How To Mount a PTO Wood Chipper to a Tractor

Updated: Jun. 28, 2024

Got some unwanted deadwood you'd like to turn into wood chips? A PTO wood chipper is the most robust solution around.

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10-15 minutes






I remember being severely disappointed the first time I used a gas-powered wood chipper.

I was 15 and employed at a summer wilderness retreat. One of my jobs was cutting down and chipping scraggly unwanted bushes and trees. Trouble was, our gas-powered chipper choked on anything but the smallest, thinnest branches. Anything bigger than an inch or two in diameter would clog the machine, and had to be cut up and carted away for firewood.

After that, I lost faith in wood chippers for many years. Then I tried a PTO wood chipper for the first time, and everything changed.

PTO (power takeoff) wood chippers harness power from the PTO output shaft at the rear of a tractor to make quick work of unwanted branches and trees. Way more powerful than their portable gas-powered counterparts, they're the perfect implement for a savvy person with a serious amount of wood to chip.

However, PTO chippers can be dangerous. Don't try to use one unless someone with lots of experience shows you how. You also need strength to jam logs into the chipping chute hard enough to get the chipping wheels to engage. Above all, never reach into the chipping chute.

If you don't feel 100% confident about using a PTO wood chipper, it's best to pass off the job to a seasoned professional.

Let's start by learning how to safely mount a PTO wood chipper. Keep reading for a detailed guide to doing just that.

Tools Required

  • Chainsaw
  • Eye and hearing protection
  • PTO wood chipper
  • Tractor of sufficient size and power to run your chipper

Materials Required

  • Fuel for chainsaw and tractor

Project step-by-step (5)

Step 1

Position the tractor

  • Put on hearing protection, then reverse the tractor slowly toward your wood chipper.
  • Align the holes in the lifting arms of your tractor’s three-point hitch with the mounting pins attached to your chipper. This is a precise job, and having a second person on the ground directing you helps a lot.
  • Use two large adjustable wrenches to loosen the sway chains controlling the position of each lifting arm. This gives you leeway in aligning the holes with the pins.

How To Mount A Pto Wood Chipper To A Tractor Position The TractorROBERT MAXWELL FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

Step 2

Connect the lifting arms

  • Be sure the mounting pins on your chipper are properly aligned with the corresponding holes on your tractor’s lifting arms.
  • Slide the ends of your tractor’s lifting arms over the chipper’s mounting pins. Secure the connection by sliding locking pins (i.e. small diameter steel pins) through the holes at the ends of the mounting pins.

How To Mount A Pto Wood Chipper To A Tractor Connect The Lifting ArmsROBERT MAXWELL FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

Step 3

Fasten the top link

  • Remove the top link mounting pin from the back of your tractor. That’s the extendable metal locking device that attaches the top hitch point at the back of a tractor to whatever implement you’re mounting on it. Then place the end of your top link in the mounting space.
  • Slide the top link mounting pin through the holes in the tractor and top link.
  • Secure the other end of the top link to the top mounting hole in your wood chipper with the other mounting pin.

How To Mount A Pto Wood Chipper To A Tractor Fasten The Top LinkROBERT MAXWELL FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

Step 4

Connect the PTO shaft

  • Slide your chipper’s telescoping PTO shaft onto the tractor’s splined output shaft until the shaft passes the locking groove in the end of the output shaft.
  • Ensure the PTO shaft is secure by tugging on the end several times. If it’s properly locked in place, it won’t come off. If it’s not locked on, you probably won’t get hurt when you tug on it and it pops off. If it slips off during use, it will cut off power to your chipper and potentially damage the tractor or chipper.

How To Mount A Pto Wood Chipper To A Tractor Connect Pto ShaftROBERT MAXWELL FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN

Step 5

Adjust and tighten the sway chains

  • Fire up your tractor, then raise the now-mounted wood chipper off the ground with the mounting arm control lever.
  • Push the chipper from one side or the other until it’s centered behind the tractor. This should be easy now that the chipper is properly mounted and resting on the lifting arms.
  • Once the chipper is aligned with the tractor, use two large wrenches to tighten the sway chain nuts.
  • Use the lifting arm control lever to lower the chipper back to the ground.
  • Your PTO wood chipper is now properly mounted and ready to use.

How To Mount A Pto Wood Chipper To A Tractor Adjust Sway ChainsROBERT MAXWELL FOR FAMILY HANDYMAN