The Anatomy of a Paper Jam

What exactly makes a paper jam happen? When you use your shredder, you may wonder why paper jams suddenly occur when everything appears to be working properly. Paper jams are essentially blockages to the shredder cutters and are not at all random. In fact, you probably sense as you are feeding paper into the shredder when you about to experience a paper jam and just hope that it doesn’t happen. Along with having a shredder with jam prevention technology,  a better understanding of how paper jams occur can also help you avoid them. Paper jams are classified in three ways: mis-feeds, overfeeds and fast feeds.



Inserting paper that is folded, creased or wrinkled can also cause a paper jam. Mis-feeds usually happen when stacks of paper become jostled when shredding and end up being drawn into the shredder at an awkward angle. You may even see a misfeed happening, which by that time is too late. A shredder with the best jam prevention can power through mis-feeds so this mistake doesn’t become a bigger problem.


Too much paper fed into a shredder at one time can cause a paper jam. Knowing how many sheets your machine can handle, or sheet capacity, can help prevent jamming. Also, having a shredder equipped with a jam proof system or with jam blocker can manage an overfeed electronically by sensing  when too much paper has been fed. A jam proof system can then pause the machine and reverse out the feed so the excess paper can be removed.

Fast feeds

Fast feeds are caused when a stack of paper is feed into the  machine before the shredder has finished shredding the previous stack. Shredders that can detect fast feeds can pause the shredder, allowing you to remove the excess paper before your fast feed turns into a paper jam.


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