Lathe Steady Rest

This a steady rest I built for my lathe for long spindles and deep vases or bowls. I made a few mistakes but will try to explain the correct way here. You can see it in use on the Long Stem Goblet page.

First off measure the size you need the ring, mine is built on the Jet 1642 lathe. The center should line up with the center of you lathe spindle. One ring is cut from 3/4" plywood, that will be the solid ring. The other ring is cut from 1/2" baltic birch plywood and sections of that will be cut out for the arms to slide in. As you can see the bottom of the rings are going to be cut flat, but the legs over the lathe bed are put on there to strengthen that area. I glued and nailed this all together after cutting out the arm slots.

Then make a template for the legs to go over your lathe bed. I cut mine for 1/2" baltic birch plywood. I cut a block to go under the bed and used JB Weld to attach the bolt inot place. I also did the same on the arm bolts.

Then I figured the length of arm I needed to fit to the center of the ring with the wheels. Figure the slot travel length you need then add extra length to give strength to the slot. I made the arms from 1/2" baltic birch plywood.

Now this is where I messed up a little. Make sure the 3 wheels center when they are brought to the center. I had mine off and had to recut the slot, bottom left on the third picture, so I could support small spindles. Cut the slots in the arms centered, for small spindles I have to turn one arm around so one wheel is on the back of the arm. The 3 wheels hit each other before they are close enough to fit a small spindle snug.

Then I went to the Goodwill store and bought a $5.00 pair of rollerblades. They all use the same size wheels so the shoe size does not matter, just pick the pair with the smoothest and newest wheels. The rest of the skates you are throwing away anyway.

To use I put the rest on the lathe bed and lock it down. Then I turn the lathe on slow speed so I can watch the wobble in the spindle being held. I push one arm in until I see I am just firmly touching the spindle without flexing it. Then move the next arm in and locking it. Then the last arm come in to firmly hold the spindle in place. I found that if the spindle is turned to the same diameter the full lenght before you start, that to move the rest I just loosen the base, not the arms, and slide it to the new position and lock it back down. I do this with the lathe running so I can see it I have cause any wobble to my spindle.