Everything You Need to Know about Shredders - Questions, Tips and Important Information14 Apr, 2008 By: ShredderSource.com ShredderSource.com imageSource
Everything You Need to Know about Shredders - Questions, Tips and Important Information
Key Questions to Ask First: When Choosing a Shredder
1 - Why shouldn't I just buy an inexpensive shredder?
- The most common error that we have seen is buying a shredder that's too
small for the job. Doing this usually results in far more wasted time and
money than might be saved on the original price of the shredder. We suggest
that you evaluate your needs before buying. Here's what will happen if you buy
an inadequate shredder.
- Employees spend more time waiting for the shredder to finish. The loss of
productivity is often worth several hundred dollars a year.
- The shredder will jam up more often, as impatient employees try to put in
too many pages at a time, or try to put in more pages before the current load
- The shredder will break down more often. This causes lost productivity as
well as the cost of repairs or replacement.
- Overloaded shredders will often fail to completely shred documents. Your
most important documents may end up in the trash in readable condition without
- Critical documents that should have been destroyed may be just thrown
away, because the shredder was too slow or not working at the time. Isn't this
why you're going to buy a shredder in the first place.
2 - What do I need to know to buy a shredder?
- What will you be shredding? What size paper? Do you need to shred
- How much material will you be shredding? It's always a good idea to buy
some extra capacity, since you will have this shredder for several years and
your company will probably grow in that time.
- What security level are the most sensitive documents that you will need to
3- Should I buy just one shredder for everyone to use?
- Depending on the size of your company, this is often an excellent choice.
Here are some factors to consider:
- For a single shredder, you will need to find a location that is convenient
for everyone, or provide shred bins to all employees that are then emptied by
- Will one person be responsible for operating the shredder, or will you
have everyone shred their own waste? If one person at your company is
responsible for shredding all documents, remember that that person will be
able to see all of your confidential data. If everyone shreds their own, this
will probably take more time away from their real work.
- While individual shredders are convenient, they can also be noisy enough
to disrupt the work of others nearby. A single shredder can be placed in a
separate room where noise will not be a problem.
- Different departments may require different levels of security. A single
shredder needs to adequately protect the most valuable documents that must be
destroyed. Security considerations may require that some individuals or
departments have their own shredder.
4 - What maintenance does a shredder need?
- Replace the bags when they get full. Keep a supply of the proper size
shredder bags on hand, near or in the shredder cabinet.
- Oil the cutting head frequently. This will keep your shredder running at
full speed. See your instruction manual for how and when to oil.
- Clean off the paper dust that may build up on top of the machine and in
5 - Are shredders safe?
Any piece of machinery should be treated with respect. While shredders have
been known to attempt to shred loose clothing, we have never heard of any
injuries from the normal use of a shredder. To avoid any potential problems, use
care when wearing ties, jackets, or anything else that may fall into the
shredder's throat. Personal shredders should be turned off when not in use.
Don't place a shredder where items can easily fall into the throat, or where
liquids can be spilled into the machine. Have any employees who may be operating
the shredder read the safety section of your shredder manual.
Warning: Some of our customers use "canned air" to clean the paper
dust and debris out of their shredders. While this is normally a good idea, we
have found that some manufacturers use flammable gases in their "canned air"
product. Please read the label of such products carefully and do not use any
such product containing butane, propane, or other flammable gases to clean your
shredder. Serious injury and property damage can result from the use of
flammable gases around a paper shredder.
The Shredder Basics
1 - What is a strip cut shredder?
- Strip cut shredders cut your documents into long narrow strips. They are
generally less expensive and have higher capacity than an equivalent cross cut
machine. The cutting heads on a strip cut shredder are less complex, making
for fewer jams and longer life. Strip cut shredders also handle more sheets of
paper at a time than an equivalent cross cut shredder. As a bonus, the
resulting strips can be used for packing material.
2 - What is a cross cut shredder?
- A cross cut shredder cuts your documents into small rectangular pieces
called "chips". Cross cut shredders are more secure than a strip cut. The size
of the chips determines the security level of the shredder. Due to the small
size of the chips, the shred bin will hold much more - up to five times as
much. This translates into fewer trips to dump the shredded paper.
3 - What is a micro cut shredder?
- A micro cut shredder is a cross cut shredder that cuts your documents into
extremely small pieces. These are the highest security shredders, for those
who have high risk data. Some are DoD and GSA approved for classified
documents up to Top Secret.
4 - Which do I need: strip cut, cross cut, or micro cut?
- That depends on the material being shredded. As a general rule:
- A strip cut shredder is good for ordinary business or personal documents:
Invoices, packing slips, customer lists, vendor orders, and personal notes.
You should use a strip cut shredder for anything that might be subject to
casual curiosity or low-level snooping. A cross cut shredder is good for
sensitive documents: Ledgers, bank statements, credit card statements,
critical business reports, salary reports, and personnel records. You should
use a cross cut shredder for anything that could be of value to a criminal or
to your competitor.
- A micro cut shredder is good for extremely sensitive documents: Business
and trade secrets, sensitive customer data, new product designs, DOD or HIPAA
records. You should use a micro-cut shredder for anything that is extremely
valuable. If you buy only one shredder, it should be purchased with your most
valuable documents in mind.
5 - What does throat width mean?
- Throat width is the width of the slot that accepts the pages to be
shredded. The throat width should be slightly larger than the narrow
dimension of the paper to be shredded. For example, if you have letter, legal,
or A4 sized pages, the throat width should be 9-10 inches. Larger sheets can
be shredded by folding them before inserting into the shredder. This should be
avoided for all but exceptional cases, since folding is time-consuming and
much more likely to result in a jam.
6 - What does the number of sheets mean?
- The number of sheets of 20# paper that the shredder can accept at one
time. Heavier paper, folded sheets, envelopes, etc. will reduce this number.
We recommend that you shred a maximum of 2 - 3 sheets less than the listed
maximum for any shredder. This will significantly extend the shredder's life
7 - What does shred speed mean?
- The speed at which the shredder pulls paper through the cutting heads.
Combined with the number of sheets, this will give you the maximum capacity of
the shredder in sheets per minute.
8 - What does shred size mean?
- The size of the chips determines the security level of the shredder. So,
if your shredder holds a smaller size of chips, the shred bin will hold much
more. This translates into fewer trips to dump the shredded paper, etc.
9 - My documents have paper clips or staples. Do I need to remove them
- Most shredders today will handle staples. The better shredders will also
accept paper clips without damage. If your shredder does not, you must be
certain to remove all paper clips before shredding. Mechanical bindings must
also be removed.
10 - I need to be able to shred CDs, CD-Rs, DVDs, etc.
- Some shredders can safely shred CDs. If this is a concern, check the
specifications or contact us for a recommendation.
11 - What does sound level mean?
- All shredders make noise. The sound level given in the charts indicates
how much noise a given shredder will produce. 73 db is considered the maximum
for office use. Lower numbers indicate a machine that will produce less noise.
12 - What is the difference between intermittent and continuous duty?
- Intermittent duty motors are rated for occasional use only. Use of these
shredders for more than a few minutes at a time will cause the motor to
overheat. An overheated motor may shut down to protect the shredder from
damage. Repeated overheating will shorten the shredder's life at the very
least, and may cause it to fail. If your shredder overheats, let it cool down
for at least 30 minutes before attempting to use it again.
13 - Should I get a shredder that has a bin or one that uses bags?
- Bags are easier to close up and carry to the trash. Bins do not have any
recurring cost, but they may spread paper waste around the office while being
carried to the trash. Most shredders today are set up to use bags.
14 - How large a bag/bin capacity do I need?
- The larger the bag or bin, the more documents you can shred before making
a trip to the dumpster. The increase in productivity is significant when
measured over the life of the shredder.
The Shredder Types
1 - What are office paper shredders?
- Office shredders are larger than personal shredders. They are designed to
handle the needs of several people in a small company or department. Office
shredders have a more powerful motor that is rated for continuous duty. They
also run faster and can handle more sheets of paper at a time. Office
shredders should be centrally located if everyone in the office will be using
2 - What are production paper shredders?
- Production shredders are larger than office or personal shredders. They
are designed to handle the needs of a medium or large company. Production
shredders have much larger motors and a wide throat for handling oversize
documents. They are often located in a warehouse, loading dock, or similar
3 - What are personal paper shredders?
- Personal shredders are designed for occasional use by a single person.
Most are designed to fit in a small space next to a desk. They are very convenient,
but they are not designed for continuous or heavy use. The shred bin is
usually about the size of an office trash can.
4 - What are high security paper shredders?
- High security (or micro cut) shredders cut the paper into very tiny
pieces. They are appropriate where the highest security is needed.