Mini- lathe manufacturers tend to be “optimistic” about specifications of the work envelope of their offerings, however with some creative adaptions, even their cheerful claims can be bested in certain circumstances. In this Instructable, I'll share a secret method for expanding up to 4” [102mm] of extra work length from a 16”[406mm] model that will allow 20”[508mm] of stock mounting.
This method calls for the tailstock to be removed and a steady rest mounted up. A 60 degree center is installed, and it too is aligned with the chuck center in a conventional fashion. Absent a steady rest, scrap angle may be used for the same utility, simply bore the necessary hole using the lathe chuck and an appropriate drill size for the dead center. The dead center can itself be turned from any scrap or rod drop-off handy, and pointed to the standard 60 degrees. Bore a centering hole in the work end at the steady and tighten all together.
It is advisable to take lighter than normal cuts using this method, but acceptable results may be had depending on the type of action performed- a follower steady might also be a good idea if reducing round stock to dimension, but polishing round rod should go quite well.