View Full Version : I need steady rest help

01-16-2016, 08:07 PM
I picked up a Sheldon steady rest at the Cabin Fever Expo on Friday. It has plain steel fingers that I would like to retip with a softer material. This steady will be used for steel and aluminum. My plan is to silver solder appropriate pieces on to the finger and cut them to the original shape, but Iím not quite sure what material to use. I have oilite bronze, brass and copper. What would be a suitable material to use? I'm not really interested in using bearings.

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac334/bstupak/7cb431ba-7cc6-44cb-b706-4e95c686d5cf_zpsfha40ej8.jpg (http://s913.photobucket.com/user/bstupak/media/7cb431ba-7cc6-44cb-b706-4e95c686d5cf_zpsfha40ej8.jpg.html)


01-16-2016, 08:45 PM
Brass is commonly used, but it will mark aluminum. Oilite will not solder (some folks call ordinary bearing bronze 'oilite', but that name really only applies to a sintered material impregnated with oil). If 'skid marks' are ok on your aluminum, I'd use brass for best wear. If you need something softer I think teflon might work.

01-16-2016, 10:14 PM
Use solid bearing bronze or aluminum bronze.

01-16-2016, 10:25 PM
sure they are steel and not cast iron?

01-16-2016, 10:35 PM
If you want to go the cheap, and easy route (Like I did), just drill & tap the end of your fingers and screw in some bronze hex head bolts.
Like these: http://www.mcmaster.com/#bronze-screws/=10pqo87

01-16-2016, 10:40 PM
I absolutely claim no expertise in this matter, however, just by observing various places it is used, perhaps cast iron. If you had some pieces of gray cast iron you might be able to affix them with either silver braze or maybe even epoxy. Many small engines use aluminum housings and connecting rods that run on cast iron, steel or perhaps nodular iron crankshafts. Cast iron is also a good bearing material when paired up with steel. Cast iron contains graphite which helps as a lubricant in bearing applications, and it doesn't deform easily. Engines also run cast iron against aluminum piston skirts. Cast iron against cast iron also works as in your lathe bed and some old lathes had steel spindles running in cast iron bearings. No doubt many other applications can be found where both steel and aluminum are run against cast iron.
With regard to aluminum, it comes in lots of alloys and some are gunny soft. If you are going to work those alloys you may have to use a cathead regardless of what you tip your fingers with. Another option is a piece of leather well oiled looped around the work with the fingers tightened on it.

01-16-2016, 11:19 PM
Keith Fenner has a YouTube video showing how to attach bearings to the fingers in place of using them for wear surfaces. Seems to me that the process would not be harder than what you contemplate and better in the long run. Here is the link to the first video in the series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoVeVUzDfb0

01-16-2016, 11:35 PM
Many have used ball bearings, and at first it seems like a great idea. The downside is that chips can roll under the bearing, which has little 'give', and cause problems.

While the name 'aluminum bronze' may sound like a buttery mixture of two soft materials, it is damn hard. Hard to work with and hard on anything softer it comes into moving contact with.

01-17-2016, 01:02 AM
I have both kinds of steady rests. I usually use the bronze tipped ones on steel and rollers on aluminum. If I am boring, I rould go with the rollers regardless of workpiece material. I also have an old steady that might have come from a grinder that had fabric reinforced phenolic fingers.

If I were reitipping the fingers I would choose something softer than my workpiece. Probably standard brazing rod. I would accept rapid wear to keep from marking my workpiece.

If he chose to Stu could drill and tap cross holes in his existing fingers and add rollers.

Forrest Addy
01-17-2016, 01:51 AM
Blob on potable water (non lead) solder to build up to desired dimension. Dress/shape to suit. The solder is close in bearing properties to Babbitt metal and does a sweet job on delicate finished surfaces PROVIDED no chips scale, crud, or corruption finds its way to the Babbitt. Once the Babbitt bearing surface is contaminated with embedded crap it has to be scraped to clean bright metal.

Steady jaws in frequent use eventually may pose maintenance problems because when used properly you can expect some wear - and not every steady rest problem is solved by a single set of jaws. Make extras in sets with bearing bronze tips, cast iron, roller...

01-17-2016, 09:32 AM
Ive used 900 series bearing bronze for the finger ends, it works fine. I also have a set of fingers with bearings, I don't like using them especially if the steady is positioned close to the cutting tool, or should I say it the other way around?? I also have a set of fingers made out of hard maple that I used for plastic. It's good to have a few different sets that are better compatible with various materials.
Aluminum will get marked up no matter what material you use. My maple fingers make the least amount of rub marks on alum. They don't groove the alum. just makes some rub / polish marks that you can erase with 600 gt. sand paper and WD40. Wax or silicone is a good lube to use with them also.


Lew Hartswick
01-17-2016, 09:41 AM
I also have a set of fingers made out of hard maple that I used for plastic. It's good to have a few different sets that are better compatible with various materials.
That sounds like a winner for a lot of things. I suspect any of the Tropical hard woods would do very well in that application. Maybe not Teak as the silica content is pretty high in it.

01-17-2016, 09:57 AM
Machine for a straight Half Lap Joint and fix with small set screws, you can then make tips from anything you like, pressure will be taken by the materials and not the fasteners, kind of "Soft Jaws" for a steady,

- Nick

01-17-2016, 10:20 AM

Readily found in turning blank sizes.

01-17-2016, 11:35 AM

Readily found in turning blank sizes.

Dogwood is another wood once used for bearing material.

Post #7

01-17-2016, 11:45 AM
sure they are steel and not cast iron?

I had a closer look and I think they are cast iron.

http://i913.photobucket.com/albums/ac334/bstupak/f6fca6cc-d15c-4f14-910c-55b29551d8aa_zpstdon2ljo.jpg (http://s913.photobucket.com/user/bstupak/media/f6fca6cc-d15c-4f14-910c-55b29551d8aa_zpstdon2ljo.jpg.html)

For now I think I will reshape the tip and use them as is. Thanks for all the replies.