Chipping vs Grappling


Active Member
Hey guys, I know there's going to be quite a few variables here and there won't be any kind of exact answer, but any thoughts to how much material you can fit in say a 35 yard box using a grapple vs chipping.

Maybe I can phrase it, if you stuff a 35 yard box with a grapple, what would that be in yards of chips if you chipped it?

I have a good idea how many chips a given removal is going to be when looking at a tree, but have no idea how much or little I'd be able to fit if stuffing it in a box. No one around me I know of does this so I can't really check this out firsthand. Dumping brush would be considerably pricey per load (vs chips almost always free) but I feel it would be worthwhile if I can fit enough in there.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts on this!


Well-Known Member
Just a guess.

35 yard with a grapple equals 17.5 yards of chips.

It depends too on the size of the wood chipped. Limbs and brush will be greatly reduced by chipping where 20 inch diameter wood is going to grow in volume if chipped.


Well-Known Member
I think a well loaded grapple exceeds weight of a full chip truck of the same size, if I remember correctly from a previous discussion, wood and brush mixed.


Active Member
I am so happy to pay to dump brush at the end of the day. It is well worth it to avoid working with a brush chipper, you'll be amazed at how awesome your life can be once you stop feeding the machine.
Interesting and I can imagine how nice it will be someday, just not sure it’s our best move right now. Curious how much do you pay?


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IRL, I pay $0 for small trimmings, $0-50/load that I dump (any size), and $250 for a full single bin grapple truck load with raking and blowing. I would never buy a chipper in my market.


Active Member
It all depends on what you are chipping and how the stuff you are loading is cut. To me palms take more space chipped. Best case you reduce 3 to 1 with the chipper vs grapple. They both have their place in my opinion.


Well-Known Member
Don't forget how much maintenance a chipper takes vs a grapple. I worked with a guy who built his own grapple truck. My jaw dropped when He lifted an entire Oak trunk and dropped it on top of the brush that he had already loaded. Job was done and I was sold on a grapple truck.


Active Member
Don't forget how much maintenance a chipper takes vs a grapple. I worked with a guy who built his own grapple truck. My jaw dropped when He lifted an entire Oak trunk and dropped it on top of the brush that he had already loaded. Job was done and I was sold on a grapple truck.
Thanks for all the input. I don’t thing I’ve found anyone that regrets going this route which is encouraging. I’d think the 3:1 chip vs grapple ratio would probably be a good average.

Yeah I’m sold on the maintenance side of things for sure. I can take the loads to a mulch place for about $5/yard, and possibly a few other places for less.
We do both. They both have there place. We use our chipper more than our grapple truck but some of the time that's because we are only taking our forestry bucket truck on smaller trim jobs. On larger removals we often use both. Well chip the brush and load out the logs with our grapple. The last large removal we had 4 grapple loads and 6 chip truck loads. Sometimes you just need everything you can to move the material. I have never regretted buying my grapple truck. The maintenance is about equal to a chipper as hydraulics will always leak eventually.


Active Member
For now it’s got to be one or the other for a few reasons, (mainly space/storage) ...So I get they both have their place but do need to choose.

I believe you as you do have both, but am surprised chipper and grapple upkeep have been similar. I’d really expect the chipper with its fast moving parts and just the nature of what’s its doing to be much significantly more wear/upkeep. Thanks for all the insight so far everyone!
Grapple trucks have a ton of hydraulics. They all leak eventually. Mine has a leak right now in the rotator for the boom. Sometimes these repairs are very expensive and require a crane to get things apart. In addition to leaks there a lot to be greased, hoses to be replaced, and general truck maintenance.

On the other hand the chippers normally need belts occasionally, knives all the time, grease all the time. You still have to have a truck that gets maintained to pull said chipper. You end up with a chipper engine to maintain as well.

If I had to choose one, it would be the grapple truck as long as I had a good way to get rid of the debris. Here we have to pay to dump brush but we can get rid of chips for free. We have a lot of jobs that we just take our bucket truck to while towing the chipper. Some of this really depends on what else you have equipment wise. Also how many CDL drivers you have drives how you operate. I don't think either is really much faster in the overall use. The grapple truck sure is nice when there's good sized logs involved as it will pick up some rather large ones. My grapple is rated to pick up 6000 lbs within 10 ft. My grapple truck like most of them is kinda slow to drive vs something F550 sized pulling a chipper. We regularly drive 15 to 20 miles one way to the job. If most of your work is pruning, the grapple really doesn't make sense. What works best is all about what you are doing and the other factors in your situation.
Hi everyone, this is my first post on treebuzz. We had a job yesterday for the core of engeneers taking down 15 medium ash trees effected by EAB. We could dump on-sight so we used the grapple mostly. We dumped 4 loads of brush (since it was on-sight we could leave the tailgate open and really heap it up). I am guessing that it was twice as quick and twice as easy to load and dump with the grapple then to chip and dump.


Active Member
We have both, and my guys would far rather use the grapple than our 12" drum chipper. We have found that for removals with 1-3 trees or trees that are dead, it is a lot faster to grapple it out. Where the chipper shines is where you are taking 4 or more live trees out. You can leave the branches long and they feed well without breaking up. Also, we tend to do more cutting for the grapple truck so it packs in better. These tree numbers are figuring medium sized trees.


Well-Known Member
All around tree work? cheap dumping? clam truck for sure , your larger percentage of work is pruning Chip Truck .My personal experience With a class A 40 yard clam truck and pup, When I was running 3 cutting crews, the truck would be idle for ~ 40% of the week. it was, until i had 6 cutting crews and a network of small companys hiring my truck, that the clam truck was constantly moving picking up piles. (2 of those crews were chip truck crews).

chipping and chipper maintenance sucks, in addition you still need a truck for the logs.
if dumping brush is cheap or free as it now is in mpls, i wouldn't own a chipper
overall i can't remember ever uttering clam trucking sucks

after selling my company - i miss my clam, i never miss my chippers.
one old guys 2 cents