How a Stump Grinder Works


It takes a long time for a tree stump to rot, and you might want it removed sooner than a few years in the future if it is unsightly, creating an obstacle in your yard or is diseased or infested with insects. A stump grinder, also known as a stump cutter, stump router or stump chopper, makes short work of a stump, chewing up the wood into small pieces that can be used as mulch if the stump is not infested or diseased. The grinder does this by use of a flywheel or cutting wheel, boasting teeth that are specifically made for the job of pulverizing a stump.

Getting Ready

To use a grinder properly, the operator has to do some prep work. The stump has to be cut close to the ground with a chain saw. Rocks have to be removed from around the area of the stump. The operator needs safety equipment--head, ear and eye protection, gloves and safety boots. Renting a machine means using a trailer hitch to tow the grinder, since it weighs about 1,000 lbs.

Using the Grinder

Because the grinder is so heavy, it relies on hydraulics to make it maneuverable. The cutting wheel is lifted by means of a hydraulic lever and then positioned a few inches over the tree stump. The operator turns on the machine and the wheel begins rotating rapidly. With the wheel spinning, the operator lowers the teeth down into the stump a few inches. The hydraulic lever allows the operator to move the wheel slowly back and forth over a section of the stump until the teeth are finished grinding it up. The operator raises the wheel, repositions it over another section and chews up the new area with the grinder. The operator continues this until the trunk is reduced to particles.


Grinding a tree truck correctly leaves a hole that is at least 4 inches deep, though the gap can be 1 foot deep or more. There is nothing remaining from which a new tree could sprout. The hole must be filled with dirt or dirt plus the stump chips (assuming they are not diseased or infested). The site is often seeded with grass.

Keywords: stump grinder, stump chopper, stump cutter, stump router

About this Author

S. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media who specializes in making the complex clear. A freelancer for over 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews, learning a lot and talking to many interesting people.