Shim – What is it and Why do I need it?


Shims? Seriously? Why?

A shim can be very useful. Some people call it a spacer, so if someone is talking about that, they might be talking about a spacer. I found lots of uses for shims in my house as well as on the internet. There is even instructions on how to use a shim to break a padlock. That is NOT what I am here for!

Shims can be made out of several different materials. Wood (usually a composite or cedar) that needs to be cut to the right size with a saw (if you can’t just hie the whole thing). Plastic (I guess that would look like a putty knife style?) are handy because you can snap/break them to the right size.  And even metal ones (gee, I wonder if this is what they were talking about for breaking and entering!)

What Is a Shim?


this is what a shim looks like. See the tapering?

Here is what I have for shims. A shim is a thin piece of wood, tapered from one end to the other. they average size is about 9-10 inches long, and about 1 1/2 inches wide. The depth of the thing is what makes it a shim. It ranges from 1/16 inch on one end to 3/8 inch on the other end.

They are darn cheap. You should always keep a package of them in your tool chest. A set of 12 (the usual package at your home improvement store) will run you a whopping two dollars! NOT two hundred dollars, $2! Whoo hoo!

What Do I Use Shims For?

Seriously? You’ve never used a shim? You’ve never seen a shim in action? Man are you missing out on something great! Shims can be used for so many things!

Here is a starting list of ideas on what people have used shims for:

  • Use shims to level furniture or sink vanities (That is what I am using mine for) when either the item or the floor is not flat. I have not determined which it is because of the way my house is built, but I would bet for the sinks it is the floor, but for the furniture piece (prohibition liquor cabinet) it is because of the legs.


    See how this is used?

  • Use the shim as a stir stick for paints. For these you should look at your home improvement store for the longest ones they have. Because honestly, I feel guilty asking for stir sticks at the paint department because I ran out of them, but I am not buying paint.
  • You can use a shim to apply putty to a wall if you have misplaced your putty knife. FYI, if you misplace the putty knife, those are cheap enough to replace as well. Come on, they are only a couple of bucks each.
  • If you have squeaky floors and you have access to the floor underneath, you can probably use a shim to cease and desist. Have someone walk around, and where you hear the squeaking, you will probably see a gap between the joist and the sub floor. Slide in (don’t shove it) a shim and the squeaking just might stop.
  • Arts and Crafts can always use shims. Do you need any ideas? Check out here for over 50 ways to creatively use a shim. My fav would probably be the headboard! Or maybe this Pinterest page for other ideas.
  • The most common use is one that most DIY Home Goddesses won’t do themselves, but here’s an FYI. Use a shim to fill the gaps between the wall’s frame and the door jamb. This is to keep the structural stress from windows and doors. Here’s a link for more information if you want to learn how to do it, or at least why.

As you can see,  shims are quite handy! And good to have around the house for a multitude of projects.

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