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Paper shredders are a necessity these days but they are a pain to use. The smallest can only handle one sheet of paper at a time, which makes shredding a pretty tedious task. The largest cost thousands of dollars and take up a lot of room. Short of an incinerator, is there a better way to shred paper?

My wife has four or five bags of paper to shred, leftovers from a year-end filing. That’s probably a couple of hours of work for me or her to shred. We have a small shredder that’s the size of a waste basket and is very slow. There’s a larger shredder at the office, one that takes 15 pages a minute but price and size make this unpractical for home use. I looked up shredders on epinions and no one seems particularly happy with the lower price models. Also, there are shredding services that will come and pick up paper but I don’t live in an urban area.

I’d be interested to hear good ideas for home-sized solutions to paper shredding.

Dale Dougherty

I’m founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire. I am CEO of Maker Media, the company that produces MAKE, Maker Faire and Maker Shed. I am Chairman of the Maker Education Initiative (www.makered.org).


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Comments

  1. askbjørn hansen says:

    I have the Fellowes PS60C-2 home-office sized shredder. It takes 5-6 pieces of paper at once making it a bit faster to shred a ton of stuff.

    – ask

    1. Shred Services says:

      MicroShred’s mobile shredding units can destroy thousands of pounds per hour of virtually any type of document including: Paper, computer printouts, bound documents & files, brochures, checks/forms and more. Our shredder will easily grind file folders, paper clips, and metal fasteners. In addition (although they need to be handled separately) we can shred computer disks and tapes, film ribbon, X-rays and Mylar.

      http://microshred.com
      confidential document destruction

  2. trollll says:

    my wife and i recently got a VF700 cross-cut. it can handle up to seven sheets and can shred staples and credit cards. it actually shreds fairly quickly, too. probably four to five seconds for a full seven pages. about the size of a small garbage can and about $50.

    it definitely makes it easier to take care of those credit card offers. just stick the whole thing in there and watch it turn to confetti.

  3. peshealy says:

    I’ve had several shredders but none of them last. They aren’t build very well. Lots of plastic and cheap blades, gears, and motors.

  4. Noah says:

    Fire? Fireplace? Backyard bonfire? My last house had a fireplace
    and all paperwork went into the fireplace.

  5. BetaBlocker says:

    I hate paper shredders. when I was is in the good ol US Navy, I used to have to shred till my fingers were raw with papercuts. Then a masterchief would come by with the lemon juice, and I guess you can imagine the rest.

    Anyway, enough war stories, i have to ask a question, once you have shredded the several bags of you wife’s, are you going to have several more bags soon? or is it only junk mail after that? If it is only a one time deal to shred that much, I would probably get an old steel drum, and poke a few holes near teh bottom, and then start burning. After that, if it is only a a small amount of paper a day then get a cheaper shredder. No sense in buying an expensive piece of gear for a one time job.

    Oh, and in case you are wondering, the shredder we used could easily take down a quarter and turn it into filings. The only way to get out of shredding was to put some duct tape on a chem-wipe, that would gum it up real nice…

  6. beej_55 says:

    One word, my friend. Fire. =] Just…don’t burn yourself. I like Make:. Or…see if some local ubercorp (yes, I know, local and ubercorp do not belong in the same sentence…) will let you rent their CEO-style shredder. They’re always:

    1. Looking for money!

    2. Have big shredders for CEO’s to use!

  7. ThomasKemp says:

    As a small business owner, I have struggled with this issue for years. Especially after moving to a “paperless” office in 1999, I have been swamped with tons of paper that needs to away. The commercial shredders are more than I want to spend, but the consumer “office” models I get at OfficeMax are a terrible compromise: they only take 15 sheets at a time so I have to pay someone to do really mindless work, and they burn up quick.

    Fire is the best way to get it done, but most places restrict “open burns” and putting loads of paper in a fireplace is a good way catch your chimney on fire, if not the surrounding shrubbery (burning paper tends to float, getting a stack of papers burning at night and going outside and watching the fireworks coming out of the chimney can strike fear in the most reckless of homeowner).

    I wondered about a vat of some type of mild acid, but what would I do with the now toxic byproducts?

  8. DrNick says:

    There are several ways to burn things besides the fireplace in your house. If you have a grill (gas or propane work better), you could use that. There are also outdoor fireplaces that you can buy that have grills or are more or less enclosed to keep those ashes from flying away (chimneas are one type) and it makes for a nice time sitting outside on a nice night in front of the fire if that’s your thing.

  9. blakewest says:

    Don’t bother shredding it yourself. It’s not worth your time. You could die any minute. Do you want to spend your last precious minutes on earth SHREDDING?

    I recently used Ship n Shred to chew through my five-year backlog of crap. 65 lbs costs $35, and that includes the FedEx shipping. FedEx picks it up and all you have to do is pack it and print a label.

    They also have a delightful video of the industrial sized shredder that chews your old bills to a pulp, literally. It’s like watching one of those videos of nothing but dump trucks and backhoes.

  10. AP says:

    How ’bout a garden mulcher/chipper-shredder?

  11. deanster says:

    I’ve killed my second shredder at home now and am currently dragging my junk mail to work to shovel in their security bin.

    If I find time I may attempt a Frankenstein upgrade of my dead shredder. The result will almost certainly be ugly and dangerous but it’d be a satisfying project nonethelsss.

    Plan B is to is to buy a new shredder but plan on killing it and buy the extra warranty so it’s someone else’s problem when it bites the dust.

  12. cyenobite says:

    Seems to me it might be easy to shred a large amount of paper rather quickly by using a lawnmower. Perhaps an electric mower could be used indoors, and possibly rig up a catcher/feeder? It might be difficult too to piece back together a piece of paper that has been through a mower… no straight lines.
    This would make a good article for MAKE magazine – homemade shredders :)
    Legal disclaimer: This could be dangerous… do not attempt this at home, office, open water, or the moon. I am not liable for anything I say or do, especially on the internet, where I’m allowed to type without supervision.

  13. peshealy says:

    There’s nothing wrong with ugly and dangerous.

  14. aplumb says:

    Well, if time isn’t an issue you could always let the worms do the work for you.

  15. wingeng says:

    We have an organic shredder. His name is snoozer, our gerbil. He’s low volume but very efficent.

  16. jmassaglia says:

    I saw a webpage years ago of a guy who built a mulcher (shredder for yard waste) out of an old lawnmower and an oil drum. He cut the bottom off of the oil drum, mounted the lawnmower engine/blade to the top so that the drive shaft went through the top of the drum and then attached a chute to the top to drop yard waste into.

    You could do the same thing and use it for paper. I don’t know how small it would shred though.

  17. jmassaglia says:

    I found the link for the mulcher. It was built by Aaron Cake.

  18. Novysan says:

    Man, I got to this thread late. Oh, well. I, too, have been looking at shredders as well, for multiple reasons. I want to take junk mail, secure documents, etc and convert them to ideal shapes to burn in my chiminea in the back yard. Shred, pulp, add a tiny accelerant like a liquid wax, press into amusing log shape, and let dry. During the depression they had hand rolled machine to convert newspapers to log shaped bunable tubes. I also need a shredder that

  19. apiaryist says:

    The fire pundits are right. Every three months, we have a burn party in the back yard. All of our documents go up in smoke. It will take you about 2 hours and $0.00-20.00 dollars in raw materials to build a fire pit. We bought a shredder, but ended up never using it, as flame is far easier that the sit-and-feed method. Plus, you’ll have a toasy warm hangout for mid-winter get-togethers!

  20. ottomatik says:

    I have a shredder, but it chokes if I try to feed it more than six pages. When I have a lot of paper I want to shred, I put it in the sink and pour some water on it, and shape it into a giant ball, kind of like a gargantuan spit wad. If an identity thief wants to try to unpack it, more power to them.

  21. Noir says:

    Not to be a jerk, but have any of you considered the environmental ramifications of BURNING all that paper? Wood burning (including paper), creates a ton of smog. Don’t be so lazy. Have your documents shredded and, if possible, recycled.

    To save you some of the headache, only shred PORTIONS of documents with sensitive information. It’s as easy as ripping away parts of pages where sensitive information resides. Take the rest of the page and trash it like normal.

    Also, you can easily save yourself a lot of shredding by simply marking over important data with a black magic marker. If someone is really going to go through the trouble of getting your information that’s been marked over, chances are they would (and can) get it by some other means anyway.

    Lastly, stop being so damned paranoid. Just because the media says there are identity thieves out there just waiting to get your valuable information doesn’t mean squat. Hell, I’ll bet half of you have wireless connections that are more easily accessible to wardrive jackers than the garbage sitting on your front lawn.

  22. Nexus says:

    Ignore the hippies. Burning is not only cost effective but quite efficient.

  23. Noir says:

    Hardly a hippie here. Just conscious that the decisions I make will directly affect my offspring. Plus, I enjoy being able to breathe without a gasmask.

  24. ratbastid says:

    I recently blogged (HERE) about an industrial shredder I found online. Check out the demo videos–this thing tears right through a massive load of paper… and tree stumps, and oversize tires, and a couch, and a 55-gallon drum of hardened concrete…. and a boat… Somebody had WAY too much fun taking these videos. If you’re looking for the single most over-the-top method for shredding paper, I think this is it.

  25. dcreemer says:

    My shredder (also some $40 Fellowes) only does 4 or so pages at a time– but my kids are happy to shred anything for hours. As long as I lock the cat in another room I have no shredding problems :-)

  26. ottomatik says:

    dcreemer, you are absolutely right! Kids + cheap shredders = automatic shredding. My 7-year-old begs me to give her papers to shred.

  27. zeldatron says:

    I managed to heat the house all winter with waste paper. most of it is junk mail and packaging.

    During the summer, i often throw the paper in with the cat litter, and add some broken glass or condoms to the bag if i have any around.

  28. dale says:

    The solution my wife came up with involved a local afterschool work program for the developmentally disabled. They provide shredding as a service. She dropped them off yesterday.

  29. nonameyet says:

    SSI shredding systems can start for as little as $30,000 and into the millions, depending on the size, configuration, and overall scope of the integrated system

    Well, That’s a Little more than I was looking to spend , Just to shred paper!

  30. answerer says:

    Try mother nature. If you

  31. answerer says:

    Try mother nature. If you’re not in an urban area, dig a hole, put the paper in, add water and cover. Someone would have to be VERY determined to want to dig up your documents.

  32. hittsukd says:

    I have found a company that provides a drop off location on the weekends where you can witness your box of documents be shredded for just $10.00 per box. It would have taken me four to five hours with my little office depot shredder. If you have six or more boxes they can come to home to provide the services for a flate rate. The mobile shredding truck can shred 5,000 lbs of paper per hour. It shreds the binders, paper clips and everything all at once. Search PAPER SHREDDING on google to find a company near you.

  33. C_Springs says:

    We use this shredder on our office: Rexel Model 3150. This thing is a monster. It will shred about 20 pages at a time and you don’t have to remove staples.

  34. pequods says:

    Paper shredding done manually is often a poor way to do it when you have any kind of volume. Paper shredding services are becoming rapidly more popular and cost less than many people commonly think… especially when you weigh in the factors such as the time it takes for someone to shred with an appliance shredder… even a high end one.

    IPSA (Information Protection Solutions of America) is a new national document destruction service that shreds most anywhere in the United States. Check them out at http://www.corporateshredding.com

  35. jbwhitaker says:

    Paper shredders come in many forms, because of the different types of media, CD’s, hard drives, paper, film, disk, floppy’s, dvd’s ect…
    therefore the type of destruction devise should be carefully chosen.
    Always look into the company’s history of knowledge and service.

  36. service@bindingmachines.com.au says:

    With paper shredders, you really do get what you pay for. Many people don’t realise how important it is to maintain their shredders. Using environmentally friendly biodegradable Shredder Oil at least once everytime you empty your shredder bin will really help to keep your cutters in top condition and extend the life of your machine.

    Small machines from big retail outlets are a waste of money. If you are serious about shredding documents you will need to spend several hundreds of dollars. You can find a good link to shredder tips and binding tips that are worth reading.

  37. broadkhast says:

    You might be surprised to find out that even if you don’t live in a heavily populated area there may still be a paper shredding company that can handle your needs. For instance, CrossCut Shredding does document destruction in many small towns in California starting at under $100. I don’t know about you, but I would gladly pay that to take care of the hassle and headache of shredding 5 large bags of documents. Plus you won’t have a big eyesore taking up room in your house.

  38. broadkhast says:

    You might be surprised to find out that even if you don’t live in a heavily populated area there may still be a paper shredding company that can handle your needs. For instance, CrossCut Shredding does document destruction in many small towns in California starting at under $100. I don’t know about you, but I would gladly pay that to take care of the hassle and headache of shredding 5 large bags of documents. Plus you won’t have a big eyesore taking up room in your house.

  39. GrizzlyShredder says:

    http://motors.search.ebay.com/?from=R40&satitle=shred+truck

    Item number: 140115142655 listed on eBay.

    Maybe you need a spare or start up a new territory?

    The truck is a no brainer for someone to get started.

    Thanks – Richard

  40. www.ShredSupply.com says:

    DONT L@@K ANYWHERE ELSE FOR YOU MOBILE SHREDDING NEEDS!!! WE ARE YOU INDUSTRIAL SHREDDING SUPPLY COMPANY! Used mobile document shredding trucks. Shredder truck. Paper shredder.

    http://www.shredsupply.com
    rocky@shredsupply.com

  41. Lisa ray says:

    It’s indeed important that we dispose off all the confidential documentation so that it doesn’t get into the wrong hands. paper Shredder these days have become an important office equipment.
    I’m loving the above personal shredder .

  42. Scott says:

    Dude, I have a similar dilemma. Two things that I regularly do:
    1. Throw my papers into a bucket of water for an hour. It tears really easily, and can be squooshed into tiny little particles that are impossible to reassemble. Seive it out and discard with the rubbish.

    2. Rip up sheets into tiny pieces and dump different bits into different rubbish bags.

    I agree burning is a good idea, but a bit hard when you live in an apartment block! lol.

  43. fred says:

    We have a Labrador retriever that does a great job of not only shredding paper, but also handles boxes, shoes, and potted plants with ease.

    Of course we haven’t figured out how to get him to put any of it into the trash can when he is done..

  44. Anonymous says:

    shredsupply.com, you must be the SPAMMING company!

  45. Anonymous says:

    here’s a solution
    http://www.ushred.com

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  47. Paper Shredder says:

    This is great advice! The last line really hits home. I try to clean my computer desk with my computer on. A new email comes in and…there goes my attention!

  48. Anonymous says:

    Hi
    I am new in the shredding business, anyway , I think that to put the paper in water is the best, Thanks
    J

  49. Anonymous says:

    Hi
    I am back in the shredding , …. Anyway I think the best method is to put the paper in water and let them dry and dispose of it.
    Thanks
    j

  50. Fellowes Ps says:

    You don’t have to own an expensive paper shredder, just give an on-site paper shredding company a tinkle. You will find many at your disposal from Google Search. 
    http://papershredders4all.blogspot.com/2011/05/on-site-shredding.html

  51. You can buy office shredders nowadays with technology called stack’n shred – you leave a large amount of material inside the shredder, and it will automatically and continuously shred through the stuff till its done. Rexel pioneered this technology with their Mercury shredder Get your HTML codes here!

  52. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I agree.  Paper shredding can be annoying, but it is something you must do, especially in corporate environments.  Secure on-site document shredding  is something that every office must ensure.

    Thanks.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I agree.  Paper shredding can be annoying, but it is something you must do, especially in corporate environments.  Secure on-site document shredding  is something that every office must ensure.

    Thanks.

  54. Yes, paper shredding is a must for all even for households. To ensure proper shredding of documents you can visit “xpressShred”.

  55. BrianH says:

    I share the frustration of home shredding. So I decided to MAKE something. It speeds up shredding by increasing the size of the tiny container that comes with home shredders. Just cut an appropriate shaped hole in a piece of scrap wood and insert the top part of the shredder into the hole. Position over a large paper bag and you can shred until the thermal shutoff tells you to take a break. Note that you must override the shut-off switch. When you’re done disassemble the temporary arrangement and put the bag in the recycle bin.

    [IMG]http://i39.tinypic.com/11b126v.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://i39.tinypic.com/2mfjki1.jpg[/IMG]

    1. BrianH says:

      Lets try those images again…
      Shredder mod Image 1
      Shredder mod Image 2

    2. BrianH says:

      Clarification…
      My shredder has two shutoff switches. First the Thermal shutoff switch – don’t mess with this switch – it prevents a meltdown or fire. Second is a switch that prevents operation if the top part of the shredder is not positioned on the tiny trash basket. This is the switch that needs to be temporarily overridden. My setup wont operate unless this is done.

  56. george says:

    i have a office paper shredder.And i think mine one is best for official use.

  57. reon says:

    george i hv checked your site http://www.mypapershredder.com/offic-shredder.html from that link i found Mid volume office paper shredders are one of the best ways to battle the release of any type of sensitive information is it true what you think?

  58. i find the problem of using paper shredder if the cost is low and if that is mini shredders.But some how i found that powershred 425ci a product of fellows is govt approved which you can check from here.http://www.vpapershredder.com/powershred-425ci-100-jam-proof-government-approved-shredder.html so anyhow the some machine are still good.

  59. waverly conan says:

    I had an electric shredder that would take 3-4 pages ata time. It was just a cutting head that expanded to sit on top of a pail and never broke down. Once in a while if I put too many sheets through at one time it would clog up but other than that it was very reliable. When I was sick my daughter gave it away and I have been unable to find another one. Anybody have an idea where one could be located?
    Thank you

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