chipper shopping

sgullFebruary 6, 2014

Looking for advice/recommendations on purchasing an appropriate size/type chipper that could produce relatively uniform 3/8" size bark pieces if I fed big pieces of conifer bark into it. I would expect to make approximately 20 cubic feet of bark once a year or so. Plus, if feasible, I'd like to be able to use the same machine to chop up about 20-30 wheelbarrowfuls of fallen alder leaves each season. I've never owned or for that matter have any experience with using a chipper/shredder of any kind. Any tips/comments to help me get on the right track and steer me toward an appropriate machine for what I've mentioned would be greatly appreciated.

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I believe almost any chipper with a chute or big open loading area or even a vacuum unit would take care of the leaves. I, like several others here, have a McKissic. I have never attempted to shred a specific material. Even though my unit uses specific holes on the bottom screen, I would expect it to create a range of smaller chunks up to the size of the holes. I doubt any other unit would do much better. You can buy different screens with a range of hole size. Unfortunately, these machines are expensive and the smaller units would probably be even less suitable.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 5:15PM
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Okay thanks. Well I'm considering the one shown in the link below. Specs say it'll chip down to 1/2" chips. One primary intent of mine is to be able to feed large chunks of bark into it and have the bark chipped down to smaller pieces. Ideally, for the potting/container medium I want, it says I should try to use 3/8" bark pieces so I'm hoping the 1/2" chunks wouldn't be too big. Any further comment(s) appreciated.

Here is a link that might be useful: considering this chipper/shredder

    Bookmark   February 6, 2014 at 8:26PM
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I think you need to use a 1/4-inch screen in one of the MacKissic hammermill style chippers. I have and use most of the screens for my MacKissic 12PT9, including a 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1-inch (the standard included screen).

The MacKissic SC800 costs less and has an available 1/4-inch screen as an add-on accessory. Something to consider.

I think you are going to need the 1/4-inch screen in order to get a product with particle sizes suitable for use to get something comparable to your desired 3/8-inch sized bark pieces for use as a potting/container medium.

I find that my 1/4-inch screen produces a product suitable for rapid composting, because it has so much surface area.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 5:05PM
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Great. Thanks zenman for that info.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 5:10PM
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Sounds like you want a certain size of material. The better chipper/shredders offer different size screens that can be switched out by the operator.

I'd suggest you look at all the possibilities before buying. I used a older Troy-bilt model for a year and thought it lousy. Then I used a Craftsman for a year, and found I liked the Troy-bilt more!

The Craftsmans had a intake chute that could be lowered to the ground. But it only worked with leaves that were small and completely dry.

Starting the shredder was another issue. Your physical condition may affect which model is best for you. The Troy-bilt started easier, as it had a clutch for the belt. But you had to learn how to engage it gently, my dad used to shred the belt. I learned how to do it after a dozen times, there was a learning curve. The machine was underpowered.

Since I am left-handed, I stood on the opposite side as the engine. No shield for the engine, which I did not have a clean view of. Three times dry leaves smoked, and once it caught on fire.! Still worked.

Maybe these things will not be a problem with a newer model. But there are some great deals out there on older stuff.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 4:01PM
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FWIW, I've found that for my uses, "once a year" activities are best done with a rented machine-if available. Saves storing it, keeping a small engine happy, and actually saves $$.

Good luck,


    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 1:13PM
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