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Wood chipper advice

 
author & steward
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Compare flywheel weights of the models you are looking at. They flywheel in ours weighs 200 pounds and really does an excellent job on branches. It's one of the most important pieces of equipment we own.
 
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I did a lot of research before making a purchase and eventually landed on a PTO chipper. I had used a few stand alone models in the past and found them to be very slow to use. We're have 15 acres of mostly wooded land and our open areas have poor soil. We're also clearing a large several acre spot that was "invaded" by thousands of quick growing sumac trees to convert it to growing space. We didn't want to keep paying for mulch and compost so a chipper made a lot of sense - we have an endless supply of downed wood.

I compared a lot of models and landed on the Titan BX42. My understanding is there is shared engineering with some higher end brands. In my opinion, a PTO chipper is the best way to go. You're not relying on (and maintaining) another engine and you can get a whole lot more chipper for the money because you eliminate the cost of the engine - Just be very careful to stick within the limits of your tractor's horse power. I was surprised at how much horse power was needed to chip above 4". And 4" on a PTO is exactly that, I would seriously question the ability of lower cost stand alone units to chip up to their advertised diameters.

Overall, I am very pleased with this model. It chips fast and doesn't bog down. Used for just 1 season though, so limited timeline, but I used it A LOT. It's heavy and can take some muscle to load it onto the 3pt. as it resists moving to line up with the lift arms. I'm probably going to build a small cart to set it on so I can move it around when it's off the tractor.

We are cash flowing our farm and have a very limited budget but we do not regret this purchase. It has already saved us a lot of money and time in the first season.
 
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Scott,

Nice to hear that you get good results from your PTO chipper.  Like I said earlier, even though my experience is to occasionally rent a 12” model, there are times when I wished I owned my own model and as you and others said, if I did buy, it would need to be a PTO model in order to keep the cost down.

Out of curiosity, is your BX 42 chipper the same as a Wallenstein chipper?  I have looked at Wallenstein before and they certainly look like nice units.

Also out of curiosity, how do you use yours?  Do you go out and periodically chip up some fallen/cut debris?  Do you make piles and then go on s chipping spree?  The reason I ask is that I typically will trim a hedge row over the course of say a month and get a huge pile that includes everything from sticks to nearly 12” diameter logs.  All of this goes into a pile near my garden beds arranged in such a way that I can situate the chipper in such a way that I can simply chip wood right into the desired bed.

Since I am collecting a mountain of chips, I need a big chipper to go through the pile expediently.  Also, those 12” logs just plain need a big chipper in order to take them in the first place.  And one of those logs will produce a LOT of chips.  Right now I have 3 waiting to be ground up (they were all hanging deadfall that I wanted out for safety reasons.

At any rate, all this amounts to one long day of chipping and a large chipper makes it much faster and more simple.  I used to rent a 6” chipper for 2 days at $150/day ($300) and now rent a 12” chipper for $300/day for 1 day.  The old 6” chipper would bog down, reverse and kick out the wood, and inevitably break.  The 12” model (85 hp Diesel compared to 15hp gas) almost never hesitates or reverses (maybe on a large log it would hesitate a little, but I only have 3 of those this season), quickly chips up large branches and just gets the work done and does not break, ever.

Anyhow, this has been my experience, but I would love to hear how yours works out.  Please let us know how your chipper performs.  Again, I am somewhat chipper jealous!  And besides, I love talking tractors!

Eric
 
Scott Stowers
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Eric -

It is my understanding that the bx42 is shared engineering with the Wallenstein among others. BUT I don't think it's been definitively proven, at least, I can't imagine the company would deliberately confirm that.


Also out of curiosity, how do you use yours?  Do you go out and periodically chip up some fallen/cut debris?  Do you make piles and then go on s chipping spree?  The reason I ask is that I typically will trim a hedge row over the course of say a month and get a huge pile that includes everything from sticks to nearly 12” diameter logs.  All of this goes into a pile near my garden beds arranged in such a way that I can situate the chipper in such a way that I can simply chip wood right into the desired bed.



We live on a ridge with 5 flat acres of land. 2 acres of this was a dense sumac "forest". I started there, cutting the trees at the base just before running hogs through to tear up the roots. The sumac grow very fast but don't get much more than a 3" in diameter. So I cut a pile then feed through chipper. But yes, the rest is just downed wood that I cannot use in other ways. I pick out the pieces that are useful to us in other ways (carving, firewood, smoking, building) and the rest goes into a pile as near to where I want to use the chips. If it's not close, I just chip onto a tarp and drag the tarp.


Since I am collecting a mountain of chips, I need a big chipper to go through the pile expediently.  Also, those 12” logs just plain need a big chipper in order to take them in the first place.  And one of those logs will produce a LOT of chips.  Right now I have 3 waiting to be ground up (they were all hanging deadfall that I wanted out for safety reasons.



This size log would require a commercial grade stand alone unit. I'd probably recommend renting if you absolutely need to chip something that size. Obviously, something that size creates some serious hazards as well.

We considered renting but the cost of renting was more than having a load of chips delivered plus we're an hour or so from the rental place. I considered also many of the more sustainable uses for the downed wood that Paul and others mentioned above (we do use wood for heat, building structures and fencing, trellis, carving, smoking etc.) but we also need the chips for mulch, compost, pathways, mushrooms and more. Eventually we will transition away from chipping but right now, after much research and considering the other possibilities for reaching our goal, this seemed to be the right solution.
 
Eric Hanson
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Scott,

I can see how your needs differ from mine.  Certainly my logs are not going to go through your chipper but I totally respect your uses for logs.  I don’t have wood heat and probably won’t.  The logs were hangers in the woods that needed to come down for safety.  And those 3 logs I have will make a whole lot of chips!

Your sumac forest is a perfect source of wood for chipping, will grow right back, fits your chipper nicely and of course, will give you a nice, reliable source of chips.

Sounds nice!

Eric
 
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Hi Eric

I haven't landed on a brand.  My upper price range is $2000. I am using Betstco for my price points. This does not mean I am favoring them. Thanks for the comments on the forks.  I have passed my 70th birthday. While I seem to be in darned good physical shape for my age, I am keenly aware of the realities of life, and I am looking for all the assistive devices I can find.
 
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Travis Johnson wrote:

wayne fajkus wrote: That was me Wayne, I did that when I was first starting out in sheep, but to be honest with you, a hand lawn mower with a 4 inch hole cut into the top of it would do the same thing for a lot less money. I described how to fabricate one up on here once, but am not sure where it is. In fact anyone with a hand lawn mower can replicate what a small 5 hp chipper would do by doing the same thing, its why I think chippers would be a waste. You can get a running hand lawn mower off the dump for free and get the same production as a small chipper/shredder...maybe better.]

So, I must be doing something odd because the rest of this is not part of the quote but how to fix it I don't know .....
Travis, Would you please explain what you mean by a hand mower with a 4 inch hole cut into it? (A picture or two is worth a thousand words. ) Do you mean a push lawn mower? I could really use something to chop up leaves and small sticks.  I tried running the hand mower over the oak leaves and pulling/pushing it back and forth numerous times but it is exhausting with very little chopping accomplished. I do not have a lawn and if there's a way I could repurpose the lawn mower to make mulch it would be wonderful. I also have a big pile of mostly outer bark from cedars and doug fir from logs that were milled on the property.  I would like to make mulch from it. The bark slabs are pretty wide, so a large chipper would be needed. Some of the cut slabs have wood as well as bark attached but I can think of no easy way to separate it.  I am using all the scrap pieces of wood I possibly can for odd projects/uses around the yard. Hiring help for all this is going to be costly. Any ideas appreciated. TY!

 
John F Dean
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I ended up going with the Titan PTO chipper.  I notice that the price has just about doubled since I bought it.   I can handle anything I can fit into it….which is up to 4 inches.  After that, it is firewood anyway.
 
Denise Cares
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Thank you John F Dean, it looks like a nice chipper but I have no tractor. What does PTO stand for?
Staff note (John F Dean) :

Power take off.  It is a means of using the tractors engine to power the chipper …. Or other attachments.

 
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Your question is a good one and I'll answer it to add to the experience input that you're seeking.  I'm very happy that I bought and use my chipper.  I have an almost continuous need for chips and it's nice to be able to generate them as needed.  I bought mine from a typical big box store for less than $1000.00.  Most of us have seen them sitting out front in spring and I couldn't resist.  A few things though.  I bought the extended warranty plan and I'm glad I did.  Chippers aren't any different from almost anything manufactured in the throw away world we seem to live in now.

I've read the posts and I have thought through the opinions presented by those that are posting.  It seems that opinions are strong.  I practice Hügelkultur (or however people want to spell it) regularly and love it.  I use many potentially chipped branches for a wide variety of non-chipping practices.  I still have a tremendous need for my chipper and it's a great tool just like any other motorized tool for the farm.  Let's remember this, we're allies here and we should respect and help each other make our own decisions.  

Best wishes with whatever you decide!
 
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Thought I needed a chipper for years, but never could justify the cost ($ and time) when I could get arborist chips for free.  Started making biochar out of my ever growing brush piles and couldn’t be happier.  I’ve documented my biochar production in the link below if anyone is interested…
 
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Gray Henon wrote:Thought I needed a chipper for years, but never could justify the cost ($ and time) when I could get arborist chips for free.  Started making biochar out of my ever growing brush piles and couldn’t be happier.  I’ve documented my biochar production in the link below if anyone is interested…



I think this is where I've ended up too. I can get free wood chips, and a lot of them. I have a 16 foot trailer and I put OSB sidewalls on it that are four feet tall. That's 21 cubic yards which is an absolute monster amount of wood chips. For comparison that's on the low side of what an arborist's monster chipper can generate in an entire day. For a small 4" chipper it would take several days of run time to be able to fill that up, never mind the fuel and wear/tear and wood hauling.

And no matter what wood chipper you get, even the monster arborist models, you still will have wood you need to dispose of that can't go into the chipper. Biochar.

If I saw some screaming deal on a chipper I would grab it just for convenience, but in the meantime the free chips + biochar seems like the way for me.
 
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I envy all of you that can get free wood chips.
 
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I live in a city, with a very small, mostly tree-covered lot lot but I do have some food forest beds and grow in pots. My trees drop lots of leaves and some small branches. and I frequently prune the bushes. I have a great need for organic matter in this climate. I compost but the leaves take a while to break down, even in this heat because they're thick. There's no room to make piles of branches and I have no need to build things.  

To get mulch I either have to get it from a city park where the quality is often poor and availability sporadic, or from  arborists, but they also have lots of palm fronds which aren't good for mulch and many have their chips spoken for.
If I had a chipper, I'm assuming I could run leaves and small branches through it so the garden could be more self-sustaining.  

I think people have different situations that should be taken into account and  a blanket anti-chipper stance seems unwarranted.

I'd appreciate recommendations for a reliable and long-lasting small chipper.
 
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The first piece of serious equipment I bought was a wallenstein chipper shredder 20 years ago. I rented one for at least 15 years. It is a tool that takes a lot of abuse so I would be careful of used ones. I never thought I would use the leaf shredder but the owner of the farm supply store convinced me to get one that could chip up to 3” and shred branches and leaves. He told me that I would  create firewood for anything bigger and he was right. Best equipment decision I ever made. In fact I just bought the same unit again as a backup. The original has got a lot of use with my various properties. Turns a lot of debris into essentially soil. As chips I mulch everything which enriches the soil and pretty well eliminates watering. We have a homestead with a haskap orchard and almost every hype of other berries and fruit trees our zone allows. Attached is the link of the unit I have. Pricey, made in canada by the menonites and is well built. A workhorse. https://www.wallensteinequipment.com/ca/en/model/bxmt3209
 
Cara Campbell
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Bob Clinton wrote:The first piece of serious equipment I bought was a wallenstein chipper shredder 20 years ago. I rented one for at least 15 years. It is a tool that takes a lot of abuse so I would be careful of used ones. I never thought I would use the leaf shredder but the owner of the farm supply store convinced me to get one that could chip up to 3” and shred branches and leaves. He told me that I would  create firewood for anything bigger and he was right. Best equipment decision I ever made. In fact I just bought the same unit again as a backup. The original has got a lot of use with my various properties. Turns a lot of debris into essentially soil. As chips I mulch everything which enriches the soil and pretty well eliminates watering. We have a homestead with a haskap orchard and almost every hype of other berries and fruit trees our zone allows. Attached is the link of the unit I have. Pricey, made in canada by the menonites and is well built. A workhorse. https://www.wallensteinequipment.com/ca/en/model/bxmt3209



Thank you. I live on a 50'x150' lot and this would be overkill for me, though it looks like a wonderful investment for someone with mmore land!
 
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I would not recommend the purchase or use of smaller 3" chippers.  The efficiency has me siding with the idea that it's just not worth it. Probably better to cut that stuff down a bit by hand and leave it in a dense pile in deep shade for 2 years.  At least in this climate, you can then walk and stomp it to mulch bits (given it's not cedar or something...)

However, a Vermeer 12" brush chipper is a fantastic tool.  Those things can eat quite a tree, whole.  At that point, it's about how big of a slash hunk you can get the feeder to bite, 100+ lbs a bite.   At 520 dollars a day the rent here isn't cheap, but it will put out most of 2 dozen yards of wood chips in 8 hours if you manage to keep it fed.    

I'm looking forward to big chipper round 2 on this hectare. I've got a 10' tall, ~ 20' x 10' mountain of slash, mostly from 12 large coast doug firs felled in the last 2 years.  The largest limbs are 6" diameter.  Nice firewood, but there's already too much firewood, and they will take a decade to decompose enough to go to pieces under my stomping body weight, if they are in contact with the ground and in deep shade.   There's hunks of big limbs in the dead hedge that are still as hard as when they were cut, 3 years later.  And I am almost out of wood chips.    

Wood chips + dookie taught me, don't waste your time trying to cultivate marginal soils.  44 lbs of squash, from 1 seed?  Growth so vigorous it's gonna climb over and smother the blackberries?  Damn, I've wasted quite a few dozen hours, with the planting and weeding...

The point; if you have a mountain of larger diameter slash and you are gonna use those chips for your toilet now, pretty sure it's totally worth it.

That said, if you have lots of space and don't mind waiting a decade to get your next unit of wood mulch, go ahead and let it sit.
 
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I bought a Woodmaxx several years ago, and run it off a used (20 year old) 25 hp Mahindra. Works great!!!

Prior to that, I rented Vermeer chippers, but realized that a few weeks worth of renting would pay for the Woodmaxx. Even less if I rent out the chipper and faster if I rent the tractor, too. It does 9”, but only if they are straight. 6” is more realistic for me since we have only twisty Ashe Juniper to chip. When I get something a little too big, I chop off the thick or gnarly part and add it to my campfire pile. The rest makes great erosion control and provides a nice base for future top soil in my very rocky part of the world.

Prior to renting, I had a little DR 5-6 hp chipper that was useless. It did hedge clipping and leaves less than 2”. That was about it.
 
Denise Cares
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John Hutter, with "12 large coast doug firs felled in the last 2 years" I sure hope you can find a way to mill your trees.  What a precious resource! Having checked the price of lumber these days, you may be sitting on a gold mine in your woods.  Good boards can help build or rebuild homes.  Oregon properties have mostly trailer homes but little in the way of timber framed houses.  I've wondered why is that?  If you can go in on a sawmill with a neighbor or find someone with a portable one to mill on your property -think about it.  It takes years, more than a lifetime, for trees to grow large enough to produce good lumber. Chip the small stuff but not the old growth timber!
 
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Something to consider with those smaller chippers is not only the max diameter but how straight the branch needs to be. My Wallenstein BX36 can handle up to 3.5" but very little of even the small stuff will feed without significant hand-sawing beforehand. IMO a chipper without powered nip-roll feed isn't worth owning unless your only other option is paying someone to haul away your branches, and even then you're probably better off renting the chipper.

I bought my chipper only because the better choice in a bad family situation required moving to a neglected childhood home on 5 acres governed by an HOA where one of the resident 'code enforcers' deceived us about the rules pertaining to the open-burning of brush. For context, the neighbor who just moved in next door said he's already had his wrist slapped by the HOA president for the crime of planting fruit trees without prior approval... on land which 60 years ago was a farm with an apple orchard.

Had I known about this website beforehand, I wouldn't have bought the chipper, and would likely be getting my wrist slapped by the HOA too. LOL
 
Trace Oswald
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Terrell Deppe wrote:I bought a Woodmaxx several years ago, and run it off a used (20 year old) 25 hp Mahindra. Works great!!!

Prior to that, I rented Vermeer chippers, but realized that a few weeks worth of renting would pay for the Woodmaxx. Even less if I rent out the chipper and faster if I rent the tractor, too. It does 9”, but only if they are straight. 6” is more realistic for me since we have only twisty Ashe Juniper to chip. When I get something a little too big, I chop off the thick or gnarly part and add it to my campfire pile. The rest makes great erosion control and provides a nice base for future top soil in my very rocky part of the world.

Prior to renting, I had a little DR 5-6 hp chipper that was useless. It did hedge clipping and leaves less than 2”. That was about it.



I have a woodmax 8" chipper.  It makes fantastic chips, and I need lots of them, so it was worth the price to me.
 
Paul Allen II
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I have a woodmax 8" chipper.  It makes fantastic chips, and I need lots of them, so it was worth the price to me.



Is that the WM8M with mechanical infeed for under $2,400 (in today's inflated dollars)?

Pardon me while I call my Wallenstein dealer. It appears I'm owed a kiss.
 
Trace Oswald
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Paul Allen II wrote:

I have a woodmax 8" chipper.  It makes fantastic chips, and I need lots of them, so it was worth the price to me.



Is that the WM8M with mechanical infeed for under $2,400 (in today's inflated dollars)?

Pardon me while I call my Wallenstein dealer. It appears I'm owed a kiss.



Mine is the WM8h.  I've never used the M, so I can't say whether the hydraulic feed is worth the extra money or not.
 
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We live in an area where there is a lot of winter rain creating a heavy fuel load and no rain at all for 6 months, creating high fire danger. There are lots of coniferous trees with dead branches on the lower trunk that need to be removed to prevent ground fires from climbing up and crowning, which then sends burning debris down onto your house. We also had to take down two oaksthat were starting to fall over; one was about to fall onto our electrical wires and the neighbor's house, the other was going to fall on the building that houses the inventory for our business. The trees were each 100 ft tall, and one was over 6 ft across, creating a lot of firewood and a HUGE amount of twig-and-branch debris.

Having the tree crew chip up the branches as they took down the dangerous oaks would cost $1500. a day.  Renting a chipper that was up to the job cost $200. a day, and would mean the entire job would have to be done in one 2-or-3-day marathon, under pressure. We settled on buying a Patriot chipper for $1500, and have used it on at least 30 occasions, with no pressure and no need to turn the job into a marathon. The branches have been a great addition to the garden. When the tree guys did chip up some branches and small trees to create a safer work area, I was surprised at how big the chips were. Ours are a much better size., that is easier to walk on and decomposes faster. We are also able to turn tough stems and stalks into shreds, which makes the compost pile easier to handle and faster to decompose.

I suggest running several possible scenarios to arrive at the best one for you. Find out how big a chipper you realistically need, how often you need it, and what the cost of rental would be. I was surprised at the result.  Renting was much more expensive than I'd realized.

One further thought: Unless your material for chipping consists entirely of hedge clippings and similar small leaves and twigs (which might just as well be chop & drop in many situations), you will need a serious machine. The Patriot was the most heavy-duty of the home and farm machines, and anything less would be a waste of time and money for us. We are now in a position to fire-safe our lot, and to provide a service for neighbors. They in turn can do things that are out of reach for us. A chipper is a great neighborhood resource.
 
Terrell Deppe
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Trace Oswald wrote:

Paul Allen II wrote:

I have a woodmax 8" chipper.  It makes fantastic chips, and I need lots of them, so it was worth the price to me.



Is that the WM8M with mechanical infeed for under $2,400 (in today's inflated dollars)?

Pardon me while I call my Wallenstein dealer. It appears I'm owed a kiss.



Mine is the WM8h.  I've never used the M, so I can't say whether the hydraulic feed is worth the extra money or not.



Mine is hydraulic. Works great. Heck, sometimes the in feed roller chips about as much as the flywheel blades when I try to shove an over sized, twisted branch into it. I’ve never seen it stop trying to feed. It just chews when the wood won’t cooperate.
 
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Location: Porter, Indiana
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Thanks for all the great information in this post.

I've been cleaning up several acres and ended up with some rather large brush piles (see background of image). It looks like 5 hp wood chippers around me sell for around $100, and was seriously considering getting one since I would like the wood chips. However, it seems like it would be frustrating beyond belief to use something that small on such a massive quantity of brush.

Burning brush piles isn't allowed in my area so I ended up making the largest fire pit allowed by the town (3ft diameter) out of free bricks from Craigslist. Compared to the YouTube videos I've seen, I estimate I'm able to get through the brush probably 2 to 5 times faster than I would with one of those small chippers. The bricks are cracking since they aren't firebricks, but so far that's the only issue I've run into. Since the fire is kept blazing hot in a relatively small area, the amount of smoke produced has been fairly minimal.
405359983_10119253333756748_4773932821475300839_n.jpg
Wood Disposal
Wood Disposal
 
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