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How to Start a Wood Chipper

Matt By Matt March 24, 2021

In this article, we're going to cover some basics on how to start a wood chipper safely and effectively. These steps should apply to all models of wood chippers, including Craftsman, YardBeast, Troy Built, Patriot, and many others. In addition, many of these steps apply to other types of machines with small engines, such as mowers, chainsaws, etc.

We want to also mention our guide on the top rated wood chippers for this year. If you're in the market for a new chipper then be sure to check it out. In the guide we take an in-depth look at the best chippers for home use and small farms.

How to Start a Wood Chipper with a Gas Engine

If you already know how to start a small engine, then starting a gas-powered wood chipper requires the same steps. But if you've never started a small engine before, then don't worry. Just follow these easy steps and you'll be up and running in no time.

Step 1 - Add Fuel

In a small engine, such as a wood chipper, most manufacturers recommend e87 gas. If you plan on storing the machine for an extended period, such as several months, then it is recommended to add stabilizer to the fuel.

Step 2 - Check The Oil

If you purchased a new wood chipper, then it doesn't have any oil. Your manual will explain the best type of oil to use and how much to add. Usually, SAE 10W-30 is recommended for warmer temperatures and the best protection.

Be sure to follow the guidelines for how much oil to add. If you overfill the wood chipper's engine and add too much oil, it can start to foam which reduces the lubrication ability of the oil. Overfilling the oil can also lead to a bent crankshaft and damaged seals.

Step 3 - Turn Gas Lever to "ON"

Many small engines have a gas or fuel lever with an on and off position. It's important to keep it in the "off" position until you're ready to use the machine.

Leaving the lever in the "on" position when you're done using the wood chipper can leak fuel into the carburetor and create fuel dilution, a flooded engine, and other serious problems.

Step 4 - Turn Start Switch to "ON" (if equipped)

The start switch grounds out the motor when it's switched to the "off" position and prevents the motor from starting. If your machine has a start switch, then you need to switch it to the "on" position so the spark plug can create a spark.

Step 5 - Move Choke Lever to "ON"

The next step to starting a wood chipper is to move the choke lever to the "on" or "choke" position.

The choke restricts the amount of air that mixes with the fuel in the carburetor to ensure a strong start from a rich fuel mixture.

Later in these steps, after we start the engine, you'll need to switch the choke to the "off" position otherwise the carburetor will be left with unburnt fuel.

Step 6 - Move Throttle Lever to "Fast"

The throttle lever controls the amount of fuel-air mixture that can enter the combustion chamber.

Step 7 - Pull The Rope Slow Until You Feel Resistance

Everything should be set for starting the engine. You should be ready to pull the rope, right? A common misconception is that you should grab the rope handle and pull fast. Don't do this! Instead, just pull the rope out enough until you feel a slight resistance.

Step 8 - Pull The Rope Fast in One Swing

Once you feel a slight resistance on the rope, then you can pull it in one fast swing.

If the engine doesn't start, then pull the rope 3 more times. If the engine doesn't start on the third pull, then there is likely something wrong.

Several common small engine problems include:

Step 9 - Move Choke Lever to "OFF" Once the Wood Chipper Starts

The final step before you can start chipping is to move the choke lever to the "off" position. This allows more air into the engine and ensures maximum power.

Step 10 - Start Chipping!

That's all there is too it! Now you can start a gas-powered wood chipper and almost any other small engine too!

How to Start a Wood Chipper with an Electric Engine

Unlike a gas wood chipper, an electric wood chipper is very easy to start.

Step 1 - Switch the Electric Chipper to the OFF Position

The first step is to switch the electric wood chipper to the "off" position before you plug it in.

Step 2 - Connect an Extension Cord

Starting a wood chipper with an electric engine is very simple, but you do have to follow some basic guidelines regarding the extension cord and power supply so you don't damage the machine.

The first thing to keep when connecting an extension cord to an electric wood chipper is the gauge or thickness of the cord. You should use a 12 guage or thicker (i.e., lower number) extension cord because a higher guage can lead to overheating and is a fire hazard.

The second thing to keep in mind is to always use the smallest length extension cord for the job but don't exceed 100 feet. As the length increases, voltage drops as resistance increases and this generates heat.

The third and final thing to remember is to use a dedicated 15 amp circuit. An electric wood chipper has a high current draw and usually needs everything the circuit can provide. So don't hook up other appliances or tools to the same outlet or extension cord.

Step 3 - Switch the Electric Chipper to the ON Position

Now you are ready to start the chipper.

Step 4 - Start Chipping!

The electric wood chipper should immediately start. It it does not, then first check to ensure all the cords are connected. Next check to see if a breaker or GFCI tripped. Finally, if all else fails, check your manual or call the manufacturer for additional help.

How to Stop a Wood Chipper

If you have a gas wood chipper, then move the throttle lever to the idle (turtle) position, turn the start switch to off (if equipped), and move the gas lever to off.

If you have an electric wood chipper, then just press the off switch.

Safety Tips when Using a Wood Chipper

As we wrap up this article, we want to briefly mention some safety guidelines and tips when using a wood chipper. Every year, multiple people are seriously injured or killed by wood chippers. In almost every case, the cause was unsafe operation and human error. So safety when using a wood chipper should be a top priority.

Your manual should explain all of the recommended safety precautions when using a wood chipper, but here are some of our own:

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