What is a Wood Chipper?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A wood chipper is a machine that is used to turn trees or sections of trees into chips of wood that can be used for a number of purposes, including as mulch. The trees or tree parts that are processed in a wood chipper might have fallen naturally, have been felled during pruning, or may have been felled so that the land on which they grew could be used for another purpose. Just as there are a number of uses for wood chippers, there are also a number of ways to gain access to the machines. People who live on very large properties that they prune and manicure on a regular basis may benefit from owning a wood chipper outright. Those who only need to use a wood chipper occasionally may find that it is best to rent the machines or hire professional landscapers to take care of the work for them.


There are a variety of wood chipper models that range in terms of size, price, and intended use. Those that are used in industrial settings are usually much larger and have the capacity to process more wood at once than those that are used to groom residential gardens and yards. Despite the differences in size, most wood chippers have a few features in common. The area that is used to take the wood into the machine is usually shaped like a funnel. The funnel directs the wood into the area where it is processed as a section of rapidly spinning metal blades that reduce the wood to chips. Once the wood has been processed, it is blown out of tube or another funnel-shaped portal.

Another feature that is common to most wood chippers, large or small, is wheels. Even models that are meant for residential use are rather heavy, which is why the machine is put on wheels. Professional landscapers clearing large amounts of wood may use portable wood chippers that transfer the chips directly into the back of a truck. These, of course, also have wheels so that they can be moved from location to location and so that they can be positioned as needed. As with most machines that rely on the use of sharp blades to function properly, the blades on a wood chipper will have to be sharpened from time to time in order to keep the machine in good condition.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


Wood chippers scare me to death. I'm always afraid I'm going to do something stupid around them and fall in.


I once volunteered to help clear out an overgrown section of a local park, and a wood chipper really made my job much easier. There were a lot of small saplings that were choking out other trees, so my job was to cut them down and drag them out of the woods. The wood chipper turned them into mulch within seconds. If we didn't have something like that, we would have had to make piles of dead saplings, which would have been problematic down the road.

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