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After a severe winter, you can end up with a lot of fallen trees. The question comes up of what to do with all that wood. There are lots of uses for wood chips: A wood chipper is a good way of converting all those tree branches into something a little more manageable. (Twelve bags of brush can be reduced into a single bag of wood chips.) But there are a few models and makes on the market, that are suitable for different types and thicknesses of wood. Most of the smaller models are on wheels, so you can transport them to where the fallen tree is located. Here is a guide to some of the best wood chippers on the market.
Wood chippers have 1) a hopper into which you load the wood to be chopped up, a 2) chipper mechanism, and 3) a chute to project the wood chips onto the ground or into a collection bin.
High-Torque roller: This chipper consists of rollers that are two slow-moving cylinders that pull the wood in and grind it into chips. Because they are not particularly noisy, they are suitable for residential use.
Disc Chipper: This consists of hammers that break the wood and a steel disc with blades attached. Hydraulic wheels draw the wood into the rotating disc, and the blades cut the wood into chips. Industrial size choppers can have a disk as large as 13 feet in diameter. When properly maintained, it should be able to work for 10-15 years of use.
Drum: These have a cylinder (the “drum”) with evenly-spaced rows of teeth. The drum rotates by means of a motor, and it sucks in the branches of wood to be chopped. These have safety issues (the mechanism can drag a person inside, causing severe injury or death), and can also be very loud. Long branches may get stuck in the drum, and might not be easy to get loose. But some have a feature to reverse the direction of the drum's rotation if a piece of wood gets stuck inside. This way you can free up the lodged tree branch or trunk. They can accept trunks from 6”-20” diameter.
Hitches up to a tractor: Most chippers can be hitched to an all-terrain vehicle, trailer or tractor.
Electric chippers: There are also small model chippers that serve also as mulchers for making compost. These are not very strong—they don't have nearly the power of a gas model--so you have to be careful to feed in only small pieces on the order of 1/2”. Don't put in the wood too quickly, and avoid putting wet debris inside. The blades on devices like these must be sharpened often.
Two-way feed: Some disk chippers have two feeds, one for leaves, and one for wood. (The drum chippers are compatible for all types of foliage.)
Check for metal: Sometimes pieces of metal get attached to the wood. Make sure you don't run that through the chipper—it can ruin the blades, and they'll have to be sharpened or even replaced.
Size of pieces it can swallow: Clearly you want something that can take in large diameters. A small size machine takes in 3” x 4” pieces.
Horsepower of the engine: An important characteristic is the horsepower of the engine. The stronger the engine, the less likely it will stall and get stuck on large pieces of wood. A small machine going around $1250 will have a 15 horsepower engine, and will chop up 3”x4” pieces of wood. For comparison, a 3000 hp engine will be able to take in pieces as big as 20” in diameter. The stronger the machine, the more it will be able to chop up without having to give it a rest.
Chipping and Shredding: Some chippers have the option of making extra fine chips by shredding the wood. Chippers that work more slowly tend to grind the wood down into finer pieces. Chopping more slowly also keeps the machine from getting stuck.
Collecting the chips: Larger machines have a chute that directs the wood chips into a pile. Small machines tend to spew the chips in more directions, so they tend to be more sloppy.
Brush Master Beast-- is a brand of chipper shredders.
Samson Machinery-- is a manufacturer of heavy machinery for tire building. They were established in 1975 by Mr. Lin Kun Te, in Taiwan. They also make
Titan Attachments—are a subdivision of Titan Manufacturing and Distributing, Inc., located in Collierville, Tennessee. They make fitness equipment, tractor attachments, and ramps.
Polaris-- is a maker of wood chippers and power tools. They also deal in All-Terrain Vehicles.