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How to Use a Wood Chipper: The Full Guide

Once the winter months begin to come to an end and the weather gradually warms up, it is normal to find some dead trees or loose tree trunks lying around your property. When this happens, it is advisable to use this to your advantage by reducing those wood debris into wood chips. Wood chips come in handy for mulching and gardening as they reduce the need for watering your garden by actively reducing the rate at which water evaporates. Wood chippers are large but portable machines that help reduce those large chunks of wood into wood chips, and they provide an excellent solution to many problems, especially in many homes. These equipment are good for clearing large piles of tree branches, twigs, logs, and leaves to provide a cleaner and safer working environment.

How to Use a Wood Chipper:

  • Step 1: Place the Chipper on a Flat Ground
  • Step 2: Adjust the Chip Deflector and Chip Chute
  • Step 3: Set Parking Brake and Start the Chipper
  • Step 4: Feed the Blunt End First
  • Step 5: Feed Mixture of Dry and Green Limbs
  • Step 6: Stand on the Side of the Chipper

As good as a wood chipper is, if you don’t know how to use it properly, it might end up not being as efficient as you need it to be. Before you can fill the surface of your property with wood chips, you must know how to use a wood chipper to get the job done. Whether you just need to clear out some space on your property or you need to handle a major gardening project, a wood chipper is a great option for clearing the area off debris. In this article, you will be provided with a comprehensive guide on how to use a wood chipper.

Why Do You Use a Wood Chipper?

Doing yard work is hard enough as it is, not to mention the cleanup that follows. You might be lucky enough to have debris pickup in your area, but you still have to spend time cleaning them from your yard, stuffing into lawn-sturdy trash bags, and eventually piling them at your sidewalks to have them hauled away. This practice isn’t entirely legal in many areas, which simply means that you have to find the right place to dump the yard waste and haul it away by yourself.

Burning your lawn might be another option (if you stay in an area where it is not restricted), but you would want to consider other options such as heatwaves, during which there are burn bans, to avoid causing any mishap on your property. Since most of the options require special attention, a wood chipper might be your best bet. Having a wood chipper equipment will help reduce the extra work put into the cleanup, it will also reduce the time it takes for cleaning and caring for your lawn. Instead of clearing the debris, stuffing them into trash bags and hauling them, you can simply stack the debris into small piles, then bring the wood chipper to go over the stack, feeding the wood material into the machine and producing wood chips that are much easier to bag.

Additionally, the wood chips can also be used as mulch, which is an excellent addition to some areas of your yard and garden. There are probably shrubs and/or flowering plants on your yard, and mulch is quite necessary for aesthetics as well as keeping the soil moist throughout the year. Instead of just wasting your lawn debris and hauling it away, while spending extra cash on purchasing mulch, you can simply recycle your wood materials using a chipper, producing your mulch for parts of your lawn and garden. This particular reason is what makes a wood chipper one of the most important power tools you can add to your collection for yard work.

Choosing the Right Type of Chipper

Wood chippers are available in various types and sizes, and choosing the right one for your needs is very important as you would want it to last for a long time while performing the jobs you need it for. There are two major types of wood chippers which include the gas-powered and electric wood chippers. The electric models come with cords that are plugged into the electric sockets. These models can be advantageous for the following reasons:

  • Cheaper: Electric wood chippers are usually cheaper than their gas-powered counterparts. They are more affordable to purchase and do not require any additional fuel source, hence you don’t need to purchase gas when you want to use them.
  • Lighter: These models are usually lighter because they do not have the added weight of large engine parts and fuel, which makes them easier to move around.
  • Less maintenance: Electric wood chippers require less maintenance, making them easier for you to maintain.

As a major disadvantage, you’ll find out that electric wood chippers are less powerful, and they can’t handle larger jobs. Hence, you must avoid feeding large branches and other large debris that they cannot handle into them. Also, since they have to be plugged in, there is a limited range of motion as they always need to be close enough to a power outlet for the cord to reach.

On the other hand, gas-powered wood chippers are much more powerful and capable enough to handle larger loads and larger pieces of wood. They are also more mobile since they don’t have to be plugged into a power source. Although they tend to be more expensive and require more maintenance, they are sturdier and last longer, and their parts can be easily cleaned and reused.

How to Use a Wood Chipper

Operating a wood chipper is quite self-explanatory. The steps below will even make it easier for you to use your wood chipper safely, even if you’re new to the practice.

Step 1: Place the Chipper on a Flat Ground

You wouldn’t want your machine to move or fall over while it’s running as this can be very dangerous, so placing it on a flat level surface is very important.

Step 2: Adjust the Chip Deflector and Chip Chute

Most wood chippers have a deflector and adjustable chutes. Make sure they are adjusted to control the direction and speed at which the chips are released. You don’t want them flying all over the yard and you also don’t want them landing too close to the machine and creating a hazardous mess. You should also set the deflector in a way that keeps any debris from blowing up into your face to avoid injury or reducing the clarity of your vision.

Step 3: Set Parking Brake and Start the Chipper

If your chipper is attached to another piece of equipment like a tractor, set the parking brake to make sure that equipment doesn’t move either. Although this isn’t always the case as wood chippers for personal use aren’t large enough for attachment. Also, make sure that the gas-powered engine has enough fuel to complete the job, and for electric models, check the cord and make sure it’s not damaged or unplugged before the operation. Once you’re done, start the chipper.

Step 4: Feed the Blunt End First

When feeding the wood chipper, start with the blunt end first as the material will feed through the machine easier and more consistently this way. As you start to feed the power tool, use a long stick to push any material that seems hesitant to go through. Never feed anything larger than recommended into your chipper or it might back up and spit the material back at you, causing blunt force trauma or a flurry of dangerous chips that could scratch and cut you.

Step 5: Feed Mixture of Dry and Green Limbs

Rather than separating them, feed a mixture of dry and green leaves into the wood chipper. The green leaves will serve as lubrication so that the dryness of the dead ones don’t make the job very difficult for the chipper. Also, adding dry dead leaves to green ones will ensure that the moisture isn’t too much and won’t end up clogging the machine. The mixture of the two will ensure balance and prevent the blades within the chipper from becoming too hot and dangerous to use.

Step 6: Stand on the Side of the Chipper

You should always stand to the side of the chipper rather than in front, where the materials are fed in. This will help prevent serious injury in case some debris fly upward or the equipment becomes stuck and launches the material forward. Once you’re done chipping your wood, you can now collect the chips and put them to good use.

Final remarks

A wood chipper comes handy in taking care of your lawn and garden, so much that you have enough time to care for other things. Also, you’ll have enough time to relax and make use of a clean yard, especially if you know how to properly handle the machine.