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Re: [Shop-talk] Small wood chipper recommendations?

To: Jimmie Mayfield <>,
Subject: Re: [Shop-talk] Small wood chipper recommendations?
From: Dave Cavanaugh <>
Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2016 11:51:01 -0700
References: <>
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Finally something I know a little about.  I'm not an expert but I have 
had a couple of them.

I have never used an electric chipper, but I would imagine they are 
probably like an electric chainsaw- slow, frustrating and not capable of 
very much useful work.  Unless it has a 240 volt, 5 HP or bigger motor, 
I would  not even consider one.

I have used and owned a couple of 7.5 HP gas chippers.  They are big, 
noisy, dangerous and are still easily clogged up unless you're careful 
in how you feed them.  Leaves, unless they are very, very dry, are 
impossible to grind up.  Twigs and brush are not too bad, but they have 
to be fed into the hopper and forced into the chipping head and usually 
you end up having to use a fairly large branch to push stuff into the 
throat to get it to feed.  I ground up at least two rake handles before 
I started using long branches to feed the shredder hopper.  As for 
chipping, as long as the branches are green, or not too big they work 
reasonably well on stuff up to about 2 to 2.5 inches depending on the 
species; dried branches of any size take much longer.  Smaller branches 
can often be fed in bundles. Feeding in large branches is slow and hard 
on the hands and the limbs vibrate like crazy when you're forcing them 
into the cutter head.  Based on my experience, I wouldn't even consider 
any chipper under 7 HP, and 10 or more would be better.  I have always 
stored mine outdoors in the tractor shed.

Right now I own a PTO driven chipper.  Imagine the biggest homeowner 
type chipper, only with a PTO instead of a motor.  It works OK, but it's 
still relatively slow to grind up larger dried branches, like douglas 
fir or cedar branches that have dried for a year or so. It's hell on 
alder, though, and anything under 2" unless it like a hickory axe handle.

What do I do these days?  I haven't had the chipper hooked up to the 
tractor for several years.  What I do is wait until I have a decent 
sized pile of brush and small limbs to deal with, and then I run over it 
a couple of times with the brush hog.  Done.  The last couple of times I 
took an evergreen down and needed to deal with the limbs, I went to the 
rental yard and rented a big self feeding chipper.

Chippers are like wood splitters (and I have one of those, too; want to 
buy it?)  They're something you only use once or twice a year, and 
otherwise you have to maintain and store them.  They're better off 
rented unless you have a large piece of property and are dealing with a 
lot of brush and limbs.  I've been on 5 to 7 acres of Pacific northwest 
wooded property for the last 30 years and my chippers have gotten a 
reasonable amount of work, but knowing what I know now I'm not sure I 
would get one if I was starting out again.

Let me know if I missed anything or if you have more specific questions.

On 8/8/2016 7:38 AM, Jimmie Mayfield wrote:
> Tangentially shop/garage-related in that I'll have to store it in my 
> garage... :)  I'm in the market for a small wood chipper and floor 
> space in my garage is fairly limited so something with the footprint 
> of a pressure washer or small snowblower (or smaller) would be ideal.
> I'm not opposed to an electric model if they perform well but the 
> youtube videos I've seen tend to show them chewing on finger-sized 
> twigs fed one at a time.  I've also read they often clog when fed 
> green material and when the knives dull.
> I haven't seen many compact gas-powered chippers come across 
> Craigslist.  I'm not opposed to disassembling the chutes for storage 
> though my first choice would be to find one that doesn't have big 
> horizontal chutes to begin with.
> So a few questions for the group:
> 1) If you have an electric wood chipper, how well does it work on 
> branches up to, say, an 1-1.5 inch diameter?  I figure anything bigger 
> I'll just cut manually but if the real-world limits are 1/2-inch with 
> only an occasional branch larger than 1-inch, then perhaps I should 
> abandon the electric idea.  Are the reports of frequent clogging true?
> 2) If you have a small gas chipper, how big is the engine?  I've seen 
> a couple on Craigslist with smallish 3.5hp engines though most seem to 
> be in the 8-11hp range.  Roughly, what's the storage footprint?
> Thanks!
> Jimmie
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