Opinions about cheap electric leaf shredder/chippers

I’m in the market for a leaf shredder/chipper. I’m making composts by the bushel and the labor of chopping my starting materials is fun, but too time consuming. So I’ve finally decided to indulge myself a little and spend $100-200 on a leaf shredder or a shredder chipper.

While England seems to have a huge number of relatively affordable such devices, I can only find 2 in the price range I’m looking at.

The first I use to own, many many years ago. It’s called the Flowtron. It uses spinning nylon, like a weed whacker… I’m pretty sure this is not going to be enough, because I want to shred tough leaves and twigs as well as big chunks of green plant matter. So I’m looking at this chipper shredder which is sometimes said to have 2.5 HP and sometimes just 2. But in any case, I did want some feed back if anyone had used it, since I had run across some vague mentions that “electric chippers aren’t reliable”. I don’t intend to fee big branches into it, nothing like that. But for instance, my finished compost has to be screened to get out the tough leaves and small but persistent twigs that haven’t decomposed at thes ame rate as everything else. I’d love to be able to take that stuff and shred and chip it pretty tiny to help it decompose faster, or at the very least make a nice mulch from it. Can this puppy handle that? And is it going to shred my hands in the process? How is the safety design? Anyone know?

And yes, I spent hours searching for opinions about it online, had a really tough time. Comments tended to be about vacuum blower/shredders.

And I’m going to be shredding alot of wet material, another reason I don’t think the Flowtron will do the trick…

I can’t comment on the chipper style, but IMHO the “weed whacker” style shredders (the ones with two or three nylon cords) aren’t worth the money. They definitely choke on wet leaves. The cords break all the time. And there seemed to be a lot of debris and broken cords that flew back out. Even with safety glasses I didn’t feel that it was safe.

Well for all of my chipping needs I never went with anything less than 18 hp troy built or other such brand. Never had the need to own one so I always rented a chipper to get the job done right the first time. Is renting an option?

If not here is what I have found.

Many of my friends who have purchased their own wood and brush chippers have found that they do not use them as much as they thought, and even those who did use them alot said the initial cost out weighed their utility. So on that note, buying a nice 10-15 hp brush chipper second hand would be the best idea. Are there places that sell second hand or refurbished chippers in your area?

Well, as I said, I do chop and shred all the time, I’m just doing it all manually with big garden loppers. I sit in front of a wheelbarrow and slowly I add stuff and hack and chop, then I add some more stuff and hack and chop. Trust me, I would get plenty of use out of it!

Finding a chipper for under $1000 is tough. I did a Froogle search and found your linked chipper the least expensive. So I’d go with that one. If you can try and get the gas model and not the electric one.

Stoid, my fellow composting wacko, I’m about to do you either a great favor or a terrible disservice.

Take a look at http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/soil/

This is the best composting forum that I’ve found. More specifically, I’ve seen long discussions there about chipper issues. I hope the forum doesn’t take up too much of your time. (I’m assuming you don’t know about it already, because if you did, you’d probably have posted there instead of here.)

Happy rotting!

The OP is looking for opinions here, so let’s move this from GQ to IMHO.

samclem GQ moderator