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What Wood Chipper is Best For Chipping Conifer Trees? 

what woodchipper is best for chipping conifer

Wood chippers are excellent tools to use to turn branches, twigs, or entire trees into small chippings. Depending on the size of the wood chipper you use, will determine the size of chipping you will create once the debris passes through the machine. They are the most popular machine to be used by arboriculturists, tree surgeons and garden clearance companies throughout the UK. Using a wood chipper allows these specialists to reduce the overall size of the debris they are required to remove, or distribute mulch that has been produced. In this article, we are going to help you decide which wood chipper is best for chipping conifer trees, how wood chippers work and factors you will want to consider before arranging hire. 

What kind of wood chippers there are?

Before considering hiring a wood chipper to remove conifers, you need to consider what type of equipment will suit you best. Wood chippers are separated into three main categories: 

Electric wood chippers

Electric chippers are very easy to spot as they look very similar to a golf bag. Unlike larger models, electric models are small enough to fit into the back of a standard hatchback car. These chippers often lack power and cannot handle branches over only a few inches in diameter. Which, if you only have tiny branches and trimmings, it is ideal, however, would not be suitable for larger debris. Electric powered wood chippers are generally gravity fed, making them unsuitable for processing long, heavy limbs. These machines require a direct electrical power source which can make them problematic.

Fuel-powered wood chippers

The most commonly used wood chippers are fuel-powered. These machines can handle branches sizing from 3 inches upwards. Unlike electric wood chippers, these contraptions are far larger than electric machines and require to be towed or transported on a trailer. Fuel-powered wood chippers come in 3 different designs, gravity-fed (similar to electric machines), self-fed and controlled self-fed, which is the more popular choice. Controlled self-fed machines are roller fed, which pulls branches through the machine to be processed. Once the branches are processed, they are forced through a chute by the machine’s fan to exit the machine.

PTO woodchippers

Power taken off, or PTO, refers to the drive shaft on the wood chipper that allows it to attach to an output shaft on a tractor, mower, or truck. These machines are some of the largest of their kind, frequently used in the forestry and wood processing industry to handle all different sizes of debris. Large, specialised PTO wood chippers are able to process a whole or several trees at one time. These machines require another vehicle to power and transport, making them potentially too large from just removing conifers.

How do wood chippers work?

Regardless of the size or type of machine that you choose, all wood chippers function in a simpler manner. They are operated by:

 An engine- either electric, fuel-powered or PTO, depending on design and specification. 

A gearbox- which uses pulleys and v-belts to connect the engine to a set of blades. These enable the engine to control the speed at which these blades rotate, and the v-belt transmits the power from the engine. Internal gears within the gearbox also help control speed and power.

Chutes- wood chippers typically have two separate chutes for processing wood. The first, the smaller of the two, shreds branches into chips. The second, larger chute features blades, rollers and additional devices to turn branches into chippings. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) recommended with a wood chipper

When it comes to operating a wood chipper, your safety is paramount. On average, over 200 people a year lose their lives from accidents involving one of these machines. Therefore, wearing sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) is very important. Always adhere to all the safety measures advised by your hire specialist and in the machine’s operating manual. It is advised that the following PPE be worn:

  • Helmet with adequate ear defenders
  • Sturdy work gloves to protect your hands
  • Long-sleeved coverage to protect your arms, no snagging clothing
  • Chainsaw proof trousers to protect your legs and if saw operation is required.
  • Steel toecap boots to protect your feet
  • High visibility should always be worn
  • A medical kit should always be present 

What to consider before choosing the right wood chipper?

Before you select the right wood chipper for the job, you will need to be aware of the following factors to ensure you have the correct equipment to get the job done. 

-What are you chipping?

What is the diameter of the branches or trees that you are looking to process into woodchip? Anything over the size of 2 inches will require a fuel-powered machine. Branches or twigs smaller than 2 inches will safely process through an electric wood chipper.

-What power do you require?

Each type of wood has a different density. You may have heard the terms hardwood and softwood before. Hardwood trees such as oak, ash and beech require more torque for the machine’s blades to cut through the branches to be processed into woodchip. Softwood branches such as pine, conifer and spruce will require less torque, as they are far less dense. 

-Where are you using the machine?

Accessibility to power is important if you wish to use an electric chipper. However, if this is not the case, opt for a more portable option. Fuel-powered wood chippers come in all different shapes and sizes. Some can be manoeuvred by hand into a working positions, others require the use of a vehicle to do so. If either of these options is not suitable, then a tracked wood chipper could be a preferable choice for you. 

-What volume are you chipping?

If you are working to a tight deadline, having adequate machinery is important to keep on track. It is best advised to always choose a larger chipper if you wish to speed up your processing time. Larger fuel-powered chippers are roller fed and have enough torque to break through all the tree species you may come across. This means that you can process several branches at one time up to the hopper’s maximum intake. 

What to do with your conifer wood chippings

Wood chippings can be used in different ways such as for plant beds, adding to compost heaps, animal bedding, recycled into biomass, decorative landscaping… the list goes on and on. However, when you choose to produce woodchips from conifers or other evergreen trees, you need to be cautious. Conifers wood chippings contain a large amount phytotoxic compounds that change the PH balance within your soil. This could affect other plants that thrive in a more alkaline environment. It is also not advised to add conifer woodchip to a compost heap, as it will affect its decomposition rate. You are best using conifer chippings along decorative paths and around the base of established trees or acid-loving plants. 

What wood chipper is best for chipping conifer trees. 

Processing conifers through a wood chipper is tiring work. However, if you make sure you have the right machine on your side, you can save yourself a lot of time and money on your hire. Conifers or Pinophyta, are one of the nation’s favourite tree species found on homeowners’ properties. To assess the size of the wood chipper you require, it is always best to inspect the size of the diameter of the stem of the tree, along with its lower branches. This will give you a great indication of what the maximum potential diameter you will have to cater for will be. As conifers are a species of Evergreen tree, you will need to make sure that you have a machine with enough power and force to discard not only chippings, but its leaves as well. Having a machine with insufficient power will slow your processing speed down and could lead to blockages within your chute. 

If you require a wood chipper to remove a complete conifer tree, it is best advised to use a fuel-powered wood chipper with a processing diameter of at least 6 inches. 6’ Fuel-powered wood chippers are designed with enough torque and output to process most conifer sizes.  WHC Hire Services has been supplying the highest quality wood chippers to customers, contractors and businesses (no matter their size). Since 1997, we have offered a wide range of tree and grounds maintenance equipment suitable for bidding DIYers and professionals. With constant investment into the quality of equipment, we are able to provide some of the best machinery on the market. With depots in Tewkesbury, Worcester and the Cotswolds, we are available and on hand when you need us. We assure that all our customer receive their required tools on time and in perfect working condition. Get the job done today by clicking here to see our latest wood chipper range or call 01684377977 for more information.