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Essential Safety Guidelines for Operating a Wood Chipper

Updated: Jul 4, 2023


taking safety precautions before using a wood chipper or a leaf shredder is essential to protect the user from injury and the equipment from failure

Exercise User Safety First! The user is always the most important asset in the chipping operation. Therefore, wear appropriate safety gear and comply with local regulations in order to make a chipping operation successful. Before you go out chipping, you should follow these safety guidelines for operating a wood chipper below:

Wear safety goggles or a face mask. It is important to protect your eyes while using a chipper as some debris or wood splints can ricochet at high velocity from the feed hopper out. You can wear either safety goggles or face masks, as they both provide effective eye protection.

Wear landscaping gloves. Get yourself a good pair of gloves. Every new Yardbeast customer is provided with a set of residential-grade lawn-use gloves. But if you are really into heavy-duty jobs; that is, prolonged working hours with the chipper, then we recommend using nitrile textured elastic gloves. These provide good dexterity, abrasion protection, some degree of impact dampening from the chipping action, and breathable textiles.

Use hearing protection. We believe earmuffs protect the best (every chipper order includes a set of quality earmuffs). Earplugs wear out quickly and may not provide enough sound reduction. In fact, every Yardbeast customer is provided with earmuffs.

Wear appropriate clothing. Remember to never operate any chipper with excessively loose clothing. You should also always wear appropriate outdoor shoes (e.g., don’t operate a chipper on flip-flops for example) and we recommend using denim (use long sleeve shirts if possible) as the best garment for avoiding possible skin rashes caused by manipulating the branches into the chipper.

Check the blades. Before operating your wood chipper, you should always check the sharpness of the blade. This is paramount to successful chipping. If you let the blade become too dull, it will start impacting the branch (more like a hammer) instead of cutting like a sharp kitchen knife. This creates enormous and unnecessary stress concentrations on both the body of the blade and the peripheral chipper elements. By keeping the edge of your blade sharp, you will also benefit from the powerful self-feeding power the Yardbeast has. The blade has been carefully angled to provide a powerful pulling force on the branch, thus, allowing you to perform more efficient chipping duties. Don’t forget to also sharpen the anvil (some call it the counter-knife), as it is also essential for truly outstanding cutting performance.

Be aware of your surroundings. It is very important to check your surroundings, especially if you live in crowded areas. Check the time and day you will be operating the chipper and avoid hours that might disturb others in close proximity. Avoid chipping at night time due to poor visibility. Additionally, always operate the chippers in open areas (to prevent carbon monoxide intoxication) and make sure it is away from danger such as flammable areas.

Alert others of your work. You should also alert other people to the fact that you will be chipping and point out if you will be chipping by yourself. Always keep an eye on bystanders and ensure that they are at least 30 ft away from the chipper.

Pay attention to the noises coming from the chipper. Odd noises may be an indication of a problem. Always pay attention to strange noises, vibrations, or other things that may appear unusual with the chipper. We recommend slowly pulling on the engine’s throttle to get an understanding of the different noises the chipper makes at certain RPMs as they go up. Strange noises could mean foreign debris is allocated inside the chipper box or that there are loose bolts, misaligned transmission, or something else.

Respect the learning curve. Just because a wood chipper looks simple to operate doesn’t mean you should go full speed on the chipper. If your machine is new, we recommend you break in your machine for two 15-minute runs to allow the chipper to settle while you also gain confidence in your equipment. Start by chipping small-diameter branches, ideally, start at 3/4” and go up from there. Practice clutch stalling runs (this means pulling down on the throttle quickly if the chipper stalls with a branch inside the hopper). If you have different tree types on your property, you will start noticing different performances according to their wood hardness, density, and humidity.

In sum, following the tips we outlined above will improve your chipping experience, provide a safe working environment for you and others, and extend the chipper’s lifetime by providing the proper attention and care to its critical components. Remember, always think ‘Safety First!’ before using powered equipment.

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