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Can you buy or build manually-powered leaf shredder? Answered

At my local Community Garden, we are not allowed to use power tools, but we would like to shred the piles of leaves we get each fall. Web searches for "manually-powered leaf shredders" have yielded no useful results. It seems that a hand-cranked leaf shredder should already exist somewhere. Does anyone know how leaves were shredded before the advent of gasoline and electric shredders? Any Instructables inventor interested in tackling this issue?


I have an idea, but it's just an idea. I have a reel type push lawn mower that I use to cut my grass. The blades are connected to the wheels via a gear mechanism.So when I push the mower, the blades spin .I stop pushing and the blades stop. I've noticed that this mower chops up paper, plastic bags and, yes,even leaves pretty well. Soooo, my idea would be to build a wooden v-shaped hopper a little wider than the width of the reel mower.The hopper would be open at the bottom. The opening at the bottom would be long and wide enough to allow the reel to fit in the bottom, while the wheels would be protruding outside of the hopper. A crank handle could be attached to the wheel so that a person could turn the wheel,thus spinning the reel and chopping leaves.You could even make it a two person chopper by putting a hand crank on BOTH wheels The hopper should probably stand on legs that are spread out wide enough to allow for sufficient stability while the shredder is being cranked. It would probably be a good idea to weight the shredder down or stake it to the ground so it won't move. And of course make the shredder high enough that a goodly sized pile of shredded leaves( or documents) will accumulate on the ground or in a container beneath the shredder.

If someone were really adventurous, they could hook it up to a bicycle!

I am trying to get one made . if it is succesuful i will post it

Hi, I would love to see if you have made progress. I would like to make one of these as well.

Here in India there are small manual leaf shredders .. I believe the word to google is "toka" .. I am trying to find out more about it. It is only a foot high though and so is labour-intensive!

I expect the only manual garden shredder is you. I'm going to try cutting leaves with a (constantly sharpened) knife & sawing woody bits. Repetitive but might be therapeutic, like meditating or working in a factory (good enough for half the population) also quiet , non-polluting, cheap & good exercise.

I imagine electric & petrol shredders & grinders spin at a furious rate for a reason, probably can't be duplicated manually, but don't know for sure.

Why not just use a reel powered mower the way one would with a gas mower?

Legacy Foundation sells plans for a hand cranked "Thresher mulcher chopper"
See more at:

Just guessing but i doubt people cared to shread leaves back then. But any hooters. what about one of those meat mixers (search google images for meat mixer) and altering it to work more effectivly. or what if someone has an old wood chipper/leaf shredder that could be bicycle powered? a little food for thought