There are four categories of information in the helpful hints section:

Buying Tips

Shredders and Oil

Paper shredders need oil applied directly to the cutting cylinders via the throat. Most strip cut shredders do not require oil, but all cross cut shredders must be oiled frequently. Paper dust builds up inside of the cutting assembly and over time can pack together like cement. Oil softens the packed dust and the rotation of the cutting head pushes the dust out. Excessive friction from continuous shredder usage can generate heat inside the cutting assembly, oil helps dissipate the heat and reduce the likelihood of combustion. In cross cut shredders, the finer the particle made, the more oil the shredder typically requires. Cross Cut shredders which produce a very small particle, including shredders used to achieve Department of Defense specifications require an extreme amount of oil to work properly. For these machines we recommend an Automatic Lubrication device. These devices can usually be purchased with the shredder or they can be installed aftermarket by a qualified technician. Shredder oil is typically a special blend of fine oils, formulated specifically for use in shredders. Using the wrong oil can result in unpleasant smells, cutting head damage or even a fire hazard! Some light motor oils, 3 in 1 oil, mineral oil or mystery oil can be used in a pinch, though aerosol propelled oils such as WD-40 are a bad idea and should be avoided.

The shredder versus other office equipment

Paper shredders can kill copiers! The sensitive electronics in today’s copy machines and laser printers are easily upset by power fluctuations caused by nearby shredders starting up and jamming. Additionally, printing/copying devices use an electrostatic technique to apply toner that tends to attract dust from the air, and paper shredders create copious amounts of dust! In office environments with many copiers and computers in close proximity, it is optimal to have your shredder or shredders strategically located in areas away from this equipment. If your particular office shredder is large, 1.25 hp or higher, we recommend a dedicated 20 amp outlet for these machines. This will prevent power fluctuations caused by the shredder from damaging other valuable office equipment.

Shredders, Children and Pets

If you have a shredder within a home environment where children or animals are present, it is advisable to unplug the machine when not in use. Small fingers and fluffy tails can easily get caught in a shredder and with most modern shredders having an auto-start feature it is only common sense to keep these machines unplugged. Even small shredders are capable of causing personal injury; larger shredders including industrial models are extremely dangerous and should be powered down when not in use. Most industrial shredders have a main power switch with a key and should only be operated by trained, qualified personnel.

Shredders, Paperclips and Staples

The smaller the particle your paper shredder produces, the more susceptible your machine is to wear and damage from paper fastening devices. A large, strip cut paper shredder can normally tear up clips, staples, and fasteners with little or no damage to the cutting components. Any high security shredder will be harmed by even the smallest staple. When in doubt, take it out. Typically it is unwise to push a shredder when it comes to capacity or whether or not it will shred a particular metal object. There is no shredder repair more costly than one to correct a damaged cutting cylinder due to the shredding of a binder clip or large paper clip. Most common office shredders whether strip or cross cut can handle the common staple with little or no consequence. The exceptions are high security shredders and very small personal shredders.

Shredder Capacity (Sheets per Pass)

This is the shredder manufacturer’s recommended number of sheets of paper, usually 20lb white bond which is 8 1/2 x 11 inches and pristine (no folds or wrinkles) which can be inserted into the shredder at one time. The shredder manufacturer has an interest in selling shredders so they typically embellish this number in order to sell machines. We recommend that a shredder be run continuously at 50% to 60% capacity in order to avoid jams and excessive wear to the machine. For example, if your common office shredder has a recommended capacity of 22 sheets per pass, it would be optimal to continuously run the shredder at 11 to 14 sheets per pass. This works for both cross cut and strip cut machines.

Throat Size

Throat size refers to the width of the slot on a paper shredder into which the sheets of paper are fed. Your common 8 ½ X 11 inch 20lb white bond requires a minimum throat width of 9 inches to work effectively. Shredders with throats of various sizes are available for specific paper applications or to aid in convenience. Many shredders have built-in features to aid with unique applications such as continuous-feed computer or printer paper.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Common office shredders and industrial shredders require routine maintenance. The frequency of maintenance depends directly upon how much usage a particular shredder receives. If a shredder were run continuously for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week then a quarterly maintenance schedule would be appropriate. In addition, the smaller the particle a shredder produces, the more often it will require cleaning and lubrication. Cross cut shredders always require more maintenance than their strip cut counterparts. Cleaning and maintenance should be performed by a qualified technician. Limited cleaning can be achieved without disassembling the shredder though eventually the machine will need to be taken apart and serviced properly. For technical advice, or help with a specific shredder feel free to call or email.


In the likely event of a difficult jam, one that will not simply “back out’ from hitting the reverse button, soak the protruding paper with shredder oil, wait 15 minutes or so, then try again. If the shredder has stopped working, you may have popped a circuit breaker either on the machine, on a surge protector, or at the electrical panel serving the outlet into which the shredder is plugged. If the paper is truly stuck, do not continue attempting to back the jam out using the forward and reverse buttons. If the motor does not move, continuing to use these buttons may burn out relays, switches or even the motor itself. Also, do not attempt to use a letter opener or similar tool to remove the jam. Sharp tools will damage the throat of the shredder creating scores in the soft plastic top. These scratches will catch future sheets of paper and make it extremely frustrating to shred. If you are unable to safely remove a jam, it is advisable to call for service or call us to have a technician walk you through a more advanced remedy.

Shredder will not shut off

Most modern shredders have an auto start feature. Thought convenient, this feature can malfunction, resulting in a shredder that runs continuously. Locate the photo eye in the center of the in-feed chute. With the shredder unplugged, clean both sides of the photo eye with a soft cloth or Q-tip. If this does not eliminate the problem, it could be the room in which the shredder is located is too dark. Sometimes the photo eye sensitivity is severe and a dark room will trick the eye into operation. If either cleaning the photo eye or moving the shredder does not provide a solution, call for further technical advice.

Repairing Paper Shredders

Shredders are fairly simple devices. That said, they can be as difficult to properly repair as any machinery. If you are unsure, or not particularly technically inclined, do not attempt to open and disassemble the shredder. Often an attempt at a repair causes further damage, results in lost components and ultimately greater recovery costs. Shredders also contain large capacitors, which can deliver a severe electrical shock even with the machine unplugged! For technical advice please call us, we can steer you through the repair of any shredder and advise on the availability of replacement parts. Some small shredders are designed to be replaced rather than repaired. Though usually inexpensive, these shredders often end up in landfill and we strongly recommend avoiding the purchase of these shredders. A shredder which is serviceable/repairable though a bit more expensive is always the wise choice in the long run.