10 Best Paper Shredders | March 2017
- micro-cuts for optimum security
- integrated lifting handle
- shredder locks securely onto the bin
- backed by a 2-year warranty
- rarely ever jams
- heavy-duty construction
- 6-feet-per-minute shred rate
- bright led power indicator
- wide nine-inch paper feed slot
- can handle heavyweight paper
- library silent motor
- convenient casters
- german engineered quality
- bin viewing window
- operates at below 60db
- overheat protection
- can shred 6 sheets at a time
- easy-to-empty bin
- durable solid steel cutters
- full-bin led indicator
- can run continuously for 45 minutes
How To Choose The Best Shredder
Finding a reliable shredder can be tough. Unlike some product categories, the quality of a shredder can vary significantly between products both in terms of how it shreds documents and how well it handles jams or overheating. And on top of that, users must make decisions about what capacity and speed is sufficient, as well as how much continuous run time is adequate. To help you discern what shredder is best for your individual needs, we've written a guide to choosing the best shredder.
Shredders should ideally serve to increase entropy—which is to say, randomness—by decreasing the size of the shredded particles. Thinking about this practically means that the more, smaller pieces there are, the more difficult it will be to reconstruct the document. For this reason, shredders are foremost classified by the sizes and shapes of the shredded particles they produce. Within each type are shredders whose designs range from small, personal use to large, commercial or industrial use.
Strip-cut paper shredders feature rotating blades that simply cut sheets into strips. This type of shredder creates the fewest pieces, thus creating less entropy, whilst also generating waste that takes up the most space. For this reason, strip-cut shredders are the least secure, however, they are often used for recycling or to create animal bedding.
Cross-cut paper shredders (also called confetti-cut) feature two counter-rotating shafts whose blades interlock. Depending on the shredder, they can create either rectangular, diamond, or parallelogram shaped pieces.
Particle-cut paper shredders are similar to cross-cut paper shredders, however, they create even smaller pieces. Usually its shredded pieces are square or circular, but this can vary.
Pierce and tear paper shredders use two counter-rotating shafts covered with small circular blades and hooks. The hooks pierce the document and drag it through to the opposite blade, where it is teared due to its being caught in-between two opposing forces.
Hammermills use hammers on rotating drums to force material through a screen and create particles of a given size. These are often used in more industrial contexts.
Disintegrator paper shredders (or granulators) randomly cut paper continuously until the particles are small enough to progress through a mesh or screen of a given size. This type of shredder is usually considered to follow very high security standards.
Shredders are also classified by security standards, called the DIN Standard, now known as DIN 66399 (previously DIN 32757-1). The DIN outlines six data media categories, each of which contain seven security levels. The categories are P (information in original size, such as paper), O (optical digital media), T (magnetic data media), E (electronic data media), F (information in reduced form), and H (hard drives with magnetic data media). Here, we'll outline the security levels within the P category, but you can read all about the other categories here.
- P-1: strips up to 12 mm wide (general)
- P-2: strips up to 6 mm wide (internal)
- P-3: strips up to 3 mm wide or particles up to 320 mm² (confidential, personal)
- P-4: particles up to 160 mm² (highly sensitive, personal)
- P-5: particles up to 30 mm² (fundamental importance commercially or personally)
- P-6: particles up to 10 mm² (classified)
- P-7: particles up to 5 mm² (highly classified, highest security)
Fun DIY Uses For All Your Shredded Paper
What to do with all your shredded paper? Besides recycling, there are plenty of fun ways to make use of this unusual craft medium.
Compost. Paper is made of cellulose, a compound that naturally appears in plants. For this reason, shredded paper makes excellent compost. As the link points out, if you add too much paper, which contains high amounts of carbon, you could throw off the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio. But you'd have to add a lot of paper for this to happen. And, if it does, restore the balance by adding some nitrogenous manure or grass materials to your compost.
Homemade fire starters. With the addition of egg cartons and wax, shredded paper can be used to make excellent fire starters! These are far more economical than store-bought fire starters and super easy to make.
Papier-mâché. With this craft—which literally means "chewed paper" in French"—shredded paper becomes a sculptural medium for the artistic among us. Just add glue, a liquid starch mixture, or other adhesive to begin forming your art. Try layering the mixture on a balloon or wire form.
Fill stuffed animals or other toys. This one's pretty self explanatory, but shredded paper works great as filling for any cloth form, whether it be an animal or doll. Kids will love this activity, and it's infinitely cheaper than buying cotton batting.
Pack gifts or objects. Because shredded paper is light and takes up a lot of space, it makes excellent packing material. Use it in place of tissue paper in gift bags, or as padding in mailed packages. It can also be used to pack breakables, such as ornaments.
Make artisan paper. Making your own paper is pretty easy, and shredded paper can find new life as high quality handmade paper. Follow this video tutorial for instructions.
The Origins of the Paper Shredder
The invention of the paper shredder is often credited to a German man named Adolf Ehinger, who manufactured a paper shredder in 1935, but this credit is slightly misplaced. The first paper shredder was actually patented several years prior, in 1909, by the American inventor Abbott Augustus Low.
Low's patent, viewable here, detailed a "waste paper receptacle" with rolling blades connected to a paper feeder. Although Low's invention was never manufactured, his design was quite advanced for its time. In his patent, Low explains that his design included "means for stopping the device automatically," as well as "a device for compressing and packing the disintegrated paper within the receptacle."
Similar to the reasons we use paper shredders today, Low intended for his shredder design to be used in "offices, banks, counting houses, and, under conditions, where the practical destruction of correspondence, memoranda, liquidated bonds, accounts, books, and the like is a desideratum..." Unfortunately, Low's paper shredder patent seemed to have been forgotten about, and paper shredder innovation was dormant until 1935.
Adolf Ehinger was an ordinary man who worked on tools and small machines during the Third Reich in Balingen, Germany. He had a secret, though: he was a quiet dissident of Nazi Germany, holding anti-Nazi political views. According to legend, Ehinger created anti-Nazi propaganda at home, some of which was spotted in a trash can by a neighbor.
Upon finding this material, the neighbor threatened to turn Ehinger into the authorities. In fear, Ehinger set out to invent the first paper shredder. How he invented the shredder in time to thwart the authorities is unclear, as is why his first instinct was to invent a small machine rather than dispose of his papers elsewhere. Nevertheless, the paper shredder was born.
Inspired by the hand-crank pasta maker frequently used in traditional German pasta and spaetzle, which divided pasta dough into strips, Ehinger devised the first hand-cranked paper shredder. He widened the opening to accommodate the width of sheets of paper, and housed it in a wooden frame.
Eventually, he added an electric motor, and patented the device in 1936. Upon taking the shredder to a trade show, however, Ehinger was laughed at by those in attendance. People thought his invention was useless, failing to understand why it would later become one of the most useful inventions of the 20th century.