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DIY steady rest for metal lathe

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  • DIY steady rest for metal lathe

    The basic shell is done. Now I have to slot the 3/4" square stock to make the arms, install the bearings, and weld on short sections of 3/4" stock to the ring, and I have an incredibly crude steady rest for my lathe:

    Here's all the pictures if you're interested:

    Making this is my cheap-bastid approach to avoiding spending several hundred dollars for a used steady rest off ebay or a surplus industrial supplier. So far the materials (including the three bearings) have cost me less than $30 including tax.

  • #2
    I didn't see where it says so but.... is that for a Clausing 6300 or so? Got that ridged "lay no tools on me" headstock look. Curiousity I guess.


    • #3
      Good eye! Yes, it's a Clausing 6300 series (6303?, 6309?) 12x24 Lathe.


      • #4
        good onya

        Saving dollars AND doing a job that provides satisfaction is the fun, right?

        Do you intend to rib the ring?

        It looks good Fred. Good photo sequence too.


        • #5
          Yep, making stuff *usually* satisfies my cheapness, and of course making anything that works is satisfying.

          Unfortunately I average about 50/50 when it comes to things working out well

          As far as ribbing, the outer ring while much thinner than I would have liked (went with what's available), it seems fairly stiff. When I had it in the chuck I wasn't able to warp it while tighting the chuck, but that doesn't mean under the load of boring thick stock it won't flex or wobble.

          I'm not sure how to do ribs actually... one option I intially considered, then stopped thinking about, was to take a piece of 1/4" plate that's slightly larger than the ring, and cut out the ring's OD, then weld it around the perimeter, and use it to put the bolts through for the arms, to the back pieces I haven't welded on yet. I stopped thinking about this plate because I decided I wanted the boltheads to directly clamp the arms to the backing posts, for lack of a better word, for maximum tightness. I didn't want the arms to work loose. Going to use fine thread grade 8 bolts too.

          The steady rest is at the beginning of a daisy chain of projects actually...

          I installed a small snowplow onto my riding mower... and wanted to actuate it with air cylinders. I tried making them however I couldn't get a super fine finish on the ID due to the tubing I used wiggling just slightly as pressure from the cutter is applied. HSS or carbide, dry or sopping in cutting fluid. A steady rest is necessary, so that's what sparked my deciding to make one.

          All because I was too cheap to find suitable air cylinders in the marketplace
          Needed a pair of air cylinder to actuate it up and down, left and right (need steady rest for this)
          Last edited by midiguy732; 12-01-2006, 03:39 PM.


          • #6
            Well it's a little off topic but if you want cylinders to move the blade, up down tilt angle whatever, for a riding mower size snowplow, go to your local junkbin landfill.

            Look for the old 10-12 satellite dish actuators, and the the dish linkages will come in handy. Just an idea that might work for you that eliminates hydraulics on the small lawn tractors. It ain't gonna move much snow anyways, but it's still better than a shovel.
            That might be another project.....


            • #7
              Your steady rest should look and perform well, when finished,
              I constructed one for my SB10L, using oxy,power hacksaw, drill press
              and welder.
              A piece of .5x2" flat steel was cut across at 45 degrees, the pieces reversed
              and welded to .375x1.5 flat bar, this was then cut to the correct length
              to fit the lathe bed. The angle was filed to obtain a neat fit, this was then
              clamped square to the bed, a .25x.75x2 flat was clamped on the underside
              against the outside way and then welded on the ends.A .375 hole was
              drilled in the centre, a corresponding .5x2" flat was cut ground and drilled
              to be used as a clamp.
              A plate aprox 7"x8" was welded centre on the above after a 1" hole was
              drilled just inside on centre,and the remaining portion was cut out and
              filed to accomadate the clamp bolt.
              After an appropriate drill bit was placed in the chuck, the assembly was
              lightly clamped in lathe and marked accordingly. This mark was then
              centre punched and used as a reference for all future layout.
              The outer portion was oxy cut to shape using aprox a 3" radius, the lower
              part being profiled along the lines of steady rests shown in "How to Run
              a Lathe", .25" holes drilled at certain points assisted in this.
              a 4" dia centre was then cut out, and all oxy cuts ground and tidied up.
              Lugs to accomadate the jaws were then welded in place.(.375x1x2.125)"
              Jaws were fabricatered from .375 square steel, and held in position by
              .375 bolts in tapped holes. Two sets of jaws were constructed,3" & 3.5".
              Adjustment is made by threaded .375 bolts mounted in lugs welded at
              right angles to the jaws..375x1" flat being used.
              The circle was then cut accross the centre with a hacksaw and a hinge
              and clamp constructed and welded in place.
              This steady works well, at the present time the jaws are only mild steel,
              but with suitable lubricant seem to work OK, may fabricate some with an
              overlay in the future.

              R W


              • #8

                I'm aware that the mower is going to be traction impaired, since the engine is in the front and the clipping catchers are empty. More than likely I'll be putting rocks, bricks, or scrap metal in the catchers to balance things out. The goal is to push the bulk of the snow, then finish up with a shovel. My back unfortunately cannot handle lifting snow all day, but scraping the surface I can do no problem assuming the hot chocolate supply is continual.

                I went to several somewhat local junkyards to see what was available, but didn't see any sat dishes, I found two things reasonably close... a full meyers plow rig (minus the plow) but it weighed more than my riding mower, and of course the silly little side window actuators found in many minivans, which have a whopping travel of about an inch. For a while I debated using the lathe to make a simple aluminum spool (like a fishing reel, just longer) and attaching it to a wiper motor as most of them have worm gears and are geared down suitably. Both yards wanted $40 for wiper motors in "no idea if it works, but electrical items cannot be returned or exchanged" so since I had a small (and I mean small!) air compressor from a luxury car's air suspension sitting around doing nothing... and some 4" OD black pipe lying around... you see how this progressed

                Ideally I'd find an atv plow mount and driving assembly, but didn't get that lucky unfortunately. Did get the plow though... $25 in what looks like unused condition!

                RW - sounds like you made a really nice unit... might you have a picture of it?


                • #9
                  cheap but not necessarily nasty

                  50/50 is good betting odds Fred.
                  Currently I`m knocking up a mobile frame for my 4 x 6 bandsaw and have tacked the axle supports, removed and retacked twice; now she`s OK. The design? feature is unequal fulcrum points, it raises and lowers like a camel...front feet first, followed by the rear set . Two sets of mower axles/wheels ,swivel castors and a modified old steel frame.
                  Like a lot here, there are no holes in my pockets either .


                  • #10
                    very cool steady rest. i have been thinking about how to make one for my old SB 11" and may borrow some of your ideas.

                    one question comes to mind, you could stick some huge piece of round stock in that thing. why did you make it that diameter and not, say, 4"? just wondering. bigger is usually better and i was thinking of making a smaller rest, but if yours is as stable as you say, i may go bigger.

                    andy b.
                    The danger is not that computers will come to think like men - but that men will come to think like computers. - some guy on another forum not dedicated to machining


                    • #11
                      Speedy -

                      I guess 50/50 isn't too bad. While I'm not a perfectionist (in any sense of the word), sometimes things just don't work.

                      If you might be interested in some of my other projects, here is the link to my website:


                      I figure that is easier than boring everyone here with massive amounts of off-topic discussions. If you click "yard & tools" on the left more interesting stuff appears. Also off the main page, is a list of recently updated pages that also might be interesting, or not. If you want to see a total "hack job" click "boo-electric-car.html" off the recently updated page. It's almost hilarious. Also, some of the vehicle stuff might amuse you.

                      As far as bandsaws go, I tried inserting a metal cutting blade into my "toy" vertical bandsaw, and unfortunately the snout with the bearings is such a piece of junk I couldn't get a straight cut no matter what I did. So I started fabricating a new snout top and bottom, but I haven't gotten around to finishing it yet. About a month ago I prioritized my projects since it's December and my garage isn't heated. Though today was almost 70 degrees - perfect for machining!

                      AndyB -

                      Thanks, and you're welcomed to leech/copy/mimic to your hearts desire. That's why I put the links here. Partly to show off my monkey-grade efforts and partly because I find such things helpful when other people post pictures of in-progress efforts.

                      I don't have any intention of chucking and turning 8" round solid stock or pipe, probably nothing over 4-5" OD pipe, tops. The reason for the large size "ring" is so I could slide it (partially) over the chuck so I could load material without having to remove the steady rest, or cutting the ring into two pieces and hinging it, or welding flanges to bolt it back together as a ring. This saves me some fabrication time as well as setup time down the road. Slide it over the chuck, load material, slide it back, set it, then start turning or boring or whatever the task is.

                      It's "stable" in the sense that bolted to the bed, I wasn't able to see with my eyes any distortion in shape or position, by leaning on it with both hands and bracing myself on the floor, pushing the top of the ring.

                      Of course cutters can apply significantly more force than my creaking, beat up body can so time will tell how rigid the thing really is. As Speedy expressed earlier extra ribbing might be necessary. If that's the case, I'll see if I can dig out of the scrap pile a big enough piece of 1/4" plate to weld around the perimeter.

                      I didn't remember to bring in the digital camera this evening, but I started milling the three arms for the bearings at the end. Two of them are milled, and drilled, one more to go. Lucky me that the 3/4" cold rolled square stock I'm using for the arms fit nicely in one of my aloris tool holders, so I was able to mill them without having to fork into yet another project - lathe milling attachment - which I will make eventually. I started it, but it's quite far down the list of "must do now" projects.