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Wood Chipper Recommendations

 
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2020 went out like crazy.

I can't take pictures though it looks like a tornado came through and wiped out many of the limbs on our cedar trees and a big mesquite tree.  At least 6 trees that I can see from windows have some sort of damage.  Our daughter says that there are lots of trees on our 40 acres that are damage.  They had to move lots of limbs to get back to the feeders.

Our beloved cedar on our front patio is the worst.  It was a huge tree and now reduced to a pile of broken limbs. My patio looks like lots of bushes with a small path to walk around.

All from an ice storm.

Yesterday it took from 9 am to 2 pm to clear the debris by cutting tree limbs on three trees.  Four people, two chainsaws, and a long-handled cordless pole saw.

Now we have lots of brush piles beside all the woodpiles that were here when we bought the property.

I can buy a wood chipper cheaper than I can hire someone to come and remove the brush.

Since we have a tractor it seems logical to buy a PTO wood chipper.  They are expensive.

What are your thoughts on wood chippers? What are the pros and cons of wood chippers vs the PTO kind?

Are there good ones for less than $1000.00?
 
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Last year I bought a Titan BX 42 pto mounted chipper.  It is great.  It is also around 1500.00.  In my experience, smaller units don't do serious enough work.  I have a 5 hp chipper that is useless.
 
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Anne,

I understand your wood chipper needs as it mirrors mine from 2009.  I have to ask though, if you were to estimate, what is the average diameter of the largest (call it the top 20%) diameter of the tree trunks you need to chip?

If your trunk diameters are something like 2-3 inches, then you can buy a chipper in the 4” range that can slowly work.  But if you have trunks in 6-8” range, chances are you will need a chipper in the 12” range.  Having done this myself, I found that I needed a chipper about twice the average size of the trunks.  I used to rent a 6” chipper to chip 4-6” branches, but that is slow, laborious work that tends to break the chipper.  I switched to a 12” model and that is at least 4x as fast.  Literally, the work that used to take 2 days with a 6” chipper only took a couple of hours with the 12” chipper.

Just for the record, I personally cannot justify the cost of a chipper.  Instead I rent one so when I do, I rent the large one and it works for me rather than me having to work for it.

If you are dead set on having your own chipper (and who am I to say that you would be wrong), the company Woodmaxx makes several PTO powered models that are pretty affordable as chippers go.  But one thought to keep in mind:  if you are using a PTO model, you cannot use the tractor to help load larger logs.  This might not be a problem for you, but I found a tractor with a loader to be invaluable for moving and loading logs.

I wish I had access to a chipper back in 2009, but most of my trunks were 18+ inches in diameter so I would have needed a huge chipper and those just were not available for me.  I am afraid that I burned a lot of that wood, but some did turn into edges for raised bed gardens.

This has been a long winded response but I hope you can get something useful out of it.

Eric
 
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I don't regard my 8" PTO chipper as a great investment.

A smaller one would IMO be effectively useless. Mine is alright on a 65hp diesel. It was noticeably wussier on a 50hp.

I only had the 50HP at first. I would stage everything, then chip where I wanted the pile.

Now the idea is to park the 65hp loader where I want to do the chipping, near the material, not where I want the pile. I chip into an 8x6 trailer with 6' walls, and take that where I want the chips with the 50hp tractor.

Nice plan until the loader lost reverse on day2. But chipping into a trailer has been much better, if you want to make use of the chips in specific places. If your terrain is manageable you could pull it with a pickup...



Yes, you can buy a chipper cheaper than hiring it done. But, it is quite time consuming, and you will spend a lot of time running your tractor, at high RPM, drinking diesel.


If I could do it again, I'd try to buy a used self powered diesel chipper, more capable than my pto unit... I would hire a tree company once a year until I found such a unit.

In your case I think I would hire a tree company to pound through it with their chipper once I had done the staging...
 
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Anne Miller wrote:

[b]What are your thoughts on wood chippers? What are the pros and cons of wood chippers vs the PTO kind?



While I don't own a wood chipper, I want to have one in the arsenal as I have acreage and with it, trees, and I know it's a matter of time before storms bring limbs and trees down again. A downside, in my opinion, of the smaller chippers with an engine is it's another engine to maintain. Another downside is the lack of power. May I suggest utilizing your tractor's engine and look for a PTO chipper. Your tractors engine will make may more torque and run a nice chipper than will eat bigger limbs faster.

 
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Chippers... they're so seductive and so "free kitten" with very little "free beer".

In the end, wood chippers are awful at producing chips.  You spend hours wrestling limbs into a whirling dervish that really wants to injure or maim you and then you end up with this little pile of chips.  And the knives wear out and need replacing, and you need to grease it.  And wear gloves, face and eye protection and the best hearing protection you can get ahold of.

On the other hand, wood chippers are fantastic for getting rid of piles of brush that you don't want to dispose of in some other way. Feed them in and they're ... just gone.  Its magic.

The general rule seems to be something like 4-5 hp per inch of chipping capacity.

The real question of a chipper/shredder is "What do you want to do with it?"  There's rendering branches into chips, shredding leaves down to leaf powder, dealing with unruly branch crowns, taking revenge on blackberries - and there are questions of where and how often.

Pre cross-country move we had a MacKissic that I'd converted to electric.  Amazing.  A huge help with yard chores and so easy to just turn it on or off.

I bought a bigger PTO one ... and rarely use it.  Its a pain to connect to the tractor - and then its noisy, I either have it so high off the ground that its hard to feed into OR it clogs itself in its pile of detritus and so it either needs to be constantly tended or the tractor needs to move  every 10 minutes or so.  When using it I would try to limit myself to an hour a day - its exhausting mentally and physically and too dangerous to do more.  When I felled some annoying pines last year I rented a chipper from the local yard - it took much larger branches, had hydraulic feed and - perhaps more importantly - a chute to toss those chips someplace useful.  The power and feed were just as noisy and tiring, but it was much faster work and thus a shorter period of discomfort.

As part of my larger plans, I'd like to build a whole chipper facility - convert my PTO to electric in a fixed position with a large collection pit under so the loader can grab the chips.  Anything larger than about 2" I want to divert to firewood, hugels or construction material.

So ... if I really needed to buy a PTO version again I'd get something with a chute to move the chips.  That's pricey, so I'll probably just be renting again.
 
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It has already been mentioned but I will echo from my experience, chippers are great a getting rid of large piles of branches if you don’t have extra room to just pile branches and ignore them. The chips are a nice bonus, but after doing the work to feed large piles into the chipper and seeing the relatively small pile of chips left, it is easy to see the value of getting a load of wood chips delivered from a tree service, even if you had to pay for them.

The size of chipper needs to be related to the size of your tractor as well as your expectations of what size of branch you want to feed. I chose a large PTO powered version, a Vermeer BC906, going with PTO to not have another engine to maintain. I am glad I went with a larger unit with a hydraulic feed, I would highly recommend that feature.
 
Anne Miller
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I really appreciate everyone's thoughts, advice, and suggestions.

John F Dean wrote:Last year I bought a Titan BX 42 pto mounted chipper.  It is great.  It is also around 1500.00.  In my experience, smaller units don't do serious enough work.  I have a 5 hp chipper that is useless.



Thanks, John $1500.00 sounds reasonable.

Eric Hanson wrote:I understand your wood chipper needs as it mirrors mine from 2009.  I have to ask though, if you were to estimate, what is the average diameter of the largest (call it the top 20%) diameter of the tree trunks you need to chip?



Thanks, Eric

Some of the limbs were 12 inches across though the kids are taking them for building projects, so I am guessing 3 - 4" though there are all the piles we want to get rid of.

The previous owner was making a debris fence for a property line that is between 400' to 1000' and 5' thick.  All sizes of stuff.

In the middle of one of our food plats is a massive tree that we can't even consider moving without towing with the tractor.  If it wasn't in the middle of a brush pile we could do that.

Anyway, that is great information.

D Nikolls  Thanks for the comments.  One of our problems is there are not tree companies.  several years ago I wanted to hire someone with a dozer.  He said it would be 750.00 and he would only come when he had another job in the area which put an end to the conversation.

James Freyr wrote:  May I suggest utilizing your tractor's engine and look for a PTO chipper. Your tractors engine will make may more torque and run a nice chipper than will eat bigger limbs faster.



James, thanks that is helpful.

Eliot Mason wrote:On the other hand, wood chippers are fantastic for getting rid of piles of brush that you don't want to dispose of in some other way. Feed them in and they're ... just gone.  Its magic.

The general rule seems to be something like 4-5 hp per inch of chipping capacity.

The real question of a chipper/shredder is "What do you want to do with it?"  There's rendering branches into chips, shredding leaves down to leaf powder, dealing with unruly branch crowns, taking revenge on blackberries - and there are questions of where and how often.

Pre cross-country move we had a MacKissic that I'd converted to electric.  Amazing.  A huge help with yard chores and so easy to just turn it on or off.

So ... if I really needed to buy a PTO version again I'd get something with a chute to move the chips.  That's pricey, so I'll probably just be renting again.



Eliot, thanks for the helpful suggestions.  We don't need wood chips just want to get rid of debris.

John Young wrote:The size of chipper needs to be related to the size of your tractor as well as your expectations of what size of branch you want to feed. I chose a large PTO powered version, a Vermeer BC906, going with PTO to not have another engine to maintain. I am glad I went with a larger unit with a hydraulic feed, I would highly recommend that feature.



Thank you John.  That is helpful.  Since we have a tractor I also value not having another engine to maintain.
 
Anne Miller
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Here is one of the trees with just a little damage.  It only has two broken limbs.  This tree is about 20ft. from my laundry room window:



Our helpers posted it on Facebook.  I don't know why they didn't take a picture of the ones on the patios.  They must have been taking a picture of the sunset!

Here is the quote:

This tree was minimally damaged compared to the other trees we worked on today. We will be working on cleaning up storm damage every trip we make for months.

 
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