What Is a Crank Handle Used For?

Monroe Engineering foldable crank handle

Crank handles have been around for centuries. Consisting of a mechanical arm that’s connected to a perpendicular rotating shaft, they are designed to convert circular motion into rotary or reciprocating motion. Pencil sharpers, for instance, often contain a crank handle. To operate it, you must turn the arm in a circular motion. Aside from pencil sharpeners, though, crank handles have countless other applications in the modern world.

Overview of Crank Handles

As shown in the adjacent photo, a crank handle is a simple component that consists of just a few basic parts. It has a mechanical arm that’s attached to a slightly longer shaft at a right angle. At the end of the shaft is a connecting rod. Also known as a conrod, the connecting rod is responsible for converting circular motion into rotary or reciprocating motion.

Crank handles are manually operated. Most of them require hand-turning, meaning you grip the mechanical arm with a hand to turn it in a circular motion. With that said, some crank handles are leg-operated. They are essentially foot pedals that you turn by pushing down on the arm with one or both feet.

Modern Applications for Crank Handles

Manufacturing machines often contain crank handles. In the manufacturing industry, precision matters. If a machine isn’t properly adjusted, it may fail to produce workpieces or products in the appropriate dimensions. Fortunately, crank handles can be used to make the necessary adjustments to lathes, milling machines and other manufacturing machines. For machine-related adjustment applications such as this, stainless steel handles are commonly used.

Crank handles are frequently used on trailers as well. Boats, for example, can be loaded onto trailers using a crank handle. A rope is attached from the end of the crank handle to the front or back of the boat. Turning the crank handle will pull the boat out of the water and onto the trailer. Being that they are exposed to water, marine-related applications for crank handles require the use of a corrosion-resistant material, such as aluminum. Aluminum crank handles are resistant to corrosion, so they can withstand water without degrading.

Windows, as well as blinds, may be adjusted using crank handles. Some builders install windows and blinds with crank handles. Turning the crank handle will open or close a window, or it will raise or lower a set of blinds. For windows and blinds, plastic crank handles are typically used. They are lightweight, ergonomic and long-lasting

See Monroe’s Crank Handles.

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