Everything You Need to Know About Shims

Believe it or not, you’ve probably used a shim at one time in your life or another. For the most part, laymen come into contact with shims when they’re doing small DIY home projects. But if you’ve ever slid something between the leg of a table and the floor to steady an uneven, rocking table, you’ve also used a shim!

In this article, we’re going to be talking about all different types of shims. We’ll discuss what a shim is, what types of materials can be used to make shims, and what shims are typically used for in a variety of settings. Let’s get started!

What Is a Shim?

A shim is generally a thin wedge of some sort of material (such as wood, plastic, metal, etc.) that is used to position another object, fill a space or construct something new.

Shims can be made from a variety of materials. Often, they are had ad hoc, meaning they are made from whatever materials are lying around.

Think about when you’ve put something under a table leg to study the table. You’ve probably used folded up cardboard, a folded napkin, or something else that wasn’t actually meant to be put beneath a table leg. On the other hand, in industrial manufacturing, photo etched metal shims are used for more serious matters. These are thin pieces of metal that go between various surfaces to incrementally change or adjust fit. As you can see, there are a variety of types of shims and a variety of uses for this important tool.

Shim Materials and Types

As stated, you can basically make a shim out of any type of material. But there are certain materials that are more common for industrial and professional-use shims. For example, within the category of photo etched metal shims, you will find there are numerous materials that can be used. These include the following:

  • Beryllium copper
  • Stainless steel
  • Phosphor bronze
  • Brass
  • Aluminum

There are other materials that can be made into shims as well. These include the following:

  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Paper

Using Shims

We’ve already discussed a few of the situations where shims are useful. For example, they often used in automobile and aerospace manufacturing and engineering. They may be used in commercial manufacturing and construction. They can be used at home in DIY projects to fill gaps, adjust clearance (for example in a window), or level objects. They may even be used in computer manufacturing and engineering and in plumbing situations.

No matter where you use shims, just be sure to use the correct shim for the job. At home on a woodworking project, for example, you won’t want a metal shim. But in commercial construction or industrial automobile manufacturing, you’re going to want metal shims all the time.