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How to Sharpen a Paper Shredder

Shredders cut sensitive documents in various patterns designed to minimize the chances of them being reassembled. Some are cross-cutting, while others are diamond or confetti cutting. Regardless of the mode, shredders have metal blades that cut paper into various shapes. As the blades cut through the paper, they create dust, which builds up and causes the blades to wear out. Users must clean and maintain the blades to keep the shredder functioning well.

Read the manual that came with the shredder.
Some shredders are self-shredding. They have metal blades that are sharpened on each stroke to keep the blades sharp. You should keep these models oiled, but there is no need to worry about sharpening the blades. Eventually, however, the blades will become sluggish. When this happens, you should take them off according to the manufacturer's instructions and either replace them or have them sharpened by a professional.

Maintain the blades.
Oiling your shredder blades will keep them sharp and maximize the time it takes for them to be replaced or professionally sharpened. Shredders, whether self-sharpening or not, work better when they are well oiled. There are two ways to oil your sharpeners. The first is to apply shredder oil to a piece of paper and feed it into the shredder. The second is to turn the shredder off, apply oil along the top of the blade, and then run the shredder in reverse for 10 to 20 seconds. Then, run a few sheets of dry paper through the shredder. Whichever method you choose, the oil will keep the shredder running smoothly and help remove the dirt that dulls the blades. You need to oil your shredder frequently: about every 30 minutes of shredding time. This means that heavily used shredders need to be oiled about every four hours of actual time, while shredders under normal use should be oiled every few weeks. The frequency of oiling also depends on the type of shredder. The more cuts it makes, the more dust it generates, so, for example, a cross-cut shredder will need to be oiled more frequently than a strip-cut shredder. You should only use the shredder oil specified by the manufacturer to oil your shredder. Using aerosol oils (such as WD-40) or other non-approved oils will void your shredder's warranty.

Get aluminum foil through the shredder.
If your shredder does not grind itself, you can use aluminum foil to replicate the effect of metal sheets in an auto-grinding model. Using regular kitchen foil, feed two or three sheets of foil through the shredder. This will restore some advantage to the dull blades. However, this is not a perfect solution. Some blades may be too dull to be resharpened in this way. If your blades are still quite sharp, use the foil method every few weeks to keep them sharp for as long as possible.

Take the blade to a professional facility for resharpening.
Use this method if your self-sharpening blades have become dull, or if your blades are too dull to be resharpened using the aluminum foil method. Shredder manufacturers recommend that users never try to resharpen blades themselves, but rather have a professional sharpener restore the blades to sharpness.

Replace the blade if necessary.
Sharpening is accomplished by removing some metal. Eventually, the blade will be worn down so much that sharpening it will be ineffective. When this happens, purchase replacement blades. Make sure that they are well maintained so that they stay sharp for as long as possible.

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