Beveled Washers – What Are They and How Do They Work?

Beveled washers in various materials.




Beveled washers, like flat washers, are a type of hardware used with bolts and other fastening devices. In general, washers are used to help distribute loads from a bolt head across a wider area to reduce potentially concentrated loads from damaging components. Beveled washers are no different. However, beveled washers are used in special cases where two non-parallel surfaces must be joined together. Because of beveled washers, more complex vehicles, buildings, bridges, and products have been made possible. There are a number of factors to consider when picking the right beveled washer for your project. This article will review everything there is to know about beveled washers, from what they are and how they work, to different types and their advantages.

What Are Beveled Washers?

Unlike flat washers which are used for parallel mating surfaces, beveled washers are used for non-parallel surfaces. A beveled washer is a special type of washer that has a sloped side and a flat side. The sloped side can accommodate for different installation angles and allows the two non-parallel faces to be mated and aligned with a stable and tight fit. There are different types of beveled washers that come in both various shapes and sizes and with different surface finishes that can affect the strength of a joint. Therefore, it’s important to pick the right type of beveled washer for your project to ensure a strong, resilient joint.

How Do Beveled Washers Work?

When mating components by an externally threaded fastener and an internally threaded hole, a load called the clamping load, pretension, or bolt preload is developed. As the bolt is turned into the threaded hole, the bolt stretches, tension is created, and a clamping force from the bolt head exerted onto the mated component is developed.  The greater the turning force, or torque, that is applied to the bolt, the greater the clamping force will be. To prevent damage both to the part and to the bolt, a washer is placed underneath the bolt head. In general, washers are used to help distribute this load over a greater area and to help both reduce concentrated loads on the mated part and vibration throughout the system.

Distributing bolt preload with a flat washer is impossible in non-parallel mating surfaces. This is where beveled washers shine. As bolts are tightened on non-parallel surfaces, the angled face of the beveled washer provides a flat surface for the bolt head to rest. Like flat washers, beveled washers increase the surface area of the preload and protect components from damage.

What Materials can Beveled Washers be Made From?

Beveled washers can come in a variety of materials – from metals to rubbers and thermoplastics. For structural and load-bearing applications, beveled washers are commonly made from metals. Oftentimes, these metal beveled washers will also be surface treated so they can be used outdoors and have a high degree of environmental resistance. Some common metals and coatings used for beveled washers are listed below:

  1. Plain iron
  2. Hot-dipped galvanized steel
  3. 304 stainless steel
  4. 316 stainless steel

Plain cast-iron washers are highly susceptible to corrosion. However, they are no less effective than other metal beveled washers at reducing vibration, distributing high loads, and providing movement resistance to the bolt. Hot-dipped galvanized and stainless steel beveled washers can do everything plain cast-iron beveled washers can do, except they can do so in harsh environmental conditions. Be mindful of where beveled washers will be used in your project as cast-iron washers may corrode and compromise the strength of a joint. Additionally, make sure to match the beveled washer material to the bolt material. Reference a galvanic corrosion chart to determine which washer and bolt combination is best to prevent corrosion from occurring in the joint.

While most beveled washers seen are made from metals, beveled washers can also be made from rubbers and thermoplastics. Beveled washers made from these materials are generally not for load-bearing; they are more often used for sealing and mounting of non-parallel surfaces.

When Are Beveled Washers Used?

Non-parallel mating surfaces are where beveled washers are used. Some of the applications of beveled washers are described below:

Structural Beams in Construction

Use in structural beams is one of the areas where beveled washers are most commonly used. Structural beams often have angled flanges and require a beveled washer to fix the beam securely. While cast iron and iron alloy washers are malleable and can accommodate stretching and contraction of bolts during temperature fluctuations, they are vulnerable to the environment and consequently, corrosion. Consider using stainless steel beveled washers or surface-coated washers in environments susceptible to corrosion.

Watch our video below for an example of how beveled washers are used with I-beams.

Kitchen and Bathroom Sink Faucets

Another area where beveled washers are commonly used is kitchen and bathroom sink faucets. Oftentimes, beveled washers are used in faucets where stem travel is worn or its seat in the sink is damaged. In this application, beveled washers help seal water directly from the opening of the seat rather than the edges on the perimeter of the seat. These types of washers are often made from rubbers or thermoplastics rather than metals. Yet, their purpose is the same – to mate two non-parallel surfaces together.

How to Pick the Right Type of Beveled Washer?

When shopping for the right beveled washer, consider the application and environment where the washer will be used. Will it be outside where it is exposed to the elements? Will the beveled washer be subjected to extreme loading conditions? Will a square or a circular beveled washer work better? Asking yourself these questions will get you in the right direction. After design is complete and you know what type of bolts will be used in your system, there are two things you should do to ensure you pick the right type of washer:

  1. Match the washer size (that is, the washer inner diameter) with the bolt size being used.
  2. Match the washer shape with the application
  3. Match the angle of the beveled washer with the application.
  4. Pick a washer with an appropriate surface finish for the intended use environment.

Additionally, consider whether a square or circular beveled washer would be better for your project. Circular type beveled washers can be more aesthetically pleasing, but are more likely to rotate around the bolt and provide a weaker joint. Square type beveled washers make aligning surfaces easier and help distribute loads more evenly. Next, consider the angle needed for the beveled angle. Angles are determined by the thicknesses at the deepest and thinnest points of the washer. Finally, consider a washer with an appropriate surface finish that protects it from the environment and ensures a long-lasting, resilient joint.

Flat Washer vs. Beveled Washer

Flat washers are the most used type of washer used with bolt and screw fasteners. They are used to distribute the preload exerted by the bolt or screw head over the surface of the fastened part. Additionally, flat washers help reduce bolt spin-out due to vibrations. Beveled washers are designed to do everything flat washers can but also are used for mating non-parallel, flat surfaces.

Final Thoughts

With so many different types of washers, it can be hard to determine which is best for your project. Needless to say, if your project requires two non-parallel flat surfaces to be mated, consider using beveled washers. From there, determine which size and what surface finish would be best for your beveled washer to ensure a secure and resilient joint. Contact an Albany County Fasteners sales representative today to discuss which beveled washer is right for your project.