Adding A Steady Rest To A Lathe

A steady rest is a tool for a lathe, enabling a machinist to make deep cuts in long, slender stock, bore out thin pieces of metal, and generally keeps thin stuff straight. Unlike a tool that follows the cutter, a steady rest is firmly attached to the bed of a lathe. [Josh]’s lathe didn’t come with a steady rest, and he can’t just get parts for it. No problem, then: he already has a lathe, mill, and some metal, so why not make the base for one from scratch?

[Josh] was able to find the actual steady rest from an online dealer, but it wasn’t made for his lathe. This presented a problem when attaching it to his machine: because each steady rest must fit into the bed of the lathe, he would need a custom bracket. With the help of a rather large mill, [Josh] faced off all the sides of a piece of steel and cut a 45 degree groove. To make this base level, [Josh] put one side of the base on the lathe, put a dial micrometer on the tool post, and got an accurate reading of how much metal to take off the uncut side.

With the steady rest bolted onto the lathe, [Josh] turned a rod and found he was off by about 0.002″. To machinists, that’s not great, but for a quick project it’s fantastic. Either way, [Josh] really needed a steady rest, and if it works, you really can’t complain.

11 thoughts on “Adding A Steady Rest To A Lathe

  1. This. Is. Not. A. Hack. This is metalshop 101.

    Josh should be very proud of himself, he found a requirement for a tool and filled that requirement. The fact that he couldn’t dial in his stock to less than 2 thou TIR shows Josh needs to practice his steady technique further.

    However, Josh should not be featured on hackaday. This isn’t innovative, or original. It’s the same thing guys with home machine shops do every day. Shit, I machined a set of M10 hold downs for a screwless vise today. Can I have a hackaday feature?

    The editors here need to spend some time on some of the home machine shop forums and look at the projects people are undertaking, if they want to see some real machine shop hacks. Just because you’re machine shop neophytes and don’t know your speeds from your feeds doesn’t make everything you see a hack.

    1. Most of the electronics featured here are equally trivial for those who are deep into electronics. But having this kind of not-so-deep material is useful for people interested in extending their knowledge into new fields.

  2. I disagree that is isn’t a hack. The thing is, machinists are simply performing mechanical hacks on dozens of things per week just as part of their job description, The ordinary becomes less amazing I guess.
    The guy took an old steady rest and modified it to fit his own machine. Also, because of the way a steady rest functions, it’s one of the few tools that doesn’t have to be made accurately at all to still work well. I’ll not describe here why, but a steady rest (at least the type shown here with brass tips rather than rollers) can be “off” a half-inch in whatever direction and it will still work fine
    As for being worthy of HAD, well maybe, maybe not. Over the years, steady rests often become orphaned from their parent lathe so there are a lot of lathes in the wild lacking it. It’s a fairly simple machining project which can be done even if you’re not a master, so I’m guessing this may just inspire others to take the project on. A complex steam engine project is not for the faint of heart, but simpler projects may be just as valid for inspiration since they aren’t intimidating.
    HAD just needs to balance this out now by showing a neat magnetic-gear clock or something to hit both ends of the spectrum. ;)

  3. Good grief; in the event Hackady is expected t try to adhere to even most opinions that concur what isn’t a hack,Hackaday may as well shut the doors, because there would be no content to feature. There where time when I considered suggesting area of Hackaday provide areas for this or that, but I never have figuring that items placed there would languish never seen. While in my opinion it’s often too rare the main page should be place for informative constructive comments to take place.

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