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Industrial and Machine Crank Handles: A Quick Guide

Is it possible to live in a world without crank handles? Without these tools, we wouldn’t be able to adjust mills, roll-up steel windows and doors, and sharpen pencils to a fine point.

Crank handles consist of a shaft that has a handle on one end and a shorter connecting rod (or conrod) on the other. Once attached to a revolving wheel and turned in, a crank handle converts circular motion into reciprocating motion.

They may look like simple tools, but crank handles can be used for various mechanical applications. Let’s learn more about these simple yet highly essential tools:

Applications for Crank Handles

Crank handles can be used for a wide variety of settings. In the office, hand-cranked pencil sharpeners allow us to rotate the blade around the pencil tip instead of rotating the pencil itself. In older car models, windows are raised or lowered using a revolving handle that’s typically made from plastic. Fishing rods have a reeling mechanism that pulls the fishing line when turned.

Heavy industries also use crank handles for a number of tasks that involve machining and equipment adjustments. The manufacturing sector uses crank handles to manually calibrate lathes and other heavy-duty machines. Holes are bored into the conrods so they fit into the machines. Typically, manufacturers use a blind bore or blank bore to mount the handle to a wheel.

Materials for Crank Handles

The earliest crank handles were made from hardwood. Today, there’s a long list of materials that can be used for manufacturing crank handles. Plastics are more common in car interiors, but they can also be used in factories and manufacturing plants as well. However, they may not provide as much strength and longevity compared to sturdier materials.

While stainless steel and aluminum offer a wide range of benefits, cast iron handles offer better corrosion resistance and ductility. It can also withstand high amounts of pressure and heat.

Revolving vs Stationary Crank Handles

If you are in the market for crank handles, you need to choose between revolving and stationary grips. Revolving grips can be adjusted to provide added comfort and flexibility to operators. In some cases, stationary or non-revolving crank handles are preferred, especially on tasks that require extra force.

Folding vs Non-folding Crank Handles

Aside from the grip, it’s also important to decide between purchasing a folding crank handle or a non-folding one. Non-folding crank handles are more widespread, but they can sometimes pose a safety risk to workers. Once mounted, these handles can trip people or cause head injuries. Folding crank handles are a safer alternative since they can be folded when not in use. This feature also makes them compact when stored away until the next task comes along.

Crank Handle Manufacturers

Now that we have learned everything there is to know about crank handles, it’s important to know which manufacturers to reach out to for these products. Ohio-based Elesa offers a wide range of handles through its award-winning Ergostyle line. Another Ohio-based company is Jergens which also distributes an endless array of handles and cranks that are ideal for any industry.

JW Winco also specializes in handwheels that come in different materials and used in different applications. End-users can modify these with different shaft configurations and holes to fit specific machines.

Not sure which one of these handle manufacturers cater to your needs? Check out our handle selection.

You can also reach out to us at 1(800) 253-0421 or send an email to