Updated at: 23-04-2022 - By: Sienna Lewis

We’ve got some good news for you if your sewing machine handwheel has been giving you grief recently. As a result, we’ve included instructions on how to fix the handwheel on your own, saving you money and time.

There are several reasons why your sewing machine handwheel may have broken or become stuck in the first place, and you’ll learn more about them here.

What May Cause Sewing Machine Handwheel Issues?

There are several probable reasons why your handwheel is difficult to turn, and it will be easier to figure out what remedies might be available. You’ll be able to prevent it from jamming again in the future with these preventative procedures. So, let’s have a look at some of the possible causes of your handwheel becoming jammed.

How To Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel – Tips and Guidelines | Sewing machine, Sewing essentials, Sewing

1. Thread tension at the top of the machine

If you see tangled threads when sewing, your first inclination is to attribute it to the bobbin. You may be correct in some circumstances, however the stress in the top threads may be the source of knotted threads in others.

It’s far more difficult for the sewing machine to pull the thread through the fabric when the upper threads are loose. Your best bet in this situation is to re-thread the needle using the instructions in your specific model’s manual.

2. Incorrect tying of the bow

Even the most expert sewers may be reluctant to recognize this possible explanation for a jammed handwheel. Your machine’s handwheel may become stuck if you use the wrong threading.

Double-checking your sewing machine’s threading is therefore a smart idea. Knots, a typical cause of thread jams, may be visible while inspecting the thread.

Set the take-up thread lever to its maximum setting before attaching your thread spool and guiding it through the tension discs to ensure that the machine is completely unthreaded and rethreaded. A small amount of thread should be left at the end after this procedure.

3. Lint and Dust Accumulation

Sewing machine interiors frequently become clogged with dust and lint over time. A clogged handwheel could be due to lint and dust buildup if you’ve never removed the cover from your sewing machine to clean it out. Before you begin cleaning your sewing machine, you’ll need to switch it off.

In addition, there was a broken belt.

Handwheel and needle issues can arise if your sewing machine’s belt is broken. This can cause problems with both. Replacement of the belt on your own can be a challenge. As a result, we advise that you have a professional replace the belt.

Lack of Oil in the Handwheel

The lubrication of older sewing machines must be done on a regular basis. The handwheel’s internal gears are the most important components to be oiled to ensure smooth operation.

Sewing machine oil only needs to be used sparingly on the gears. Make sure you apply a small amount of oil to the handwheel and try it to see if it moves any better. If this is the case, add a small amount of oil at a time until the handwheel is no longer squeaky when turned.

Steps To Fix Sewing Machine Handwheel

Step 1. Making Inner Knob Adjustments

Changing the knob on the interior of an older sewing machine may be a way to fix it if you have one. Your handwheel may become more difficult to turn if the inner knob becomes locked.

For those of us with older sewing machines, check the internal knob and loosen it if necessary. The little wheel on the inside of the handwheel could also get stuck, making it difficult to turn.

Make modifications to the handwheel if you observe that the smaller wheel is stuck.

Re-assembling hand wheel and clutch release - YouTube

Step 2. Re-Threading your Machine

Sewing machine handwheels can get jammed for a variety of causes, one of which being knotted thread. Thread tangles can lead to an increase in handwheel tension, making it more difficult to turn.

You’ll need to re-thread the machine if you discover that tangled threads are the cause of the wheel malfunctioning. The handwheel on your sewing machine should now turn more smoothly after you’ve re-threaded it.

If the handwheel is still difficult to turn after re-threading the machine, you’ve at least eliminated one of the possible explanations.

Step 3. Cleaning the Bobbin Case

Once the machine has been re-threaded and the problem still persists, the most likely culprit is the bobbin casing. Lint builds up over time in the bobbin casing of your sewing machine.

This lint causes the handwheel to feel jammed when it accumulates. You can relieve handwheel strain by removing the case and cleaning away the lint, so this is a straightforward remedy.

Make sure the handwheel isn’t too difficult to turn after cleaning the bobbin case, and then put the case back on. The bobbin case may still have lint that has to be cleaned out.

Can You Overwork Your Sewing Machine?

Since modern sewing machines have an auto-shutoff option, it’s difficult to overwork them because of this. This feature ensures that the motor does not overheat and become damaged by automatically shutting down the machine.

A sewing machine that lacks an automatic shutoff option is more likely to overheat. In particular, sewing at a rapid rate for an extended period of time can have this effect.

When your sewing machine overheats, the handwheel can get stuck. If this happens, disconnect the power cord and wait at least an hour before using the machine again. Allow the sewing machine to cool down for at least two to three hours before using it again.

It’s also possible that the handwheel will stop working properly if you haven’t used your sewing machine sufficiently.

How Should You Turn A Sewing Machine Handwheel?

It’s imperative that you rotate your handwheel counter-clockwise at all times. The motor in your sewing machine might suffer severe damage if the handwheel is turned in a clockwise direction. If you turn it all the way clockwise on a frequent basis, this is especially true.

If a thread gets tangled and you need to untangle it, you can crank the handwheel counter-clockwise. Additionally, you should avoid spinning the handwheel clockwise and only turn it anti-clockwise to avoid motor difficulties that lead to costly repairs.

In sewing machine manuals, this is not frequently included, which makes it easy for users to overlook.

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

Lack of lubrication

You should inspect your sewing machine’s handwheel frequently to see whether it requires lubrication. Since the gears are constantly rubbing against one another, it can get stuck if they aren’t properly lubricated.

If you don’t follow the instructions in your sewing machine’s owner’s manual, you could inadvertently inflict more harm than good. As with lubricating the other moving parts of the sewing machine, a drop or two should be plenty.

In addition, you can read about how to oil a sewing machine to learn more about the ins and outs of this activity. Of course, you should always refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions.

Damaged belt

There is a belt inside of sewing machines that turns the handwheel. The handwheel won’t turn if it’s damaged, and the needle will be stuck as well.

However, if your sewing machine’s belt is broken, you must take it to an authorized service center for repair. This part can only be removed and replaced by a trained specialist.

Be aware of the warning signals that your sewing machine’s belt needs to be replaced, as well. When stitching, for example, be on the lookout for a rubbery scent or a clicking sound that occurs if the machine is slacking off.

How Do You Unlock The Handwheel On A Sewing Machine?

Rest the machine

Taking a two- or three-hour break from stitching may be beneficial to your machine. An auto-shutoff function can be used on some sewing machines to prevent the machine from overheating.

After the machine has cooled down, you can check to see if the handwheel is still stuck. However, it’s worth noting that storing the machine for an extended period of time may necessitate lubricating and using the handwheel in order for it to resume normal operation.

Improper turning of the handwheel

If you don’t let go of the handwheel when winding the bobbin, it could get jammed. By rotating the inner wheel while gripping the outer wheel on an ancient sewing machine, you may block the needle from moving.

Also, make sure to check your manual for specific circumstances in which the wheel should be turned in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. If you make the wrong move for a specific practice, the handwheel can feel locked.

Locate the inner knob

Also, make sure to check your manual for specific circumstances in which the wheel should be turned in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. If you make the wrong move for a specific practice, the handwheel can feel locked.

Also, make sure to check your manual for specific circumstances in which the wheel should be turned in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. If you make the wrong move for a specific practice, the handwheel can feel locked.

How to Turn your Sewing Machine Hand Wheel - SEW IT WITH LOVE I Sewing classes, workshops, courses, London

How Do You Turn A Handwheel On A Sewing Machine?

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your manual to see if there are any situations where you need to rotate the wheel in either direction. The handwheel can feel stuck if you make the wrong motion during a particular session.

You could end up destroying your machine’s motor if you do this. But if the thread gets stuck, you may need to turn the handwheel clockwise to unravel it.

Learn how to sew on an ancient sewing machine if you’re working with a vintage or antique model.

How To Prevent Damage To The Sewing Machine

When discussing a jammed handwheel, we must also address how to move the handwheel. The handwheel should only be turned in the anticlockwise direction at first. In order to wind the bobbin, you must crank the handwheel towards yourself.

Changing the thread take-up lever or needle position manually requires turning the handwheel. The sewing machine can be seriously damaged if the wheel is turned in a clockwise or away from you direction.

The timing of the machine can be messed up if the handwheel is turned the wrong way. As a result, pricey repairs may be necessary. If you need to unlock a bobbin, for example, you can turn the handwheel away from you on rare instances. Even so, you must go quite cautiously and gently. If you’re having a hard time, don’t try to push yourself through it.


If you perform the aforementioned fixes, you may find that your handwheel is once again free to turn. However, if the vehicle still won’t start, you’ll need to take it to a repair.

You should not try any sewing machine repairs, especially on an electric sewing machine. If you don’t have a thorough understanding of a machine’s workings, you may end up hurting it much more.

As a result, you may have to pay more to get the machine fixed. There is no harm in calling the service centers if you are unsure about any of the following actions. Be cautious rather than regretful.


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