Wood Chipper 101: How Do Wood Chippers Work? (Explained)

Wood chips

If you have a yard with trees and a garden, there is something that will make your life easier that not all homeowners are really familiar with: wood chippers. This equipment can really make yard work more convenient and helps keep your lawn neat.

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How Do Wood Chippers Work?

A gas or electric engine connects to a set of blades that process any debris fed into the machine. Usually a wood chipper will have two chutes, one for branches and twigs which it chips and another for finer debris which it mulches. Wood chippers can reduce waste and create healthy mulch to benefit your lawn.

Why Do You Need a Wood Chipper?

The wood chipper has many practical uses involving your yard. Here are some of its practical uses:

1. Keeps the yard clean

If you have trees and large ornamental plants in your yard, then you will definitely see a smattering of leaves, branches and twigs on a daily basis. 

If you don’t clean up every day, then chances are the lawn will be blanketed by the debris in a week or two.


Well, the wood chipper can help process the debris so your lawn will look as pristine as ever.

What happens to the debris?

2. Turns debris into mulch

When the debris is processed, they are turned into smaller pieces that can be used for mulch. 

Whether you are processing wood or leaves, they can be transformed into nutrient-rich mulch after being fed into the wood chipper.

So what?

Mulch is important for your garden and plants. It is placed on top of the soil as a covering, which helps keep moisture within the soil.

The mulch is also essential in keeping weed from cropping up. And since mulch is made from organic materials, it keeps the soil healthy. 

What else?

The processed leaves are also great components for a compost, which will then be used as fertilizer for your plants. 

3. Reduces waste

When you create a mulch, you are essentially reducing your yard waste. 

Basic wood chippers have a mulch ratio of 10:1. This means that for every 10 bags of branches, twigs and leaves you feed into the wood chipper, one bag of mulch is made.

Isn’t that astonishing?

Grandmother and granddaughter in garden

Wood chippers certainly make your life easier. This leads us to the fourth purpose of a wood chipper:

4. Makes yard work a whole lot easier

You don’t have to be overwhelmed with yard work as long as you have an efficient wood chipper with you. 

How Does Wood Chipper Work?

A wood shredder is mostly used in industries that use lumber. It is used to make wood chips and sawdust out of felled trees. 

However, it seemed also useful for homeowners that smaller sizes were created in order to be good for households and smaller commercial work.

But how does it work?

There is an internal engine that is either powered by gasoline or electricity. The engine, just like in any other mechanical devices, starts the process.

The engine is connected to a set of blades, so that when it is initiated, the blades turn and start processing the organic debris fed into the system.

Get this:

Part of the mechanism is a pulley system that will control the rotation of the blades. 


Wood chippers also have chutes. 

Usually, they have at least two separate chutes: one shreds branches and twigs into chips, while the other turns debris into mulch.

The difference?

The chute for processing mulch is usually larger. It also has a hammer system to turn organic waste into mulch. 

Wood chipper

Things to Consider

There are different kinds of wood chipper shredders, and I’m not just talking about the brands. In order to determine what kind of wood chipper you need, you have to get to know your yard.

The first thing is the size. How big is your yard? Then you should also consider the plants available in your yard.

What does this mean?

If you have large trees with the possibility of fallen limbs, then you definitely need a high-powered and large wood chipper that can accommodate large debris for processing or shredding. 

If you only have leaves to process, then a small wood chipper will suffice.

Electric vs Gas

A gas-powered wood chipper has more power than its electric counterpart. So if you have a medium- to large-size yard, then you definitely need a gas-powered one. 


Because a larger size means more debris and more work to do. It als means that you might have bigger debris to work with and need something more powerful to complete the task. 

If you have a small yard, then an electric wood chipper would be good enough. 

Other things to consider:

Electric-powered equipment is more environmentally friendly. It is quieter, too. 

Electric wood chippers are also generally cheaper. 


You will need to be near a power outlet in order to operate the equipment. If you do need to use an extension wire, then you have to process the mathematics behind it. 

The longer the extension cord you will use, the less power it has. But if it is thick, then it means that it has more copper wire, hence, more electricity. 

If you are unsure

Ask the manufacturer about the appropriate extension cord to use. 

On the other hand

Gas-powered wood chippers are a lot noisier. It also emits carbon dioxide.

But it can process branches with a diameter of over 1.5 inches. 

Speaking of…

Chipper Shredder bag

Chipper capacity

This is another thing you have to consider–the capacity of your equipment to process organic debris. This is where it becomes important that you buy your wood chipper based on the size of your yard and the plants you have there. 

The most basic of wood chippers can only shred branches with a diameter of a little over an inch. 

Bottom line:

If you only have a garden and some plants that may produce slim branches as waste, then a small electric wood chipper will do.

But for trees with thicker branches, a gas-powered one will make your yard work more convenient.

Strictly speaking

A small wood chipper can still do the job, but it will take a lot from you. You have to chop the branches into smaller pieces before you feed them into the shredder.

Engine size

This is more about logic. If you have a large yard and you expect a lot of debris, then you need a wood chipper with more power. 

The average?

You might need something with at least 6.5 horsepower. 

For smaller yards, equipment with an amperage of 14 or 15 is quite enough. 

Know this:

The more power your engine has, the less it will bog down. That is something worth considering. 

However, if you don’t have a lot of debris to process, the chances of the equipment bogging down is slim anyway. 


Most electric wood chippers are small and are portable. 

If you choose the gas-powered electric chipper, it is generally bigger and way heavier. Most manufacturers attach wheels on them though. 

Here’s the deal

Make sure that you can easily move the equipment around. This way, you can put it in the shed after use so that it won’t get damaged by the weather. 


If you can, you should clean the wood chipper every after use. If that is too taxing for you, just make sure you get to clean it every so often.

One of the reasons the equipment bogs down is due to debris getting stuck into parts of the machine. 

Another thing:

If you have a gas-powered wood chipper, then you need to regularly change the oil of the machine. 

Wood Chipper Shredder wheel


Do you need a wood chipper? If you have a yard and you want to have a more convenient life, then you definitely do!

A wood chipper can help you with yard work by reducing your waste and allowing you to create your own mulch through processed wood chips and leaves. 

In order to find the right kind of wood chipper for your yard, you have to get to know your yard a little better: How big is your yard? What plants and trees do you have in your yard?

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Now that you know the basics of the chipper shredders, you might want to know the best electric chipper shredders of the year

For a more comprehensive review on specific chippers, check this out: For a good-performing chipper that is easy on the budget, you might want to read on about the Power Smart PS10. If you have bamboo palms in the yard, the Sun Joe CJ602E might be what you are looking for. 

If you have a bigger yard, then you should check out the Tazz K33 Chipper Shredder. It has a lot of power but remains to be affordable. 

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