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Wood Chipper Vs Shredder: Which Is Better

Wood chippers and wood shredders are large but portable effective outdoor power equipment that is specifically designed to reduce the bulk of wood waste to make their disposal easier. A lot of 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 that they sit upon. This is where wood chippers and shredders come into the picture. They cut or reduce them into chips, proving enough mulch for your garden, a soft surface for your playground’s floor, or even a source of renewable energy. These tools are not only useful to gardeners, they are also needed by landscapers and arborists especially in areas where disposal of garden waste by land-filling or burning is illegal.  The output from wood chippers and shredders can be useful for many reasons, since of which include: paving walkways, lining flowerbeds, and more.

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. A wood shredder, on the other hand, makes use of the blunt edges to crush or pull apart the material, leaving it in a state where it is ready for compost. A shredder is typically used to break down soft and small materials such as leaves and other forms of garden debris, while chippers can handle large and whole material.

By MakinnenCC BY-SA 4.0

Although these two may seem quite similar, there is, however, a number of differences between a wood chipper and a wood shredder. Understanding these differences is an important step when making a purchase. These tools happen to be similar in appearance and purpose, and may even be easily confused if one is not careful. Do you want to know the difference between these two? Do you wish to know which of them is better for you? The rest of this article will describe the major differences between these two tools, their unique functions, and which is better.

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 manageable wood chips. These tools are usually quite portable, mounted on wheels and frames that are suitable for towing behind a truck or van. Their features include a large hopper where the wood is fed into, a long chute which serves as a disposal part to eject the chips, and their major source of power which is a gas engine. Located on the inside of this machine is a large flywheel that has a blade or blades attached to one side. This wheel spins at a 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 simply 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, in fact, the internal region of the machine is stacked with more sophisticated technology. This equipment is basically formed by several parts and features which include the hopper, the chipper, the collar, the chute, and the collection bin. Just like any standard high powered tools (like the chainsaw or snow blower), this piece of equipment has an engine that is powered either by electricity or fossil-fuels and 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 located inside the chipper work either on separate shafts or on intermesh, both 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.

There are also certain industrial wood chippers that have layers of curtain chains that are 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 in and an opening where the material is to be ejected out. Internally, wood shredders have slightly blunt blades that are called flails, which are used to break down or reduce small chunks of organic material. There are some apparent things that you will notice in wood shredders, one of which is that they have two hoppers instead of one and they do not have that long ejection chute like the wood chipper. Wood shredders operate in ways similar to that of a weed whacker, only that the strings are placed vertically and are attached to a central drum. The weed whacker is usually only made for soft materials and leaves, and are often referred to as “mulch” or “compost” shredders. 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 on 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 either through the bottom or the side of the machine.

Another unique feature of wood shredders is that they have the option of choosing what size the output should be. This set of still blades mash and shred the wood material, producing smaller pieces which can then be composted or used as mulch. However, wood shredders do not have the capacity to 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 can also be stored away easily when not in use. The shredded end products can be transformed from the unwanted yard waste into valuable mulch that can be 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 the way by which they break down or reduce natural material. A wood chipper is specially designed for handling larger branches or larger pieces of wood and then breaking them down into smaller chips. A wood shredder, on the other hand, makes use of the blunt edges to crush or pull apart the material, leaving it in a state where it is ready for compost. 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 while chippers can handle large and whole material.

Shredders will eliminate the need to burn, landfill, stack, or break waste materials. All you just 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 even 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 are the major comparison of some of their features:

● The Engine Type

There are two essential engine types that are commonly used in wood chippers and shredders. These are the electric engines and gas-powered engines. Both engines have their individual 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. Gas-powered engines, on the other hand, are best for industrial and commercial uses since they require large storage spaces and are well constructed.

● Number of Blades

The blades are what determine the level to which the material is reduced to and they are the most essential part of the equipment. The greater the number of blades, the finer the particles of the end products and vice versa. Since wood chippers have a greater number of blades than the shredder, then they are more likely to be used in handling bulkier waste.

● Vacuum Attachments

Although both accessible in wood shredders and chippers, shredders have more added vacuums as they help to reduce the consumption time for the process, and this 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’ll be dealing with fewer materials and you require tree mulch for gardening, then you may want to consider a shredder instead. We hope that this piece has been helpful. Good luck!