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Handle design: T, L and pull handles

clock 3.5 minutes | 18 Dec 2019

Row of handles being assembled

T Handles and L Handles are named after their shapes. Both are examples of ergonomics in design, providing ample room for hand gripping for easy actuation.

Both are also used in the same applications across the same industries:

  • Automotive
  • Construction Equipment
  • Telecoms
  • Farm Equipment
  • Electric cable enclosures
  • Food Equipment
  • Industrial Machinery
  • Data cabinet

Both are also lockable. This might be a good place to mention P Handles, which some people refer to when they mean pull handles. T and L handles, and pull handles, each rely on different motions to open doors.

We’ll talk about T and L Handles now because of their similarities and come back to P Handles.

A closer look

T Handle is a great choice for applications that are accessed often, which means opening and closing the panel door should be quick and hassle free. This is what a cam lock latch with a T Handle gives you. A T Handle cam latch opens and closes with a fast quarter-turn motion for easy access. It’s especially suited for electrical panels, metal doors and machine covers.

An L Handle cam latch is also easy to use. You simply turn the handle, activating the mechanism. A cam rotates on the inside of the handle, opening the access panel or door. This simple action alleviates stress to joints. These work particularly well as industrial cabinet handles. If space is limited and won’t comfortably fit a T Handle, an L Handle can do the job and still give you an ergonomic grip.

Large red tractor used in farming and agriculture

An adjustable T Handle with compression has a very different purpose. It’s used on indoor cabinets that house equipment. Any electrical equipment tends to vibrate, but this type of T Handle compresses gaskets against door and panel openings to provide a tight seal. This protects the handle from the jarring effects of vibrations, and you can adjust the compression as needed over time. You can get these in locking or non-locking versions.

A NEMA-rated version of this T Handle is also available for NEMA electrical enclosures or any other outdoor enclosure. NEMA-rated Adjustable L Handles with compression can be used too. If your outdoor enclosure is NEMA rated, your handles will need to be, too, in order for the enclosure to maintain its rating. You can learn about the ratings of NEMA and its European counterpart, IP, here.

You can also get plastic T Handle knobs. Usually made of tough, durable nylon, this T Handle knob provides a strong, ergonomic grip as either male or female threaded knobs. It’s sometimes called a wingnut knob and is ideal for applications that require very precise movements by the operator.

While the T Handles discussed so far are surface mounted, you can get one as a flush mount industrial handle with a stainless steel cam lock, or without a locking option. These are rugged and often used in automotive and railway applications. You’ll also find them used as industrial generator parts. A flush mount T handle latch is also known as a folding handle because it folds down when not in use. This type is often used with an L Handle, which is positioned on the inside of the door, performing as an emergency release.

L Handles with steel cam latches can also take on heavy duties as HVAC components. They’re not alone, though. So can T Handles. Again, it comes down to the space you have to work with and which style works best for you. L and T Handle cam latches and locks are ideal in many applications, but for others, pull handles could be your best bet.

Pull handles

Pull handles need to be strong and durable. As the name suggests, they are constantly being pulled in order to open the door it’s affixed to. You can get industrial drawer pulls, industrial cabinet pulls – if it needs opening, there’s a pull handle for it. They’re incredibly varied in style and come in different shapes.

Industrial pulls aren’t just for access panels and doors, however. They’re often used on equipment, machines, crates and vending machines. Another popular application: rack enclosure cabinets. If you’re working with a rack that needs lifting, pull handles can act as ergonomic handlebar grips. The equipment inside is valuable, so make sure you use industrial handles.

Technical operative using controls on an industrial cutting machine
T Handle cam latch lock technical drawing

T Handle cam latch lock

Ideal for electrical panels and metal doors.

Adjustable T Handle with compression technical drawing

Adjustable T Handle with compression

Ideal for cabinets when vibrations and noise are an issue. For outdoor applications, use NEMA-rated version.

T Handle knob technical drawing

T Handle knob, male threaded

For applications that need an ergonomically designed solution

L Handle cam latch technical drawing

L Handle cam latch

Ideal for indoor cabinets.

Machine pull handle technical drawing

Machine pull handle
This is a strong handle suited for machine applications and available in different finishes.
Measurements in millimetres (mm)

Snap-in pull handle technical drawing

Snap-in pull handle
Ideal for machinery covers, providing flush design.
Measurements in millimetres (mm)

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