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The industry leader in aircraft cable accessories, pulleys, swaging tools, and cable cutters

Which Sheaves Are Best for Theatre & Stage Rigging?

Poorly designed theater and stage rigging setups can damage equipment and cause safety risks. The best way to ensure your rigging setups are functioning safely at a high level is by choosing the right sheaves. There are five different types of sheaves that are commonly used for theater and stage rigging: Small Diameter Sheaves, Lightweight Process Sheaves, Steel Wire Rope Sheaves, Lightweight/High-strength Nylon Sheaves, and Customizable Sheaves. All five sheave types have different materials, sizes and capabilities. Knowing the differences between sheaves ensures that you will buy the right product for your stage or theater setup.

Small Diameter Sheaves- Designed for aircraft cables but a great option for stage rigging thanks to their unmatched strength and durability. Some key features of Small Diameter Sheaves:

  • Available in Steel, Stainless Steel or a Customized Plastic Solution
  • Designed for Cables ½" and under
  • Steel and Stainless Steel options are turned from drawn bar stock
  • 5" – 6" in Size (Outside Diameter)
  • Ideal for high load applications running at medium speed
  • Oil impregnation provides permanent self-lubrication

Lightweight Process Sheaves- A perfect option when looking for a durable sheave that is not too heavy. Lightweight Process Sheaves:

  • Are Available in Aluminum, Alum-Ceramic, SX Polymer, Cast Nylon, and other materials
  • Come in various sizes from an outside diameter of 3.94" up to 54"
  • Are ideal for both low and high-speed applications
  • Used for processing insulated wire, tubing, synthetic rope, wire, cable, and other linear products
  • Are designed in various interlocking styles such as U-Groove, V-Groove, and Flat-Groove

Steel Wire Rope Sheaves- Solid Steel Wire Rope Sheaves that are perfect for theater and stage rigging when you need a customized solution. Some features of Steel Wire Rope Sheaves are:

  • Made with Solid Steel and virtually indestructible
  • Available to be customized for any sheave size between 1" to 60" in outside diameter
  • Commonly machined from solid 1045 steel round bar if sheave is 16" in diameter or less
  • Durable to the point that if load tested to destruction, the wire rope breaks before the sheave is damaged
  • Built with rope grooves hardened to 35-40 RC for all sheaves 14" to 60"

Lightweight/High-strength Nylon Sheaves - Cast Nylon Sheaves for lifting that are superior to aluminum or steel sheaves for heavy-duty wire rope load applications. Features of Lightweight/High-strength Nylon Sheaves:

  • Constructed with Cast Nylon
  • Customizable with hundreds of molds to fit almost every rope sheave requirement
  • Provide a cushioning effect in the groove areas which contact the rope strands 
  • Reduce contact pressure at the rope-groove interface to one-twelfth that of a steel sheave
  • Extend wire rope life by a factor of 2-3 times or more

Customizable Sheaves– Perfect in theater and stage rigging when looking for a sheave that isn't quite stock. Customizable Sheaves are:

  • Made with various materials and top performance bearings, making them perfect for a wide array of tasks
  • Available in sizes that stock sheaves can often not manufacture
  • QSheavesTM customizable sheaves are patented with Right Fit Technology, meaning over 1300 combinations of diameter, bore size, race, bearing, and spacers are available off the shelf 

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While theater and stage rigging can be difficult, knowing the various capabilities, materials, and sizes of various sheaves ensures you get the product you need to meet the demands of any application. If you want to learn more the five sheave types for theater and stage rigging, you can visit our our website at To shop our extensive range of sheaves, please visit Alternatively, if you would like to start a custom sheave project, fill out a form at

If you have any questions, we can help! Reach out to us by email through, or by phone at 800-321-5667.