lock washer

How Does a Lock Washer Work – Detailed Guide

We’ll explain what Lock Washers are in this post, how they function, and how to apply and remove them. You’ll learn how to pick lock washers as well, of course.

Even if you aren’t a DIY enthusiast, you probably have a solid understanding of basic hardware and fasteners. Learning the ropes only requires one afternoon of assembling your most recent online furniture purchase. But you should also become familiar with a few less popular specialty fasteners.

You’ve probably used a lock washer, one of these specialty items, even though you weren’t even aware of its use. Although the term “lock washer” is used frequently in the world of do-it-yourself projects, you might not fully comprehend what it is and how to use it.

What Are Lock Washers?

Lock washers are circular-shaped fasteners, as seen in the adjacent image. They come in a variety of styles. A few of them are divided. They are split open or cut and are referred to as split lock washers. Other lock washers feature teeth that face inward or outward.

Naturally, these styles are not offered for conventional washers. The only component of a traditional washer is a metal ring. They lack teeth and are neither cut nor split open. Lock washers are able to stop the bolts they are used with from loosing up thanks to these alternative styles. When a lock washer is used to secure the bolt, it will stay in place even when subjected to vibration.

How Lock Washers Work

You might be wondering exactly how lock washers operate. They all function similarly even though they come in a variety of styles. Lock washers push downward against the surface of the object where they are installed once they are in place. This force aids in locking the bolt into the appropriate object so that it doesn’t come undone.

Lock washers are essentially small springs. They might not be designed with the same coiled pattern as regular springs, but they still function in the same way. Lock washers are able to exert a force and store mechanical energy at the same time.

Lock washers are frequently utilized with nuts. A lock washer can be placed over a bolt’s exposed shank. Then, you can tighten it with a nut. The lock washer will be pressed against by turning a nut onto the shank. The lock washer will then apply downward pressure to stop the bolt from releasing.

What is Preload?

When a fastener is tightened, tension is produced, or preload. The material that is being fastened is held together by this tension, which also keeps the fastener in place. The fastener is prone to loosing if preload is diminished.

While critical joints in many different industries are frequently held together by lock washers, they are less frequently used in homes. Here are a few everyday items that might call for a lock washer over a standard washer due to either spontaneous loosening as a result of dynamic use or slackening as a result of the material:

  • Automotive components
  • Household appliances
  • Furniture pieces
  • HVAC units
  • Soft materials

Lock Washer Vs. Standard Washer

A typical washer serves only to distribute the load of the fastener against the material being fastened. While there are various types and sizes of “standard” washers, this is generally the purpose of all of them. But some specialized applications demand a washer that does more than just distribute the load of the fastener; they need one that will actively hold the fastener in place. It is at this point that a lock washer is required.

Types of Lock Washers and When to Use Them

lock washer

The most common types of lock washers are listed below, along with examples of their best uses.

Split lock washer: Washers that have been split so that they now have two opposed edges are known as split lock washers. The bolt is held in place by the friction created between the sharp edges and the material being bolted, which slightly digs into each side of the joint.

This kind of washer is most useful in situations where a bolt needs to be driven into a relatively soft material, like soft metal, wood, or plastic, with a light torque. The split ring is flattened and compromised by a strong torque applied to the bolt.

High collar lock washer: A split washer is comparable to a high collar, but the high collar is much thicker and springier. Although they support a significantly higher torque load, these washers can be used in a manner that is similar.

External serrated washer: External serrated washers have teeth along the edge but otherwise resemble standard washers. By forcing its way into the materials, the serrated edge generates friction. These are frequently utilized for various electrical connections, HVAC systems, and appliances.

Internal serrated washer: In contrast to external serrated washers, internal serrated washers have teeth on the inside rather than the outside. They can be used in situations where the teeth need to be concealed or for smaller head bolts because of this.

Belleville washer: A conically shaped washer without splits or serrations is referred to as a Belleville washer, also known as a conical spring washer. When a load is applied, the washer’s conical shape makes it springy, protecting the bolt’s preload and preventing bolt creep.

In applications where the surface of the material might be damaged, the absence of splits or serration is advantageous. For greater spring effect and greater load capacity, conical washers can be stacked.

When Should You Use Lock Washers?

When to use lock washers basically boils down to whether or not there is a chance that fasteners will come loose in your specific application. Since fasteners can easily become loose in these applications due to vibration, they are frequently used in the transportation sector when fastening components in cars, airplanes, and marine vessels. Additionally, they are utilized in home appliances like washing machines. Lock washers come in very handy whenever nuts and bolts need a little extra security to stay in place when they could possibly be shaken loose.

How to Use a Lock Washer

  1. Choose a Lock Washer Select the lock washer that is best for the job at hand, then choose the right size by taking the bolt’s shank’s width into account. When selecting your washer, keep in mind whether the application calls for a highly torqued bolt. If using a serrated washer, make sure the teeth will rest against the bolt.
  2. Choose a Secondary Washer (optional) Under the lock washer, a fender washer (a common washer with a large outer diameter) may occasionally be required to help distribute the load of the bolt on the material. Always sandwich the lock washer between the standard washer and the bolt when performing this.
  3. Tighten the Fastener Tighten the fastener with a wrench. Use a torque wrench for precise torqueing if necessary. WarningOvertightening a lock washer has an equal negative impact on its performance as undertightening, which is obviously ineffective.

How to Remove a Lock Washer

  1. Loosen Fastener To remove the fastener, use a ratchet to unlock it. TipSpray the bolt or nut with penetrating oil and let it soak if you’re having trouble loosening it. Slide a small piece of metal pipe over the end of your ratchet to give it more leverage, then try to loosen the bolt.
  2. Remove the Lock Washer Once the fastener is taken out, the lock washer frequently comes off as well. A flat head screwdriver can be used to pry away obstinate lock washers. Simply place the tip of the screwdriver under the lock washer and pry up. Hammering the screwdriver into the split of a split washer with a hammer can work.

How to Pick a Lock Washer

1. Use a Split Lock Washer for Small Jobs.

The most typical kind of lock washer is a split lock washer, also referred to as a helical spring washer. It functions more like a spring, holding the threaded fastener in place with friction, as opposed to using grooves. For small, low-intensity jobs only; larger loads will flatten the washer and render it useless.

2. Use Tooth Lock Washers for Extra Force.

To hold the nut or threaded fastener in place with a lot of force, tooth lock washers have jagged edges. There are two types of them: internal teeth and external teeth. Small screws or screws used in electrical grounding respond best to internal tooth washers, whereas large screws respond best to external tooth washers.

  • Aluminum and soft plastic surfaces respond well to tooth lock washers.

3. Choose a Serrated Belleville Washer for Extremely Tense Loads.

Conical pieces of hardware called serrated Belleville washers have grooves on their surface. Although they won’t have as much locking force as other lock washers, they are used to distribute tension at joints and can be helpful when working with very heavy, tense loads.

4. Pick a Tab Washer for Harsh Environments.

You should use a tab washer if your nut or threaded fastener must withstand harsh weather. These pieces of hardware feature one or more tabs that, when pressed against the nut or fastener head, secure it in place.[

When to Replace a Lock Washer

Replace the lock washers if you find yourself with a few laying around after servicing or disassembling something like cars, lawnmowers, HVAC units, appliances, or anything else. Others might have been compromised the first time they were torqued, while some might be ready for another round of use. If you want to reuse a lock washer, make sure no parts have been harmed or changed in any way by giving it a thorough inspection.

Wrap-up: How Does a Lock Washer Work

Locking washers are typically utilized in applications where a bolt may become loose. Since they can lock bolts in place, that is how they got their name. The majority of locking washers function by applying downward pressure that forces the bolt to remain inside the threading hole of the thing or things they are used with. You should now have a better understanding of locking washers and how they operate.


Where Do You Put a Lock Washer in a Flat Washer?

The lock washer should be placed under your threaded fastener – i.e., underneath a nut or the head of a screw or bolt. The washer should be positioned between the nut and the bolt head in assemblies that contain both a nut and a bolt. The threaded fastener can then be tightened normally.

How Do You Use a Lock Washer on An Internal Tooth?

How should lock washers be used? Your fastener’s threaded portion should be underneath the lock washer, i.e., underneath a nut or the head of a screw or bolt. In assemblies with a nut and a bolt, the washer ought to go between the nut and the bolt head. After that, you can tighten the threaded fastener as usual.

Can You Over Tighten Lock Washers?

Tip: Do not overtighten a lock washer. The locking function may not function properly if a spring washer becomes flat because it will eliminate the extra tension.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notes Previous post How to Get into Locked Notes Without a Password – 3 Easy Ways
open car Next post How to Pick a Car Lock – Complete Guide