Buying a Home Office Paper Shredder
When you come to buy a home office paper shredder, you will soon discover that there are numerous machines
available to suit all manner of users and their different needs. You can choose from a strip or crosscut style. You
have a choice of low or high volume models. Some come with a built-in collection bin, while others simply hang over
the receptacle next to the desk. Sorting out all these choices is much akin to putting together shredded
At the lower end of the scale are strip cutters. They tend to be cheaper and have fewer features. You simply
feed in a sheet through an opening, called the throat, and the shredder spits out narrow strips of paper.
Nevertheless, even here there are several options.
Look for models that have a throat wide enough to accommodate all the paper widths you might need
to shred. Do not limit your research to one that only slices 8 1/2 x 11 sheets. There will be times you need
to shred large quantities of larger sizes. Having a small model will force you to spend more time tearing or
folding sheets to fit than is worth it.
Next, think about your potential volume. Will you be shredding a few sheets per day or dozens? Most personal
shredders are rated for 100-150 sheets per day. However, like personal printers, the ratings are usually stated for
a brand new or perfectly maintained machine. A home office paper shredder, especially one used by multiple people,
will see more action.
Shredders, like printers, are mechanical. Parts wear and blades get dull. Before long, the shredder will slice
only half its rated capacity. Buy a little higher capacity than you think you will need.
Shredding capacity can also refer to the number of simultaneous sheets the machine will accept. Do not waste
your time feeding one or two sheets into the shredder on those larger jobs. Buy a machine that can shred several
sheets at the same time without jamming or dulling the blades.
In this area, too, capacity is often overstated. A rating of 6-8 sheets is realistically only 4-5 after a few
months of use, depending on paper type. Twenty-four bond paper is thicker than 20 bond, so you need to take that
To deal with possible identity theft, home office shredders are available in a variety of cutting patterns.
Strip widths vary from 1/8-1/2 inch on most models. The narrower the strip the more secure the result. That is
assuming strips are cut perpendicular to the line of type. Strips cut parallel to sentences are very easy to
re-assemble. Most people do not want to have to pay too much attention to the way they feed paper and even vertical
strips can still be put back together. Crosscut shredders solve that problem.
Cross-cut shredders cut paper horizontally and vertically in the same pass. You feed the paper normally and two
sets of blades slice the paper into small rectangles. They tend to cost a little more and require a little more
maintenance, though. The blades require simple oiling from time to time. In addition, since there are two sets of
blades with more mechanical controls, the price is higher.
Whichever type you buy, look for models that have extra, convenient features.
Some have auto-paper sensors. When you feed the paper into the throat a sensor detects paper and automatically
begins the shredding cycle. No need to press a button - simply feed and forget.
Low-maintenance shredders are handy, as well. Some use a type of carbon dust commonly used to lubricate locks,
rather than oil. Some have an oil reservoir that you fill once and can forget for months on end. Some will have a
light indicating when more oil is needed.
Some models have a jam light and an automatic shut-off feature. A reverse feed option is helpful for clearing
paper when jams do happen.
Some shredders provide only the shredding unit with no paper container. They are designed to fit over a standard
office wastebasket. Others have adapters that can fit over round or rectangular containers. You might want an
in-built receptacle designed for the unit, though.
Which home office paper shredder is right for you depends on your volume and security needs and budget.
Still, do not be penny-wise and pound-foolish. In this age of identity and credit card theft, spending a little
more up-front could save you big time in money and grief.