Regardless of the size or make, wood chippers all function in the same basic manner. An internal engine, either an electric motor or a fossil-fuel engine, powers the device. A gearbox usespulleys and v-belts to connect the engine to a set of knives—the pulley enables the engine to control the speed at which these blades rotate, and the v-belt transmits the power from the engine. Internal gears within the gearbox also help control speed and power.
Wood chippers typically have two separate chutes for processing wood. The first chute, the smaller of the two, shreds branches into chips. The second, larger chute features blades and additional devices, such as hammers, to turn excess plant material (such as leaves) into mulch.
Based on the kind of blades within the chipper, a user can determine the type and thickness of wood the chipper is capable of handling. Typically, the larger the wood chipping machine, the larger the load it can handle. Blades can either function on separate shafts or intermesh. If several blades are rotating on independent shafts, the wood will be repeatedly cut down the branches as they are passed through the blades at a fast pace. Intermeshed blades are somewhat slower, but are somewhat self-feeding as they draw the branches into the blades themselves. Additionally, intermeshed blades produce consistently sized chips.