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Wood Chipper Vs Shredder: Which Is Better. A pro perspective

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 are burdensome to homeowners and worksites, acting as obstacles that do not benefit 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 into more minor 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 trim 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 significant differences between these two tools, their unique functions, and which is better.


Difference Between Wood Chippers and Shredders: Which is Better?

Although a wood chipper and a wood shredder may seem quite similar, they have several differences. Understanding these differences is a crucial 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 helpful 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 helpful for many reasons, including paving walkways and lining flowerbeds.

How Do Wood Chippers and Shredder Works?

● Wood Chipper

A wood chipper is a sizeable outdoor power tool that primarily aims to reduce wood material, such as tree branches, trunks, stumps, or sticks, into more minor, 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 primary source of power, a gas engine. Inside this machine is a large flywheel with a blade or blades attached to one side.

This wheel spins quickly and cuts the wood into more minor chips. Those chips are then ejected from the machine through the chute.

The primary purpose of wood chippers as a machine is to chip wood or, more eloquently, convert large chunks of wood into more minor, refined wood chips. It may be hard for some to believe, but this machine is not filled with tiny lumberjacks.

In my 20 years of gardening, I’ve understood that a wood chipper and a shredder serve different purposes. A wood chipper handles larger branches and limbs, while a shredder is better suited for smaller branches, leaves, and twigs. The choice between the two depends on the type of yard waste you’re dealing with.

The internal region of the device 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 equipment has an engine powered 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 edges together with the pulley at a speed set by the internal gears.

The blades inside the chipper work 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 strip the bark 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.

You will notice some apparent things in wood shredders; one is that they have two hoppers instead of one and do not have that long ejection chute like the wood chipper. Wood shredders operate similarly 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 called a “mulch” or “compost” shredder. This is because they cannot handle any hard material of any kind. Hence, they are not considered wood shredders.

To ensure your garden hose is safe to use with a pressure washer, I recommend regularly inspecting the hose for any damage or leaks, ensuring it’s properly connected to the pressure washer, and checking that the water supply is sufficient. I’ve adhered to these practices throughout my gardening career, and they have helped me avoid any mishaps

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 are 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 the output size. 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 when unused. 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 many people confuse these two, chipping and shredding of wood material are two entirely different concepts. The main difference between the wood chipper shredder is how they break down or reduce natural material.

A wood chipper is designed to handle larger branches or pieces of wood and break them into more minor 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 trim materials such as leaves and other forms of debris. At the same time, chippers can handle large and whole materials.

When buying a chipper shredder, you should consider the type of material you will be processing. 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 helpful mulch.

You can watch about 12 bags of garden debris reduced into a bag of helpful mulch. The wood chipper produces uniformly sized wood chips, and the wood shredder has nutrient-rich mulch.

Below is a significant comparison of some of their features:

● The Engine Type

Two essential engine types are commonly used in wood chippers and shredders. These are electric chipper engines and gas-powered engines. Both machines have their pros and cons.

However, the electric motor shredder machine is the wise option if you’re looking for an inexpensive and easier-to-maintain. You can find a variety of these machines at Lowe’s.

On the other hand, gas-powered engines are best for industrial and commercial uses since they require large storage spaces and are well-constructed. They often come with a cord for easy start-up.

When choosing a chipper, consider the type of work you will be doing and the size of the material you will be processing. For more information, refer to a shredder buying guide to understand the chipper shredder buying process and the basics.

● 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.


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!

Essential Equipment in Forestry: Wood Chippers and Shredders

Having the right equipment is pivotal in tree management and the forestry industry. Mainly, wood chippers and wood shredders serve as valuable tools.

These powerful machines efficiently process fallen trees, branches, leaves, and other remnants associated with tree felling and pruning.

If the garden hose can’t supply enough water at the necessary pressure, the pressure washer may not work effectively and could be damaged. It’s a risk that I’ve learned to avoid over the years by ensuring that my garden hose meets the requirements of my pressure washer.

• Distinguishing Types of Wood Chippers: Disc Chippers Versus Drum Chippers

Forestry professionals lean on two types of wood chippers: disc and drum. Disc chippers are ideal for delivering more uniform chips, offering greater control over the size and consistency of the output.

In contrast, drum chippers are best suited for handling larger logs and smaller branches, accommodating a more comprehensive range of input sizes. They come in handy for swiftly clearing up large quantities of tree debris.

• Broadening the View: Subcategories of Wood Chippers

Like many other equipment categories, wood chippers also have subclassifications. These include wood shredders, chipper shredders, and stump grinders.

Wood shredders cater mainly to decomposing smaller debris, such as leaves, allowing for thorough and quick cleanup.

Chipper shredders amalgamate the functionalities of both shredding and chipping. They cover a broader range of debris types, thereby offering greater versatility.

As the name suggests, stump grinders aim to grind tree stumps into a manageable form, facilitating debris clearance and site cleanup.

• Vital Considerations for Choosing Wood Chippers

Choosing a suitable wood chipper involves considering multiple factors. The maximum size of wood it can handle is often a determinant.

Furthermore, the number of blades and the power source it utilizes may influence its usability and efficiency. Remember the specific nature of your forestry tasks while assessing these factors.

• Safety Precautions when Operating a Wood Chipper

Safety is an undisputed priority when operating a wood chipper. Ensuring the machine is not overloaded is necessary, often leading to potentially hazardous malfunctions.

Removing any rocks or metallic objects from chipped or shredded material is also judicious, as they may damage the equipment or pose a safety risk.

• Chip Trucks for Transporting Wood Chips

After chipping or shredding, the resulting wood chips must be transported to a dumping location. Here, chip trucks step into the picture, offering a seamless and efficient transportation solution.

Their use also provides an environmentally friendly alternative by facilitating the recycling of wood chips and eliminating the need for burning debris.

• Shopping for Chip Trucks: What to Look for

When in the market for a chip truck, it’s essential to ensure it matches your work specifications. Consider the geographical area you operate in, the scale of jobs you undertake, and the truck’s fuel efficiency. These factors will largely dictate the type of chip truck that best suits your operational needs.

• Significance of Investing in Wood Chippers and Chip Trucks

Investing in top-quality wood chippers and chip trucks can be a significant driving force for tree management companies and independent contractors looking to expand their operations in the burgeoning forestry industry.

Investments in these kinds of equipment are not just about the immediate functional benefits. They bring future opportunities for growth and expansion thanks to increased efficiency and productivity.

I strongly recommend studying the University of Florida’s detailed woodchipper safety code guide for insight into safe operation practices.

• Word of Advice

Remember to research each piece of equipment carefully per your specific needs. Choose wisely and operate them with a keen emphasis on safety. Take good care of your equipment to ensure it serves you long, contributing to your flourishing venture in the forestry industry.

Understanding Shredders and Chippers: A Detailed Guide

As those with experienced hands in gardening and landscaping know, shredders and chippers play a pivotal role in managing and processing unwanted plant material. Varying from trees to bushes to hedge clippings, these powerful machines proficiently manage many materials.

• Shredders: Flexible and Efficient

Shredders are well-adapted to handle a variety of materials originating from trees and bushes. These machines efficiently shred plant material into small, more manageable pieces. The mechanism they use involves hammers and knives or open blade systems.

Shredders are the faster and more efficient choice when dealing with green waste, hedge clippings, and brambles. They use a vacuum system that rapidly reduces the waste material’s size. Regular maintenance of these systems ensures their longevity and efficiency.

In addition to reduction, they also produce high-quality mulch, which can be processed for varied purposes, including ground coverage or compost. This means you’re adding a recycling aspect to your gardening practices, contributing to environmental sustainability.

Common mistakes include using a hose that’s too small in diameter, not checking the water supply, and using the wrong pressure settings. I’ve seen people make these mistakes and have learned to avoid them in my own practice.

-Recommendations: Eliet Maestro, Minor, and Major Shredders

Interestingly, shredders are also notable for their forgiving nature. Processing general garden waste often comes with the surprise discovery of foreign objects. Due to their robust design and horsepower, shredders are more resistant to damage from these foreign objects, proving to be a durable asset in the garden.

I recommend the affordable yet efficient Eliet Maestro, Minor, and Major shredders. These machines can handle branches up to 6cm in diameter, providing flexibility on the type of shredded material. For example, they can take both thin twigs and thicker stems.

Eliet and TS Industrie machines are a suitable alternative for larger commercial applications, allowing for the processing of materials with diameters up to 23cm. These machines come with an extension feature that allows for the accommodation of more extensive materials.

• Chippers: Ideal for Processing Wood

While shredders and chippers are designed for similar purposes, chippers are intended explicitly for processing waste wood. This makes these machines exceptionally efficient when trimming down trees and processing the residual wood.

However, it should be noted that when processing green waste, chippers usually require wood feed to prevent clogging.

Regarding choices, woodchippers from the TS Industrie Wood Series are my preference. These machines can chip branches up to 23cm in diameter, giving them a high processing capacity.

• Optimal Material Processing Practice

Whether you are using a shredder or a chipper, it is essential to minimize manual handling. To this end, the best option is to process the plant material in situ, where it has been cut.

• Shredders for Handling Moist Material

Shredders are also uniquely suited for disposing of leaves and moist material, which standard chippers may struggle or fail at processing.

For large-scale commercial applications involving processing whole trees, high-capacity trailed shredders like Eliet Mega Prof and machines from the TS Industrie Green Series perform exceptionally well.

• Remarks

In conclusion, traditional wood chippers are better suited for processing wood than green waste. On the other hand, shredders handle green waste and moist materials better, providing flexibility depending on your specific needs.

For an in-depth understanding of chippers and shredders and their benefits, I recommend visiting the U.S. Department of Energy page on Organic Waste Disposal and Processing, an excellent resource for those keen on understanding and implementing sustainable gardening practices.

Frequently Asked Questions:

• What is the main difference between a wood chipper and a shredder?

A wood chipper is designed to handle larger branches and pieces of wood to break them into more minor, uniform wood chips. A wood shredder uses blunt blades to crush or shred softer organic materials like leaves and small branches into mulch or material ready for composting.

• What size of branches can a typical wood chipper handle?

A typical wood chipper can handle branches 4-6 inches in diameter. Heavy-duty commercial chippers may handle even larger branches up to 12 inches in diameter.

• When should someone choose an electric vs gas-powered wood chipper or shredder?

Electric chippers and shredders are good for home use as they have lower maintenance and operating costs. Gas-powered models are preferred for frequent, heavy-duty use as they have more power.

• Should green waste be kept separate from woody material when chipping/shredding?

Yes, for wood chippers, it helps to alternate feeding in some wood along with green material to help prevent clogging issues. Shredders designed for green waste have more tolerance.

• What maintenance is required for wood chippers and shredders?

It’s essential to regularly check and change oil, clean air filters, inspect and sharpen blades, check belt tensions, clear debris buildup, and follow all maintenance outlined in the operator’s manual.

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  1. Benjamin Taylor says:

    What is the difference between a wood shredder and a chipper shredder?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Wood chippers are best for large branches, while shredders are ideal for smaller debris like leaves. Tailor your choice to your needs!

  2. Marie Walters says:

    What safety precautions should be taken when operating a wood chipper?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Marie! Safety precautions when operating a wood chipper include avoiding overloading it, removing rocks and metal objects, and ensuring proper maintenance. Stay safe!

  3. Loretta Edwards says:

    I had no idea wood chippers and shredders were so versatile. This article opened my eyes.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your insightful comment, Loretta! Wood chippers and shredders are indeed versatile machines that can make waste disposal easier. I’m glad you found the article informative.

  4. says:

    This article helped me understand the difference between wood chippers and shredders. Now I know which one I need for my yard waste. Very informative, thank you!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Glad the article helped! If you have any more questions about wood chippers or shredders, feel free to ask. Happy to help!

  5. Bessie Robinson says:

    Which one is better for composting, a wood chipper or a shredder?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Wood chippers are best for handling larger wood pieces, while shredders are ideal for smaller, softer materials like leaves and garden debris. So, it depends on what kind of waste you want to compost.

  6. Gwendolyn Murphy says:

    This article was so informative! I never knew there was a difference between wood chippers and shredders.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Gwendolyn! I’m glad you found the article informative. Understanding the differences between wood chippers and shredders can make a big difference in managing wood waste effectively.

  7. Raul Morales says:

    Is it easy to store wood chippers and shredders when not in use?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Storing wood chippers and shredders is easy since they are portable. Make sure to clean, inspect, and store them in a dry place when not in use.

  8. Terrance Gray says:

    How often do wood chipper blades need to be sharpened?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Sharpen wood chipper blades yearly for optimal performance. Regular maintenance includes checking oil, cleaning filters, and inspecting belts. Safety first.

  9. Harvey Hall says:

    I appreciate the comparison between electric and gas-powered wood chippers. It helps with decision-making.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Harvey! I’m glad you found the comparison helpful for your decision-making. Let me know if you have any more questions about wood chippers and shredders.

  10. Kristina Smith says:

    I didn’t know that shredders could handle moist material better than chippers. Good to know!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Glad you found the information helpful, Kristina! Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions about wood chippers and shredders.

  11. Lucy Hudson says:

    What is the difference in output between wood chippers and shredders?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your question, Lucy! Wood chippers handle larger pieces of wood into chips, while shredders are better for softer materials like leaves. It all depends on what you need them for!

  12. Fernando Bryant says:

    I found this article really helpful in understanding how wood chippers and shredders work.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Fernando! I’m glad you found the article helpful in understanding the functionalities of wood chippers and shredders.

  13. Nicole Ellis says:

    Does using a wood chipper or shredder save money compared to other disposal methods?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Wood chippers are more cost-effective for handling larger branches and wood pieces, while shredders are ideal for smaller, softer materials like leaves. Each serves a different purpose based on the material being processed.

  14. Madison Evans says:

    I didn’t know that wood chippers and shredders were used for making mulch. That’s interesting!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Madison! Wood chippers and shredders are indeed fascinating tools with important roles in recycling and gardening. Glad you found the information interesting!

  15. Cassandra Harris says:

    Can wood chippers also be used for making firewood?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, wood chippers can be used for making firewood by breaking down larger wooden pieces into smaller, more manageable chips that can be used for burning.

  16. Steven Perez says:

    I never thought about investing in wood chippers and chip trucks for my landscaping business. This article gave me new ideas.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Glad to hear the article provided you with new ideas for your landscaping business! Wood chippers and chip trucks can indeed be valuable assets to consider. Good luck with your new ventures!

  17. Jennie Miller says:

    The comparison between disc chippers and drum chippers was very informative. I never knew the difference!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for the feedback, Jennie! I’m glad you found the comparison informative. Let me know if you have any other questions or topics you’d like me to cover in the future.

  18. Ruby Fox says:

    What size branches can a typical wood chipper handle?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Wood chippers can handle branches up to 4-6 inches in diameter. For larger branches, a wood chipper would be more suitable. I hope this helps!

  19. Norman Taylor says:

    I’m amazed at how wood chippers and shredders can turn yard waste into valuable mulch. Great read!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Norman! I’m glad you enjoyed the read on wood chippers and shredders. It’s fascinating to see how they transform yard waste into valuable mulch.

  20. Dean Riley says:

    I love how detailed this article is about wood chippers and shredders. Great information!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Dean Riley, for your kind words on the article comparing wood chippers and shredders. I’m glad you found the information detailed and useful!

  21. Lloyd Johnson says:

    Can wood chippers handle larger branches than shredders?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Yes, wood chippers can handle larger branches than shredders, making them more suitable for breaking down bulkier wood waste. Thank you for your question!