Homemade steadyrest for my lathe

cazboy

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I just finished making a small and very thin (0.064" thick) steadyrest specifically for pivot work. I prototyped it with chipboard held together with pieces of toothpick. The "V" cut is fabricated from two pieces of .016" brass, spaced apart with one piece of .032" brass. The top part is also made from .032" brass so when the screws are drawn tight, there's considerable friction holding the top part down - and it is easily pulled away from the wheel arbor. One thing I don't like about it is that there's no way to lock down the top part, so I suspect I'll come up with an improved design somewhere down the line.

The only part I couldn't make myself was the mounting post, and that was only because with my current tooling I can only make end-wise slits 1/2" deep. On this project I wanted an .064" slit a full 1" deep, but with soon-to-arrive larger-diameter slitting saws, I should be able to slit 3/4", which should suffice with my next design. The mounting post shown here was made by Tom Hammond, a fellow Rivett fan. I think it turned out nicely, and so far the steadyrest itself has turned out OK, I guess. Lacking any way to lock the top part down, I can only file or burnish from the top. If I can devise a way to lock the top of the steadyrest down then hopefully I'll be able to work pivots from the bottom.

After trying the steadyrest in its original "rectangular" shape, I realized I wanted to file a cutaway to match the profile of the tee-rest's curved top. You can see it right where the mounting post joins the steady. That allowed the post to drop an extra 1/16" lower, which lets me accommodate larger arbors.

The first couple of pictures are of my prototype. Hope you like it...
 

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Kevin W.

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Great pictures and explanation Doug, you are very creative in making new acessories for your lathe.
 

David S

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Very nice Doug. I like seeing how other people make stuff. It always gives new inspiration. I made a small live rest for doing pivot work, but it can be a bit too thick for sort arbors. I may do what you did.
 

cazboy

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Many thanks guys. Of course the simplest way to address this same issue is by making "flags", which are just little squares of brass stock held in place in a slotted piece of drill rod. Just drill & broach some holes in the brass and it will hold a variety of arbor sizes in place. I guess I just took leave of my senses for a while, just sort of wanted to see what I could come up with. I had fun making it. I listened to almost the whole discography of Genesis while working on this.
 

doc_fields

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Doug;
Very nice idea! Will you be mounting a small spring to the side to keep some tension on the upper arm? Just a thought..................doc
 

cazboy

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Doc, I've considered mounting a small spring. I'm not sure if that's what I'll do though. I suspect I'll leave this one alone. Something about the whole design bothers me, I need time to figure out what it is. The shape of the upper arm doesn't seem "right" somehow. I guess when I decide on an improved design I'll figure out how to lock the upper arm.
 

sharukh

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All I can say is -- terrific !!

Simple and effective.

I can suggest one thing. Add one screw to the top of the V gap away from the post through only one plate. You can use that to retain the upper arm tight enough to be able to work from under the pivot.

Just my two paisa.
 

cazboy

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All I can say is -- terrific !!

Simple and effective.

I can suggest one thing. Add one screw to the top of the V gap away from the post through only one plate. You can use that to retain the upper arm tight enough to be able to work from under the pivot.

Just my two paisa.
Thank you, Sharukh! I just sent you an email regarding your idea.
 

cazboy

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I added a locking mechanism to my mini-steadyrest. The design was suggested by Sharukh from post #9 above. I'm still not happy with it, although my dissatisfaction results from my original design instead of Sharukh's idea for a way to lock the upper arm in place. It turns out that the locking idea works quite well, but turning the set screw not only secures the upper arm into position, but it also creates a considerable bow in the top plate of the frame. It's built with the outer two plates (with the "V" notches") are .016" brass and the center "U"-shaped frame as well as the upper arm are both made from .032" brass. I plan on building another one using .032" brass throughout - that should make it more robust. It will also make it .096" thick, too! Oh well.

Anyway, the locking mechanism was just a brass 4-40 hex nut secured over a hole drilled into the top plate with Tix solder. First I smooshed some Tix flat with my smooth-faced pliers, then chopped into tiny pieces. I screwed the 4-40 hex screw into the nut and inserted the screw's end into the plate's hole to guarantee proper position. Then I carefully placed little pieces of Tix around the hex nut and heated with a butane torch from underneath. As soon as the Tix melted, I withdrew the flame and let it cool. Everything was great except when I tried it out, that's when I discovered that .016" brass bows very easily!

Oh well, I'll keep this one because it actually works if you don't screw down too hard with the locking screw.
 

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AllThumbz

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I like what you did. I would use some steel plate. Cut the V in the top and bottom. Use brass tubing to make bushings of various sizes arbors you want to work on. The bushing goes over the arbor and the steel plate holds it securely like a vise. Steel won't bend as easily. In your design, eventually the steel arbors will wear holes in your brass (like pivots do on movement plates). When that happens with the tubing/bushings I propose, simple remove and replace them.

Nelson
 

jhe.1973

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Hi Doug,

I think you have a great idea here and it's executed well also.

I have a suggestion that might help the rigidity. If you cut a curved slot through the internal plate using the upper arm's pivot hole as the center of the slot's radius, you could clamp all three pieces together with a screw that goes all the way through. The soldered nut would then be on the opposite side of the screw head.

I stole your photo & re-touched it to show how the slot might look:

Steady.jpg

On edit: I just realized that you could face a screw head down quite thin and solder it in place from the headstock side of the rest. Then the nut could be a knurled thumb nut where the soldered nut is now.
 
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Harry Forr

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If you use the tool post for your steadyrest then how do you turn to new pivot after it has been installed? You would have not steadrest for a graver?
 
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Harry Forr

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It appears the steady rest detailed in this article is mounted in the tool post holder? I assume therefore one can not us this steady rest and a graver tool at the same time. For instance if the pivot is broken in arbor and a new is pressed into the arbor then I would want to chuck the arbor in the headstock collet. I would want further to support the opposite end with a steady rest like yours. Once the new pivot is in place I would want to turn the pivot to size and thus ensure the TIR is acceptable.
 
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