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Cross Cut vs. Micro Cut Paper Shredder

Cross Cut vs. Micro Cut Paper Shredder: What Are the Main Differences?

One of the most common ways of categorizing paper shredders is by the kind of cuts they make. A paper shredder can either give you cross cuts or micro-cuts, and the type of shredder you should go for depends on the sort of project you’re working on.

In this post, we’re going to do our best to explain the differences between cross-cut and micro-cut paper shredders.

The Cutting Mechanism

Let’s start with the micro-cut paper shredder. When it comes to the cutting mechanism, this model is the real deal for those who want to totally conceal the info recorded in the documents being cut. Because the shredder totally shreds the papers into tiny bits, thanks to its interlocking set of teeth.

Because of the cutting mechanism of the micro-cut shredder, its output is also much lower than of the cross-cut shredder. That tells you that if disposal space is a key factor to you, then a micro-cut shredder is more appropriate.

The cross-cut shredder is different in that it cuts sheets of paper into strips then further divides the strips to make them a little shorter. The output is, therefore, much larger in volume than that of the micro-cut shredder.

Though the cross-cut shredder is not very suitable when space and concealment of information are vital, the machine is more efficient when it comes to speed. That’s because there’s no time wasted in dividing the paper into very small bits.

The Security

One of the reasons why people cut their documents to pieces with a paper shredder is to keep the information contained therein from falling into the wrong hands.

The tinier the pieces, the more difficult it will be for anyone to reassemble the papers and read them.

On that note, the micro-cut paper shredder offers you more security compared to the cross-cut shredder. So, if you have a set of confidential documents you want to get rid of, the best cutter to use is the micro-cut shredder.

The Maintenance

The degree of care that the shredder needs largely depends on the precision with which it executes the cuts. The finer the cutting mechanism, the higher the complexity of the machine’s part, and that translates to a greater need for care and maintenance.

Hence, a micro-cut machine needs more care than a cross-cut machine.

One of the most important maintenance procedures is lubricating. While cross-cut shredders need lubricating each time the basket is emptied, micro-cut ones have to be lubricated each time before use to stay in good shape.

Avoid lubricating your shredder with petroleum oils because you might start a fire accidentally when using the machine. There are specialty oils manufactured for shredders, and you can find them online.

Ability to Shred Extra Materials

The most important extra feature that people look for is the ability to shred other items as well, for instance, credit cards, DVDs, and CDs.

Due to their complicated cutting mechanism, micro-cut paper shredders are unable to handle such items, and for the most part, they’re meant for shredding only paper.

In contrast, cross-cut shredders can shred paper as well as extra materials like credit cards, DVDs, and CDs.

In any case, it’s always good to check the manufacturer’s statement in the user manual regarding the items that the machine can cut.  If the manufacturer doesn’t openly say that the machine can handle other materials, you’d better stick to paper to avoid damaging its parts.

There’s something very important you need to keep in mind when using a paper shredder to cut different materials. If the papers are going to be recycled after being shredded, they shouldn’t be processed together with other materials especially plastic.

Those are the major differences between micro-cut and cross-cut paper shredders. And with that aside, let us just quickly go through a few reasons why it’s a good idea to get a paper shredder if you don’t already have one.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is a micro-cut shredder different from a cross-cut shredder?

The main difference between the two types of shredders is the cutting mechanism.

While the cross-cut shredder cuts paper into strips and then further divides the strips into smaller lengths, the micro-cut shredder totally rips papers apart, reducing them into much tinier pieces that would be impossible to reassemble.

Which is better? A micro-cut or cross-cut shredder?

Both cutters are great for getting rid of documents fast.

If you’re handling very sensitive documents, especially medical reports, and legal papers, a micro-cut shredder is the better choice because its output cannot be reassembled and usually not a single word will be legible.

But if privacy is not a very big deal to you, then a cross-cut shredder is okay. And make no mistake, the cut pieces are not that easy to reassemble and anyone would have a hard time getting the information in the documents.

What is the best cutting size of a shredder?

It depends on whether you’re talking about a cross-cut or micro-cut shredder. While a cross-cut shredder rips a regular-sized paper into roughly 400 small pieces, a micro-cut shredder can cut the same paper into around 3000 little pieces.

Cross Cut vs Micro Cut Shredder: Conclusion

We hope that by now you know the differences between the cross-cut and the micro-cut shredder. The main difference has to do with the cutting mechanism and subsequently, the size of the output.

While a cross-cut shredder cuts vertically and horizontally to reduce a paper into little pieces, a micro-cut shredder cuts papers into numerous tiny pieces that cannot be put back together, and thus it’s better for security.

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.


  1. Great article.. best I’ve read on this topic. Very informative…thanks for tips on maintainence…vegetable oil hmm…never would of thought it.

  2. Fantastic Article! Very informative and detailed. Thanks for enlighting me that micro-cut shredders requires more maintenance than cross-cut shredders…never would have guessed that without your article.
    Entire article helped me to
    decide the best shredder for my use. I’m now a more informed consumer.


  3. Very well explained. I was as surprised as Rhonda that vegetable oil can also be used. Wonderful that this was mentioned!!

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