute for feeding material in and an opening for the material to be ejected out. Inside, wood shredders have semi-blunt blades, called flails, that are used to break down small pieces of organic material. Many shredders have the option to choose what size the finished pieces should be. This flail system mashes and shreds items, producing small pieces that can then be composted or used as mulch.

Due to a small engine size and the fact that the flail is mostly blunt, wood shredders do not have the power or energy to break large branches down. They are most useful for small yards, home gardeners, and people who have leaves and small branches to shred. The smallest types of shredders have nylon cutting string inside instead of a metal flail.

These wood shredders work the same way that a weed whacker does except that the strings are vertical and attached to a central drum. These shredders are only made for leaves and other soft material and are most often referred to as "mulch" or "compost" shredders. They are not considered wood shredders since they cannot handle hard objects of any kind.

Timberwolf tree shredder

Wood Chippers

Wood chippers come in many different sizes and styles, but their basic function is always the same. Wood is fed into a chute, and the blades inside the chipper break the solid pieces down into chips that can range from one to three inches long. The chips are then ejected from the machine. Some models are equipped with a bin to catch the wood chips. A wood chipper will work equally well on both fresh and dried wood. Branches can be fed through with the leaves still attached. The size of logs and branches that can be fed through the chipper will depend on the size of the wood chipper and the type of components it has inside.

Landpower Wood Chipper and Wood Shredder

Types of Wood Chippers

The types of chippers are named for the cutting mechanism inside. There are three types of wood chippers: drum chippers, disk chippers, and screw-type chippers. Drum and disk chippers are the most common types. Screw-type chippers are rare and are often harder to find. Each type has advantages and disadvantages that are important to understand in order to choose the right tool for the job.

Combination Wood Chipper/Shredder

The combination wood chipper/shredder is handy for those who need the best of both worlds. These models are convenient to use and are very popular with homeowners since they offer the versatility of both chips and mulch.

The combination chipper/shredders that are made for home use are much smaller in size than commercial wood chippers. They can have one feed chute or separate ones for different types of material. Most combination chipper/shredders can handle branches up to three inches in diameter and are designed for regular yard maintenance.

The organic material is fed into the chute and broken into smaller pieces by the chipper blades. Most models offer the option to eject the material at this point or let it continue into the flail for shredding. Many models also have a screen attachment that will keep material inside the machine until it reaches the desired size.

Engine Styles of Wood Chippers and Wood Shredders

Once a decision is made about the type of machine needed, shoppers can move on to other considerations that will help narrow down the available listings. One extremely important consideration is the size and type of engine the machine will have.

Wood shredders, combination chipper/shredders, and small wood chippers are available with the choice of an electric motor or an internal combustion engine. Large wood chippers are generally only available with gas-powered engines or tractor mounting bars since an electric engine would not provide the power needed for large projects.

Other Considerations when buying a shredder

After considering the criteria above, shoppers should be able to narrow down the available choices and have an idea of the chipper or shredder that is right for the job at hand. There are some additional options and features that can be considered in order to make the choice even easier.

Reduction Ration

The reduction ration refers to the amount of organic material that will be reduced after going through the machine. A reduction ration of 10:1 means that 10 bags of leaves will be reduced to fit into one bag. The reduction ration is good information to have but should not be taken as a sole indication of power.

Number of Blades

A machine will run more efficiently with a high number of blades. Having more blades can also take stress off the engine and increase the longevity of the machine.

Vacuum Attachments

Some wood shredder models come with a vacuum attachment that can make cleaning up garden waste less time-consuming. These are often hoses that can be removed when needed.

Safety and Compliance

Be sure to read all of the manufacturer's instructions before operating the machine. Check to establish that all the parts are in working order and that all of the shields and guards are in place. Most machines should come with a tamper to assist in loading the machine safely. If any of the safety components are missing or broken, it is best to move on and continue shopping.

There are four main types of wood chipper…

GRAVITY Fed Wood CHIPPERS

Compact and cost effective, gravity fed wood chippers are ideal for landscapers, large private gardens or estates, hire shops and those just starting out in the tree surgery business. Simple, effective and time proven - they are a valuable asset to your business.

Timberwolf Gravity Fed Wood Chipper

POWER TAKE OFF (PTO) wood CHIPPERS

Utilising the power of a tractor, these wood chippers are suitable for estates, local authorities, golf courses, contractors and farmers.

Timberwolf Power Take Off (PTO) Wood Chipper

TRACKED HYDRAULIC wood CHIPPERS

When the job takes you 'off road', you need a machine that's up to the challenge. Whether your requirements include areas with difficult or narrow access, soft ground conditions, or uneven and sloping ground, there is a model to suit.

Timberwolf Tracked Hydraulic Wood Chipper

ROAD TOWABLE HYDRAULIC wood CHIPPERS

These machines are the popular 'all round' choice. Their versatility means they can be used effectively across a range of applications and conditions, including landscaping, tree surgery and contract work. From 20 hp to 64 hp, there is a model to suit all requirements.

Timberwolf Road Towable Hydraulic Wood Chipper

SPECIALIST wood SHREDDERS

Designed to recycle green waste and reduce volume, with the ability to handle contaminated and 'dirty' waste, these wood shredders are the perfect choice for landscapers, local authorities and hire shops.

Drum – One of the earliest chipping principles producing a larger chip than the most popular flywheel type machines.

Screw – Developed in Scandinavia, this produces a larger chip and is mostly fitted to tractors. These machines are not fitted with feed rollers and the material cannot be ‘reversed’ or ‘stopped’ from entering once engaged.

Flywheel (conventional flat blades) – Most widely used principle to date with 2, 3, 4 straight blades, either ‘Self or Roller Feed’.

Flywheel (Disc Blade) – The patented Disc Blade system developed by GreenMech gives improved performance, reduced power & costs.

Main wood shredder types

Hammer Mill – A system used for many years in Agriculture, material is shredded and forced through a screen.

Tub-Grinder – Developed in the USA to reduce all forms of waste normally 300 – 600 hp.

Flail Type – Various types of ‘Flail’ designs with ‘infeed’ conveyor, variable screen and discharge elevator.

Disc-Shred – Developed by GreenMech from its unique Disc Blade system to provide improved performance, using less power and reduce operating costs.

Buying new vs wood chipper hire

Hiring tools and equipment is an essential part of the industry. Sourcing tools for all types of applications is relatively easy, and with a good hirer on board, can make good economic sense. The leading trade association for hire companies, Hire Association Europe (HAE) highlights the role and importance of using reputable hire companies and the standards you should expect.

Stump grinders

A stump grinder or stump cutter is a power tool or equipment attachment that removes tree stumps by means of a rotating cutting disk that chips away the wood. Stump grinders can be the size of a lawn mower or as large as truck. Most accomplish their task by means of a high-speed disk with teeth that grind the stump and roots into small chips.

A typical stump grinder incorporates a cutter wheel with fixed carbide teeth. The cutter wheel movements are controlled by hydraulic cylinders to push the cutter wheel teeth laterally through the stump and to raise and lower the cutter wheel.

FSI Stump Grinder

Now that you're read our extensive guide on Wood Chippers and Tree Shredders you are in the perfet position to choose the right Wood Chipper or Tree Shredder for your needs!

For more information on any of our products please call us on 01963 370654.