Lathe Steady Rest- Break Open Style

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Project by Jim Jakosh posted 04-11-2015 01:14 AM 5551 views 39 times favorited 35 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a steady rest for the 12” Harbor Freight lathe in our park in Arizona. It is made from 1” Baltic Birch plywood, some steel and aluminum and a small piece of jarrah for the key on the bottom. It is finished with wiped on Shellac.

The weather was pretty crappy the last 2 days and I had this steady rest as a needed project for the RV park for next year so I built it to get one more project out of the way. I had an occasion where I needed a break open steady rest one time where I did not want to take a thin part out from between centers so it would not become eccentric, but I had to at that time. I remembered that and thought if I ever build another one it will be such that I can install it right over the part and be able to easily take it off and move it to either side of the banjo. So I made it this way and I think it will work fine for what we need down there. I may cut my big one apart and convert it to this too.

The project cost me a total of $2.60 for the socket head cap screws. All the rest was stuff laying in the barn. The wheels are from roller blades that I found out for trash pick up and wood is scrap from LJ Doug Scott. ( Thanks, Doug!!! ) I did make a storage place for the 5 /16” Allen wrench so it stays with the support. One wrench is used for all the screws.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

35 comments so far

View kiefer's profile


4873 posts in 2089 days

#1 posted 04-11-2015 01:20 AM

Very well made attachment for the lathe but not the kind I need since I don’t have a lathe Jim . LOL
Looks like you did some thinking on this design and the cost is certainly right on budget .


-- Kiefer

View mafe's profile


11061 posts in 2511 days

#2 posted 04-11-2015 01:28 AM

So nice, really like it.
A real Jim in every way, crisp details and great skills shown.
Love the ide that it can open.
I have a set of inline wheels waiting so I guess I will need to do one next time it’s lathe time here.
Best thoughts dear Jim,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View bushmaster's profile


1252 posts in 1704 days

#3 posted 04-11-2015 02:24 AM

A great idea. I suspect it would be just as strong. The ones for the metal lath all split apart. Will certainly try that.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View peteg's profile


3806 posts in 2245 days

#4 posted 04-11-2015 02:46 AM

That’s one snazzy piece of gear Jim, really like the ability to split, I made one years ago never thought to split, I may have to revisit it.
cheers mate

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View BobWemm's profile


1727 posts in 1348 days

#5 posted 04-11-2015 03:38 AM

Jim, that is really good.
I need to make a bigger one for myself and I reckon that a break open type would be really good for my needs.
Thanks for the inspiration.


-- Bob, Western Australia, The Sun came up this morning, what a great start to the day. Now it's up to me to make it even better. I've cut this piece of wood 4 times and it's still too damn short.

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 1714 days

#6 posted 04-11-2015 03:39 AM

Well thought out and beautifully executed accessory!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17577 posts in 3098 days

#7 posted 04-11-2015 04:07 AM

Great job on that!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View doubleDD's profile


5067 posts in 1465 days

#8 posted 04-11-2015 04:09 AM

I believe you have a good idea with the split steady rest. This can save some time when needed. Great job on the build too.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View shipwright's profile


7094 posts in 2220 days

#9 posted 04-11-2015 04:20 AM

Nice one Jim.
Sorry I missed you this year. I’m back home now.
Maybe we’ll get together next winter.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

#10 posted 04-11-2015 05:01 AM

Hi,Jim. Very interesting project.


View luv2learn's profile


2409 posts in 1725 days

#11 posted 04-11-2015 05:02 AM

A well thought out build Jim.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View Druid's profile


1232 posts in 2217 days

#12 posted 04-11-2015 05:57 AM

Nicely done Jim.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View majuvla's profile


8714 posts in 2289 days

#13 posted 04-11-2015 06:35 AM

Awsome lathe accesory. I know you will use it a lot.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View BusterB's profile


1910 posts in 1430 days

#14 posted 04-11-2015 11:10 AM

Wow Jim, that is fairly impressive!!! I don’t have a clue as to what its used for on the lathe but it is impressive none the less.

-- Buster, Ocoee TN (Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place then come down and shoot the survivors - Hemingway)

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

16809 posts in 2527 days

#15 posted 04-11-2015 11:22 AM

Thank you all for the nice comments. Usually a solid one will always work by taking the center out of the way but that time I needed a spit one and did not have it resulted in part of the long piece being out of center with the rest. I fixed it with creative sanding . I can’t wait to try this out next winter on a bunch of long shoe horn handles. I made the attachment hardware beefy enough so when you tighten those 4 bolts, it is stronger than before I cut it apart.

Hi Paul, sorry we did not meet this winter, too. I was busy every day with everyone’s projects. It sure makes the time go fast!! I got to Tucson a few times but always on a mission!!

Hi Buster, this is a steady rest for a wood lathe. It is very helpful for long pieces sticking out to the chuck to support the piece so it does not vibrate and give you a rough surface or whip the piece out of the chuck if you get a catch. The split idea is so when you do not use a chuck and have the piece between centers and you need support, you can just open this thing up and install it anywhere along the part without removing the center at the end and possibly losing your alignment with the drive center.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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