How to Use a Wood Chipper: The Best Tips for More Chips and a Better Machine

To get the best results from your wood chipper it is important to use and maintain it correctly. Many owners believe a wood chipper is a machine that can eat through wood regardless of what is thrown at it. This is not the case – a wood chipper needs to be handled with care and patience. In this article, I’m going to tell you how to use a wood chipper and give you tips for ensuring you get the best results from your machine over-and-over again.

Electric Wood Chippers

Some of you may have electric wood chippers and this is why knowing how to use one of these machines correctly is important. These little machines are great for clearing the back yard and will work well with lots of twigs, leaves, brush, and sticks. What a lot of people don’t realize when using these machines is that using the correct gauge of electrical extension cord is paramount to the machine working effectively.

Electrical Extension Cord

If you have an extension cord of between 50′ to 100′, it must be 12 Gauge. The reason for this is that the electrical current would weaken on a lower gauge causing its motor to under perform. Some owners of these chippers have complained about the lack of power in the motor and blamed it on the machine having a poor design, when in fact the real reason their machine is under-powering is because of the wrong gauge extension cord. Another result of not using the correct gauge extension cable is for the motor to eventually burn out.

Running Your Electric Chipper from a Standard Wall Plug

If you are running your electric chipper from a standard wall plug, make sure that no other appliances are sharing the socket because, again, the full strength of the current will be sapped by the other appliance. This is especially true with appliances such as a fridge or washing machine.

Positioning Your Wood Chipper

When preparing your chipper for a job, make sure you have it positioned on some flat ground so that the machine is stable and won’t move about. Also make sure you have plenty of space so that you can feed in the debris unhindered.

Feeding Branches into Your Machine

Knowing how to use a wood chipper is important when it comes to feeding branches into your machine. The first thing to bare in mind is to make sure the branches are not covered in wet leaves as these can clog up the machine’s blades. If the pile of debris you are planning to chip is wet, leave it until another day when it has dried out.

Another cause of chippers jamming, especially the cheaper models, is inserting old wood which has fallen and hardened too much for the blades to process it. The best type of wood is the type which is relatively fresh.


Does your chipper/mulcher have a tendency to jam when you are feeding it leaves on their own? If so, it has been found that they will go through better if mixed with sticks or twigs. This gives the blades something solid to grab hold of when processing the material.


Knowing how to use a wood chipper is important when feeding the wood into the machine. You should do this slowly, and let the machine’s blades grab and draw it in rather than forcing the branches in and clogging the insides. It is imperative that this is done while wearing a good pair of protective gloves.

Turning the Machine Off

After you have fed in your last branch for chipping, make sure that you keep the machine running to spit out the very last piece. Some owners have switched the machine off while leaving pieces still inside which has resulted in problems when the chipper is next started.

Keep the Blades Sharpened

One thing which is extremely important for obtaining the best results from your chipper is to keep the blades sharpened at all times. On some of the cheaper models you should sharpen them literally after every major wood chipping job to ensure the machine is working effectively. Don’t worry because this isn’t such a burden to do as you would think because most blades can be removed with the turn of just a couple of nuts and screws. Most blades can then be sharpened with either a simple wet stone or a high quality file.


As mentioned earlier, wearing a good pair of protective gloves is important when using a chipper. Also it is extremely important to wear protective eye goggles and with the noisier machines, protective ear mufflers are also advisable. The last thing you want are any injuries. This is obviously very important when knowing how to use a wood chipper.

Happy Wood Chipping

If you follow these simple guidelines when learning how to use a wood chipper, you will find that you will have great results and will continue to do so over-and-over again. Most importantly, you will be ensured of getting great value for money from a reliable wood chipping machine.