Post By PackardV8
Material for making lathe steady rest, follow rest
I'm getting ready to make a small steady rest and follow rest for my lathe to use turning small shafts from .5 up to about 1.25 inch diameter. This will not be hogging work, but fairly delicate. I'm thinking of using 6061 aluminum for the main body because its fairly inexpensive and real easy for me to cut. I also think that any wear to the parts will be very minimal so don't have much concern there for Aluminum. I envision rough cutting the parts out of flat stock or plate to about 1.5" thick by 5X8" and 5X4". But I wonder if I'd be better off using cast iron or steel? Is there any damping or vibration advantage to using the heavier, more dense materials? Or any other reason to use a given material?
Your thoughts appreciated.
Yes, to all the above. Your idea will definitely be functional for light work, but think about how many OEM steady rests/follow rests you see made from aluminum.
But I wonder if I'd be better off using cast iron or steel? Is there any damping or vibration advantage to using the heavier, more dense materials? Or any other reason to use a given material?
Don't know what swing we're talking about, but I've seen a couple of nice, usable steady rests fabricated from cut-off sections of thick-wall tubing. Two outer 270-degree arc 3/8" thick sections sandwiched three smaller arcs with spaces between the arcs for the fingers to ride. All the builder used to make them was a bandsaw, drill press and a welder. I'll try to find photos to attach.
i HAVE A Lodge & Shipley Model X steady rest for a 16" lathe that is cast aluminum!00
And it's cored out for reduced weight. It only weighs about 20 lbs, and it's a large hole steady rest.
So to answer your question, they sure can be made of aluminum. Make the jaws steel with brass or bronze tips.
Only the body would be aluminum, the other parts steel and brass.
But again, I could be persuaded to other material for the body if there is good reason.
Fit and finish...well, fit still good....
Made this in '80 and as you can see, it's had some use. If the aluminum is a detriment, I haven't found it yet but it's only been 32 years......
4-1/4" kitchen tiles for scale. Have used it to turn 6" round. All bolts in aluminum, in steel insert threads.
Camera distortion bent the tile bull nose and left screw, both are really straight. See stamped date and author. Pesky "8" turned itself upside down.
Yes, takes an Allen wrench to snug down arms. Brass arms have ball milled bottoms in holes, screw ball ends carefully "swaged" in place with punch. so far, so good.
The down ears on bottom aluminum bar are drilled and tapped, help me center the rest. A larger steel base allows it to fit a larger lathe, this for a 12".
Oh yeah, started the design in typical round and found that to be a waste. Rollers, (sealed ball bearings) fully retracted, the 3 sides are still out of the swing. All else being equal, straight lines a little stronger. I went ahead and milled it on a rotary table to establish 120° etc.
I would never have thought of doing it that way.