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home wood chippers  RSS feed

 
Posts: 11
Location: Mid Missouri north of the Ozarks
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My husband and I are mulling over the purchase of a wood chipper/shredder for home use. Our home is tucked in the woods so I have lots and lots of wood to chip. We heat with wood and the tops of trees are always piled up and left to the bunnies or whatever critters. Our thinking is that a smaller electric chipper would be easy enough for me to do by myself and tote where I need it (with cord, of course)... Do any of you Back to Eden gardeners have a home wood chipper and would you give me your thoughts on them. Do you have one that is sturdy and reliable? Do you think that an electric (which could do only up to 1 1/2 inch branches) would be worth it? Thanks!
 
pollinator
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I paid several hundred for a gas unit (new). After 20 minutes i thought it was the most useless piece of junk i ever bought.

I wish i had rented one first as i never used one before and didnt know the capabilities.

The branches i had were 2 to 3" diameter and i had bunches to chip. All were in the range of diameters advertised for the unit.

I would guess an electric unit would handle very small branches. Based on my experience i would request a demo in the future.
 
pollinator
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My take is the same. I had a Tomahawk Chipper/Shredder given tome and it is utterly worthless. It takes a long time to produce a small pile of chips, and while 3-4 inches sounds big, the reality is considering the "knuckles" branches have, superseding that size is pretty easy on even smaller branches. I can only imagine a smaller machine would be even worse.

Honestly I think there are better things to do with wood then make a pile of chips. That takes time and fuel, use them to build wattle fences, hugels, corduroy walking paths, burn the wood for its NPK content, etc.

If you are still dead-set on chipping the brush, I would rent one. Get one of sufficient size, is self-fed, and yet can be moved around handily by tractor or ATV or whatever you have.



 
gardener
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Location: Middle Tennessee
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I've been curious about home chipper/shredders myself and would like to further Lorraines question and ask if you guys were using the kind with knives or if they were the hammer mill variety. I've seen one advertised on tv before and it looks too good to be true. Has anyone used the much larger kind powered by a tractor PTO?
 
pollinator
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I have a Stanley CH5 and it's awesome.  It makes much better chips than you get from a tree service.  It does take a tremendous amount of material to get a large number of chips, but for me, it's fully worth it.
 
pollinator
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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The  attribute I value most about wood chips is soil building.
Given the limitations of these machines, what if we rethought the whole enterprise?
You have chainsaws that will presumably whip right through these limbs.
How about a crib or jig that holds a bunch of wood so that all of it can be sliced into lengths of less than an inch.
Like bundling together carrots so you can cut a whole handful at once.
Still a lot of work.

Of the alternatives, I favor making charcoal or hugels.
If only we had an animal that could speed up the nutrient cycling. Grazing animals do this for grass,but for wood I can only think of beaver,termite,and mushrooms,and each of these has it's downside...





 
Todd Parr
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William Bronson wrote:
You have chainsaws that will presumably whip right through these limbs.
How about a crib or jig that holds a bunch of wood so that all of it can be sliced into lengths of less than an inch.
Like bundling together carrots so you can cut a whole handful at once.
Still a lot of work.

Of the alternatives, I favor making charcoal or hugels.



I think I can safely guarantee that I can chip an 8 ft 3 in branch much, much faster and more safely than you can cut it up with a chainsaw, even if I don't count the time you take stacking and tying the wood first, and the product will be far superior for soil building.

Of your alternatives, I use both, and both are great for their intended purposes, but neither takes the place of, or does the same things as, wood chips.
 
Posts: 119
Location: Denton, TX United States Zone 8a
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use them to build wattle fences, hugels, corduroy walking paths, burn the wood for its NPK content, etc.



Hey Travis, what's that kind of walking path? Reading this I got a mental image of paths made out of thin branches laid horizontally and close together, or maybe woven? But I've never heard of it...
 
Travis Johnson
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In Maine anyway, we have what foresters call the two rule:

Anything 2 inches in diameter, less than 2 feet off the ground, in 2 years time will decompose on its own."

I know from experience on my farm this is true. My forester wants me to use my chainsaw and slash up brush and tops from logging, and i advocate that, I really do. I have done it on logging jobs for other people and it looks nice. On my farm I employ another trick, i drive over my brush with my skidder or bulldozer. This works really good after they are dried after a year or so and they are brittle. Put a 60,000 pound bulldozer on top of them and they are less than 2 feet off the ground in a hurry.  They are also also smashed up and treaded down by the grousers cutting into them.

Honestly, I think time wise slashing with a chainsaw, and chipping with a chipper is comparable. I get fatigued carrying brush to a chipper and moving the chipper about takes time. But slashing up brush with a chainsaw is not exactly an energy boost.

 
wayne fajkus
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My current process is to hurry up and wait.  The previous owner had several piles of cedars (ash juniper) on the land. I was pushing one of these piles and noticed it crumbly at the bottom. So i started making piles. I may tamp it down with a tractor. Or flip the pile periodically,  which will leave the crumbly bits behind. My goal is to get them back in the ground vs the standard of burning them.

Kind of like when i put hay out for the cows. I put them in the field, not the pen. Different spot each time. Im gradually mulching by doing nothing.
 
garden master
Posts: 1999
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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I bought a used 5 hp chipper and it is unimpressive.  Chipping the branches from a medium sized (8") spruce tree takes about an hour.  But it makes small chips that are good for the chicken house.  Any branch bigger than 1.5" is a real pain to feed in.

I have a buddy with a cabin in the woods and they clean up the woods to "look pretty".  They just rent a big tow behind chipper (like a tree service would use) and rip through all their chipping in a couple hours once per year.  Heck, maybe you could pay a tree service to chip your piles of brush.  That's probably the way I'd go if I needed to chip stuff instead of returning it to nature.

A side benefit to the chipper is shredding leaves for mulch so that's why we continue to keep it.
 
Travis Johnson
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James Freyr wrote:I've been curious about home chipper/shredders myself and would like to further Lorraines question and ask if you guys were using the kind with knives or if they were the hammer mill variety. I've seen one advertised on tv before and it looks too good to be true. Has anyone used the much larger kind powered by a tractor PTO?



Most small ones have both, at least the Tomahawk by Troybilt does. They are included because they are intended to shred leaves.

One thing a chipper/shredder does do well is blend feed stuffs for livestock. Back when I started out and only had (4) sheep, this time of year I would go up into our corn fields, cut stalks down with a chainsaw, gather them up, then run them through my Tomahawk chipper. The chipped corn was just as good as what came out of our $250,000 combine. In fact I have written things on here on how people who rely on hay could easily grow enough corn to feed their animals using the equipment they already have kicking around; no haying equipment needed.

For the hammermill part, for lambs in the spring, I would blend alfalfa cubes with hay and grain by dropping them down the shredder top and bag up some ideal feed. It also did well threshing oats and winter rye.

I always felt they had some use on a homestead, but as a wood chipper I think they are severely limited.
 
Travis Johnson
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If people wanted to build their own chipper it would be super-simple to do. Just buy a used hand lawnmower, then using a drill with a 4 inch hole saw, or a grinder with a cut off wheel, drill a hole, or cut a square hole about 4 inches wide near the outer part of the mower. Then start the mower up and feed the branches down through the hole to chop up the branches, corn stalks, etc. It lacks a mulcher, but it will do just a good a job.
 
James Freyr
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Cool. Thanks Travis!
 
gardener
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I was surprised that a friend's tiny electric chipper was handling 1.5 inch material. .. but it was. 
He got it to make chips of cottonwood for mushroom production.  Oak might be a different  story.

Travis mentioned a cordoroy road and somebody asked about it. These were roads made of small diameter logs laid crossways maybe ten or twelve feet wide to access forest swamp or even prairie areas. In some places planks were laid on the logs to roll wheels on. Some 100 or more year cedar cordoroy roads are still evident in forests in BC.
 
Posts: 8
Location: Northern Klamath County, OR
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I have spent a lot of years in the forest and its various jobs and currently work for a tree service around chippers all the time. I will tell you that in my opinion any small chipper is going to be next to useless. Chipping takes a lot of power and unless you are doing awful small stuff don't waste your time and money. The chippers intended for home owners are of little use except maybe grinding up leaves or pine needles. Most people around here simply burn the stuff they don't want in an out door fire pit during barbacues and such.
 
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