We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is a Sheave?

By Jeri Sullivan
Updated: May 17, 2024

A sheave is a wheel with a groove in the middle and raised edges. It is also known as a sheave pulley and is part of a system used to raise or lower heavy loads. Some types include rope sheaves, wire sheaves, wire rope sheaves, belt sheaves and a cable sheaves.

Rope sheaves were the first type invented and work by pulling the rope to lift the load. A length of rope is guided on the groove and between the raised edges of the sheave. The rope can then either be tied on one end to the item that needs to be lifted or can be guided through another sheave to create a compound pulley.

Compound pulleys are often used because the item needs to move over a longer distance or is too heavy to lift with just one sheave. Some common uses for rope sheaves are on boats or ships for lifting cargo or traps and are called blocks or block and tackle. Rope pulleys have also traditionally been used to pull water buckets from wells.

Wire sheave pulley systems are constructed of several wire ropes. Many thin lengths of wire are coiled around one larger wire to add strength. They are also known as wire rope sheaves and typically are banded with approximately six other coiled wire lengths to create one large, strong wire rope.

This type of pulley system is often used in industrial machinery, such as cranes. It is used in cranes because of the significant amount of force being applied to the rope. Some cranes are required to lift objects weighing several tons, so to ensure the pulley can handle the weight, coiled wire sheaves are used.

Belt sheaves are part of a belt and pulley system. They are made of two or more sheaves working together and use a belt instead of ropes or wires. The sheaves are usually different diameters in order to move the belt faster with less effort. Belt sheaves are constructed like a chain drive but are smooth instead of having cogs.

Cable sheaves are similar to belt sheaves but typically used for much heavier objects. Cable sheaves also usually have spokes in the center instead of smooth grooves. The most common use for cable sheaves are for cable cars. The sheaves are attached at each end of the cable car route and the cable is strung through the middle. As the cable car travels down the cable, the sheave feeds the cable and propels the car forward.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.