ArticlesWhat Are Spring Lock Washers And How are They Used

What Are Spring Lock Washers And How are They Used

Spring lock washers have been in use for over 100 years, and are still used in many applications. Lock washers come in many sizes and shapes, and each type serves a different purpose. The main purpose of lock washers is to prevent nuts and bolts from coming loose. Each model is designed to be used in a particular application. Some lock washers resemble rings with uneven ends and others are star-shaped, with an outer ring containing teeth.

If you are interested in finding out more about lock washers, read below.

The types of spring lock washers

A helical lock washer, also known as a split washer, looks like an uneven ring. To prevent the ring from turning, its ends bite into the fastener material. The internal-tooth lock washers have teeth on the inside of the ring that provides a connection to small fastener heads.

An external-tooth washer, also known as a star washer, has teeth on the outside of its washer ring. 

External-Internal/Combination lock washers have teeth on both the inside and outside of the ring, which ensures greater security when using large fastener heads.

What are spring lock washers made of?

A spring lock washer is usually made of spring steel, aluminum, bronze, phosphor bronze, and other materials. This type of material prevents lock washers from corroding and losing their fastening strength. You can find them in zinc clear, zinc yellow, and plain finishes. 

Spring lock washer function

The lock washer stops nuts and bolts from turning, slipping, or coming loose due to vibration and torque. Although different lock washers accomplish this function in different ways, the basic idea is to keep the bolt and nut in place. This function is achieved by some lock washers biting into the bolt and the nut with the ends.

What are the best times to use washers?

With time, due to vibrations, bolts can become loose and cause problems such as malfunctions or even damage to the equipment. For that reason, bolts that might come loose need to be secured with a lock washer. 

Lock washers will prevent the bolt from moving even when there are strong vibrations coming from the machine or equipment.

How to use lock washers

As with any other tool, knowing how to properly use lock washers is very important. So, get your toolbox and wrench ready and follow these steps.

Step 1: Install the lock washer

To install a lock washer properly, you will need either a wrench or a ratchet. After you get the right equipment, pick the type of washer you want to use. Place it below the fastener and make sure it fits perfectly. 

If you add any hardware elements to your bolt,  the lock washer should be placed last.

Step 2: Make sure that your washer is correctly placed

For proper operation of your lock washer, ensure that it is pressing against the threaded bolt and adjacent surface. If the lock washer is not tightly installed, press on it with some force.

This is particularly important if you use toothed lock washers. This type of washer should be slightly out of alignment to ensure that it applies pressure to the threaded fastener.

If your lock washers stop working, take them out.

Spring Lock Washers

How to take out a lock washer

It is a fact that you will need to remove a lock washer at some point. That’s why it is important to know how to do this safely and without causing damage to the bolt or the machine.

Step 1: Discard the fastener

Use your wrench to turn the bolt clockwise. After that, use a flat screwdriver to place it under a tooth and push. If the washer is stuck, you will need a pipe wrench for a better grip.

Step 2: Spray the washer with a lubricant

A lubricant can be used to help a washer come out. If the bolt is stuck and other removal methods do not work, spray a bit of penetrating oil to loosen the bolt.

Step 3: Do not use the same washer multiple times

After a few uses, lock washers can wear out so it is best to throw them away and buy new ones. This applies especially if the washer is forcefully removed. 

Final thoughts

Spring lock washers are the most commonly used parts that prevent assembly components from loosening. They will keep your bolts in place and reduce the risk of equipment malfunction. Knowing the steps for successful installation and removal can help you safely and effectively use them whenever you need to. 

Subscribe Today

GET EXCLUSIVE FULL ACCESS TO PREMIUM CONTENT

Get unlimited access to our EXCLUSIVE Content and our archive of subscriber stories.

Exclusive content

Latest articles

Popular Articles

More articles