The Yard Machines 10 HP gas-powered chipper shredder is big, noisy, dangerous and as much achipper/shredder as even an ambitious homeowner can handle. The next step up is a small commercial model. I own one because I have a large lot and many trees that are being pruned into submission.
The machine has two ways to destroy yard waste: a tall chute with a spinning blade at the bottom turns branches and small trees into wood chips. The lower brush hopper feeds the material into the path of “flails”, much like hammers, that pound the material to bits. The resulting small bits are blown into a collecting bag.
What I like about the Yard Machines chipper/shredder: This handles large volumes of material quickly because the engine doesn’t die if you feed reasonable amounts of debris into both input hoppers at the same time. The chipper blades can chip anything small enough for me to cut with a professional landscaping lopper. That makes tree destruction easy – if it’s too big to lop off, it’s too big for the chipper, so it becomes firewood. The gas engine lets me work near the area being cleared without worrying about a electric outlet and extension cords.
What I don’t like about the Yard Machines chipper/shredder: The motor is not easy to start – it has a pull-cord start like a lawn mower, and it takes a strong person to pull the cord hard enough to get the engine to turn over. I let larger, stronger people start it. The shredder flails are difficult to expose to remove string, vines, or other debris wrapped around them.
Chipper/shredder maintenance: Read the manual, follow the instructions. Change the oil as specified. Unless you are an experienced small engine technician, take it to a local lawnmower specialist for tuneups and checkups every couple of years.
Built-in Safety Hazards for Chipper/Shredders:
* The blades and flails chip and pound 3-inch branches into a pile of sawdust and shredded wood. They will do the same for any body part that they contact.
* The gas engine gets hot enough to burn you when it is running, and stays hot for a while after you turn it off.
* Occasionally the flails will eject a chunk of a branch out of the brush hopper towards your ribs at flesh-bruising velocity.
These are what safety experts call “inherent hazards“. You can’t eliminate the hazards and have a machine that can perform the expected function. Be an adult with a brain and don’t do stupid things like reach into the brush chute to retrieve your cell phone from it while the motor is running. Wear adequate protective clothing, and keep children out of the area while you are using the chipper/shredder.
Chipper/Shredder Problems: I encountered some reviews that complained about assembly problems and poor quality components failing. They were probably valid for the chipper/shredder that was being reviewed, but I have not experienced them with this machine.
In five years of heavier use than many homeowners would think is possible, it has had one mechanical failure: a flail bent and needed to be replaced. The carburetor required a parts replacement for a reason I don’t remember. Not bad for a machine that is ignored 355 days out of the year and worked 12-16 hours a day for the other 10.
Price: The latest model of Yard Machines big gas-powered chipper/shredder has a $650 list price at Home Depot. What is apparently the same machine, based on the specifications and design, sells for $749 at Sears. I have seen used ones on Craigslist for $300-800. If you buy a used one, check it out thoroughly by shredding branches and brush.
Chipper Shredder Specifications: The machine I use is roughly comparable to Yard Machine’s newer chipper/shredders with 305cc engines. Pollution controls on the newer models reduce the engine displacement.
10:1 debris reduction – This means that in theory, a 100 cubic foot pile of vegetation debris will become a 10 cubic foot pile of chipped and shredded debris. In practice it depends on whether you are chipping branches or shredding brush and twigs. Wood chips are fluffier than the branches, but a pile of cut brush shrinks to
Brush hopper which could drop to rake in leaves, if we had any.
Limb chipping chute with 3 inch chipper capacity (you can stick a 3-inch straight branch down it, into the blades)
Bag to hold debris
Assembled Depth: 42.13 In.
Assembled Height: 35.13 In.
Assembled Width: 24.75 In.
Assembled Weight: 177 lb. (the engine weighs almost 60 lb)
Engine Make: Tecumseh (they also use Briggs and Stratton) 10 HP