The shredder: how to use it and how to choose it

The shredder: how to use it and how to choose it

Have you pruned your fruit trees, the rose bushes that your wife likes so much, or have you reclaimed a part of the forest? After you have done the job, you find yourself surrounded by piles of twigs and brambles that you have to get rid of. Loading everything and taking it to the landfill to dispose of would be long and tiring, especially when the pile of branches requires several trips. What can help you, even more than a flatbed truck, is the shredder.

The shredder is a machine capable of shredding leaves, brambles and branches, reducing the bulk by several times, converting a bulky and unsightly pile into the perfect material for composting or mulching. It can handle branches up to 10 centimeters in diameter, depending on the power of the machine available.

The choice to bio-shred the branches is also ecological: it transforms waste into a resource that can be used for cultivation and avoids having to unnecessarily move means for disposal. In short, the choice is to convert what has been stolen from the land instead of having to take it to landfill.

In this article we will see together how a shredder works, how it is used safely and of course, how to choose one that suits our needs.

What is a shredder

A shredder is a machine that allows us to shred leaves, branches and brambles. The plant material that is inserted into the tool is cut into fragments useful for composting or mulching.

The shredders are produced in different variants, they can be driven by an electric motor, petrol engine or even connected via a power take-off to a walking tractor or a tractor. Depending on the power of the motor and the shape of the blades, branches of different sizes can be shredded.

Differences between shredder and chipper

Although they may seem similar in appearance, do not be fooled by the shredder and chipper (or chipper): they are machines designed for similar but different purposes.

In fact, chippers are designed to reduce large branches of branches and trunks into fragments. The wood chips are coarser than the bio-shredded material and are mainly used as a fuel for biomass systems, only minimally as a mulch. Obviously, a considerable percentage is also delivered to specialized composting landfills: it is mainly the product of large city pruning and the work of gardeners.

How the shredder works

The shredders use different operating principles depending on their size, this to maximize efficiency based on the type of work to be done.

Electric shredders

THE smaller models shredders are electric, have generally modest powers, rarely over 2000 Watts, and use two different cutting mechanisms. The more compact and less powerful generally use a blade or roller cutting system that guarantees shredding, slowly dragging the green inwards, avoiding clogging. These small electric shredders are used above all for very fine twigs, flowers and hedge pruning scraps, they are relatively quiet and have a vertical structure, which sees the loading hopper facing the sky and the discharge downwards.

THE more powerful electric models (2000 - 2500 Watt) generally use a cutting mechanism with knives placed perpendicular to the passage of the material and are very noisy. In this case we have greater dimensions and weights as the development of the machine takes place horizontally, with a wider and longer hopper, a box inside which we find a rotor with knives, the motor placed in front of the box and an unloading arm that starts from the chest and develops laterally and / or in height.

Petrol shredders

The petrol-powered shredder models are similar in type to high-power electric ones, but have the possibility of greater performance, even reaching powers of 13 - 15 HP.

Starting from these powers, we then generally speak of wheeled machines to facilitate their transport and different cutting systems are adopted, such as hydraulically operated rollers, and various methods for feeding the material into the hopper, facilitating loading.

Use and precautions to follow

Whether the shredder is large or small, the method of use and the rules to be respected are always the same and the use of protections is required. In any case, the same rule always applies: read the user manual. This little book often abandoned in a drawer contains in fact all the useful information to work safely, with good performance and prolonging the life of the machine.

Usage precautions

So, whether you are using a small home model or a professional model you must follow some simple rules of precaution.

  • Wear safety glasses: it may happen that when feeding the hopper with the branches, these move or vibrate in contact with the cutting apparatus, risking hitting the operator's face. Furthermore, it can happen that when the hopper is almost empty, some wood fragments bounce out.
  • Wear headphones or earplugs. Although the smaller models may only seem annoying, prolonged exposure to fairly loud noises can cause damage. With the larger models, however, even the most reluctant to use PPE can only beg for headphones: it seems to be on a Messerschmit.
  • Wear sturdy gloves. Gloves are used to handle the material to be inserted into the hopper safely, without being afraid of thorns or splinters, and also help to decrease the vibrations between a branch protruding from the hopper it could transmit to you.
  • Wear tight fitting clothing. Especially when using the larger models, where the hopper is very large and maybe the material is loaded with both hands, it is good that sweaters and jackets do not get caught in the branches.
  • Consider using a dust mask, especially if you are chopping very dry woody material, there may be a lot of dust at the exhaust outlet.
  • NEVER and then NEVER insert your hands into the hopper. This is how the worst accidents happen with this type of machine. If you need to facilitate the feeding of the cylinder as much as possible, you can resort to the expedient of using a longer and stronger stick to push or move.
  • Feed the hopper with reasoning. We don't have to hurry: we only risk blocking the machine or plugging the hopper. In these cases it is necessary to use the aforementioned stick and / or turn off the machine before handling the material already loaded.

Security checks

Before each use, two simple and fundamental checks must be carried out, namely:

  • Stop. On models that are equipped with it, check that the emergency stop works.
  • Fixing the knives. In models with rotor and knives, check that these are well fixed and that there are no cracks or damage by observing, perhaps with the help of a torch, the rotor through the opening in the hopper.
  • Other checks. Depending on what is prescribed in the user manual, periodic checks will have to be carried out by inspecting the inside of the case.

During use, in addition to the points mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is instead necessary to pay attention to what I am inserting into the shredder: a branch that is too large, a stone or a tool forgotten in the heap of waste to be shredded could damage the machine or even injure you, if loaded into the hopper.

How to choose the right shredder

Like every time you try to choose a tool, a tool or a device, you find yourself unraveling a thousand specifications, parameters, brands and reviews, let's try to give some advice on how to choose the right shredder for your needs.

In the case of shredders you can start by evaluating the job type and the frequency with which you will perform it.

If you have a garden, have neighbors that are sensitive to noise and want to make the most of the waste from pruning hedges, ornamental plants or fruit trees, then you can consider purchasing an electric car.

In practically all cases it is better avoid entry level ones: the stress to which the mechanical parts are subjected when shredding twigs is not a little and with a heavy hand or inserting material that is not within reach, you run the risk of prematurely wearing out our new tool, so it is better to have a little margin. An interesting alternative is represented by STIHL machines, which with their particular blade cutting system guarantee a good yield with wood and other materials, and the brand is a guarantee.

If, on the other hand, noise is not a problem but you always have the possibility to use electricity then you can also buy one powerful electric model, with rotor and knife system: it will be much noisier but also more robust and will allow you more frequent use, as well as more intense.

And if your intentions are "bellicose" and you think you often chop branches on average over 5 cm in diameter, then you just have to ask your dealer to recommend a good petrol engine that can guarantee you the desired result.

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