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Industrial Handles and Knobs: Everything You Need To Know

Industrial handles are unlike regular handles. Primarily, they are mounted on larger fixtures or equipment that require frequent adjustments. They come in various types, styles, uses, and materials to be used for specific industrial applications.

Most industrial handles are designed with ergonomic grips. They can either be turned, pulled, pushed, raised, or lowered. Depending on the tasks you need them for, it's important to choose the right type of industrial handle to purchase for the job.

One thing's for sure; for every heavy equipment and manufacturing machine, there is a heavy-duty handle that does the right job for it.

Here's what you need to know about these simple yet highly effective tools.

In this article we will take a closer look at:

1. What is an Industrial Handle?
2. The Most Common Types of Industrial Handles

   > Adjustable Handle
   > Chest Handle
   > Crank Handle
   > Extruded Pull Handle
   > Lever Handle
   > Ratchet Handle
   > Tapered Handle
   > T-Handle
   > Two-point Handle

3. What Materials are used in Industrial Handles?
   > Stainless Steel Handles
   > Aluminum Handles
   > Brass Handles
   > Copper Handles
   > Plastic Handles

4. What are Industrial Handles used for?
   > Medical Equipment
   > Construction Machinery
   > Equipment Controls
   > Power Equipment
   > Industrial Equipment

5. How to Select the Best Industrial Handle Equipment
6. Summary

What Is an Industrial Handle?

It's easy to see why "hand" is the root word of "handle." This piece of industrial hardware is grasped by hand to manipulate or adjust certain tools or equipment.

Handles are attached to tools for carrying or transporting materials to another location with ease. A wheelbarrow, for instance, may feature ergonomic handles that allow you to push or pull the equipment by hand.

You can also find handles on tools that serve certain applications. A claw hammer, for instance, has a rubberized handle that prevents the tool from slipping off your hands during a task.

Wherever you use it,  you can trust a well-designed and sturdy industrial handle to make any job efficient, safe, and fast.

The Most Common Types of Industrial Handles

Considering that there are various types of handles, you need to know which one to pick for doing a certain task. Not only that, but you will also need to consider the kind of environment you are in. If your business is involved in the production of heavy-duty machinery, you will need handles that can withstand high workloads, corrosion, and heat. It's also important to pick handles that allow for a comfortable grip.

A good number of workplace injuries consist of carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition causes pain and numbness in the hands. Often, it results from poor ergonomics. Working with the wrong industrial handles, operators may experience wrist injuries, resulting in more downtime and decreased efficiency.

It pays to carefully select a handle that provides long-term benefits to the production line.

Here's an overview of the types of industrial handles. You might find one that suits you.

Adjustable Handle

Also known as a clamp handle, an adjustable handle provides flexibility. It can be adjusted to fit specific applications or tasks. For that, the user will only need to pull the handle. Once it is disengaged, the handle can be moved to another position.

Adjustable handles are used for fastening. They are also ideal for applications that require frequent adjustments and firm workholding. There are different style options to choose from, but T-shaped and angled arm handles are the most common. They also come in threaded or non-threaded mount types as well.

Chest Handle

Found mostly on storage equipment, chest handles allow for easy lifting and transport, which can help with handling heavy containers. These handles are made from durable stainless steel or thermoplastic materials.

Chest handles are great for lifting or pulling chests and drums. They can also work well with drawers or in applications that require a pulling action.

Crank Handle

For a tool that's faster to operate than adjustable handles, crank handles are worth considering.  They can be used for high-torque applications and rotational adjustments in the same ways as handwheels. This type of handle is removable and for easy storage, choose a fold-away crank handle.

When choosing a crank handle, you can mix and match different handle styles and mounts. Apart from standard fixed handles, you also have options for revolving and solid handle styles.

For the mounting hole, you can choose from threaded holes, round holes, blind bore, and blank mounts.

Extruded Pull Handle

Also called ledge handles, extruded pull handles are essential cabinet hardware. They are usually mounted directly on a product such as a cabinet or a shelf. Made from stainless steel or aluminum, extruded pull handles are ideal for sliding shelves. Coming in either stainless steel and matte black finishes, they make for great drawer pull handle assemblies.

Lever Handle

Industrial levers should come with proper handles for easy handling. Some variations even feature a spring-loaded mechanism that returns the lever handle to its original position.

Ratchet Handle

Consisting of a crank and a ratchet, a ratchet handle is crucial to high-torque applications. Specifically, they are mainly used for quick and safe machine adjustments.

The handles can be moved from one side to another. They are also compact, allowing for effective handling in confined workspaces.

Tapered Handle

As excellent handles for machine levers, tapered handles provide a comfortable grip due to their simple construction. They work well with operating levers and gear sticks, but there are some designs that can be used alongside handwheels.

Depending on the application, you might want to check out tapered handles that are resistant to grease and oil.


T-handle knobs are mounted on levers and used on adjusting controls. The shape allows for a relaxed grip and faster manual turning. This reduces stress on the wrist and fingers. You have options for cast iron t-handles, but there are plastic variations as well.

Two-point Handle

Used mainly as door handles, two-point handles or U-pulls come in a variety of materials, from stainless steel to aluminum. The simple curved design makes a two-point handle an ideal cabinet pull handle.

What Materials Are Used in Industrial Handles?

Part of the process of selecting an industrial handle is understanding the material it's made from. Like all other equipment parts, industrial-style handles cover a wide range of materials ideal for either light or heavy-duty applications or even both.

There's a lot to consider when you are choosing an appropriate material for your handle. Here are some of the most common ones to check out.

Stainless Steel Handles

Since 1913, stainless steel has become an essential part of heavy industries. Used for manufacturing a wide range of machines, parts, and tools, this material provides a wide range of benefits.

Handles made from stainless steel can withstand high heat and corrosion dependent on the alloy grade. Higher-grade stainless steel can stand against acid and chlorine, making it ideal for chemical plants. Stainless steel is also easy to clean and provides a sleek and stylish look to the equipment it is mounted on. 

So, if you are opting for durable handles that require minimal maintenance, stainless steel has to be your top choice.

Aluminum Handles

We can find aluminum almost anywhere, from the faucet to the kitchen cabinet. It's just as tough as stainless steel, only lighter and more recyclable.

For that reason, aluminum is also an ideal choice of material for manufacturing industrial handles. They work well with sliding barn doors and heavy-duty security doors. Plus, they are long-lasting, so you won't have to worry about replacing handles as often.

Brass Handles

While durable, stainless steel and aluminum can't match the rigidity of brass. Handles made from this material are known to last for many years.

They may look more traditional compared to other types of handles, but brass handles are known to be economical. If you want to reduce maintenance costs, the longevity of brass can help minimize the need for repairs.

More importantly, brass is cheaper than most high-grade metals. With such benefits in mind, it would be difficult to pass up on brass in your requirements for an industrial handle.

Copper Handles

Copper has been around for millennia, making it "man's oldest metal." It also plays a significant part in heavy industry due to its conductive properties. As a matter of fact, most heat exchangers are made from copper. The material is also malleable and can be integrated with tin and silver to form pewter.

Aside from being corrosion-resistant, copper is also known for its germ-killing properties. In addition, handles made from this material are hygienic. That alone makes copper handles ideal for preventing contamination and sickness among operators.

Lastly, copper is abundant. That makes it a cheap material for manufacturing durable industrial handles.

Plastic Handles

For lighter applications, you can look towards handles made from plastic material. While they look fragile, plastic handles can be tailor-made with higher degrees of hardness.

They have a smooth texture and come in a wide array of colors, with matte black being a top choice across various industries.

Most hand tools feature thermoplastic grips that are strong yet lightweight. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene or ABS plastic, on the other hand, are great for window and cabinet pulls.

The biggest benefit of using plastic handles is cost-efficiency. They are more affordable than metal handles. This allows for cost savings since you can buy replacement plastic handles at cheaper rates.

What Are Industrial Handles Used For?

Industrial handles are used across different settings. So, let’s go over the applications where these types of handles are prominently used most.

Medical Equipment

Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare institutions use equipment that requires frequent adjustments. These include hospital beds, dental engines, and instruments. Handles ranging from plastic to stainless steel are used most in this industry as they are designed to provide convenience and ease of cleaning.

Construction Machinery

When using heavy equipment, operators will need ergonomic handles that allow for a relaxed grip. Not only that, but the handles should withstand dirt, grease, sweat, and moisture. Mounting the right handle should help improve efficiency and reduce overhead costs.

Equipment Controls

Heavy equipment and vehicles have control panels with knobs and levers. For tasks that require high levels of accuracy, it's important to install handles that provide operators precise control when adjusting speeds.

Power Equipment

For generators and small power plants, you need handles that allow for firmer grip regardless of outdoor weather conditions.

Industrial Equipment

Whether it's food processing or automotive manufacturing, handles are used for numerous applications. For example, they can help with handling workpieces and operating machines that require manual adjustments. You can also find handles on transport equipment such as handcarts and wheelbarrows.

Which industry do you belong to? At Reid Supply, you will find handles for a wide range of industrial workflows. Ask us today for our recommendations for your industry.

How to Select the Best Industrial Handle

You may have learned everything about industrial handles, but it's still important to know which one is best suited for the work you have in store.

You only need to ask a few key questions when you are in the market for industrial handles:

  • How much torque does the specific task require?
  • Are you looking for an appliance pull that's resistant to heat and pressure?
  • What are your criteria when it comes to choosing high-quality parts?

When it comes to the material, make sure to consider the workload that's involved. If the application requires high amounts of pressure, then plastic handles may not be ideal. You can opt for aluminum handles instead. If you are in a high humidity environment, brass handles may corrode easily and fade.

Apart from the material, it's also important to consider the application itself. Heavy-lifting applications can do well with cast iron handles. When it comes to cabinets, plastic handles are preferred so long as they are constructed with the appropriate hardness. For quick adjustments, you may look towards hand cranks and adjustable handles. Finally, with heavy equipment, use tapered handles on your levers to allow for relaxed gripping.

Finally, before you purchase industrial handles in bulk, consider how much your budget will allow. The material and design determine a handle’s price, so make sure to do your homework by determining what you need the handles for, the application, safety requirements, and the environment.


If you are looking for quality industrial handles for specific applications, Reid Supply has a wide range of product offerings! Check out our catalog of industrial handles today and search for the right components for your business.

If you can’t find the right parts you need, give us a call at 1(800) 253-0421 or send an email to