How to Calculate Shear Stress

Written by anthony smith
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How to Calculate Shear Stress

Shear stress is the stress that is applied along a parallel or tangential direction to a cross-section of a material. Shear stress differs from normal stress, which is when stress is applied perpendicular to the face of a material. Calculating general shear stress is relatively simple.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Obtain or measure the area of the material over which the force is applied. Let's call this value "A." The area of simple rectangle or square-shaped cross section is obtained by multiplying length by height. The area of a circular cross section is calculated by the equation A= pi*r^2. To further clarify, the area of a circle is equal to the value of pi (3.14159) multiplied by the squared radius of the circle. See the resources section for help with area calculations.

  2. 2

    Obtain or measure the force that is to be applied over this area. Let's call this value "F." Simple static forces of weight can be measured with a scale that displays results in pounds.

  3. 3

    Substitute the values obtained in Steps 1 and 2 into the following formula: T=F/A

    T = the shear stress F = the force applied from Step 2 A = the cross-sectional area over which the force was applied from Step 1

  4. 4

    Divide the numerical value for "F" by the numerical value for "A." The resulting number is the calculated shear stress.

Tips and warnings

  • Shear stress also applies to fluids that are moving along a solid boundary. This involves a calculation using the dynamic viscosity of the fluid as well as the velocity of the fluid.

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