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Urban Wood Utilization in Connecticut: Wood Particles

Wood particles are small to medium sized solid fragments of wood. Wood particles include:

Wood particles have unique physical properties that depend upon plant species and particle size and shape.

Wood grinders and wood chippers are among the types of equipment used to produce wood particles.

Wood shavings byproduct from Moore's Sawmill operations, Bloomfield, CT
Wood shavings byproduct from Moore's Sawmill operations in Bloomfield, CT. The sawmill sells wood shavings and sawdust as animal bedding material.

Grinders are typically high-speed hammermills. The machines hammer woody material into smaller pieces of various sizes, resulting in a shredded appearance. Grinders are tolerant of non-woody contaminants such as nails, rocks and dirt and are often used to process wood which may contain these sorts of non-wood materials. Grinders are available in horizontal feed and vertical feed designs, stationary and portable.

Wood grinder at Worcester, MA
Wood grinder at Worcester, MA. A tub grinder was used to break apart wood remaining from trees infested with the Asian Longhorned Beetle.

Chippers differ from grinders in that they contain sharp knives that cut and produce a somewhat uniform, thin and somewhat rectangular product. Chippers are not tolerant of non-wood contaminants and can suffer substantial damage or wear whenever exposed to nails, rocks or dirt. Large chippers are primarily used for processing whole trees and are not often used for processing wood waste materials. Small chippers process branches and other smaller scale items.

Most of the wood produced by urban tree pruning and removal isconverted to wood chips. Chips and other wood particles can be byproducts from sawmills or other wood processing facilities.

Wood chips ready to be burned at The Hotchkiss School Central heating Facility, Lakeville, CT
Wood chips ready to be burned at The Hotchkiss School Woodchip Central Heating Facility, Lakeville, CT. Woodchips for the facility come from sustainably managed forests.

Flakes byproduct of sawmill operation
Wood flakes from tomato stakes sharpening.

Sawdust byproduct of sawmill operations
Sawdust byproducts of Moore's Sawmill operations in Bloomfield, CT. The sawmill sells wood flakes, shavings and sawdust as animal bedding material.


Chip: Clean wood chipped into a uniform size not exceeding 2'x2'x1/2'.

Flake: A small flat wood particle of predetermined dimensions, uniform thickness, with fiber direction essentially in the plane of the flake; in overall character resembling a small piece of veneer.

Sawdust: Clean fines and dust from sawing operations.

Shavings: A small wood particle of indefinite dimensions developed incidental to certain woodworking operations involving rotary cutterheads usually turning in the direction of the grain. This cutting action produces a thin chip of varying thickness, usually feathered along at least one edge and thick at another and generally curled.

Strands: A type of wood flake with a high aspect ratio which allows for orientation. It is used in oriented strandboard, oriented strand lumber, and laminated strand lumber.

Wood Flour: Wood reduced to finely divided particles, approximately the same as those of cereal flours in size, appearance, and texture, and passing a 40 to 100 mesh screen.

Wood Wool: Long, curly, slender strands of wood used as an aggregate component for some particleboards and cement-bonded composites. Sometimes referred to as excelsior.


USDA-Forest Products Laboratory. (2010). Wood Handbook, Wood as an Engineering Material (p. 508). Madison, WI.

Urban Wood Utilization - Introduction and Table of Contents

Content last updated October 2019