How To Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel: 2 Common Issues

Last Updated on 6 months by Susan Mayrich

You can learn how to fix sewing machine handwheel by knowing the two common issues. We’ll discuss why improper threading and insufficient cleaning can affect your handwheel. 

how to fix sewing machine handwheel

This article also includes detailed repairs for a stuck handwheel. And as a bonus, we’ll go through the proper turning of the handwheel. 

Speaking of which, why not read about the parts of the sewing machine and what they do. It’s always helpful to familiarize yourself with the machine’s components. 


How To Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel At Home


Rethread the sewing machine

Learn how to thread the specific sewing machine you have because issues with this setup can cause the handwheel to get stuck. This is because of the resulting tangled thread, which then increases the handwheel tension. 

Inspect how you threaded the machine or locate any knots that may have formed. Then, rethread the unit according to your manual.

The manual should have an illustration of how the thread should go through the sewing machine in order. The emphasis is necessary on following the sequence shown in the manual until you reach the needle eye. 


Clean the sewing machine

Do you know that issues in the handwheel can be caused by poor maintenance? For example, if your sewing machine is dirty and congested with lint and debris, you can experience jamming on the handwheel. 

In particular, check the bobbin case where lint might have accumulated over time. Remove them with a brush or tweezers, but never with canned air as it might push the debris into the machine. 

Remember that lint and other debris that can collect on the machine can increase the handwheel tension. Make it a habit to clean your sewing machine after every project or 8 hours of continuous work. 


Why Won’t The Handwheel On My Sewing Machine Turn?


Lack of lubrication

Much like other moving parts of the sewing machine, you need to check your handwheel regularly if it needs oiling. Lack of lubrication can cause it to get stuck since the gears continuously undergo friction. 

Refer to your model’s manual on how to oil the handwheel and always use the proper sewing machine oil, or you might cause more harm than good. A drop or two should suffice as with lubricating the other moving sewing machine components. 

You can also read how to oil a sewing machine for the dos and don’ts of this maintenance practice. But of course, check with your manual for the indications. 


Damaged belt

Sewing machines have a belt inside that is responsible for the turning of the handwheel. If it is damaged, the handwheel won’t turn, and the needle itself is also stuck. 

However, you must bring your sewing machine to an authorized service center if you’re dealing with a broken belt. A professional has the right tools to remove and replace this part safely. 

It’s also a good practice to be aware of the signs that your sewing machine needs its belt replaced. For example, check for a rubber smell when sewing or even a clicking sound that happens if it’s slacking too much. 


How Do You Unlock The Handwheel On A Sewing Machine?


Rest the machine

Consider turning off the sewing machine and allowing it to rest if for two to three hours. Some sewing machines have an auto-shutoff feature that can lock the handwheel if the machine is overworked to avoid the risk of overheating. 

After allowing the machine to cool down with the power cord unplugged, you can check your handwheel if it’s still stuck. But interestingly, keeping the machine stored for a long time might also mean that the handwheel needs lubrication and usage for it to function smoothly again. 


Improper turning of the handwheel

The handwheel can get jammed if you fail to release it when winding the bobbin. In old sewing machines, you can release the handwheel and prevent needle movement by rotating the inner wheel as you’re holding the outer wheel. 

Additionally, always review your manual for the instances where you must turn the wheel clockwise or counterclockwise. If you make the wrong move for a specific practice, the handwheel can feel locked. 


Locate the inner knob

Is your sewing machine an older model? You’ll find that the parts of a vintage sewing machine include a smaller wheel in the middle of the handwheel. 

If the inner wheel is fixed, it can also keep the handwheel from turning. Therefore, you can unlock the inner wheel accordingly, and your handwheel should move smoothly. 


How Do You Turn A Handwheel On A Sewing Machine?

Refer to your manual for the direction that you must turn the handwheel for the practice you’re doing. In general, you will turn the handwheel counterclockwise or towards you and never clockwise. 

Otherwise, you risk damaging your machine’s motor. However, there is an instance where you might need to turn the handwheel clockwise to unravel the thread if it got jammed. 

If you’re using vintage or antique, read how to use an old sewing machine



Was this article helpful? We just discussed how to fix sewing machine handwheel and revealed two common issues. 

You may need to rethread your sewing machine or clean the bobbin area. The handwheel can also get stuck if the belt is broken, the machine lacks oil, the machine is overworked, or the inner wheel on older units is locked. 


Leave us a comment if you still have any. 

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