New Steady Rest

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Project by ToddE posted 10-13-2009 02:54 AM 5138 views 13 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was told this was a must for running things on a lathe. I don’t have much experience on a lathe, but I really want to get going on it. I started to learn what is needed, a lot, and I found that sharpening the tools is one of the most important talents to gain. So I thought instead of buying a steady rest I would save the money and make my own and use that money for new turnings chisels. Just don’t know which to get, a little surprised at the costs of those things. I guess I need to make sure they are HSS. Any particular thoughts on brands you guys.

-- Allegheny Woodshop

14 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118297 posts in 4865 days

#1 posted 10-13-2009 03:00 AM

View lew's profile


13442 posts in 5043 days

#2 posted 10-13-2009 04:18 AM

I have several of the Pinnacle tools from Woodcraft. They are not the most expensive- or cheapest- but they seem to do well for me.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 4647 days

#3 posted 10-13-2009 04:26 AM

I bought a bunch of turning chisels at an estate sale. Some are Sorby’s, 1 is a Pfeil, some are unknown to me and some are the HF brand. I am not a “turner”, but they were part of a package deal. If you are looking to buy some chisels, let me know. I would be happy to sell them for what I paid. I can send pics if you’re interested.

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 4752 days

#4 posted 10-13-2009 05:02 AM

Sorbys have worked well for me so far. I’ve been happy with both spindle tools and bowl gouges. Hold and edge without being too hard to sharpen. Look into a fingernail profile for the gouges, really prevents some snagging and grabbing problems.
That looks like one impressive steady. Whats the expanded metal on the wall behind the lathe? Thats one impressive looking machine. Good start to an aspect of woodworking I know you’ll love. BTKS

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View Vince's profile


1293 posts in 4717 days

#5 posted 10-13-2009 11:28 AM

I too have a couple of Pinnacle tools but most of my other tools are Benjamin’s Best. They are less expensive and not a bad tool, but I tend to sharpen them more often.

-- Vince

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4622 days

#6 posted 10-13-2009 01:14 PM

You did a fine job on that steady rest Todd. It looks great on the fantastic General lathe too and it is a very useful accessory. HSS tools are a must, as you will be grinding them a lot. Most turners including myself us their turning irons directly from the grinder, with the exception of the skew chisel which should honed for a fine finish and crisp details. Some turners hone everything, but I personally don’t think you gain much from it in the end.

To save money, you might try to find just the steel part of the tools and turn your own handles. I have done this. You will need brass or copper ferrals for this. If they cost too much you can cut them from brass or copper pipe with about 1/16” wall thickness or a little thicker and about 1” long (brass is best if available). I probably spelled ferral wrong, but I hope you know what I mean. I can’t recommend any particular brand. I have a mixed bag and they all work fine. If you stick with a brand name they should be ok regardless of where they are made.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View toyguy's profile


1770 posts in 5125 days

#7 posted 10-13-2009 01:35 PM

Welcome to the vortex….... once you start turning, you won’t want to do anything else.

First, your steady rest looks to be very well made. A tool that will come in handy for some of your bigger turnings, once you get going. And sitting on top of that General 260, it looks like it just belongs there….very nice lathe I might add. (but being Canadian, I am partial to the big GREEN).

TOOLS: I too am fairly new to turning. I have also found the Benjamin’s Best to be good value. Don’t buy too many tools until you figure out just what you want to do in the turning word. The basics, rough gouge, a couple of spindle gouges detail gouge and a skew for spindle work….... most of your face plate work will be with a bowl gouge. You will also need a parting tools, or maybe a couple of them. A cheap set Benjamin’s set might be the way to go. If making your own handles appeals to you, as it does most turner’s…...Have a look at Thompson Lathe Tools. Lots of good info about tools here. I have not used the Thompson tools, but most that have swear by them….

Sharpening..... The oneway wolverine jig is the best I know of. It can also be made a lot cheaper, but sharpening with a jig is a must to maintain a constant grind. Check out the video on the Oneway site and you can see how it works.

You will also need a chuck in future. Although you can go with out one, they sure make life a lot easier. when it come time….... Oneway is the way to go…. The Talon I can recommend.

-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4863 days

#8 posted 10-13-2009 03:14 PM

Nice Job Todd!

That looks like it came out as nice or better then what you can buy.

I’m hoping to get a lathe soon but I’m finding out what else you need to do turnings effectively and it keeps adding to the amount that I have to save up.

Then again, by all the “addiction stories” I’ve been hearing about turning, I’m worried that the old girl will throw me out if I get one and stop doing anything else!

I bet you get a lot of use out of that Steady rest!

View peruturner's profile


317 posts in 4650 days

#9 posted 10-13-2009 03:38 PM

Great steady,get the thomson tools they are good 1/2” bowl gouge is a must

View ToddE's profile


143 posts in 5222 days

#10 posted 10-13-2009 05:58 PM

Thanks for all the information guys. I will definitely look them up. I was looking at some sharpening jigs (wolverines i think) last night. Another 50 bucks. I carved up a little bat for my son, just screwing around and I can definitely see why good tools are a must.

Stefang, I would love to make my own because I guess I would like really long handles, but I can’t find any of the metal components or the blades. Any suggestions?

BTKS, the expanded metal is just a sheet that I have stacked behind the lathe. I used part of it for welding up a guys trailer and I got to keep the rest. Never know when you are going to need it.

I got a bunch of chisels when I got the lathe and I have always had a junkie set for some reason. I was just looking to get some good turning tools. I just didn’t realize how much this stuff cost. I am looking at about 300 bucks just to get rolling.

Thanks again for your input. I will look these tools up and keep watching out for additional posts. Thanks guys.

-- Allegheny Woodshop

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4622 days

#11 posted 10-13-2009 08:48 PM

One thing you can make yourself is a skew chisel. I made one from a chrome vanadium open end wrench. I cut off the ends, ground tang on one end and a cutting edge on the other. I also turned the handle. I will take a photo of it tomorrow so you can see what it looks like. Hook tools are fairly easy to fabricate by a backyard smithy using his BBQ to heat the metal with. Maybe you have someone like that in your area? I bought my irons from a local store years ago, some of which didn’t have handles, but I’m here and you are there, so I wouldn’t know what is available over there. Maybe a web search would turn up something? I would try to get as long a shaft as possible though, as the grinding does eat them up.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4622 days

#12 posted 10-14-2009 03:06 PM

Hi Todd. Here is a couple of photos of the shop-made skew chisel and handle I promised to show you. I made it about 10 years ago. It’s close to 1” in width. I like the rounded edges on it because when you are doing beads it rolls smoothly, which makes for a better cut. I guess it’s possible to make gouges too if you could get hold of HSS tool steel, but I haven’t really looked into that as I have pretty much what I need now. In spite of all the grinding, turning tools do last a long time, so they are a good investment if you will be doing a lot of turning. Oh, and I think I remembered the right spelling for ferrules. It came to me when I went out to photograph the chisel. It difficult because I now speak a mixture of Norwegian and English. I just use whatever word comes first, regardless of which language it comes from!



-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View thecraftsman's profile


9 posts in 4439 days

#13 posted 10-24-2009 12:04 AM

What are a good turning tool brand to use ? The ones I have don’t seem to hold the edge that long.

-- Eric, Illinois,

View sedcokid's profile


2738 posts in 4886 days

#14 posted 11-11-2010 04:41 PM

I like your Steady rest, is this your design or did you get it out of a magazine somewhere?

Thanks for sharing

-- Chuck Emery, Michigan,

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