A wood chipper is an excellent tool that takes twigs, limbs, branches, and other solid yard material and cuts it into small, chip-sized pieces. Depending on the size, you can use the chips for many different things, like providing mulch for a garden, for fire pit kindling, or to create pressed wood to make furniture or other fine carpentry projects.
The best wood chipper for your yard must be able to accommodate the twigs and branches you are feeding into it and should also suit your power requirements. While an electric wood chipper is quieter and can use your home power supply, gas and power take-off (PTO) wood chippers are much more powerful, allowing you to cut through more material at a faster pace. The products below represent the best wood chipper in each respective category based on customer approval, product efficacy, and overall value.
- BEST OVERALL: SuperHandy Wood Chipper Shredder Mulcher
- RUNNER UP: WEN 15-Amp Rolling Electric Wood Chipper and Shredder
- BEST ELECTRIC: Sun Joe Electric Silent Wood Chipper/Shredder
- BEST GAS: Landworks Mini Wood Chipper Shredder Mulcher
- BEST HIGH TORQUE: Patriot Gas-Powered Wood Chipper/Leaf Shredder
- MOST PORTABLE: Landworks Wood Chipper Shredder
- BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY: GreatCircleUSA Wood Chipper Shredder Mulcher
Types of Wood Chippers
Wood chippers are separated into three main types by the power source they use, which are electric, gas, and power take-off (PTO).
Electric wood chippers are easy to spot because they look similar to a golf bag. These machines are compact and run quieter than either gas or PTO chippers, but they often lack the power and capacity to deal with material larger than 2 inches in diameter. However, as long as you are only cleaning up small branches and yard trimmings, then an electric wood chipper can do the trick. They are less expensive, lighter, and easier to use. Just plug them into any household outlet and begin your work.
Gas wood chippers are the most commonly used residential wood chippers. They are larger and louder than an electric chipper, and they also give off a chemical odor due to the burning of gasoline. However, gas wood chippers are often capable of handling material 3 inches or more in diameter, allowing you to cut up much larger wood pieces. Gas wood chippers are also more powerful than electric chippers and don’t need to be located near a power outlet (or tethered by an extension cord) to use. These wood chippers fall into a medium price range between the cheaper electric chippers and the more expensive PTO chippers.
Power take-off or PTO refers to the drive shaft on the wood chipper that allows it to attach to a splined output shaft on a tractor, mower, or truck. This connection lets the PTO wood chipper draw energy from the engine of the vehicle. This method of powering the wood chipper supplies a high amount of energy that makes PTO wood chippers more effective than either gas or electric chippers. These chippers can cut through more extensive material at a much faster rate, and they are an excellent option for anyone living on a very large plot of land. However, PTO wood chippers cost more than either the electric or the gas chippers, and you must have a compatible vehicle for the PTO chipper to attach to, otherwise, it will not work.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Wood Chipper
Before choosing a wood chipper for your yard cleanup needs, take a few minutes to educate yourself on the most important shopping considerations to keep in mind.
Not all wood chippers have bags or bins to gather the chipper discharge, but if you are looking for one that comes with a bag or bin, you must also consider the storage container’s capacity. Larger bags are a great option if you plan to use the wood chipper for a big cleanup project. However, the larger the bin, the heavier it will be to empty. If weight is a concern, then you may be better to get a smaller bag or bin that will require more frequent emptying instead of risking an injury to lift an overfilled bag.
The blades’ ability to cut through the material you feed into the wood chipper is an essential factor to consider. Think about how you will use your wood chipper. If you are only using it for small branches and clippings, then an electric wood chipper will be fine. These smaller wood chippers usually have a maximum material diameter of 2 inches. This means that you can cut up branches that measure up to 2 inches in diameter across the branch’s widest portion.
However, if you know you need the wood chipper for larger material, consider getting a gas or PTO chipper. Gas and PTO wood chippers are commonly used on material up to 4 inches in diameter. Still, some professional-grade wood chippers can be used for branches up to 7 inches in diameter, though these cost significantly more than the average residential wood chipper.
A wood chipper uses a powerful motor to turn a series of cutting and grinding blades with enough force to cut through solid wood quickly. The blades are driven by a force that is known as torque. Torque is essentially the rotational force that a motor can impart on an object. In this case, the torque forces the blades to cut through any appropriate material pushed into the hopper. Torque is typically measured in foot-pounds (ft-lbs), with most residential wood chippers having a torque rating between 7 ft-lbs to about 15 ft-lbs.
A shredding chute is a handy extra if you clean up weeds, leaves, or other soft yard waste. This feature on a wood chipper is a separate chute that you can use to shred less rigid material, allowing you to dispose of tree branches, twigs, leaves, weeds, grass, or other plant-based yard waste.
While you can get a separate leaf shredder to tackle this job on its own, a wood chipper with a shredding chute built-in is a more cost-effective and space-saving method that still allows you to obtain the same results. However, keep in mind that a wood chipper/leaf shredder combo will cost more than a similar product that is only a wood chipper.
The reduction ratio of a wood chipper is the ratio that indicates how small the material will be after it has passed through the wood chipper. For example, if a wood chipper has a reduction ratio of 8:1, this means that it will reduce the material down into an eighth of the original size.
Wood chippers will typically have a reduction ratio that ranges from as large as 8:1 to as small as 20:1. However, the smaller the original material is cut, the more power and energy will be required to drive the blades. This means that the engine’s size will increase, and the wood shredder’s size will also increase; and with size and power, so goes the price. So, if you don’t need a chipper that cuts the material into tiny pieces, then you can save some money by choosing a wood chipper with a lower reduction ratio.
Our Top Picks
The top-rated products below were chosen for the recommended features mentioned above and overall quality to help you find the best wood chipper for your yard.
The SuperHandy weighs 120.7 pounds—so you won’t be carrying it—but with the heavy-duty wheels, you can easily pull it around behind you. The gas wood chipper has a main feed chute for larger material with a maximum size of up to 3 inches in diameter. Material fed through this chute should be guided in with the blunt side first. The auto-feed function of the chipper will begin pulling the material through so that you can stand in a safe location away from possible flying wood chips.
The chipper has a 7 HP engine that produces up to 8.1 ft-lbs of torque for chipping and mulching, and you can even use the included shredding chute to deal with leaves, twigs, and other vegetation. The blades cut quickly and efficiently with a reduction ratio of 15:1, allowing you to create effective mulch and dispose of unwanted yard waste without dealing with complicated bundling and roadside pick up.
Clear your yard of waste while keeping more money in your wallet with the affordable WEN 15-Amp Rolling Electric Wood Chipper and Shredder. It weighs just 23.1 pounds and comes with a pair of wheels for easy movement and maneuverability. Even if you don’t use the wheels, the chipper’s compact size means that you can pick it up and carry it where you need it to go.
The electric wood chipper uses a 15 amp motor to chip, shred, and mulch solid organic material, like branches, sticks, leaves, and twigs. The hopper can accept material up to 1.5 inches in diameter and cuts the wood into pieces at a reduction ratio of 15:1. This product comes with a built-in safety feature that shuts down the motor when the hopper is open, and it also includes a helpful collection bag so that you aren’t picking up chips and mulch off the ground when finished.
If you like the quiet operation of an electric wood chipper or the easy access to a continuous power source with an extension cord or nearby outlet, then the Sun Joe 15-Amp Electric Wood Chipper is the chipper you need. Despite weighing just 38.6 pounds, this compact electric wood chipper is a powerful machine with an impressive reduction ratio of 21:1. However, the smaller design only accommodates material up to 1.7 inches in diameter.
The 15 amp motor provides energy to the powerful blades for chipping, mulching, or shredding. This electric wood chipper is an excellent option if you want to avoid the harmful fumes produced by gas chippers. This product even has a built-in safety mechanism that will automatically stop the motor when the hopper is opened to help reduce the risk of injury.
Gas-powered wood chippers are the most commonly used products for a good reason. The Landworks has the power to handle most residential yard waste with an extra-large hopper capable of accepting sticks, twigs, branches, and other vegetative material up to 3 inches in diameter with a reduction ratio of 15:1.
The 7 HP engine produces up to 8.1 ft-lbs of torque so the blades can handle any shredding, chipping, or mulching that is required. The 99.8-pound gas wood chipper can be wheeled anywhere you need it, as long as you will have proper lighting, ventilation, and fuel to power the chipper. Just guide the blunt end of the material into the hopper and allow the auto-feed function to pull the rest of the piece through at an appropriate pace, so that you don’t have to risk your hands pushing stubborn wood into dangerous blades.
If you want a wood chipper that has a high torque, capable of grinding through tough hardwoods without issue, then try this Patriot wood chipper, which boasts an impressive 14.6 ft-lbs of torque. Despite being a high torque gas wood chipper it runs at a low volume due to the premium muffler, though hearing protection is still advised during operation. The wood chipper comes with a main feed chute that accommodates branches and other yard waste with a diameter up to 3 inches in size.
An oil sensor on the wood chipper flashes to indicate when you need to change the oil so you don’t accidentally damage the engine if you forget to maintain your machine correctly. This 139-pound wood chipper sits on a pair of wheels to be easily moved around despite its bulky size, and if you need to deal with leaves, twigs, or other vegetative material, toss it into the shredding chute to cut it down into a more manageable size.
If you’ve got a heavily-sloped yard and/or a small garage, the smooth maneuverability and compact size of this Landworks model can help. At only 25 pounds, this machine is light enough to push it up or down a steep slope. The 15 amp motor spins at 4100 RPMs, and although it’s a light-duty chipper, it has enough power to chip sticks and branches over 1-½-inches thick. It comes with a small bag for collecting mulch as well. And when your yard work is done, the compact unit tucks away nicely.
The light-duty machine’s 17:1 breakdown ratio (meaning it can chop or shred a pile of brush down to 1/17th of its size) might not be enough for folks who want easy-to-use mulch—the mulch produced might simply be too coarse. However, with coarse cutting and without noxious gasoline to contend with, the Landworks creates ideal chips for the BBQ smoker enthusiast.
Small wood chippers, like those made for a maximum material diameter of fewer than 2 inches, are useful for small yards and minor yard debris. But when you are dealing with large branches, or even full tree removal, you need a wood chipper with the capacity to get the job done. This heavy-duty model from GreatCircleUSA can chop through any solid organic yard waste at a reduction ratio of 15:1, and the built-in hopper can shred less rigid material.
The entire chipper weighs 125.7 pounds, but it can be hooked up to an ATV, a lawnmower, or a tractor if you have a tow bar. The chipper comes with a discharge bag and two heavy-duty wheels allowing you to pull it behind you. While this wood chipper does have an impressive capacity for a residential wood chipper, if you need something bigger on a regular basis you may have to get a professional grade wood chipper.
How to Use a Wood Chipper Safely
Wood chippers have been used for years as beneficial yard clean up tools, but they have also featured prominently in horror movies for a good reason. This yard tool is incredibly dangerous and should not be operated unless you know how to use a wood chipper and you take the proper safety precautions like those noted below.
- Before using any wood chipper, you should read the manufacturer’s recommendations for use to understand how your specific model functions.
- Ensure that you have (and are using) hearing protection, eye protection, and hand protection, and it isn’t a bad idea to have a hard hat to keep stray pieces of wood from hitting your head.
- When feeding branches into the wood chipper, do not force stubborn branches into the blades. Let the chipper pull them in and stand to the side to avoid flying debris.
- Never stick your hand (or any other body part) anywhere near the blades when the wood chipper is in operation or even when it is connected to power as a simple accident could result in severe injury or death.
- Always disconnect the power and the spark plug before conducting maintenance on your wood chipper to ensure that it does not start up while you are vulnerable to the blades.
The Advantages of Owning a Wood Chipper
Having your own wood chipper comes with many advantages, but the most obvious benefit is the method of yard waste disposal it provides. Old trees can give out at any time, and yearly trimming is necessary. However, this can leave you with a substantial amount of wood and yard material to remove. With a wood chipper, you will still need to take the time to feed the material into the chipper, but you can easily dispose of or use the wood chips that are produced.
Wood chippers are also a useful tool to reduce the potentially harmful emissions produced by burning chemical-treated wood. Instead of releasing these toxic fumes and unpleasant odors into the air, you can mulch the wood and use it to protect your plants.
Besides mulch, you can also create pressed wood for various carpentry projects, like furniture making, or biofuel, which can fuel certain cars or other machinery.
- Owning a wood chipper allows you to quickly remove unwanted waste.
- A wood chipper is an environmentally friendly way of disposing of yard waste.
- You can use a wood chipper to produce useful materials like mulch and pressed wood.
FAQs About Your New Wood Chipper
Read on to find out the answers to several of the most popularly asked questions about wood chippers.
Q. How do you use a wood chipper?
The first step to using a wood chipper is choosing a level location for it to sit. Once it is in position, set the parking brake on any equipment used to haul it, then adjust the chip deflector and chip chute so that they direct the chips to your desired location.
Check the chipper for any debris before starting. If it is clear, start it up. If it isn’t, you will have to disconnect the spark plug and clean it out before turning it on. Never perform maintenance of any kind without disconnecting the power.
With the engine started, feed material into the wood chipper, blunt end first. The machine will begin chipping away allowing you to back off and move to the side of the chipper so you don’t get hit by pieces that may shoot out. Once you have finished chipping, clean up the wood chips, dispose of them, or put them to good use.
Q. How do you feed a wood chipper?
To feed material into the wood chipper, begin with the blunt end and carefully guide it into the chipper. You may also want to include a mixture of dry and green limbs so that the moisture from the green branches can help to cool and lubricate the wood chipper’s knives.
Q. How loud is a wood chipper?
Wood chippers range in the decibel level produced but generally fall between 85 decibels to 110 decibels, which is more than enough to warrant hearing protection.
Q. How do you clean a wood chipper?
Start any maintenance process by stopping the engine (ensuring all moving parts have stopped before proceeding) and disconnecting the spark plug wire to prevent accidental start-up.
To clean the wood chipper, begin by removing the flail screen and any larger debris. Clean the flail screen individually, then begin cleaning the chute and around the muffler with water and a brush or dry cloth. Avoid using an overly forceful spray of water because it can contaminate the fuel system.