Fellowes Powershred DS-1

A product review by Bobulous

What is the Fellowes Powershred DS-1?

The Powershred DS-1 is a personal shredder manufactured by Fellowes. It shreds up to 11 sheets[1] of A4 at once and cross-cuts paper into small strips 3.9mm wide by 35mm long. The Powershred DS-1 is also able to shred credit cards, staples and small paper clips. A SafeSense feature stops the shredder operating if fingers get near the paper entry.

Using the Powershred DS-1

The first thing to note before buying a shredder is that you will also need to buy a bottle of shredder oil, as you need to oil the shredder blades regularly. The Powershred DS-1 manual says Only use a non-aerosol vegetable oil in long nozzle container such as Fellowes 35250 and specifies that oiling must be done each time you empty the paper bin. When I first bought my DS-1 I found it very difficult to find the Fellowes 35250 product in the UK, but it now seems to be on sale at plenty of UK online stores. A bottle of Powershred Oil costs about a tenner but it has lasted me quite a long time so far and there's still plenty left.

Setting up the Powershred DS-1 is pretty simple. Position it, plug it in, and then follow the user manual to check that the SafeSense feature is correctly detecting when human fingers touch the paper entry. SafeSense is a nice idea, intended to stop the blades immediately if fingers get close, but in practice I found that it stopped working after less than a month. For some reason the SafeSense detector became too sensitive and would disable the shredder if anything got near the paper entry. So I had to disable the SafeSense feature using the switch which is inside the shredder (as described in the user manual). Then I could shred unhindered, albeit without the safety feature, though this is of little value to me anyway. If you have children in the house, though, this might be enough reason to send the DS-1 back to where you bought it and ask for a refund or replacement.

Once you do get down to shredding documents, the Powershred DS-1 does a good job. It is very noisy, but as each wad of A4 gets chewed up in less than ten seconds, this isn't a problem unless you've stockpiled a large pile of documents for destruction. If you are shredding in bulk, make sure to read the specification in the user manual which states that the shredder can only operate for up to five minutes continuously, and that a maximum of 10–20 shredding passes can be made per day[2].

Generally I find the shredder performs very well, cutting up wads of A4 into short, narrow strips of paper. It works best if you shred documents so that the text runs from left-to-right across the paper entry. If you insert a document so that its text runs up-and-down then the strips of paper might contain whole words or strings of characters, and this makes it a little easier to read parts of shredded documents. I also find that the shredder does a better job of cross-cutting if you ignore the quoted sheets-per-pass figure of 11 pages[1] and only shred 8 or 9 pages in each pass, especially if any of the pages are made of heavier paper. If you shred more than this, or if it's been a long time since the last oiling, or if you've been running the shredder long enough that the blades are hot, then some of the strips do not get cross-cut successfully, and you end up with long, narrow strips instead of short, narrow strips.

Another problem occurred after a year of occasional use when the shredder suddenly would not stop running. I eventually realised that the optical sensor had become coated with particles of paper dust and this was tricking the Powershred DS-1 into thinking that there was always paper inserted. (You can see the optical sensor if you unplug the shredder and then look down into the paper entry, on the side closest to the front. You may need the assistance of a flashlight.) This is easy to remedy by first unplugging the shredder from the mains power and then shoving a cotton bud into the groove where the optical sensor is and wiggling it up and down and around until you can see the dust has been cleaned off of the sensor.

I don't have need to shred credit cards, staples or small paper clips very often, but the Powershred DS-1 can indeed handle these, at least to the infrequent level that I've used it for this purpose. As there is only one bin, remember that you probably don't want bits of hard plastic mixed up with your paper, as it will irk your local recycling centre. So it's probably best to shred cards when the bin is empty, and then tip the shredded remains into a separate refuse bag before proceeding to shred paper.

Evaluating the Fellowes Powershred DS-1

The Powershred DS-1 is an effective personal shredder, and I've shredded many hundreds of sheets of A4 using it over the last year or so without too much effort. It's probably not fuss-free, capacious or durable enough for business use, but for frequent light and occasionally heavy use in the home it does a good job of destroying the endless stream of addressed letters and sensitive documents that you don't need to keep.

The Fellowes Powershred DS-13

The Fellowes website also lists a Powershred DS-13 which looks the same, and has a seemingly identical user manual (in English at least). Seeing as my older DS-1 user manual specifies up to 11 pages at once, but the manuals for the DS-13 and the newer DS-1 both specify up to 13 pages at once, I've no idea whether the Powershred DS-13 is replacement for the Powershred DS-1, or just a slightly different colour option (the DS-13 is "silver" rather than "charcoal").


[1] The user manual for the newer Powershred DS-1 states that up to 13 sheets of A4 can be shredded in each pass.

[2] The newer Powershred DS-1 user manual no longer specifies a maximum number of daily shredding passes. So possibly the design has been improved.