A wood chipper is an awesome machine that can make yard cleanup a breeze. You can put many types of material into a chipper, including small branches, yard clippings, tree limbs, and brush. You can even put leaves in some wood chippers if they are designed with a shredding feature.
But what about less common types of material, such as pine cones, lumber bamboo, cardboard, and things along those lines? We're going to cover all of those things and more (including dead bodies) in this article.
Also, before we start, we want to mention our buying guide on the top wood chipper shredders. If you're in the market for a wood chipper then make sure to check it out!
We already discussed some of the things you can put into a wood chipper, such as small branches, tree limbs, yard debris, brush, and leaves. But these things do have caveats and we have two rules of thumb if you plan on putting any of these items into a chipper.
The first rule of thumb is that if you want to put leaves into a wood chipper, then you will need a chipper with a shredding feature or a standalone shredder. If you put leaves into a chipper without a shredding feature then the machine will jam because its blade(s) will try to chop (and not shred) the leaves.
The second rule of thumb is that the designed capacity of a wood chipper or shredder limits the diameter of material that the machine can handle. A wood chipper can usually handle larger diameter material than a shredder. You can read more about wood chipper capacity in our wood chipper size guide.
You may be curious as to what other things you can put in a chipper. We've compiled a list of different materials that people frequently ask if a chipper can handle.
We need to start with a word of caution and disclaimer that we give to everyone. Always obey your manual regardless of what anyone says, including us. If the manual for your chipper doesn't list one of the materials below as something you should put in the machine, then don't put it into your machine! It's on you if something goes wrong.
Assuming you're not asking about lumber (which you should never put in a chipper), you can usually put wet wood, such as limbs, branches, and brush into a wood chipper. However, it's more difficult for the machine to handle wet wood versus dry wood, especially particular models with electric motors. If you're planning on chipping fresh (and therefore wet) wood, then you might have to reduce the diameter of material you feed into the unit.
Yes, you can put acorns into a wood chipper, but watch out! It's hard for a chipping blade to pulverize this type of material. The machine can even kick the acorns back out the chute and they can hit your face or body. A shredder is better designed to handle acorns than a chipper.
Yes, you can put pine cones into a wood chipper and it shouldn't have any problem turning the pine cones into great compost. Make sure to wear a dust mask because the cones literally explode into a fine dust when they go through the machine. Also, you might be left with a lot of sap on your blades when you finish processing the pine cones.
Yes, you can put fresh pine limbs into a wood chipper or shredder. However, the biggest sticking point with fresh pine limbs is sap. Fresh pine is loaded down with lots of sap and it can easily gum up your machine and blades. It's less of a concern on higher-powered chippers but it can quickly lead to dull blades on smaller models.
No, you should not put grass into a wood chipper unless it has a shredding feature. Blades in a chipper are likely to jam or clog as they try to chop through the grass and the chopping process won't create small pieces. However, unlike a chipper, a shredder has small claw-like hammers that can shred up grass into a very fine consistency and is perfect for the job.
Vines are a difficult material to put in a chipper. The problem is they have a tendency to wrap around the internal components of a chipper or shredder and clog up the machine. The other danger with putting vines into a wood chipper is the chance they wrap around your arm and pull you in!
If you insist on using vines with your chipper, then at least cut them into shorter pieces before feeding them into the chute. The shorter pieces will reduce the likelihood of chipping your arm. Also, if you rent a high powered chipper then it may have a lower chance of jamming.
Yes, you can put a small amount of paper or newspaper at a time into a wood chipper if the machine has a shredding feature. A wood chipper with a shredding feature has hammer-like claws that can easily shred up the paper into a fine consistency. But the fixed blades on a non-shredding chipper will struggle and jam or clog.
If you want to learn more about the difference between chippers and shredders and how they work, then check out our guide on how wood chippers and shredders work.
Yes, you can put a small amount of cardboard at a time into a wood chipper or a shredder. A wood chipper with sharp blades should handle small amounts of carboard without too many problems. It's a fast and simple to get rid of your cardboard and makes a great addition to a compost pile or as bedding for animals.
Yes, believe it or not, you can actually use a wood chipper to chop sweet potatoes! Why would you want to do this? We have no idea! But someone wanted to know if it was possible. One word of warning is that cleanup will be a nighmare. Anytime you put food into a wood chipper, the machine will require a complete cleaning unless you want bugs and a terrible smell.
Now that we've covered the list of materials that a wood chipper might handle, here are some things that you should never put in a chipper.
No, you should not put bamboo in a wood chipper or a shredder. Bamboo is extremely hard and can easily deform the blades and clog in the chip deflector. If you do have a bamboo problem, we've found some better ways to eliminate the invasive plant from your yard.
No, you should not put tires or rubber into a wood chipper or shredder. Most rubber tires contain steel belts which will ruin a wood chipper. Even rubber without steel can damage the machine because the chipper can jam and the motor will overheat and fail.
No, you should not put OSB in a wood chipper, but not for the reason you think. If the OSB is less than than a half-inch thick and you rip it into 2" wide strips, a chipper could probably chip the OSB into to smaller pieces. But using a wood chipper with OSB is a waste of material and time. The better decision is to repurpose the OSB for another project or donate it to a worthy cause.
No, you should not put pressure-treated lumber into a wood chipper. It has chemicals such as chromated copper arsenate (CCA) which could be inhaled when the lumber is chipped. In addition, most commercial lumber is hard and would damage your chipper and void any warranty that you have on the machine.
No, you should not put a body into a wood chipper. If you put a dead body into a wood chipper that would constitute desecration of a human corpse which is illegal in every state unless the corpse is a zombie. Also, cleanup would be a mess. A fun fact is at least 10 people ask Google this question each month!
Are you shopping for a new wood chipper? Here are some of our favorites that we want to share. Also, if you need some help, then be sure to check out our detailed buying guide. It explains some of the important considerations when shopping for a wood chipper.