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Thread: Building a Steady Rest for my South Bend lathe

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    Supporting Member winkys workshop's Avatar
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    winkys workshop's Tools

    Building a Steady Rest for my South Bend lathe


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    Carnel (11-18-2020), Drew1966 (11-17-2020), IAMSatisfied (11-22-2020), Jon (11-17-2020), Tule (11-18-2020)

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    Another great video from this gent. No bull****, no long discussion, plus good humour.

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    Supporting Member winkys workshop's Avatar
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    Thanks you Drew!

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    Hi Winky, thanx for your nice video. What material did you use for the sliding bearing bars?

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    Supporting Member winkys workshop's Avatar
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    They are mild steel although I suspect the best material should be based on what material I turn in the lathe. I'm guessing a harder material might be a better choice. Some have suggested brass but I think harder is better. My Logan steady rest fingers are steel but I need to check the hardness. It works fantastic.

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    Carnel (11-18-2020)

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    Thanks winkys workshop! We've added your Lathe Steady Rest to our Lathe Accessories category,
    as well as to your builder page: winkys workshop's Homemade Tools. Your receipt:




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    Supporting Member IAMSatisfied's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by winkys workshop View Post
    They are mild steel although I suspect the best material should be based on what material I turn in the lathe. I'm guessing a harder material might be a better choice. Some have suggested brass but I think harder is better.
    When I look at what's available for replacement steady rest fingers/followers, I find that brass is common, as well as steel rests with bearings. I believe the rule of thumb is you want your solid rests (or at least the tips thereof) to be the sacrificial parts to preserve the surface of your work, and if you can also have that sacrificial material be self lubricating, such as oil impregnated sintered bronze, then all the merrier. I would think graphite bar stock might work as well, but it may be too brittle?

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    Supporting Member winkys workshop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IAMSatisfied View Post
    When I look at what's available for replacement steady rest fingers/followers, I find that brass is common, as well as steel rests with bearings. I believe the rule of thumb is you want your solid rests (or at least the tips thereof) to be the sacrificial parts to preserve the surface of your work, and if you can also have that sacrificial material be self lubricating, such as oil impregnated sintered bronze, then all the merrier. I would think graphite bar stock might work as well, but it may be too brittle?
    I just check the fingers on my Logan and it appears that they are mild steel. I understand what you are saying about sacrificial materiel but quite often things don't work like you would think. I've seen bronze bushings wear a 1-inch shaft in half. The only reason I was leaning toward harder materiel is that my Logan steady rest has steel fingers and it has always worked exceptional. I suppose they could be some kind of lead alloy steel but from my scratch test it seems it is basically mild steel. When dealing with bearing surfaces a difference in hardness is important not necessarily because you want to sacrifice one component. Wood bearing have been known to cut a 2 inch line shaft in half. I assumed Logan made the fingers with harder steel because the most likely material to be turned in the lathe would all be softer. Ultimately, the steady rest is not clamping the work and the finger materiel is probably not critical. The only moment the bearing surface has pressure is when the cut being made is actually deflecting the stock. Honestly fingers with the same hardest (like the Logan) is the worst possible scenario yet it seems to work fine.

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    Carnel (11-23-2020), olderdan (11-23-2020)

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    I think you have got it right, I have two sets of fingers for my fixed steady, Tufnol and bronze. It largely depends on the material being turned, the softer the pads the more potential damage to the work surface. I plan to fit roller bearings soon as all the industrial lathes I have used seem to be fitted with these.



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