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Whole leaf shredders comparison review


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Old 07-10-2019, 10:37 PM
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Default Whole leaf shredders comparison review

This post is primarily to educate those who are contemplating going to whole leaf tobacco. I'm highlighting the general advantages & dis-advantages of the different style shredders, no individual make or model will be reviewed.

Generally speaking, whole leaf is not going to be more economical than pre-shredded tobacco - my cost has generally been $27 / 16 oz of shag. While 1 lb whole leaf bags generally run $18, after stripping out the center stem from the leaf, each pound of whole leaf ends up weighing 11 to 12 oz of shred-able leaf material. The $27 / 16 oz of shred-able leaf material is also a factor of the shredder and the cost of replacement components - more on this in the comparisons below. That 11 to 12 oz calculation is also a factor of the "dust" or snuff my roller shredder gave me, which ends up in the trash can - if the leaf material was at the proper moisture level when being shredded, i'd see 1/2 to 1 oz of snuff per 1 lb of original leaf - ie 1 lb of un-stripped or un-destemmed leaf, when i was thru shredding, i weighed the resulting shag. If the leaf material was too dry, i'd see more snuff or "dust". I've weighed about 25% of the whole leaf tobacco that i've purchased - predictably, weighed in the bag they arrived in they'll weigh 1.02 to 1.09 lbs, and after shredding, i'm left with the above referenced 11 to 12 oz of shag.

I was going over my receipts (i save copies of all orders) and i've consumed, on average 48 lbs of leaf every 7-8 months. I stuff for myself (1/2 pack a day habit), my wife 1 to 1.5 pack a day, and her sister with similiar consumption.

Another cost factor that i can't put a dollar amount on is the time investment to shred. Stripping out the stems takes me 30 to 60 minutes per 1 lb of whole leaf. Sometimes the leaf looks like it's been thru a washing machine and then twisted like a dish rag before being allowed to dry. Being twisted up like that, takes considerably longer to "un-twist" so you can strip the stem out. Sometimes the leaf arrives twisted and so dried out, it's like yesterday's newspaper - in which case i'll mist it with a spray of 5% vodka / 95% water and put them back in the bag and let sit for a few hours so the leaves can soften up a bit.

The main reason i use or smoke whole leaf is the flavor i get from the combo i use, ie Va Lemon blended 40% / 60% 1st Priming i cannot find on the pre-processed commercial market. It really is a candy blend of tobacco as the Va Lemon has a sweet taste - properly matured Va Lemon has a higher sugar content than any other tobacco - that is from my local Virginia Agricultural extension agent.

One exception to the above 12 oz shred-able leaf material, one of the shredding styles, a blade or knife style shredder does allow you to shred the stem material so you will see more than 12 0z

Another factor in using whole leaf, for me anyway, is that i know the tobacco is sterile of or unadulterated by any "casings" or flavorings, PG or any other. One issue i had with a lot of the "value" blends of processed tobacco, was that after smoking them for awhile, i'd develop a horrible aftertaste - the D&R brands was one of the few that didn't exhibit or develop that aftertaste. Gawith Haggarth & Co was another brand that doesn't taint their tobacco with casings, especially the KG.


DIFFERENT STYLE SHREDDERS


1ST UP is probably the most popular, the roller shredder - looks pretty much like a spaghetti making machine, with grooved rollers that intermesh the lands from one roller into the grooves of the opposing roller. Here's a shot of the rollers



Advantages - the main advantage of this type shredder is speed of production as it is undoubtedly the fastest in producing shag. On my G120 seen here https://www.tobaccoandmachines.com/index.php?s=produkt&id=51#

I motorized it and have it turning at 220 rpm, which is slightly higher than the recommeded speed of 200 rpm. Feeding leaf material thru it, i generally shred 12 oz of de-stemmed leaf in 10-12 minutes.

It's also fairly easy to clean the rollers, i just pour, first some rubbing alcohol down on the rollers while they are turning, probably 3-5 ounces,then once i've let them turn a bit, i'll pour some vodka mainly to wash the rubbing tobacco off - the vodka is definitely "food grade", i'm not sure what trace compounds or elements the rubbing alcohol leaves.


now for the disadvantage to the roller style


because of the cost of manufacturing the rollers, they're made from un-hardened steel which means they are on the soft side. Once a component is machined, the manufacturer will send it out for heat treatment - that hardens the metal. Knife blades are generally hardened to a Rockwell of B58 to B62 - if not, they would loose their cutting edge or sharpness slicing lettuce. THe problem with most of the stainless alloys is, if they are hardened after manufacturing, they warp in the heat treat process. We manufactured a pistol slide from 4140 ordnance steel - it would warp in the heat treatment process. So the solution was to source it in the pre-hardened state, and then machined it. The issue then is machining hardened steel is more costly, as turning speeds on the toolhead are slower, so cycle time to machine that component was higher - on the particular machine we were using, with mechanic's labor, per hour of operation cost was $110/hour. So given a cycle time of 15 components per hour of machine time machining un-hardened rollers, or 7-8 rollers in the hardened state, you get an idea of the production cost. I posted a fuller explanation with pictures of how the solid roller style shredders fail some time ago here: https://www.cigreviews.com/forums/ryo-roll-your-own-cigarettes/9046-polish-g120-shredder-tobaccoandmachines-com.html

On my G120, i've gone thru 3 sets of rollers - each set gave me from 42 - 46 lbs of leaf (that's leaf before being stripped of stems).

I had gone with the G120 as not only were the rollers 120mm in length, which meant slightly longer roller life from the greater cutting area, but also because they were 32mm in diameter, which meant thicker rollers and less prone to bending. There's always a small 3/4" pc of stem you didn't notice that gets fed thru the rollers - remember that stem can be hard as a piece of oak. Being fed thru rollers that have no way to give, something has to give - and the rollers will deflect or bend some to let that stem pc pass thru. Go read that link i put up, above.

The roller sets cost $146 each set with combs delivered, amortized over 45 "lbs" of whole leaf or (45 X 12 oz) 33.75 lbs of de-stemmed leaf material. Not cheap - that's approx $3 per lb of whole leaf production cost.

For the purposes of evaluating whether shredding your own leaf, a lot of folks try one of the "el cheapo" shredders, available for $30-35 here in the US - which isn't a bad idea. Be aware, they give a life expectancy of 5-8 lbs of whole leaf before they're junk - the rollers are only 20mm in diameter so they bend easily, and even cutting the leaf, with no stems, will cause the rollers to bend apart or away from each other. But it does give you a chance to try out a roller style shredder

in my next post i'll cover the next style
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:21 AM
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If you want to change the title of the thread, since yours is the opening post, all you need to do to edit is to change the title of your post.
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Old 07-11-2019, 08:51 AM
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I certainly donít claim to be an expert (on anything) but Iíve been using the electric Mach 1 shredder purchased from Leaves & Shredders/Fresh Choice or whatever theyíre called this week for almost 5 years now without issues. I shred roughly pound a month and it works as good now as when it was new. What appears to be the identical model is available from Leaf Only and probably other retailers at prices ranging from $275 on up.
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Old 07-11-2019, 09:46 AM
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you're getting ahead of me in the evaluation reports - the Powermatic type, which is similiar to your unit is the very unit i was going to recommend as the most practical, reliable and lowest overall cost shredder.

The issues i described above are unique to the roller style shredders where the rollers are, as pictured, fabricated from a single rod of stainless steel. Manufactured properly (and i looked into it), because of the added cost of machining hardened steel, on a small run of 400 rollers for 200 shredders, my cost would have been in the neighborhood of $200 each - and that's just for the shredder by itself, not including the other components (bearings, sideplates with joining pieces, or what i call soft costs (advertising, boxing, instruction manuals, labor to quality control each unit, assemble & box) i'd have to sell them for $350 (or more).

The powermatic S is a design similiar to a roller shredder, but instead of the cutting rollers being fabricated from a solid rod of Stainless steel, it employs stamped discs with spacers between each disc to create the width of cut. But i'll get into a further comparison later, hopefully tonite
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Old 07-11-2019, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveM View Post
I certainly don’t claim to be an expert (on anything) but I’ve been using the electric Mach 1 shredder purchased from Leaves & Shredders/Fresh Choice or whatever they’re called this week for almost 5 years now without issues. I shred roughly pound a month and it works as good now as when it was new. What appears to be the identical model is available from Leaf Only and probably other retailers at prices ranging from $275 on up.
Curious what the width of the cut on your MACH 1 SHREDDER IS??

Never mind - was looking it over on Leavesandshredders.com and they're indicating 1/16" which would be 1.5mm approx
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Old 07-11-2019, 09:33 PM
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to wrap up the solid roller style shredder, one detail i forgot to mention is the feed rate - the G120 and other roller shredders like it do not like being fed more than one leaf strip at a time but given i see a production rate of 10-12 minutes per 12 oz of leaf, that's not really a negative. Here's a link to a video of my G120 motorized - at the time of the video, the rollers were turning at 260 rpm, which is a bit fast for this style shredder - i've since swapped the pulleys out to bring the speed down to 200 RPM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOr0TGLofSo

next up is the Powermatic S style shredder - i assume it's similiar to the MACH 1, but i've never seen a video on the MACH 1 being dis-assembled. Here's a shot of the Powermatic S with the cover off - the shafts with the red arrows are the shafts with the cutting discs mounted - they turn. The shafts with the green arrows cannot turn and are, i assume, serving two purposes: 1) as they are on the back side of the cutting discs they are helping to keep the cutting discs spaced properly and parallel and 2) to clean the gap between the cutting discs of any debris that may remain after cutting.



below is a link to a video of the Powermatic S in operation. Because of the depth of the grooves between the cutting discs, it will tolerate a few layers of leaf strips while feeding it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkM19iJzZbg

A slight negative to this design is the tobacco tar & oil gum that builds up in those grooves, but cleaning doesn't seem to be an issue - users report simply spraying warm to hot water or alcohol down on the cutting shafts while turning, and repeating until the water or alcohol solution comes out clean or clear. As the speed of the rollers turning is much slower than the motorized G120, in spite of the ability to digest multiple layers of leaf strips, production rates that users report is similiar to the motorized G120, ie 12-15 minutes per "lb" of whole leaf (or rather 12 oz of de-stemmed leaf).

The only negative to me on this style shredder is both the Powermatic S and the MACH I cut shag that's 1.5mm in width, and i prefer 1.0mm - that's a personal preference so it's not a real negative for all, and to be frank, al lot of the processed tobacco i smoked was fairly wide strands or ribbons. The Gawith Hoggarth Kendal Gold looks to be a 1.0 mm shag.

In a lot of ways, at a price of $300 approx, given the durability users report, this style shredder seems to be the most practical choice of shredders.


Tomorrow nite i'll try to post the remaining style shredder, ie the blade or guillotine style cutter


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8T7C4HGJko
and another one motorized https://youtu.be/k1PDAuL0E5Q
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Old 07-13-2019, 01:49 PM
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Next up is the blade slicing type shredder. The main reason i'm attracted to this style is that they are the easiest to maintain and properly maintained can be lifetime shredders

at the high end is the OG Engineering Motorized self feeding slicer



available FOB New Zealand $1750 USD appox and with shippng to US about $2000. This unit is a high grade home use shredder - it's production rate is on the slow side for commercial use.

and a video of it in action https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1PDAuL0E5Q&feature=youtu.be

Advantages - 1) Fairly easy to maintain, the blade can be easily removed for sharpening or replacement and in fact is a commonly available (in australia/new zealand) 4" utility blade knife blade.
Disadvantages - most slicers are designed to cut plugged tobacco, ie moist leaf strips are compressed and formed into a plug, (some folks call them slabs or bricks). Problem with molding the tobacco is that it means additional steps, both labor and time wise, prior to actual
slicing. Then there's the fact that you want the plug in a certain moisture range before slicing - too wet and it'll jam up on the blade and be harder to separate the strands after cut, too dry and even with a sharp sharp blade you'll get more dust than you want
But there's a second disadvantage to slicing plugged tobacco, for me anyway. Once slided you still need to snip the slices to give you short strands, and then you have to "tease" the strands apart. Not particularly difficult but aggravating (to me) and time consuming.
I've got an idea for a motorized tumbler similiar to a bingo hall tumbler with blades in it like a clothes dryer. After snipping, simply dumping the shag into the tumbler and let it break the clumps up.

There are manual slicers as well, that basically look like deli meat slicers
This one's from TobaccoandMachines.com and besides coming with a few accessories, incorporates an adjustable feed mechanism. Price FOB Poland approx $380 - but Paul at tobacco and machines will deduct the VAT (15%) from the price for export sales.
https://i.imgur.com/3rldaI0.jpg
video of T&M guillotine slicer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8T7C4HGJko
and another https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Jx8ntcEp5g

For the DIYer, the motorized drive mechanism of the OG Engineering design can be easily copied to a fairly simple antique office paper cutter - only reason i suggest one of those, the cutting arms are cast iron, with study hinge axle setups - so it's simply a matter of working out the geometry of the travel arm connecting to the cutting arm on the paper cutter, and as the one i've got here, they're commonly 18 to 20" in length, so there's good leverage - which means you can employ a lower power motor.


this next one is the inspiration for the one i'm building. The Teck 1 is a german design that was in production from approx 1880s to 1910 and there are a number of decent condition units for $75 to $125. What's really surprising, there are no bearings in this design and well, the one i've got shows no play wherever the driveshaft passes thru the cast housing and no corrosion either. What's disappointing about the Teck 1 is its basically a small unit, while every photo of one on the web makes it look larger, it's total length including the 6"diameter cutting wheel (with 3 blades) is approx 10.5", The feed channel is under 9" in length and 2 & 1/16" in width - it was designed for use with tobacco plugs of that width commercially available . It's production rate is fairly slow, especially cutting loose leaf tobacco.
Teck 1 video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Zc8kD5AiiA

the one i"m building has a 10" diameter cutting wheel to accomodate 3 blades 4" in length so i can slice 3.75" wide plugs if i go with plugs. But where i've changed the design is i've gone with a belt feel in the feed channel, basically a belt sander belt with a drive pulley turning it to give me 1MM of feed between each blade's travel. Reason i've gone with a belt feed system vs the pusher block as the OG employs, the belt feed will allow me to drop loose leaf strips onto the feed channel, hopefully to a thickness of 1/2 to 3/4" and cut it as loose leaf, eliminating the plug molding and then the teasing the strands apart. I've copied that clamping foot from the OG slicer, than clamps down on the leaf just as the blades starts to cut
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:15 PM
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Next up is the blade slicing type shredder. The main reason i'm attracted to this style is that they are the easiest to maintain and properly maintained can be lifetime shredders

at the high end is the OG Engineering Motorized self feeding slicer



available FOB New Zealand $1750 USD appox and with shippng to US about $2000. This unit is a high grade home use shredder - it's production rate is on the slow side for commercial use.

and a video of it in action https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1PDAuL0E5Q&feature=youtu.be

Advantages - 1) Fairly easy to maintain, the blade can be easily removed for sharpening or replacement and in fact is a commonly available (in australia/new zealand) 4" utility knife blade.

2nd) another advantage to a slicer type shredder, you can slice the stems as well, and a number of users indicate the stem material is very smoke-able - so instead of realizing 12 oz of shred-able leaf material from a 1 lb bag of whole leaf, you're now getting 15 or so ounces. One user from another forum, that built a copy of the OG Engineering shredder, told me he still strips out the stems, then bundles them and slices them by themselves and mixes in the resulting product with the strands. My plans with the one i'm building, is to strip out the first 6-8" of the stem from the base of the leaf, and slice the leaves with the remaining stem still attached to the leaf material, and then coming back and slicing the stripped out stem material by themselves. Main reason, just to save stem stripping time.

Disadvantages - most slicers like this one are designed to cut plugged tobacco, ie moist leaf strips are compressed and formed into a plug, (some folks call them slabs or bricks). Problem with molding the tobacco is that it means additional steps, both labor and time wise, prior to actual slicing. Then there's the fact that you want the plug at a certain moisture range before slicing - too wet and it'll jam up on the blade and be harder to separate the strands after cut, too dry and even with a sharp sharp blade you'll get more dust than you want

But there's a second disadvantage to slicing plugged tobacco, for me anyway. Once sliced you still need to snip the slices to give you short strands, and then you have to "tease" the strands apart. Not particularly difficult but aggravating (to me) and time consuming.
I've got an idea for a motorized tumbler similiar to a bingo hall tumbler with blades in it like a clothes dryer. After snipping, simply dumping the shag into the tumbler and let it break the clumps up.

There are manual slicers as well, that basically look like deli meat slicers. This one below was on amazon for approx $60 shipped.




Here's one's from TobaccoandMachines.com and besides coming with a few accessories, incorporates an adjustable feed mechanism. Price FOB Poland approx $380 - but Paul at tobacco and machines will deduct the VAT (15%) from the price for export sales.



video of T&M guillotine slicer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8T7C4HGJko

and another https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Jx8ntcEp5g

For the DIYer, the motorized drive mechanism of the OG Engineering design can be easily copied or adapted to a fairly simple antique office paper cutter - only reason i suggest one of those, the cutting arms are cast iron, with study hinge axle setups - so it's simply a matter of working out the geometry of the travel arm connecting to the cutting arm on the paper cutter, and as the one i've got here, they're commonly 18 to 20" in length, so there's good leverage - which means you can employ a lower power motor.



This next one is the inspiration for the one i'm building. The Teck 1 is a german design that was in production from approx 1880s to 1910 and there are a number of decent condition units available for $75 to $125. What's really surprising, there are no bearings in this design and well, the one i've got shows no play wherever the driveshaft passes thru the cast housing and no corrosion either. What's disappointing about the Teck 1 is its basically a small unit, while every photo of one on the web makes it look larger, it's total length including the 6"diameter cutting wheel (with 3 blades) is approx 10.5", The feed channel is under 9" in length and 2 & 1/16" in width - it was designed for use with tobacco plugs of that width commercially available at the time. It's production rate is fairly slow, especially cutting loose leaf tobacco. Teck 1 video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Zc8kD5AiiA the one i"m building has a 10" diameter cutting wheel to accomodate 3 blades 4" in length so i can slice 3.75" wide plugs if i go with plugs. But where i've changed the design is i've gone with a belt feel in the feed channel, basically tweaked to give me 1MM of feed between each blade's travel. Reason i've gone with a belt feed system . The belt feed will allow me to drop loose leaf strips onto the feed channel, hopefully to a thickness of 1/2 to 3/4" and cut it as loose leaf, eliminating the plug molding and the teasing the strands apart. I've copied that clamping foot from the OG slicer, than clamps down on the leaf just as the blades starts to cut


Teck 1 video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Zc8kD5AiiA

the one i"m building, based on the Teck 1, has a 10" diameter cutting wheel to accomodate 3 blades 4" in length so i can slice 3.75" wide plugs if i go with plugs. But where i've changed the design is i've gone with a belt feed in the feed channel, basically tweaked to give me 1MM of feed between each blade's travel. Reason i've gone with a belt feed system . The belt feed will allow me to drop loose leaf strips onto the feed channel, hopefully to a thickness of 1/2 to 3/4" and cut it as loose leaf, eliminating the plug molding and the teasing the strands apart. There will be a "shoe" that covers the full length of the feed channel, stopping about 1" from the edge where the blades come down to cut the leaf. That "shoe" will be pressing down onto the leaf, pressing the leaf down onto the rotating belt below. I've copied that clamping foot from the OG slicer, than clamps down on the leaf just as the blades starts to cut.

But as i stated above, I plan to strip out the first 6-8" of the stem from the base of the leaf, where the stem is the thickest, and slice the leaves with the remaining stem still attached to the leaf material, and then coming back and slicing the stripped out stem material by themselves. Main reason, just to save stem stripping time.
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Old 07-13-2019, 09:40 PM
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in summation - my first choice, because of speed of production, would be the solid roller style i detailed in the first post in this thread IF they had a longer life - but they don't. There's one vendor offering what he claims is a roller style with hardened rollers, but i want to see or hear from users posting their experience in terms of number of lbs of leaf shredded. If they'd give a life expectancy on the rollers of 125 to 150 lbs, i'd go with them

For all practical purposes, the Powermatic S or the Mach 1 is the smartest way to go - there are too many users reporting 3 to 5 year life expectancies and some reporting even longer. Available in the $300 price range, they're plug and play units. No need to press the leaf strips into plugs, just snipping after they are shredded before rolling.

FWIW
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Old 07-16-2019, 08:13 AM
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Given that my advice about how you might edit the title of your thread didn't work, I've edited it myself. I've also made this thread a "sticky," as it contains a wealth of information that is otherwise hard to find.
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