Steady Rest for Wood Lathe




Introduction: Steady Rest for Wood Lathe

I would like to share with you a new design to a steady rest I made for my wood lathe. I came up with this design taking elements from several other steady rests I looked at. this one was made from all scrap materials....

Step 1: Gathering Materials...

for this steady rest I used all trash materials. I was able to find some unwanted shelf brackets, Some scrap cut-offs of steel, and scrap piece of uni-strut, and my daughter's old in line skates, and some various old nuts and bolts.

Step 2: Start Building a Structure

I had two different styles of shelf brackets to work with. I started out by bolting all of one style of bracket together through some existing holes to make sure that they were all in line with each other. next I clamped them in a vise and welded them all together. this will serve as one side of the steady rest to mount some wheels. all of these brackets fell about a 1/4" short of fitting snugly in the uni-strut, so I welded 1/8" thick by 1" wide pieces of steel to the sides to ensure a snug fit in the uni-strut.

Step 3: The Opposite End

the first side of the steady rest I left the shelf brackets at their original size (12" long). for the opposite end, I wanted only one movable wheel, so 12" was not necessary. I lined up these brackets and welded the sides only. then using an angle grinder and cutting wheel I cut the pieces to a 4" length, and finished welding. as with the first side I had to add the 1/8" steel to make a snug fit in the uni-strut.

Step 4: Plate for Center Wheels

For the plate for the centered wheels. I used a piece of steel 1/4" x 2"w x 3"L. I drew a line on the plate 1/2" from the edge. this will serve as the center of the holes to be drilled to mount the wheels. I placed the wheels centered on that line as close as I could get them to each other without the chance of touching and marked where to drill the holes. this may vary depending on the size of your wheels. next I found the center of those two marks and drew a square line to the back of the plate to drill a 3rd hole for mounting the plate. then I drilled all 3 holes on the drill press.

Step 5: Adjustable Arms

for the adjustable arms, I used 1/4" x 1 1/4" steel. here the swing of your lathe also comes into play. I cut a slot 3/8" wide down the center with an angle grinder. the length of these will vary depending on the size of your lathe, and materials you are using. the goal is to make these long enough to be able to reach the center wheels. after I cut the slot, I drilled holes at the end to mount the wheels on.

Step 6: Drilling Holes to Assemble the Steady Rest.

to mount the center wheels, you need to be sure that you mark where the center of your lathe is! for this I put the shelf bracket unit in the uni-strut and took it to my lathe. with my live center in the tailstock, I rubbed the bracket across it and made a faint line in the bracket of the exact center. using my plate with the wheels I judge where to drill the holes so that the wheels would be out far enough to rest against my work. for the arms, the placement isn't as critical. just towards the tops of the brackets, not too close to the edges...

Step 7: Dry Fit Assembly.

next I put everything together and made sure all the wheels can reach across the steady rest in a "closed" position. I also made sure that it will reach the max. my lathe has a 12" swing. the uni-strut is one inch, so my max on this steady rest is 10" at this point I also marked where the brackets need to be welded to the uni-strut for the max swing capacity

Step 8: The Uni-strut

now I cut the uni-strut to the correct length, and welded the brackets in place. the uni-strut already had slots in the bottom, so all I did was cut between the slots to create one long slot. this is to be able to move the steady rest back and forth on the lathe bringing the wheels to your work

Step 9: Lathe Mount

I found a large washer that was 1 1/2" diameter. I welded a nut to the bottom of it. my lathe has 1 1/4" in the bed ways, so I cut a piece of hardwood at 1 1/4"x2"x3/8 as the spacer.

Step 10: Final Assembly

put it all together and you're ready to go (be sure to use thin, star type lock washers in the adjustable arms to keep them from moving out of position)

Step 11: Use It!

this is a great steady rest. you can use all four wheels, use just 3 wheels, and works if turned around and only use 2 wheels to hollow out bowls ect. it's easy to move and adjust. I hope you enjoyed this post



    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest

    10 Discussions

    Wow I'm going to build this for sure. I have a vintage lathe and a machine shop. I was going to fabricate something, but I'm going to do this. I'll be sure to vote on this.

    1 reply

    Thank you Roland! Im glad you enjoyed it... i hope you have fun making one for yourself... cheers!


    1 year ago

    It looks great! I would like to build something similar... but I can't weld... I should try a non welding version...

    2 replies

    Im sure it could be done in wood, i would make sure to use a solid hardwood tho.

    I think Epoxy might work, if you roughen the surface.

    This is a very nice design. I have seen other steady rests, but this is a unique design, which I like. Well done.

    1 reply

    Well done! Great instructable Bruddah!

    I will definately be looking at making this in the future. Great work Matt.

    1 reply