12 Types of Shims + Their Characteristics & Usages

types of shims

In the vast world of machinery and structural components, even the tiniest tools can have a massive impact. One such underrated, yet vital tool is the shim. As industries diversify and evolve, the importance of understanding and sourcing the right type of shim becomes paramount. In this guide, with the help of Linquip, we’ll delve into the types, uses, and advantages of various shims.


Shims are thin pieces used to fill gaps for alignment and support. Types include:

  1. Solid Shims: For machinery and structural support.
  2. Slotted Shims: For aligning machinery without disassembly.
  3. Wedge Shims: Commonly used for doors and windows.
  4. Adjustable Shims: For heavy machinery and structural leveling.
  5. Plastic Shims: Used in damp areas to prevent corrosion.
  6. Laminated Shims: Multi-layered for fine adjustments, common in aerospace.
  7. Tapered Shims: For adjusting angles in structures and machinery.
  8. Composite Shims: Durable and resistant to environmental factors.
  9. Specialty Shims: Custom-made for unique applications.
  10. Magnetic Shims: Repositionable due to magnetic properties.
  11. Corrugated Shims: Flexible and resilient for vibration dampening.
  12. Fibre Shims: Lightweight, preventing metal-to-metal contact.

Linquip provides in-depth insights, expert consultations, and a vast database about these shims, aiding professionals in their selection and understanding. The evolution of shims has been influenced by technological advancements, material innovations, and sustainable practices.


Understanding the Basics: What are Shims?

Shims are thin and often tapered pieces of material used to fill gaps between objects, ensuring a better fit or alignment. They play a critical role in machinery alignment, structural support, and even everyday household tasks.


The Diverse World of Shims

Here are the most common types of Shims

  1. Solid Shims
  2. Slotted Shims
  3. Wedge Shims
  4. Adjustable Shims
  5. Plastic Shims
  6. Laminated Shims
  7. Tapered Shims
  8. Composite Shims
  9. Specialty Shims
  10. Magnetic Shims
  11. Corrugated Shims
  12. Fibre Shims


Types of Shims Table with Characteristics and Usage

Shim Type Characteristic Usage
Solid Shims Uniform thickness, various materials Machinery support, structural adjustments
Slotted Shims Contains cut-out sections, often rectangular Aligning machinery without disassembly
Wedge Shims Triangular or wedge-shaped Leveling doors, windows
Adjustable Shims Designed for varying thicknesses Leveling heavy machinery, structural tweaks
Plastic Shims Composed of durable plastics Moisture-prone areas to prevent corrosion
Laminated Shims Layers that can be peeled to the desired thickness Precision adjustments, commonly in aerospace
Tapered Shims Thickness varies across its length Adjusting angles in structures and machinery
Composite Shims Made from composite materials; often water/rot-resistant Durable construction needs
Specialty Shims Customized for unique applications Specific machinery alignment, unique structural challenges
Magnetic Shims Magnetic properties Temporary alignment or frequent adjustments
Corrugated Shims Features a wavy, corrugated design Vibration dampening, flexible structural adjustments
Fibre Shims Constructed from fibrous materials Preventing metal-to-metal contact, lightweight construction

This table serves as a quick reference guide to the variety of shims available and their specific applications.


Solid Shims

Solid shim
Solid shim (Reference: empiro.tech)


  • Uniform thickness
  • Made from metals, wood, or plastic


  • Machinery Alignment
  • Structural support where full surface coverage is necessary


Slotted Shims

Slotted Shim
Slotted Shim (Reference: amazon.co.uk)


  • Feature slots or cuts
  • Ideal for situations where installation without full machinery disassembly is preferred


  • Aligning motors, pumps, and other machinery


Wedge Shims

Wedge Shim
Wedge Shim (Reference: accessflooringshop.co.uk)


  • Tapered form
  • Designed for easy insertion and removal


  • Door installations
  • Leveling and aligning windows


Adjustable Shims

Adjustable Shim
Adjustable Shim (Reference:amazon.co.uk)


  • Mechanisms to adjust the thickness
  • Provides versatility in achieving precise alignment


  • Heavy machinery alignment
  • Structural leveling


Plastic Shims

Plastic Shim
Plastic Shim (Reference: amazon.co.uk)


  • Made of plastic materials
  • Resistant to corrosion and certain chemicals


  • Damp locations
  • Areas where metal shims may corrode


Laminated Shims

Laminated Shim
Laminated Shim (Reference: accutrex.com)


  • Composed of multiple layers that can be peeled off to achieve the desired thickness
  • Typically made of metal or composite materials


  • Aerospace and automotive industries for fine-tuned adjustments
  • Machinery setups requiring minute adjustments


Tapered Shims


  • Varied thickness across its length
  • Often made of metal, but can also be fabricated from plastic or wood


  • Structural applications to adjust the angle of components
  • Aligning machinery bases


Composite Shims

Composite Shim
Composite Shim(Reference: amazon.co.uk)


  • Constructed from composite materials
  • Often water, rot, and insect-resistant


  • Construction sites where durability against environmental factors is essential
  • Structural setups requiring a long-lasting solution


Specialty Shims


  • Designed for specific industries or unique applications
  • Often custom-made to precise specifications


  • Custom machinery alignment
  • Unique structural challenges


Historical Context: The Origination of Shims

Shims, though integral to modern construction and machinery, have roots going back to ancient civilizations. Early builders recognized the need for precise alignments in structures and created rudimentary shims from stones, wood, and other naturally available materials.


Magnetic Shims

Magnetic Shim
Magnetic Shim(Reference: amazon.co.uk)


  • Made of magnetic materials
  • Can easily be positioned and repositioned


  • In applications where temporary alignment is required
  • Machinery setups where frequent adjustments are made


Corrugated Shims

Corrugated Shim
Corrugated Shim (Reference: nestof.pl)


  • Feature a corrugated design that provides flexibility and resilience
  • Typically made from resilient metals or plastics


  • Structural applications requiring elasticity
  • Situations where vibration dampening is crucial


Fibre Shims

Fibre Shim
Fibre Shim (Reference: amazon.co.uk)


  • Constructed from fibrous materials
  • Offers excellent compressive strength


  • Construction applications demanding a lightweight solution
  • As a buffer in machinery alignment to prevent metal-to-metal contact

Applications and Advantages of Shims

  • Precise Alignment: Shims aid in the accurate alignment of machinery, ensuring efficient operation and reducing wear.
  • Structural Integrity: They enhance the structural integrity of buildings and frameworks, ensuring safety.
  • Versatility: With various types available, there’s a shim for almost every application.
  • Cost-effective: They offer an affordable solution to alignment and leveling challenges.


Advantages of Choosing the Right Shim:

  • Longevity: Properly aligned machinery reduces wear and tear, ensuring longer operational life.
  • Energy Efficiency: Aligned machinery runs more smoothly, often leading to energy savings.
  • Safety: Correctly shimmed equipment and structures reduce the risk of unexpected failures and accidents.


Advancements in Shim Production:

Technological innovations have revolutionized shim production, enabling:

  • Precision Engineering: Modern shims are manufactured with high precision to meet exact specifications.
  • Material Advancements: From corrosion-resistant metals to composites, the materials used for shims have become more advanced and durable.
  • Sustainable Production: With growing environmental concerns, sustainable and recyclable materials are being increasingly used in shim production.


The Role of Linquip in Shim Evolution:

Linquip has consistently played a role in the evolution of shims by:

  • Fostering Innovation: By connecting manufacturers and users, Linquip fosters discussions leading to product innovations.
  • Educational Resources: Providing ample resources and insights into the world of shims, aiding in informed decision-making.
  • Streamlining Selection: With a vast array of shim types listed, Linquip simplifies the process of selecting the right shim for specific needs.



Understanding shims is not just about knowing their types but comprehending their significance in various applications. Whether it’s the alignment of a colossal industrial machine or ensuring a window frame is level, shims play a pivotal role. As industries evolve, the demand for specialized shims grows, making platforms like Linquip even more crucial in bridging the gap between need and supply, ensuring efficiency, safety, and precision in countless applications.


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