This is my husband’s and my pile of things that needed to be shredded; it started in a drawer, was moved to a shelf, and eventually ended up in a bag under our bed. What’s in it? Everything from those “convenience” checks that credit card companies seem to think we can’t live without, to credit card applications that simply need a signature and mail-back to be approved, to health insurance settlement statements, to all those bit of paper that have numbers, names, addresses and other information that get scribbled down when we are trying to be efficient.
Why were we saving them in the first place? Because the cheap shredder that Kevin and I bought at Office Max choked and died, and we were afraid to throw any of it away without first shredding. These are the types of things we don’t want to share with the local dumpster-diving identity thieves, and make no mistake, even in small towns like ours, they are out there.
Identity theft is not a fine art. All someone needs to get checks made in your name, divert a credit application, or finance a purchase is some basic information … and you’d be surprised how much of it is on the types of things people throw away without thinking. Anything that has personal information on it — your name, driver’s license, your social security number (even if only the last four numbers), credit card receipts (even if they only contain the last few digits), unused deposit slips from the back of a checkbook, scribbled down pin numbers or passwords, just to name a few — are things that should be shred.
You can buy a basic shredder that crosscuts and easily handles a couple of sheets a paper at a time for a relatively inexpensive amount, and for a while it may perform perfectly. But I suspect that as Kev and I found out, inexpensive shredders eventually fail, and when they do you will be back to square one — hoarding personal papers which need shredding until such time as you have a shredder again with which to properly shred them. =P
When I was offered the opportunity to review the Swingline Stack-and-Shred (which for much of the rest of this review I will call the SS&S), I was obviously in that boat — no shredder and hording personal documents that I couldn’t throw away. This was also an opportune time because both Kev and I were in the middle of preparing our taxes, and we had things we had saved that were not needed, but because they contained personal information would need shredding.
According to Swingline, the Stack-and-Shred “is an ultra-quiet, cross-cut, automatic shredder that simplifies the task of shredding and promises to put time back in the average work day.” With it you can “spend less time feeding the shredder and more time getting stuff done.”
The reason why they say that, is because the Stack-and-Shred has what can best be described as a pop-top hopper that when lifted allows you to insert up to 100 sheets of paper; that’s a feature I’ve never seen in another shredder.
When the lid is closed, the rollers are designed to automatically start grabbing the loaded paper and then automatically feeding it into the shredder. There is also a credit card feed on the top as well as a manual slot which can take up to six pieces of 8.5″ x 11″ (or smaller) paper at a time. If you try to load any more than six sheets of full size paper, the manual feed won’t easily accept them; this serves as a reminder to keep an eye on your load amounts, but even when under six pages you do have to carefully line the paper up as the feed does not have any extra width.
Designed for small office and home office use, or perhaps to place under the desk of a single executive, the SS&S features:
• Auto+ technology
• Automatic jam clearance
• Super quiet performance
• Fits under desks
• Staples, credit cards and paper clips
• Secure cross-cut shredding
• 5 year cutter /2 year machine warranty
Like many of Swingline’s shredders, the S&S is self-lubricating; it is not recommended that you use oils or lubricating aerosols on its parts, even though most of the online retailers I checked show the shredder with some kind of lubricant as a suggested up-sell.
The SS&S measures roughly 17″ tall x 17″ deep x 12″ wide. It is composed largely of matte black plastic with matte silver accents. The obvious paper shredder warnings are on the top, letting the user know not to dangle grabbables like hair, ties or loose jewelry. Also present are warnings to keep children and fingers away and to not use oils or aerosol lubricants.
Pressing the Auto+ button near the front of the device opens up a hopper tray which can accept up to 100 sheets of basic 20# 8.5″ x 11″ paper. The SS&S can shred paper fastened with non heavy-duty staples or small to medium paperclips. The shredder is not intended for multiple-fold sheets, stapled stacks of paper greater than 25 sheets, bulldog clips, magazines, plastic sheets, bound documents, dense paper or cards (greater than 80gsm, CDs, DVDs, or unopened mail.
This hopper tray is what sets the SS&S apart from any other shredder I’ve used. I like the open access to the bin below if you need to dispose of clips or heavy-duty staples.
When paper is placed in the tray and the lid is shut …
… the rollers will start grabbing the paper and feeding it sheet by sheet into the shredder. This isn’t a particularly speedy shredder, but it is a convenient way to load your shredder and walk away without having to continuously feed it.
One issue that I ran into while using the automatic shredder tray was that Swingline is not kidding when they say not to shred glossy paper; the rollers can’t seem to grip it properly, so it will not always self-feed, and it may cause a jam if it is accepted. I thought for sure they didn’t mean the glossy paper that comes in credit card mailer inserts, but I was wrong; live and learn!
I wanted to see what was going on when the shredder was self-feeding, so I took a peek. As you can see, the rollers are grabbing the bottom page from the stack and sucking it in, then grabbing the next … it’s pretty cool!
There is a master power toggle button on the back of the shredder, and on the front there is an Auto / Standby button. Pressing this button will wake the shredder — when paper is inserted it will automatically begin to shred, but if nothing is inserted within a two-minute window, the machine will go back into standby. There are three icons above the buttons which will illuminate on occasion: the first signifies that the front bin door is open or (if it’s closed) that the bin is full, and it can also mean that the lid on the top of the shredder is open. The second icon is one I haven’t seen lit yet, but it signifies when the shredder has been running for continuously for over 10 minutes and it needs to cool down.
The last icon indicates a paper jam. When there is a paper jam (and it will sometimes happen), the shredder will auto-magically reverse and forward the engine three times in an attempt to clear the jam. If that doesn’t work you can manually press the forward and reverse buttons to try to power through the jam, and if that doesn’t work — unplug the shredder, open the lid and remove the offending paper causing the jam … because you’re doing something wrong. =P
There is a 7-gallon plastic bin (which holds about 200 sheets) that you access from the front of the shredder; it has a window in the middle of the drawer so that you can check to see how full it is without opening.
A sample of a bin-liner is included …
…and it’s perforated so that you can still see the shredded paper level through the bag and the bin’s window.
The recyclable liner is a nice touch, but it’s not a necessary addition; you can just as easily fill an unlined bin then dump the shredded paper into a plastic bag. Plus if you are putting shredded credit cards, paperclips and other detritus in there, it’s probably polluting the recyclable quality of the paper, anyway.
As you can see, the Stack-and-Shred made short work of my paper pile. While the shredder wasn’t necessarily what I would call quiet, it wasn’t overly loud — which is how I would describe several of the shredders I have owned over the years. Sound notwithstanding, it was a big relief to finally be able to throw our papers away in a safe manner, as the resulting shreds are just about 2″ long and a little over a tenth of an inch wide.
Other than not being able to shred slick paper through the automatic tray hopper, I haven’t run into any issues with the SS&S. It’s a security level three shredder, which means it is good for “confidential and strategic documents.” I know that some people like to recycle their shredded paper by using it as packing material, so I guess technically if you are going to do that (especially if you are shipping to strangers), you might want to opt for a higher security level four micro-cut shredder. I can’t imagine anyone but some three letter acronym governmental agency having the patience to puzzle-piece together the 300 – 400 pieces it takes to reassemble a page, but if you are trying to hide anything from the government, then you have bigger things to worry about than which shredder to purchase. =P
The Swingline Stack-and-Shred would be a fantastic addition to a home office, and it is a great gift for Father’s Day or graduation. Chances are that someone you care about (perhaps you?) is not being as careful with their personal papers as they should be. Using a shredder such as this one will keep personal information from falling into the wrong hands, and
What I Like: Easy to operate; relatively quiet; small cross-cut pieces that are nearly impossible to fit back together; hopper that will hold and automatically feed up to 100 sheets for shredding; fits under a desk; nice design that won’t look out of place in a home or office
What Needs Improvement: The shredder chokes on slick paper when it is put in the self-feeding hopper-tray; will not shred CDs or DVDs; it’s not inexpensive