What is a Step Block?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A step block is a tool which is used to assist with clamping items to a table. The step block is adjustable so that the clamps can be placed at the right height. Hardware and home supplies typically stock step blocks or can order them by request and people can also fabricate their own if they feel so inclined. There may be situations in which a custom-fabricated step block is needed to complete a project.

Man with a drill
Man with a drill

The step block consists of two triangular pieces, toothed along the hypotenuse of the triangle. The blocks can be adjusted to be of varying heights for the purpose of supporting a clamp. They need to be adjusted with care to avoid putting strain on the object being clamped; if a clamp is placed at an awkward angle or the step blocks are not up to the load, the object can be damaged as a result of pressure or pinching from the angled blocks.

Metal is a common choice of construction material for step blocks because it is durable and strong. It can be painted and treated with anticorrosives to prevent it from rusting while in use. Some companies sell step block series consisting of multiple sets of blocks which are designed to be stored together in a protective case for convenience. It is also possible to purchase step blocks as a standalone item.

People who fabricate their own blocks may use wood, metal, or plastic, depending on the needs of the project and the available equipment. Someone with access to machining tools which can be used for metal parts, for example, might prefer to make a set of metal step blocks. Wood and plastic, however, are nonreactive, which can be important for some types of projects.

The term “step block” is also used in some other ways. For example, a step mounting block is a portable block which is designed to help people mount horses. It can be difficult to mount a tall horse from the ground safely and comfortably. Using a step block, a rider can walk up the block to mount the horse from a higher position. Mounting blocks increase safety for both horses and riders. Step blocks of similar design are also used for things like accessing high book shelves and kitchen cabinets. Home supply stores typically sell mounting steps and stools, as do stores which stock tack and other horse accessories.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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