Reviews

This Earthquake Wood Chipper Offers Unbeatable Power, Tested and Reviewed

The Earthquake K33 wood chipper shredder isn’t the cheapest tool in the shed, but my hands-on test showed it is worth every penny.
Mark Wolfe Avatar
Red Earthquake K33 wood chipper on grass in front of cut logs and sticks
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

Wood chippers convert bulky yard waste into a form that makes excellent mulch, composts readily, or is easily bagged for curbside disposal. Whether reducing the bulk of fall leaves, removing downed limbs after a summer storm, or disposing of brush and branches after spring pruning, these machines process the debris wherever it falls and limit the number of trips to carry it away. I recently tested the Earthquake K33 chipper shredder—along with several other models—during a fall landscape cleanup project, and the results were outstanding.

Shoppers have a choice between either electric or gas-powered wood chippers. Although compact electric models operate quietly and do a fine job on smaller material, those with larger properties, or lots of trees, often find that gas-powered chipper shredders are a better fit. Gas wood chippers work faster, accommodate larger branches, and access remote parts of the yard much more easily than their electric counterparts. The Earthquake K33 wood chipper that I used stood out among the test group, performing those tasks at a high level. In this review, I will share the pros and cons of buying and operating this machine and compare it to a few other chipper shredders I have tested.

Earthquake K33 Wood Chipper Shredder: At a Glance

Rating: 9.2/10

Red Earthquake K33 wood chipper on grass next to bag of wood chipsRed Earthquake K33 wood chipper on grass next to bag of wood chips
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

SPECS

  • Engine: 301 cubic centimeter (cc) Viper gas engine
  • Torque: 13.28 foot-pound (lbf-ft)
  • Branch capacity: 3 inches in diameter
  • Weight: 140 pounds

PROS

  • Converts yard waste and branches up to 3 inches thick into usable mulch
  • Dual-knife chipper wheel and a mix of J- and tri-hammers in the shredder work quickly
  • Powerful engine with plenty of torque to resist bogging down and stalling out on tough materials
  • Twist-lock bagging system for fast and easy collection and disposal of mulch
  • High handlebar and oversized airless wheels allow for easy transport over uneven ground

CONS

  • More expensive than some 3-inch gas-powered chipper shredders
  • Includes a 20-ounce bottle of motor oil but requires 37.2 ounces of oil for operation

Get the Earthquake K33 chipper shredder at:

For more options, see our full buyer’s guide on The Best Wood Chippers.

What is the Earthquake K33 chipper shredder?

After spending an hour grinding up branches and brush piles with 10 different wood chippers, I awarded the Earthquake K33 chipper shredder as “Best Overall.” The thoughtful design, durable construction, powerful engine, and ease of transport all combined to make this model stand out head and shoulders above the rest of the group. It was not the cheapest or—while pricey—the most expensive chipper, but it was arguably the most capable machine of the group.

A 301cc 4-cycle gas engine powers the Earthquake K33. The 3-inch branch chipper chute leads to a dual-knife chipper wheel, while the 17-inch-long by 14-inch-wide hopper sits atop the unit to funnel small debris down through an 8-inch-long by 4-inch-wide opening into the shredder. Four hammer assemblies (two J-hammers and two tri-hammers) spin on a shaft inside the shredder, pulverizing leaves, twigs, pine cones, and other yard waste.

This chipper is built somewhat like a hand truck to navigate bumps, slopes, and uneven terrain. It rolls on two 11-inch airless wheels. The axle is mounted below the shredder housing. A handlebar angles upward at the rear of the hopper, allowing users to easily lever backward—raising the fixed kickstand (mounted beneath the engine) off the ground—and push or pull the machine to the worksite.

The engine is equipped with an on/off switch, recoil starter, and the usual 4-cycle lawn equipment controls: fuel flow shutoff, choke lever, and throttle lever. The fuel tank has a generous 1.72-gallon capacity for extended work sessions.

The chipper also features a 36-inch-long by 24-inch-wide discharge bag. Instead of attaching over the discharge chute with a drawstring like other chippers, this bag has a twist-lock system that clamps down very securely. The bag also includes loops along one side that slide over a support rod so it is held up and out and able to fill completely with no adjustments needed on the part of the operator. A heavy-duty zipper on the base of the bag allows for fast unloading.

Person removing full bag of wood chips from Earthquake K33 wood chipper
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Is the Earthquake K33 wood chipper easy to assemble?

I assembled the Earthquake K33 by myself in about 30 minutes using only a few wrenches and sockets. It is important to remember that this machine weighs 140 pounds, so moving and unpacking the box may be easier with a helper. The instructions were crystal clear, and there were no awkward moments when I felt I needed a third hand to complete the assembly.

I did experience one head-scratching moment after assembly. As a 4-cycle machine, engine oil is required (10W-30). The kit graciously included a 20-ounce bottle to get started—most of the other models did not—but the engine oil capacity is 37.2 ounces. When I added the included bottle and checked the oil, it barely showed up on the bottom of the dipstick. Users will want to be prepared with an extra quart of oil.

Is the Earthquake K33 wood chipper easy to operate?

Starting the Earthquake K33 was similar to other gas chippers: Turn the switch to “on,” open the fuel valve, set the choke, and pull the cord. It always started on the first or second pull. In operation, a few details made this wood chipper easier and more comfortable to use than most of the other models, starting with the size of the machine.

With the hopper rim at a height of 35 inches aboveground, or a little below my waist height, it was easy for me to load the shredder with small debris. This was especially noticeable when I was dumping leaves from a trash can. Two other models were similarly constructed, but another two models were much taller, with their hopper rims about 42 inches high. The added height made loading a little more difficult because of the need to lift and hold the can higher. Shorter was better in this instance.

The added engine power was another helpful factor. Thanks to its 301cc engine, the Earthquake K33 was the only gas chipper that didn’t bog down or stall out throughout testing. The other chippers, with engines ranging from 212cc to 224cc, either struggled through thick, hardened branches or choked on piles of leaves.

I also preferred the disposal bag on the Earthquake K33. Some of the wood chippers I tested did not include bags, which meant I had to rake up the mess afterward. Simply having a disposal bag gave this machine a leg up. Then, among the bagging models, this chipper excelled. The twist-lock connection point was incredibly secure compared to the drawstring bags that risked slipping off the debris chute. The steel rod support structure allowed me to fill the bag without having to stop and shake down the material and restart. Additionally, the zipper worked flawlessly without snagging on threads or becoming clogged with wood fiber.

Fine wood chips inside a white bag attachment for Earthquake K33
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

How powerful is the Earthquake K33 wood chipper?

While comfort and ease of transport factored into my preference, the biggest difference between this chipper and the other gas models was power—specifically the higher torque rating. Torque is a measurement of rotational force, and in this case, the energy behind the chipper blade and shredding hammers. Most of the other gas models carried torque ratings around 11.1 lbf-ft, but the Earthquake K33 is rated 13.28 lbf-ft, which is 17.9 percent higher than the other models.

In action, the difference was pretty obvious, as this chipper easily chewed through dried hardwood branches that bogged down or stalled out every other machine in the test group. Higher torque allowed it to make good use of the dual chipper knife configuration. It maintained steady engine speed and chipped branches faster than the competitors, in addition to having a notable effect on the shredder system, so that I rarely used the hopper choke plate to control the flow of debris. I cannot imagine the need for more power without also increasing the chipper shredder intake sizes.

Is the Earthquake K33 wood chipper worth the money?

While it is not the cheapest available gas wood chipper shredder, the Earthquake K33 is a value pick for regular year-round use on a midsize or large property. At $1,000 or a little less, the Earthquake K33 is worth the money. Certain design details, engine power, and general build quality compare very favorably with other models priced similarly. In many ways, it’s a real standout among the other available wood chippers on the market.

Three key details set this unit apart from the competition in my test group. First, the engine size was much larger than the other models, with the next closest sporting a 224cc engine. Next, the dual-knife chipper wheel, instead of a single knife, allowed the Earthquake K33 to operate more quickly with a reduced likelihood of bogging down or stalling out on large branches. Finally, the sliding choke plate between the hopper and the shredder compartment made it easy for me to adjust the flow of small debris to avoid overfilling the shredder. None of the other models came equipped with a flow controller of any kind.

Person emptying wood chips and yard waste from Earthquake K33 bag
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Should you buy the Earthquake K33 wood chipper shredder?

For those who are shopping for a compact wood chipper to recycle limbs and leaves on a small urban lot, I recommend avoiding gas-powered equipment in favor of an electric model like the Earthwise GS70015 electric chipper shredder. In my tests, this quiet, compact, and lightweight machine easily handled branches up to 1.5 inches thick as well as leaves and small debris, all while avoiding gasoline.

Those in search of a quality but more inexpensive gas-powered wood chipper for a slightly larger landscape might consider the Predator 6.5 HP 212cc chipper shredder. It’s a step behind the Earthquake K33 in terms of power, but the dimensions are quite similar. It struggled while chipping the toughest branches but was more than adequate for midsize branches and brush. It costs about $400 less than the Earthquake K33.

Shoppers who don’t mind paying a little more for excellent power and performance will find the Earthquake K33 chipper shredder to be an excellent choice. It is easy to move, the right size for comfortable operation, and features plenty of power to handle all kinds of branches and yard debris.

Where to Buy the Earthquake K33 Chipper Shredder

Get the Earthquake K33 chipper shredder at:

Meet the Tester

Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industries. For more than twenty years, he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now, he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn care products, and other outdoor living goods.

Share

Mark Wolfe Avatar

Mark Wolfe

Staff Writer

Mark Wolfe is a second-career freelance writer based in Georgia and has an extensive background in the horticulture industry. Since 2020, he has contributed numerous gardening and home improvement articles to BobVila.com, along with a variety of consumer product reviews.

WHY YOU CAN TRUST BOB VILA