How to Choose a Paper Shredder – Tips & Advice

Shredding Cut Style – Your search for the perfect paper shredder should begin with the cut style.

Strip cut paper shredders  – cut paper into strips. Shred widths of 1/4″ or less are suitable for confidential, privacy act, and other non-classified documents. This type of shredder provides maximum sheet capacity at a low cost. Straight cut ranges from secure 5/32″ (3.8 mm) wide strips to a very fast 1/2″ (11.8-mm) wide strips. Strip cut shredders are perfect for less sensitive documents. They require less maintenance than cross-cut models and are usually less expensive.

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Cross cut shredders – cut paper into smaller pieces. This not only provides an additional level of security, but also improves waste handling efficiency. The smaller particles are more compact and waste volume reduction can increase shred bag capacity ten-fold. Cross cut ranges from an almost unbelievable 1/32″ x 1/2″ (0.8 x 12 mm) to a fast and secure 5/32″ x 2 9/16″ (3.8 x 65 mm). An additional advantage here is that the particles can be pressed more tightly together than with straight-cut, and consequently the container needs to be emptied less often.  Low volume shredders do not require maintenance but you may have to oil down mid to high volume shredders from time to time.

Shredder Feed Width

The Feed Opening is the part of the shredder where the paper enters.  The width varies and increases as model numbers increase which ranges from 8 inches to 18 inches.  There are several reasons why this is important. You must choose the shredder width based on the size of the documents you will be shredding. If you plan to shred continuous form documents wider than 12 inches, it is best to focus on our High Volume Shredders that offer a 16 inch feed opening which will allow you to shred continuously without constant watch. (The biggest width of the Mid-Size Shredders is 12 inches). Continuous forms will constantly jam if you have a smaller feed opening. So based on what size documents you will be shredding, choose the model with the appropriate feed opening.  If you will be only shredding standard size paper you can consider the smaller models but you will have to take into account the power of the shredder (Output) which is step number three.

Shredding Speed

The output is measured in pounds per hour and is an indication of the speed and power of the shredder. You need to know what kind of power you want to work with. Many times purchasing a bigger more powerful shredder pays off depending on your volume.  If you are doing very little shredding the low models will be sufficient. Overworking it a low-volume shredder is pretty easy. Most models are only designed to shred 100-150 sheets per day. Check out the Mid Volume Paper Shredders for a good 200-400 sheets per day. Most shredders do best at 1-2 sheets less than their stated specs.

Extra Features

Shredders come with various combinations of features. With Automatic start/stop the shredder detects the presence of paper. Some shredders provide a light or buzzer to alert you to paper jams or a full shredder basket. Reverse Feed is useful for helping to clear out paper jams. A clear basket or window also helps you see when the basket needs emptying.

Integrated Units

Shredders with built-in baskets or racks for plastic bags generally cost a bit more than the stand-alone versions. These shredders come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some units might include an extra opening for inserting paper that doesn’t need shredding or a see-through window to check the paper level. The main drawback is that you are tied into using a specific size of basket.

Stand-alone Units

This type of paper shredder fits on most standard size wastebaskets. Expandable sides allow you to adjust it for different width baskets. These are often the least expensive units and can usually be purchased for under $60US. For the greatest flexibility, look for a unit that fits both round and rectangular baskets of varying sizes.

Shredding Supplies

Some manufacturers recommend using shredder bags. These bags come sized to the dimensions of specific models, although ordinary trash bags may work fine. To keep a shredder operating at peak efficiency the blades should be oiled regularly with specially formulated shredder oil. This oil lubricates without leaving residue on the cutters that can attract paper dust and lead to clogged cutters.