How to Calculate Wire Rope Sheave

Written by will charpentier
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How to Calculate Wire Rope Sheave
Use a rigger's rule-of-thumb formula to select a sheave. (Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Wire rope, made up of strands made of wires, isn't as flexible as rope made of nylon, cotton or polypropylene. This means that when you reeve wire rope over a sheave -- the wheel part of a pulley or a block -- the wire rope resists bending. To ensure that the wire rope isn't kinked or damaged by being bent over the sheave, the sheave must be larger than one that you would use for a nylon rope. If you want to determine how large the sheave you should use, you can use the same formula used by professional riggers.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Measure the diameter of the wire rope you plan to reeve over the sheave, using a machinists' rule. Record the measurement.

  2. 2

    Multiply the wire rope's diameter by 20. Record the result.

  3. 3

    Inspect the available sheaves. If the correct size, as determined above, is not available, select the next largest size.

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