Handwheels Information



Handwheels are manually-operated devices that revolve around an axis. They are used to adjust machinery and control access to compartments. Typically, the rim serves as a grip; however, many handwheels feature a stationary, revolving, or foldaway handle for ease of use. 

Types of Handwheels

Several types of handwheels are available. 
Solid wheels do not contain openings between the outside diameter and the inner hub. 
HandwheelsSpoked wheels resemble bicycle wheels and feature multiple supports (spokes) from the inner hub to the outer part of the wheel. 
With flat handwheels, the outside diameter of the wheel and outer diameter of the wheel’s hub are on the same plane or a similar plane. 
With dished wheels, the outside diameter of the wheel and the outside diameter of the wheel’s hub are on offset planes.


Handwheels vary in terms of specifications and features.

Size and Bore Specifications

Size and bore specifications include outside diameter (OD), bore size, and bore type. Typically, both OD and bore size are expressed in inches. For round bores, bore size is the diameter size. For rectangular bores, bore size is the largest measurement across the bore’s flat dimension. Handwheels with hexagonal, square-shaped, or starter bores are also available. In terms of features, some devices include coated finishes, painted spokes, or polished wheels. Others are anodized, knurled or contain a safety clutch or finger grips.


Handwheels are made from a variety of metals and plastics. Handwheels

  • Aluminum is a lightweight metallic element that offers good electrical and thermal conductivity, high reflectivity, and resistance to oxidation. 
  • Cast iron is a composite made mainly of iron, but with important trace amounts of carbon and silicon.
  • Steel is a commercial iron that differs from cast iron both in terms of its malleability and lower carbon content.
  • Stainless steel is chemical and corrosion resistant and can have relatively high pressure ratings.
  • Plastic materials for hand wheels include various thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers.  


There are many applications for handwheels. Some devices are used to manually operate valves. Others are used to adjust tables and cutters on machine tools, or to manually drive presses. In the printing industry, handwheels are used to regulate roll tension and feed paper and other materials. Knurled handwheels can be used in place of star-shaped or hand knobs for light adjusting or clamping applications. Specialized handwheels are resistant to solvents, oil, and grease.


BS 754 - System for the direction of rotation of machine tool handwheels and levers relative to movement produced
MIL-H-9859 - Handwheels
GOST 21752 - Human being-machine system, control handwheels and steering wheels. General ergonomic requirements
GOST 31.0101.01 - General specifications for handwheels, swivel levers, handles, knobs




Image Credits:


Carr Lane Manufacturing Co. | Jergens, Inc. | Rotork plc