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Thread: Steady rest

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Hugo, MN

    Steady rest

    I am planning to build a steady rest and found this plan that I am thinking of using. Any pros/cons to using t-track instead of slotted plywood?

    Also identified these wheels which I can buy one at a time. Thoughts on these?

    Interested in other's experience before I order some parts and get started.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Hi Jenny, interesting concept with the T-track. Most make it with wood and they work quite well. I do like the looks of it and might just borrow your plans and build one for myself. I do have one suggestion about the wheels though, I went into a thrift store and bought a used set of roller blades and each skate had four wheels on it and the bolts are usable as well. I paid about $3.00 for both skates.

    The interesting thing we Woodturners have in common is that we like to build things.

    Good luck on your project.

    Jay Mullins

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Melbourne Australia
    Jenny, that is an interesting concept, my steady doesn't have much movement, it shouldn't as it is a steady, not a holder as such.

    If you do small diameter stuff, then I would consider smaller diameter wheels. For my own steady I chose 60mm diameter wheels and when they arrived each wheel had a bolt with enough length on it to allow me to use that bolt and some washers that I supplied to my own unit.

    My steady, pictured below, is 38mm thick, it is two 19mm ply boards glued together, then cut out. I picked up somewhere on the net to use masonite (hardboard in the USA?) for backing for the sliders to reduce to zilch, the wheels slider mechanism from getting severe indentations from the bolt hardware.

    My completed steady prior to it's first use, doesn't look anything like that now.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Haubstadt (Evansville), Indiana
    I used the flanged Incra build it T-track. Mainly because I had it, but also felt a bit more stable/strength for the wheels.


    Edit: I used the wing nuts for tightening, but only one. A knob would be better or double like the one above (Mick's) as I ended up using pliers to tighten. I have since built a steel steady rest.
    Last edited by William C Rogers; 04-03-2018 at 7:48 AM.
    When working I had more money than time. In retirement I have more time than money. Love the time, miss the money.

  5. If you're going to use the steady rest for hollowing with a laser, you may need one that has an open area to allow the laser apparatus to move freely. I built a circular steady rest with an open area at the 10 - 11 o'clock area. In other words, it's not a complete circle. Mine has three wheels at the 2, 5, and 7 o'clock areas.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Sparta Tn
    Ditto what Edward said. I left my steady rest too thick on top and it blocks the laser. What I do is move it temporarily while hollowing that area. when I build my next one it will be very thin on top or have a gap.

  7. #7
    Here's a link to the one I made but now I pretty much use a camera and as a result really don't need a "C" design . . .

    * It's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep for life - Sister Elizabeth Kenny *
    I think this equates nicely to wood turning as well . . . . .

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Brentwood, TN
    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Blair View Post
    Here's a link to the one I made but now I pretty much use a camera and as a result really don't need a "C" design . . .
    No link, Peter.
    Maker of Fine Kindling, and small metal chips on the floor.
    Embellishments to the Stars - or wannabees.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Lummi Island, WA
    Jenny - when I built one patterned after the Nikols/J D Comb design using a metal flange as a base, there was talk of the hardness of the wheels and what they’re made of. Seems that harder wheels - for use outdoor/hard abrasive surfaces (durometer 80A or higher) perform better than the softer wheels (70A or lower). I heard claims of bounce from softer wheels. I opted for harder wheels, clear material. Can’t say that they perform any better, I didn’t try any others.
    A friend used black tired, softer wheels and experienced marking (relieved with a little masking tape on the contact area), but didn’t notice any bouncing...
    One thought about using t-track is that, when used at longer extensions they may be prone to twisting slightly - again, not from experience. The one that James McCombs shared an excellent plan/tutorialon building is solid as a rock even though I opted for a larger diameter flange for a 25” swing lathe. It is a pretty simple build if you’re comfortable with a hacksaw and/or angle grinder - some people cut all the parts and take to a welding shop to tack together.
    I think if you google steady rest and J D Combs it should come up.
    Last edited by Jeffrey J Smith; 04-05-2018 at 4:51 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Hugo, MN
    I am curious why you built a steel one after building the one in the pic? I built the one that I posted the link for above and it was not stiff enough. Only one layer of 3/4" plywood. I am going to have to try to beef it up and am thinking of adding at least one more layer of plywood and sandwiching it at the base with two more pieces. I am also thinking of putting another hole and T-bolt in each track. If I were starting over, I think I might only use 3 wheels too.

  11. #11
    I made mine out of heavy angle iron and steel plate with square tubing for the arms. It is rectangular for some very good reasons. In my opinion those steady rests made with round steel flanges are really cool looking but dysfunctional in many ways, too expensive to build, and waste a lot of capacity. There I said it.... I'm off to make popcorn.

    The bottom is in this case a 3/8" x 4" x 20 something inch long chunk of steel. Therefore the capacity of the rest is the swing of the lathe minus the thickness of the base plate the bolt head and washer doubled. In this example the steady can swing slightly larger than 20 inches on a 22 inch swing lathe. The real beauty of a square steady rest is the wheels tuck into the corners so the full capacity of the can be used. That's why I find round steady rest frames so wastefully silly.

    Popcorn is ready.


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