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Paper Shredder

Shredder scissors

Shredder scissors 4918-3.jpg
  • Small, light, cheap,
  • Convenient for minimal amounts of shredding
  • Can cross cut or strip cut

Manual shredder

Ok for shredding a percentage of domestic mail

Electric shredder

  • The most popular type of shredder
  • Very wide range of units & prices


  • Strip or crosscut - crosscut is more secure
  • Size of strips or pieces
  • Number of sheets taken in one go
  • Speed of shredding
  • How it handles staples (jams, stops, passes them whole or shreds them)
  • Some also chop CDs and credit cards
  • How it handles jams - some automatically reverse feed to clear a jam.

Shredded paper is used for animal bedding, and can often be given away on freecycle etc. Staples or pins must be removed to prevent injury to the animals. (Questions were raised on uk.d-i-y about whether tresated papers such as thermal printer paper paper might be ok for animals, so far we don't know.)


  • burn paper
  • microwave destruction of CDs

Garden shredder

Designed to shred tree prunings & sometimes weeds. Shredding turns the prunings into mulch.


  • Size limit - maximum wood size tends to be small with domestic units, often around an inch. The biggest units can swallow whole trees.
  • Noise - most garden shredders are extremely noisy, making ear defenders essential, and annoying neighbours
  • Mechanism type - some behave better than others
  • Blade replacement - usually blades are replaceable & cheap. They can normally be resharpened with an angle grinder several times before replacement.

Other uses

Garden shredders can also be used to shred used carpet to make fibres for concrete crackproofing. Clearly this is not a use recommended by manufacturers, and may invalidate guarantees.

  • Precut the carpet into diagonal strips. They need to be diagonal to limit max thread length, otherwise the shredder mechanism may tie up & jam.
  • Doing this by hand is hard going, an electric cutter makes it easy.
  • Feed the strips in one at once, it can be hard going for the machine.
  • Expect to need to open a jammed mechanism occasionally and cut threads out. Turn the power off quickly if it jams.

The resulting mixed fibres can be added to concrete to increase its tensile strength and counter cracking. Around 1% fibre is used for this. Its also possible to use the fibre with bitumen for roof repairs, at a much higher percentage. Synthetic fibres are best, wool pile or canvas backing fibre rots. Finally its possible to make a low grade fibre cement by mixing a high percentage of fibre with cement & sand.

See also