How To Use A Stump Grinder

This article will focus on how to use a stump grinder.

Stump grinders are powerful heavy-duty machines that grind stumps with ease. They have blades so sharp, that a large, hard piece of a stump is ground into tiny bits.

This makes them a potentially dangerous piece of equipment if not handled with care.

Basic Features Of A Stump Grinder

To properly understand how to use a stump grinder, you need to know its basic features. There are many types of stump grinders with different features, but they all have consistent components.

Stump grinders come in different sizes, some are as small as a simple lawnmower, while others can be as huge as a truck.

All stump grinders have a high-speed rotating disc which is responsible for grinding up the stump into bits. Stump grinders also have a cutter wheel and a set of fixed carbide teeth.

The rotation of the cutter wheel is facilitated by powerful hydraulic cylinders that push the cutter head the stump. It also raises and lowers it.

There are models of stump grinders that are installed in construction machines such as tractors and excavators. Machines like these can grind a tree stump and its roots in a matter of seconds.

Vertical stump grinders are mainly for forest use, as opposed to walk-behind stump grinders that are meant for domestic use.

They can grind roots of up to 50cm (20 inches) in diameter to more than one meter deep in about 30 seconds.

Normal stump grinders with a basic disc and set of teeth can remove most of the first 20 to 25cm of a tree stump. This would not be ideal for stumps larger in diameter since it doesn’t grind down to the roots. A vertical stump grinder on the other hand can grind up a tree stump of up to 150 cm in diameter.

They can be installed in excavators and other earth-moving equipment.

Stump grinders are considered to be the best, most effective, and fastest means of removing tree stumps. They come in various models which have an engine capacity between 70 to 300 horsepower.

They are designed with a rugged gearbox which holds the transmission shaft and is connected to the cutting edges.

The major difference between the normal horizontal grinders and the vertical grinders is that the latter can grind the entirety of the stump along with its roots to a depth greater than one meter. As for the horizontal stump grinder, it can only grind the stump below to soil to a depth of about 25cm.

A brand new stump grinder can remain in regular use for more than 30 years. They are rugged, long-lasting machines.

Who Makes Stump Grinders?

As of today, there are many companies that design and manufacture stump grinders.

The Taurus Company, for instance, they are among the most popular vertical stump grinder makers. They can be named as pioneers of attaching stump grinder to construction and Earthmoving machines.

Their stump grinders are built using the gear transmission system, which has more power than the chain transmission system.

Qualified arborists are usually in the best position to use a stump grinder. It is a dangerous machine that can severely injure a person.

How To Use A Stump Grinder Machine

Now that we know how powerful stump grinders can be, let us take a look at how to use them.


The first thing you need to do when using stump grinders is to make sure you are well protected for the job. As I have described, a stump grinder is a powerful machine and it can cause severe a person’s limb.

You will also need to protect your eyes using goggles. Stump grinders turn wood into bits, which can fly at great speeds into the user’s eyes, so goggles are important. A pair of earplugs will also be needed to spare you from the loud noise.

Make sure no one is around you when using the grinder, especially infants. Always unplug it when it’s not in use. Always operate it from the safety panel for your good.

Another thing you need to do is to clear all rocks from the area so they don’t dull the wheel. They can also fly out and cause injuries so get rid of them before you start.

Cut The Stump

For the stump grinder to work faster, it is advised that you cut down the stump to its lowest possible height. Doing this will give the stump grinder less work to do.

Grinding The Stump

Here’s how to use the stump grinder.

  • Using the lever, position the wheel a couple of inches above the stump
  • Turn on the wheel and lower it to a position where it is approximately 3 inches into the stump
  • Using the lever again, move the wheel from side to side and grind until you are about 4 inches into the ground (don’t force the grinder into the stump, allow it to grind gently downwards)
  • Move the grinder forward and repeat the previous steps
  • Keep moving the machine forward in a gentle manner until the stump is completely ground and there is a hole about 4 inches deep
  • Proceed to grind the exposed roots using the same steps as grinding the stump itself
  • Clear out the wood chips and use them for mulch if you wish

Disposing Of Left Over Wood Chips

In a case where you have no use for the wood chips, others may need them. They can help you clear it out for free.

You can also call on recycling centers around your area to clear them away, they charge very little for that.

Is It Difficult To Use A Stump Grinder?

Stump grinders are very rugged tools, but they are not difficult to use. Just as long as you follow the required steps then you will be fine.

Make sure you study the user manual and ensure your safety before you begin to avoid any accidents.

The teeth and rotating disc do all the grinding, and many stump grinders have these components attached to its hydraulic lever which can be moved up or down, and left to right.

Sharpening The Stump Grinder’s Teeth

If the teeth of your stump grinder are blunt, then you will not have a smooth cut. Sharpening the teeth of the grinder isn’t difficult, it will only require a few steps and the job is done.

Here’s how to do it –

Remove the spark plug: If you want to sharpen the teeth of your stump grinder, you need to first take out the spark plug, to ensure the grinder doesn’t start working while you are on the job.

Remove the teeth: Next step is to remove the teeth. Don’t rush the process, take them out slowly, one at a time.

You will find a small screw that holds the teeth to the blade. Get a screwdriver and take them out.

If you’re not up for sharpening the teeth, then you can always buy a new set and attach it to the stump grinder. This is easier and would spare you the time.


The area where you will be using the stump grinder has to be safe. You need to restrict human movement around the site and make sure especially, that there are no infants around.

You also need to make sure the ground is free from all sorts of debris that will do the teeth, or fly out and injure a person.

Keep in mind that small particles can cause a sudden fire since the process involves grinding metal and sparks. For this reason, also, you need to be sure that there are no flammable liquids around the worksite.

During the grinding process, make sure you are on the safe side of the machine, which is away from the cutting wheel of course.

Always have it at the back of your mind that you don’t necessarily have to do this yourself, especially if you have little to no experience doing so.

To be on the safe side, you can have a professional stump grinder technician come over and sharpen the stump grinder teeth for you. This wouldn’t cost much by the way, so it remains a viable option.

Using The Wheels

Follow these steps –

  • Set one of the front plates of your grinder to a 120-degree angle
  • Turn on the grinder and allow it grind the tooth shank
  • Keep grinding until it reaches the carbide
  • Remove it once in a while to let it cool down (dip it in water if need be) If it heats up too much, the tooth of the stump grinder may scorch


Stump grinders come on various shapes, sizes, and specifications, but they all perform the same function, which is grinding up tree stumps.

Using a stump grinder isn’t difficult, but you have to follow the proper procedures, including safety.

I hope this article on how to use a stump grinder has been helpful.

Stay safe!

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