Making a Steady Rest.


I like things simple, and this couldn’t be simpler.


Drill holes through a piece of 1½” square steel tubing and weld in ¾” threaded rod.  Make absolutely sure that the threaded rods are parallel to each other and perpendicular to the square steel tubing.


Drill a hole in the exact center of the steel tubing for the bolt that will clamp it to the lathe. For my lathe, I use a ½” bolt through a piece of ½ steel under the ways to clamp the steady rest to the ways. The ½” steel under the ways is self-centering, so the steady rest is automatically centered on the ways.


The wheels are used roller blade wheels I picked up for free at a shop that repairs skates. They were worn down and out-of-round, but the bearings were fine. It just took a couple of seconds on my belt sander to turn them perfectly round. (Stick a bolt through the bearing, start your belt sander and hold the wheel on the bias against the sanding belt. Use a coarse belt).


Route a channel wide enough for the wheels in the center of a couple of pieces of oak, plus a little room for a washer on each side of the wheel’s bearings. Drill holes laterally through the oak pieces for the bolt to hold the wheels in place.


Drill 7/8” holes into the oak crosspieces to fit the threaded rods. The holes are drilled oversized so the oak does not bind on the rods. Eight washers and eight ¾” nuts and you are finished.


This is one solid mother of a rig. Clamped to the bed I can’t even budge it. It has the added advantage of being infinitely adjustable and there is no limit to the pressure you can bear on the contact of the wheels with the workpiece. It’s quiet and smooth.


You can use different size materials. I have one of ½” rod for small work, but for the big stuff I do I need this one.