Turning Archive 2005

Making Tool Rests *Pic

Garrett in Victoria
>My new lathe came with only one 12" tool rest, and I often need a narrower one. This morning I decided to put last summer's welding course to work and see if I could make one. It was so easy I made two, and have plans for more if I can solve a problem described below, ideas welcome.

I bought some 2-3 foot lengths of 1", 1/2", and 5/8" cold rolled steel rod from the Metals Supermarket.

Before/before cutting the post to length, I used the tablesaw to cut a long vee in a piece of scrap hardwood. I clamped this to the drill press table, laid the 1" rod in the vee, and marked the 6" length for the post. I then centre-punched and drilled a 5/8" hole through the rod. Then, I cut through the centre of the hole to give me one post with a perfect 5/8" groove in the top, and a second similar one still to be cut off.

I then cut a 5" length off the 5/8" rod, and used a mitre gauge on my disk sander to chamfer the ends of the pieces. (The grinder was too aggressive.)

The 5/8 rod fit perfectly square in the groove in the 1" post, and it was a simple matter to weld them together. I can make strong welds but not yet pretty ones, so a bit of work with an angle grinder and a file cleaned everything up. A test run on the lathe made me quite happy.

However, I was just starting to hollow out a small piece of spalted birch through a narrow opening, and using the Termite tool with just finger pressure rather tiring. So, why not make a gated rest? Same process, except that this one took about 15 minutes all in. The only extra steps were to drill a couple of 5/16" blind holes in the 5/8" rod before welding it to the post, and to cut a couple of 1" pieces off a length of 5/16" rod I found among my scraps. They just drop into the holes.

That little bit of leverage makes it so much easier and faster to hollow, I can't believe I didn't do this years ago.

Now I'd like to make some curved bowl rests. I have a couple of commercial ones, but have never particularly liked their shapes. What I need to do is figure out how to bed the 1/2" rod into gentle S curves. I am certainly open to suggestions. (I have a couple of 5 ton hydraulic bottle jacks left over from the cottage construction, but no frame to put them in.)

Cheers, Garrett

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