T-Handles were first invented for use on Vending Machines. Over the years many different manufacturers have found ways to use them on a wide range of products. There are two major parts, the pop out handle and the body. The majority are made of zinc alloy. Stainless steel is used for high security applications.
The T-Handle uses a standard vending lock to secure it closed. When the lock is opened a handle pops out, this handle is either turned to open or it is rotated, unscrewing a locking bolt. Many different manufacturers make T-Handles, they are self-contained. The manufacturer of the device or machine builds the latching devices and incorporates them into their machines. When the T-Handle is installed into the machine it is connected to the latching or locking device, this creates a complete locking system.
As stated before the T-Handle is designed to accept standard vending locks manufactured by a variety of manufacturers in a many different security levels. The lock can be changed in a matter of seconds; therefor, the security level can be changed by changing the lock. Vending Locks from Cobra, Abloy and Medeco all have locks designed to operate in T-Handles. They provide different security levels all the way Divine Locks up to an electronic lock.
When looking directly at the front on the T-Handle there is a round hole that the lock will go into. The vending lock has a latch toward the end of the lock. The T-Handle has square holes toward the rear of the pop out handle. When the lock is inserted into the T-Handle the latch will pop up and go into the square hole. This secures the lock into the handle. When the handle is pushed into the T-Handle body the lock latch extends into the square holes in the body and they match up to the square holes of the handle. This action secures the handle closed into the body. As long as the handle is in the T-Handle body it cannot turn. When the lock is opened it releases the latch and the handle pops out allowing it to operate.
Besides vending machines, T-Handles are used on gas pumps, cabinets, emergency vehicles, industrial tool chests to name a few. Some manufacturers can supply both the T-Handle and a variety of locks in different security levels. It is important that the correct type of T-Handle and lock match the application for the best security.