Friday, 1 June 2012

Homemade lathe steady ... ...

From time to time when I'm turning wood I've found that I get too much movement in what ever I'm turning, especially long pieces (like candle sticks) this can cause all sorts of problems, for a start the piece won't stay round, it'll go a kind of oval shape, and the piece can even break where it's held in the chuck, and you don't really want large chunks of wood flying about at 2000 rpm.

So I decided I needed a steady for my lathe, the only problem is that I couldn't find one that would A - fit my lathe in a way I want and B - the ones I did find where a little costly for my tastes, so I built one.

 Here it is -

I'll explain why there's a bit missing.

It's not a particularly neat job, but it was cheap and it works, and despite how it might look it's very sturdy when in use, which is what I was aiming for.

After looking at a few sites online that have similar devices I figured a big circle shape was best, and to be honest the simplest way to make it.
I got a sheet of 12mm ply and had it cut at the diy store, mainly because I'm lazy and couldn't be bothered to do it, and because they'll cut it for free and it was easier to get home on my push bike.

Firstly I cut out 3 identical shapes, circles basically with an external measurement of 14 inches and an internal measurement of 12 inches, rather than cut out a complete circle shape I shaped the bottom so that I could fix the mounting bracket to it nice and securely.

3 parts ready for gluing together -

In the end I screwed and glued them together.

To make the circles I used a piece of wood that I marked with the right measurements, I don't have a compass that was big enough, hence using the bit of wood, this is a good way of getting large circles onto bits of wood.

The make shift compass -


You can see how it works, once you have the centre of the wood you want to draw a circle on you can use a screw or a nail to locate your compass, and then all you need to do is drill holes at the right measurements for your circles, then just poke a pencil through the hole and there you have it, a simple, but accurate compass.

Once the 3 main parts had been fixed together I tidied them up with my homemade spindle sander, I'll put a link to that post at the end of this one.

Tidying up -

I've thought of loads of things I can do with a spindle sander.

Next I had to make 3 arms to hold the wheels I intended to use, the wheels came from an old set of roller blades that had been in the loft for years, the arms are also made from 12mm ply, I was going to make them out of a single thickness of ply, but they weren't as strong as I thought they should be, so I made them double the thickness.

The arms (which will support the wood in the lathe) - 

The groove is for the bolt that fixes the arm to the frame.

The wheels are held onto the wood with bolts and a small length of threaded bar, this was all I had lying about, otherwise I'd have used nuts and bolts of some sort, but this works just as well, the groove in the arm is was made by drilling out a series of holes and then using a rasp file I made the groove.

One of the wheels - 

Sports wheels no less.

Side view, with small washers added to make sure the bearings don't rub - 

I chose the smoothest wheels from the lot I have.
To fix the arms to the main frame I've used some long bolts with wing nuts, this means I can undo the arms quickly and make fine adjustments without having to undo things completely.

First I marked out on the frame where I wanted the arms, then I cut out the section of wood, I went down about 12mm, then I used a chisel to remove the scrap bit of wood.

The cuts already made - 

Just needs a chisel and then it's ready for the support arm.
I decided where I wanted all 3 arms, and about 5 minutes after I'd made all the cuts and chiseled out the wood I changed my mind, which is why there's a bit missing (now repaired) in the first picture.

The original placement - 

Not quite right.

As you can see the arms are more or less in the right place, I just wanted a little more support on the bottom of the steady, so I moved the arm on the right down a little, this way it will sit underneath what ever I'm turning slightly better than before.

Revised version - 

That's better.
Then all I needed to do was make a bracket so that I could fix it to the bed of my lathe, this was easy enough to do.
I cut 3 rectangles of ply, 1 to fix the frame to, and 2 others to make the bracket.

The bracket - 

Like a wood sandwich.

The smallest piece of wood sits snugly between the 2 parts of my lathe bed, the bolts then pull it altogether so that it's nice and secure and doesn't move when it's in use.
And that's about it really, it works quite well, all I need to do now is get into my shed and start turning a candle stick or 2 to see how it works on a long piece.

The steady on the lathe - 

You can see the bolts that hold each arm.

From the other side - 

You can see that 1 arm sits lower than the other.

And here's a short video (taken on my phone) of it working, it's noisy, but it does the job, this was with the lathe running at full speed, it holds the wood quite well I think.

Working (you might want to turn your speakers down a touch) ! - 

Here's the link to my homemade spindle sander -  Homemade spindle sander (opens in new window)

Thanks for reading.

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