Looking for a paper shredder? Wondering about the different kinds?

Here's some quick and concise help.

We know: 1-Minute Lesson on Paper Shredders

What's a paper shredder?

Paper shredders are machines that are used by individuals and companies to reduce idea and identity theft by shredding documents into strips or pieces, making it difficult to read important information like social security numbers or account numbers.

What are the different kinds of paper shredders?

There are two basic kinds of paper shredders:

Straight-cut or strip-cut shredders cut the paper into long strips of 1/8 to 1/2 inch in width. They can handle a high volume of paper and don't require much maintenance.

Cross-cut shredders cut the paper both length and width-wise. This means they do a more thorough job. These shredders usually cost more and can require more maintenance. In an article on identity theft, Consumer Reports recommends you use a cross cut shredder.

How do I feed it?

If you're using the shredder for your home office and don't plan to shred a large volume of paper, you'll probably be happy with a model that will only take single sheets at a time.

For higher volume use, be sure to get a model that takes at least 4 sheets at a time.

What other things should I look for in a shredder?

  • Make sure the shredder takes the size paper you use. Some smaller shredders will only shred half sheets. And, if you use oversize paper, you don't want a shredder that takes just letter size.
  • Think about where you want the shredded paper to go. Some models come with attached bags for the paper to fill (but these bags will be an expense over time). Shredders are often designed to feed right into waste baskets, so think about the size baskets you have.
  • Think about the size of the unit and where you're going to put it.
  • Ask about how you clear paper jams in the shredder you are going to purchase. Some shredders have features that minimize this problem.
  • Shredders require an oil lubricant for the blades. Ask about how to oil your machine and how to replace the oil.

How much do shredders cost?

Small home cross-cut shredder for small paper sizes$35
Personal strip-cut shredder for personal use and letter size paper$70
Cross-cut shredder with basket $140
Larger office strip-cut shredder can handle 12 sheets at a time and cut through paper clips and staples$550

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