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Wood Chipper Vs Shredder: Which Is Better

Wood chippers and wood shredders are large but portable, effective outdoor power equipment specifically designed to reduce the bulk of wood waste to make their disposal easier. Many people will agree that dead tree trunks and branches end up being burdensome to homeowners and worksites, acting as obstacles that give no benefit whatsoever to the land they sit upon.

Wood chipper vs shredder, which is better:

A wood chipper and a shredder look similar but have slightly different use cases. A wood chipper can handle larger branches and pieces of wood and break them down into smaller chips. On the other hand, a wood shredder uses blunt edges to crush or pull apart the material, leaving it in a state where it is ready for composting. A shredder is typically used to break down soft and small materials, such as leaves and other garden debris, while chippers can handle large and whole materials.

By MakinnenCC BY-SA 4.0

Do you want to know the difference between a wood chipper and a shredder? Do you wish to know which of them is better for you? In this article, I will try to answer those questions and describe the major differences between these two tools, their unique functions, and which is better.

Wood Chippers and Shredders

Although a wood chipper and shredder may seem quite similar, there are several differences between a wood chipper and a wood shredder. Understanding these differences is an important step when making a purchase. These tools are similar in appearance and purpose and may even be easily confused if one is not careful.

This is where wood chippers and shredders come into the picture. They cut or reduce them into chips, providing enough mulch for your garden, a soft surface for your playground’s floor, or even a renewable energy source.

These tools are not only useful to gardeners. Still, they are also needed by landscapers and arborists, especially in areas where garden waste disposal by land-filling or burning is illegal.  The output from wood chippers and shredders can be useful for many reasons, including paving walkways, lining flowerbeds, and more.

How Do Wood Chippers and Shredder Works?

● Wood Chipper

A wood chipper is a large outdoor power tool whose main purpose is to reduce wood material, such as tree branches, trunks, stumps, or sticks, into smaller and more manageable wood chips. These tools are usually portable, mounted on wheels and frames suitable for towing behind a truck or van.

Their features include a large hopper where the wood is fed into, a long chute that serves as a disposal part to eject the chips, and their major source of power, a gas engine. Located inside this machine is a large flywheel with a blade or blades attached to one side. This wheel spins at high speed and cuts the wood into smaller chips. Those chips are then ejected from the machine through the chute.

The main purpose of wood chippers as a machine is to chip wood or, more eloquently put, to convert large chunks of wood into smaller, refined wood chips. It may be hard for some to believe, but this machine is not filled with tiny lumberjacks the internal region of the machine is stacked with more sophisticated technology. This equipment has several parts and features, including the hopper, chipper, collar, chute, and collection bin.

Like any standard high-powered tool (like the chainsaw or snow blower), this piece of equipment has an engine powered either by electricity or fossil fuels. It is connected to the blades through pulleys and v-belts, often controlled by a gearbox. All these systems operate together to pull the blades together with the pulley at a speed set by the internal gears.

The blades inside the chipper work either on separate shafts or intermesh, providing different speeds and chipping precision. The chunks of wood are then spread between two chutes, one shredding them into chips and off into the collection bucket, and the other, equipped with additional tools, mulching other alternative materials (such as leaves). The mulching chute is usually the larger one between the two.

Certain industrial wood chippers have layers of curtain chains attached internally to the machine that strips the bark off of the wood passing through.

● Shredder

At first glance, wood shredders may look like the smaller version of wood chippers, only with a few physical differences. Wood shredders have a chute through which the wood materials are fed and an opening where the material is to be ejected. Internally, wood shredders have slightly blunt blades called flails, which break down or reduce small chunks of organic material.

There are some apparent things you will notice in wood shredders, one of which is that they have two hoppers instead of one and do not have that long ejection chute like the wood chipper. Wood shredders operate in ways similar to a weed whacker, only that the strings are placed vertically and attached to a central drum.

The weed whacker is usually only made for soft materials and leaves and is often referred to as a “mulch” or “compost” shredder. This is because they cannot handle any hard material of any kind. Hence they are not considered wood shredders.

That being said, the internal arrangement of a wood shredder is not very different than that of the wood chipper. Like the wood chipper, there is a flywheel with blades attached to one side for chipping purposes.

However, the only difference is that there are sets of dull blades or hammers called flails located on the opposite side of the flywheel, which is used to destroy or reduce soft organic material such as leaves, twigs, etc. The wood chips are then ejected through the machine’s bottom or side.

Another unique feature of wood shredders is that they can choose what size the output should be. This set of still blades mashes and shreds the wood material, producing smaller pieces that can then be composted or used as mulch.

However, wood shredders cannot handle larger branches, and this is due to the small engine size and the fact that the flail is blunt. These tools can easily be pushed around on properties and stored away easily when not in use. The shredded end products can be transformed from unwanted yard waste into valuable mulch used in garden beds or compost.

Wood Chipper vs. Shredders: Which is Better?

Although a lot of people tend to confuse these two, chipping and shredding of wood material are two entirely different concepts. The main difference between the wood chipper and shredder is how they break down or reduce natural material. A wood chipper is specially designed to handle larger branches or pieces of wood and break them down into smaller chips.

On the other hand, a wood shredder uses blunt edges to crush or pull apart the material, leaving it in a state where it is ready for composting. Although many people like to use these terms interchangeably, the shredder is typically used to break down soft and small materials such as leaves and other forms of debris. At the same time, chippers can handle large and whole materials.

Shredders will eliminate the need to burn, landfill, stack, or break waste materials. All you need to do is feed them into the chute and wait for the large piles of branches to be broken down into small mounds of useful mulch. You can watch about 12 bags of garden debris reduced into a bag of useful mulch. The wood chipper produces uniformly sized wood chips, and the wood shredder produces nutrient-rich mulch.

Below is a major comparison of some of their features:

● The Engine Type

Two essential engine types are commonly used in wood chippers and shredders. These are electric engines and gas-powered engines. Both engines have their pros and cons. However, if you’re looking for one that is inexpensive and easier to maintain, then the wise option would be the electric motor shredder machine.

On the other hand, gas-powered engines are best for industrial and commercial uses since they require large storage spaces and are well-constructed.

● Number of Blades

The blades determine the level to which the material is reduced and are the most essential part of the machine. The greater the number of blades, the finer the particles of the end products and vice versa.

Since wood chippers have more blades than the shredder, they are more likely to be used in handling bulkier waste.

● Vacuum Attachments

Although both are accessible in wood shredders and chippers, shredders have more added vacuums as they help reduce the process’s consumption time, which can go a long way.

Final remarks

The type of equipment you want to go with or purchase greatly depends on the type of work you need them for. If you have a lot of large branches or waste to deal with, and gardening and composting are not your things, then a wood chipper would be your best bet.

If you are dealing with fewer materials and require tree mulch for gardening, you may want to consider a shredder instead. We hope that this piece has been helpful. Good luck!