When you’re clearing brush, it's important to have the right equipment for the job. With the wide variety of skid steer brush cutters available on the market, knowing how to narrow down your options based on your needs is essential.
There are two different style decks: open front and closed deck (also known as standard deck). To help you discover which deck style is right for you, here’s a little bit about the applications, advantages, features, and available options for each style.
Closed Deck Brush Cutters
Applications & Advantages
A closed deck cutter works best when you’re clearing grass, weeds, undergrowth, and small trees (up to 4” in diameter). The closed deck keeps debris contained and mulches really well. Even leaves, limbs, and saplings are shredded into small chips and pieces. Closed front brush cutters provide a better-looking and more consistent cut than open front brush cutters. Some even feature a floating deck, which works well on uneven terrain.
Types & Options
The best cutter for you depends upon the conditions you’ll be cutting in, here are the basic types of closed front brush cutters along with some common options.
Fixed Deck Brush Cutter
A brush cutter attachment with a fixed deck is ideal when you’re working on level surfaces. If it's used on uneven terrain, the operator must constantly adjust the loader arms to prevent scalping. Overall, a fixed standard deck brush cutter will be less expensive than a floating deck brush cutter.
Floating Deck Brush Cutter
A floating deck automatically follows the contour of the ground, making it ideal for cutting on slopes or uneven terrain. As an added feature, a floating deck brush cutter can be locked into a fixed position, meaning owners and operators can switch from a floating to a fixed deck as their project or application requires.
Depending on your needs, additional features can be well worth a look. Some common options are front casters/wheels and rear rollers to help keep the skid steer mower stable.
A roller consists of a large, tubular weldment with bearings connected to the outside of the deck. A rear roller will compact chopped material and produce a better cut by preventing the back of the deck from gouging into the ground.
Swivel castors (or wheels) are placed on the front corners of a brush cutter. They help prevent the cutter from scalping and gouging, which results in a clean, consistent cut. 360° rotating swivel casters are better than fixed wheels because they make the brush cutter easier to maneuver from side-to-side.
Pairing swivel casters and a rear roller will help produce a better cut, a smoother ride, and further limit gouging/scalping. These options also provide extra value by minimizing wear on the underside of the brush cutter frame and skid shoes.
Open Front Deck Brush Cutters
Applications & Advantages
Open front brush cutters are designed to cut through dense brush and trees up to 8” in diameter. If you’re looking to tackle large areas of extremely tough brush, an open front cutter is going to get the job done. They can also be used for lighter applications, like cutting grass, but they’re not the best choice.
Open front cutters are built for rough cutting trees and brush. Because the blades aren’t contained (like they are with a closed deck cutter), they don't push debris over before cutting it. Brush exits the deck quickly, resulting in efficient cutting and less mulching. By tilting the front of the deck forward, small trees and stumps can be cut down to the ground to limit tree re-growth.
Types & Options
While you’ll find fewer options when it comes to open front cutters, the most important factor to consider is how large the material you plan to cut is and how often you’ll need to use the cutter. Open front cutters with a larger flywheel, spindle, and motor will cut larger material, and do it more efficiently, but that increased ability comes at an increased price.
Closed Deck vs Open Deck
Closed deck and open deck brush cutters are great at performing the jobs they're best suited for. Instead of one being better than the other, each style has its own advantages that will aid in some applications more than others. The more you know about your application and your desired end result, the easier it will be to choose a deck style.
If you’re interested in learning more about skid steer brush cutters, get your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Skid Steer Brush Cutters. It’s full of helpful tips and information for getting the most out of a cutter.