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I Forge Iron

I made a Steady Rest for my little lathe.


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This past week, I finally got an excuse to make a Steady Rest for my little lathe and finished it this afternoon. I wanted to chamfer the inside of an 8” long x 3/4” pipe for making a propane burner. After considering various possible methods and my limited supply of tools I made a small cast aluminum steady rest. I pretty much followed the instructions by David Gingery in his book 6 The Dividing Head & Deluxe Accessories with several differences. The first difference is that I used lost foam sand casting. Second, I used small pieces of CRS to form the jaw guides and then hammered them out after the casting had cooled. Third I had to come up with a different mounting to attach to the 109 lathe bed and so tried to copy the tail stock mounting. That didn’t work out so well since I didn’t have a precise way to machine matching V grooves. I ultimately just tightened down the steady rest base on the ways and it wasn’t going anywhere. Plus the aluminum base won't hurt the steel ways.


I also made a spade drill bit to mount in the tail stock. The irony is that I realized about a half hour after finishing both the steady rest and drill that with the steady rest I didn’t need the drill to chamfer the pipe inside edge. I could have used regular lathe cutting tools. However I went ahead and used it and it worked well. The bit was made from 1095 high carbon steel that I had on had for making knives. It worked very well cutting the steel pipe and was not yet needing to be sharpened after chamfering both ends of three pipe pieces. 










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Nice. Always good to make your own tooling.



I understand the need to not turn a small project into a big one needlessly, but I might have done a few things different. Maybe it's just the perfectionist in me, but since you have a lathe, I think I would have taken the few minutes to have turned down your cast ring on all sides. I've have probably bored the center and faced one side, Then flipped the ring and run the chuck from the inside and trued up the outside and faced the 2nd side. Not that functionally it would make a difference, but to me, it would have been a matter of principal.

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Hi DSW. The instructions I was following actually called for machining the ring face. However, I was not convinced that it is needed and so did want to avoid it if not required. I have been thinking for some time that a steady rest would be handy and so am expecting to use it occasionally for years to come.

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Good job, looks like it served its intended purpose.

Keep plenty of oil on the guides where the shaft is rotating, doesn't take long for the
heat to build up.
I do quite a bit of work requiring a steady rest and have modified all of mine to have
roller bearings on the guides.

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