While a wood chipper is mainly designed for yard waste, the answer is a resounding yes – a chipper can effectively shred paper too with some simple tricks.
I’ve been relying on my wood chipper for years to shred anything from documents to cardboard, and I’ll share my tips to help you use your machine for this unexpected purpose.
Can a wood chipper shred paper?
Yes, wood chippers can effectively shred paper, offering a robust alternative for secure document disposal.
What is wood chipper
Wood chippers are a useful machine to have around the house. (1)
They allow you to easily break down tree branches, logs, leaves and more into smaller wood chips.
This gives you an easy way to dispose of yard waste while also creating material for compost piles or mulch.
As someone who does a lot of gardening and yard work, I’ve found my wood chipper to be extremely helpful.
Any time I’m trimming back bushes or trees, the branches go straight into the chipper.
It makes quick work of materials that would otherwise be difficult to break down by hand.
I’m also able to use the wood chips it creates as mulch throughout my flower beds.
This has the added benefit of helping to retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds.
Speaking from experience, an electric wood chipper is the way to go for homeowners.
Gas-powered ones are more heavy-duty, but electric avoids the hassle of mixing fuel and smells.
Battery electric chippers now on the market are also cordless for easy portability around the yard.
When chipping leaves in the fall, I’m able to fill several bags in just a few minutes to add to the compost.
It shreds paper too if you have a lot of cardboard to break down.
No matter the brand you choose, look for models that meet your needs in terms of chipping capacity and features like bagging versus mulching.
Take into account what materials you’ll mainly be processing like small branches versus whole logs.
Also consider safety components and ease of use.
A wood chipper can be a handy tool, but only if it’s one you feel comfortable operating.
When used properly and safely, it allows making quick work of yard cleanup.
How does it work?
A wood chipper has two main parts that work together.
The feeder brings in the materials like branches or leaves.
It then sends them to the crushing part.
The feeder opens and closes.
When open, materials can enter the machine.
When closed, the chipper stops working until you reopen the feeder.
My electric wood chipper has a switch to open and close its feeder.
Inside is a crushing section with a spinning drum with blades attached all around.
As things enter, the fast drum breaks them into smaller pieces before exiting.
Materials get shredded further the tighter they fit in the crushing part.
Hardwoods may splinter more than soft woods in this part of my chipper.
I bought my current electric wood chipper a few years ago because my old gas one was too loud.
The amp electric one works well for my small yard.
It’s also lighter to move around than the old gas chipper shredder.
I mainly use it for tree trimmings but have also shredded paper shredders occasionally through the years.
It’s been very handy to have for many projects.
Can A Wood Chipper Shred Paper?
Turns out my wood chipper can shred more than just yard waste. (2)
It’ll also handle stacks of paper in no time at all.
Since getting an electric wood chipper a few years back, I’ve used it mainly for tree branches and leaves.
But one day I had a huge pile of papers, and decided to try feeding them through.
It completely shredded everything within minutes into tiny pieces.
Whether it was junk mail, papers with private info or empty cardboard boxes, my machine handled it all with ease.
An office shredder would have taken hours to get through that stack.
My heavy duty chipper made quick work of it all.
Now I use it sometimes for any large amounts of paper instead of renting a heavier duty document shredder.
As long as you don’t use too much paper at once, it works great.
Just be careful, paper doesn’t feed through as smoothly as branches.
And don’t try completely dry paper without some moisture, as chipper blades can get dull faster that way.
Stick to small batches and lightly moisten if needed.
It’s an awesome way to securely destroy paper piles when you have the chipper already out.
How to Use a Chipper for Paper Shredding
Set Up the Chipper Safely
Place the chipper on a level spot.
This helps the machine work properly.
Secure stabilizer legs if your chipper has them.
Some chippers need power from gasoline or an electric outlet.
Guide the Paper Shreds
Point the chipper’s shoot into an empty garbage can.
Protect your eyes with safety glasses.
Start Shredding Safely
Turn on the chipper after reviewing safety instructions.
Select the “fine” or “small” setting for tiny paper pieces.
Switch on the blades carefully following directions.
Add Paper Batches Slowly
Fill the hopper halfway with stacked papers about 1/2 inch thick.
Allow the teeth to gently pull the pages through one at a time.
Check the can and reposition it if needed to catch all pieces.
Keep any safety guards in place as intended.
Learn from experience on multiple projects.
Chippers ably reduce documents when handled properly.
Always protect yourself and maintain safe practices for tasks both big and small.
With care, chippers provide a favorable means for customized shredding on a vast or minor scale.
Safety Tips for Using a Wood Chipper
Safety is important when using a wood chipper. Follow these steps:
- Clear the area of bystanders. Only operate with at least one other person present.
- Wear protective equipment like gloves, steel-toed boots, safety glasses. Long hair and loose clothing can get caught.
- Feed paper one sheet at a time into the chipper opening. Never put your hands near the blades.
- Only shred paper without staples or clips. These could damage the chipper blades.
- Keep the chipper on a level surface to feed materials evenly. Avoid slippery or uneven ground which could cause slips or trips.
- Check and clear the chip discharge chute regularly so chips don’t accumulate and block airflow.
- Know how to properly shut down and unplug the chipper in case of jamming or emergency. Don’t reach into the hopper until blades stop completely.
- Use the chipper to shred other yard waste like grass clippings and small branches, not just paper. This helps maintain sharp blades meant for tougher materials.
Following safety practices helps prevent injuries and keeps the chipper running smoothly for shredding large amounts of paper, wood waste or leaf mold in the compost pile or garden.
Just be sure no identifying information remains in the smaller pieces to protect privacy.
With care a wood chipper is a great tool for destroying documents securely and productively on a larger scale than typical office or paper shredders.
Always check your local policy and disposal requirements too to stay compliant.
Comparison of Paper Shredders and Wood Chippers
Limitations of Using Office Shredders
Office shredders struggle with large paper quantities.
The paper gets jammed and tangled in the shredder blades.
This damages the shredder.
Using a Garden Shredder for Paper
A garden shredder could shred paper instead.
But garden shredders are made for tougher materials like branches.
Paper may clog or jam a garden shredder.
Benefits of Using a Wood Chipper
A wood chipper designed for making compost works best.
It reduces paper to small pieces without jamming like other shredders.
The chipper shredders turn sheets of paper into wood chips. This is more secure than identifying information in trash.
A wood chipper is the most efficient option when you have large amounts of paper to shred.
Other Paper Shredding Methods
Alternative Shredding Equipment
Dedicated document shredders are made for shredding paper.
They shred paper cleanly without jams.
Cross-cut shredders create smaller paper shreds than strip-cut models.
Document shredders are more affordable than wood chippers.
A chipper needs heavy-duty power.
But for large jobs, chippers may be quicker.
When to Use a Chipper for Paper
A chipper works well for paper volume over a shredder’s capacity. If you have bulk paper from an office clear-out or moving, a chipper saves timeconsuming trips to the shredder.
Just remember chippers are noisier!
Chippers designed for yard and garden use have large hoppers perfect for dumping loads of paper.
Paper rolls right through, no tense fingers crossing! Just watch those powerful blades.
For shredding office paper along with side branches or other yard waste, a chipper streamlines the task.
Be sure the model has a strong pto chipper or ohv engine to shred paper smoothly.
To sum it up, I’ve seen wood chippers in action plenty of times.
While they sure can shred stuff like small branches, I’d be careful about putting paper in one.
The blades are powerful, but also made for rougher plant material.
Paper’s pretty thin so it might not feed through properly.
Could end up a tangled mess that’s tough to clear out.
Best to stick to yard waste.
If you do try paper, go with something thicker like a phonebook page or cardboard first to test it.
But really, there are better options than risking damage to the machine or yourself for shredding paper.
Stick to what wood chippers were built for instead.