A Complete Guide on How to Choose Lock Washers

When securing threaded fasteners, preventing them from coming loose due to vibration or other forces is of the utmost importance, and lock washers play a critical role in achieving this. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of lock washers, exploring what they are, the various types available, and how to choose the right one for your specific application. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a DIY enthusiast, understanding the intricacies of lock washers is essential for effective fastener retention.

Understanding Lock Washers

Lock washers, as their name implies, are specifically engineered to "lock" or securely fasten threaded fasteners in place. Although they come in various shapes and designs, their fundamental purpose remains consistent – preventing the unintended loosening of nuts or bolts. This is especially vital in applications where factors such as vibration, thermal expansion, or other external forces could potentially undermine the stability of the fastened connection. As such, lock washers play a crucial role in ensuring reliability and safety of these connections. With this in mind, there are two types of lock washers: spring washers and toothed lock washers.

Spring Washers

Spring washers, commonly known as split washers, are identifiable by their circular and coiled shape. They function by generating a spring force when compressed between the fastener and the surface to which it is secured. This spring force resists loosening, making spring washers effective in moderate vibration applications. They are available in a range of sizes and materials, including stainless steel and zinc-plated steel, to accommodate various environmental conditions and application requirements.

Toothed Lock Washers

Toothed lock washers are distinctive for having teeth or serrations around their inner or outer circumference. These teeth effectively grip both the surface and the fastener, generating friction and resistance to rotational movement. This design makes toothed lock washers well-suited for heavy-duty applications where high torque or extreme vibration are concerns. They come in various types, including internal and external toothed lock washers, providing versatility for use in a range of situations and settings.

Choosing the Right Lock Washer

Choosing the correct lock washer for your particular application requires a thoughtful assessment of several factors, including the type of fastener, environmental conditions, and the level of vibration. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you make an informed selection:

  • Determine the Fastener Type: The first step is to identify the threaded fastener you are using. Different lock washers are designed to work with specific fastener types, so ensuring compatibility is essential.

  • Consider the Environment: Assess the environmental conditions the fastener will be exposed to. If it is an outdoor application, you may need a lock washer made of corrosion-resistant materials like stainless steel.

  • Evaluate the Vibration Level: The magnitude of vibration or shock the fastener will experience plays a crucial role in lock washer selection. For low to moderate vibration, spring washers might suffice. For high vibration or heavy loads, toothed lock washers are a better choice.

  • Size: Ensure the lock washer's size matches the fastener's size. A mismatch can result in reduced effectiveness.

  • Check for Standards: In some industries, there may be specific standards or regulations governing the use of lock washers. As a result, it is essential to know and comply with any applicable standards.

  • Consider a Lock Washer Kit: If you frequently work with threaded fasteners in various applications, investing in a lock washer kit can be a wise choice. These kits typically contain an assortment of lock washers, making it easier to find the right one for your needs.

  • Installation: Correct installation is crucial for the lock washer to perform optimally. Ensure the washer is placed between the nut or bolt and the surface they will be attached to, and follow the manufacturer's torque recommendations.


As highlighted in this blog, making the right choice when selecting a lock washer entails a thorough understanding of the fastener type used, environmental conditions, and the extent of vibration in your application. It is essential to remember that using an incorrect lock washer or neglecting this critical component can lead to costly failures and safety hazards. Whether you are a professional in the field or a DIY enthusiast, dedicating time to assessing your specific needs and choosing the appropriate lock washer is crucial.

For your procurement requirements, we encourage you to explore our product range at your convenience and take advantage of our online Request for Quotation (RFQ) service to obtain swift and straightforward quotes. Upon receiving and evaluating your completed form, one of our team members will contact you within 15 minutes or less, delivering a tailored solution for your comparative assessment. Embark on your procurement journey today and discover why numerous customers consistently choose Aerospace Simplified for their part fulfillment needs.


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