Types of lever – Simple machines – Physics

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A man and a girl on a seesaw

What kind of lever is a see-saw?

All levers fall into one of three types of lever. How can we tell which lever is in which class?

Well, a first-class lever is a stick where the fulcrum is in between the weight and the energy moving the weight (your hands, for example). Some common first-class levers are see-saws, crowbars, and pliers. A pair of scissors scissors (which use two first-class levers together), and a hammer pulling a nail are also first class levers.

A man pushing some kids in a wheelbarrow

What kind of lever is a wheelbarrow?

And then a second-class lever is a stick where the fulcrum is at one end of the stick and you push on the other end. The weight is in the middle of the stick. Some common second-class levers are doors, staplers, wheelbarrows, and can openers.

A woman playing softball

What kind of lever is a baseball bat?

And then a third-class lever is a stick where the fulcrum is at one end of the stick, you push on the middle, and the weight is at the other end of the stick. With a third-class lever, you have to put in more energy than you would just lifting the weight, but you get the weight to move a longer distance in return. Some common examples are a broom, a hoe, a fishing rod, a baseball bat, and our own human arms.

Learn by doing: Find examples of each kind of lever that aren’t mentioned here
More about simple machines

Bibliography and further reading about simple machines:


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By | 2017-08-17T09:26:03+00:00 August 17th, 2017|Physics|2 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Types of lever – Simple machines – Physics. Quatr.us Study Guides, August 17, 2017. Web. December 11, 2017.

About the Author:

Karen Carr

Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.


  1. Kakoola Suzan November 13, 2017 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    I have found this very helpful.

    Thanks Karen Carr

    • Karen Carr
      Karen Carr November 20, 2017 at 3:56 pm

      Wow, that’s great! Thanks for letting us know. I’d be happy to answer any more questions you have if I can.

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