Wood chippers can look and sound like mean machines that’ll take in anything and spit out chips of any kind. This might be true for a lot of materials, but it doesn’t mean it’s particularly good for the longevity of your wood chipper. As the name inclines, wood chippers are best used for, you guessed it, wood.
Despite that, lots of people wonder whether or not their chipper can handle certain materials or items. One guy even asked if he could shred a body… Must have something do with the movie Fargo, where the protagonist can be see pushing body parts through a wood chipper. Watch at your own discretion. Let’s get into some more realistic situations.
Remember also that if you do decide to shred anything other than wood and leaves, you won’t be able to use the chips in your garden. Plastic and rubber don’t decompose into mulch, at least not nearly as quickly as organic matter. If you put nails or other iron objects through the chipper, you run the risk of punctures on vehicles, or right through your shoes… ouch!
Can a Wood Chipper Handle Nails?
Most wood chippers are incredibly durable and powerful pieces of yard equipment that can easily power through branches and other yard debris, but if you want to be able to break down pallets or leftover building materials, then you may have some wood that still has nails in it. Even though it is tempting to put that wood in the chipper, you need to stop.
While your wood chipper may be able to handle cutting through nails, that doesn’t mean that it is a good idea. Putting nails into your wood chipper can cause damage to the equipment, which can be very expensive to repair. Whether you rent a wood chipper or own it yourself, chipping wood or timber with lots of nails, screws or other fasteners in it should be avoided.
Another problem with putting nails in the wood chipper is that they are going to come back out the other side. Since they will be expelled at high speeds, they can easily injure anyone who is standing near you while you run the wood chipper or become a safety hazard when they are mixed in with the mulch.
Can Wood Chippers Shred Paper?
It is totally possible to use your (electric) wood chipper to shred paper, which is great if you have a lot of documents that you want to get rid of safely, but don’t know how to dispose of them without putting yourself at risk.
Before shredding paper, it’s important to change the settings on your wood chipper so that it will make very fine or small shreds of paper and also to ensure that the paper will be expelled into a trash can or bag so that you can easily get rid of them.
Can a Wood Chipper Shred Plastic?
Some pieces of plastic can be put through a wood chipper without causing a lot of problems, but it is best not to put any plastic into the chipper. Homeowners who want to get rid of plastic often turn to their wood chipper, but putting bigger pieces of plastic into the equipment can have the same effects as running nails through the wood chipper.
Smaller pieces of plastic and ones that are thinner and less durable may pass easily through the chipper, but there is still the chance that the plastic will cause a blockage and break the chipper itself. Additionally, shards of plastic can be very sharp and easily cut someone.
Since heavy plastic won’t be shredded very finely, it will be expelled from the wood chipper at high speeds and will be left with ragged edges, which can easily cut someone who doesn’t know that the plastic is there. It’s best to not put any plastic through the wood chipper if possible, especially larger pieces or PVC.
Can a Wood Chipper Shred Tires?
Getting rid of old tires can be really expensive, but trying to put them through a wood chipper to break them down is not a good idea. Most tires have steel belts in them, even though they may just feel like soft rubber when you touch them. The problem with putting tires through a wood chipper is that the steel belt can immediately cause problems.
Putting a tire through a wood chipper is a great way to dull the blades of the chipper and even to break it. Instead of trying to chip tires to get rubber mulch or break down tires that you want to dispose of, it’s a much better idea to buy your own rubber mulch.
Additionally, bits of rubber can easily get stuck inside the chipper, which will make the chipper work harder each time that you use it. This can quickly shorten the life of the wood chipper.
Will a Wood Chipper Shred Paper?
Getting rid of paper documents with a wood chipper is a great way to quickly protect your personal information, but you need to make sure that you have the settings correct on your wood chipper before you proceed. Make sure that you set up your wood chipper on a flat surface and that it has plenty of oil and fuel.
After you place a bucket or trash can under the chute and don your safety goggles, you need to adjust the settings. Failing to adjust the settings before trying to shred paper can easily clog up the wood chipper.
Never shove paper into the wood chipper. Instead, take about 1.5” of paper and allow the wood chipper to grab it from your hand as it feeds through, as this will help prevent clogs and expensive damage.
Will a Wood Chipper Shred Cardboard?
Shredding cardboard with a wood chipper is fairly simple and requires the same steps as shredding paper. Of course, because cardboard is so much thicker than paper, you need to make sure that you rip the cardboard into strips and then feed those strips into the chipper.
Breaking down the cardboard into strips can be difficult, but first soaking it in water will help, as will leaving it outside exposed to the elements for a few days. Once you have adjusted the settings on your wood chipper, you can start feeding the strips of cardboard into it.
Make sure that you go slow when shredding cardboard with your wood chipper as you don’t want to clog or damage the cutting mechanism.
Will a Wood Chipper Shred Leaves?
Leaves are some of the best things to put into a wood chipper if you want to shred them for mulch around your yard and garden. Even large amounts of leaves won’t clog up the wood chipper, which means that you can easily get through piles of leaves in no time at all.
No matter if you are shredding limbs and branches that still have leaves attached or are simply running piles of leaves through the wood chipper to get them broken down, this is a great option. The sharp blades in the wood chipper will easily power through the leaves.
Since there aren’t any bits of metal, hard plastic, or other building materials involved, you won’t have to worry about accidentally being injured when shredding leaves with your wood chipper.