Yesterday, still suffering from the dreaded bug, I wasn’t doing too well in the concentration stakes and gave up on what I was doing. I sat wondering what I might do when I remembered a promise made a little while ago to do a quick spindle turning video and decided upon that.
The promise had arisen when a number of turners had all claimed they “can’t” turn spindles. At least not so they look alike. Nonsense. And so I told them at the time. Since then a few more have added to the same chorus of cannots and so I thought a video would be a good idea. Nice and easy. No rush. No deadline. No straining and stressing.
So I made the video and brought it home to prepare for uploading to the cobweb6 youtube account (link in the side bar). Just after I uploaded it I happened to notice another video in the suggested videos bar on the right of the youtube screen. It was simply called “stair spindles”. I clicked on it out of curiosity and was rewarded with a short video of a very competent UK turner in a commercial workshop turning a pine (i think) spindle. But what grabbed my attention was a heath robinson steady rest…here’s a screen clip of it…
It was so simple, and appeared to work. The idea seemed to be a shaped wooden plate jammed against a roughly turned section of the spindle blank by means of a length of wood trapped between it and (possibly) the wall. So…
I decided to make one today.
Here’s the first version…
Because I don’t have a lathe screwed to a wooden bench I couldn’t make it as seen in the video, so I made a sled that sits snuggly into the gap in the lathe bed, cut and glued and screwed a carrier for the actual rest portion, cut and shaped a half-moon rest, fitted the carrier with a bolt to allow removal and placement on a pivot action, and used a length of slim baton to act as the hold fast.
My problem was the lack of a wall behind the lathe, so I screwed a length of baton to the bench and tried that. I think the force was from the wrong direction here, and whilst it worked more than well enough to vastly reduce the flexing of the 900mm 40mm by 40mm blank, there was some difficulty getting the force correct and there was significant friction and subsequent scorching – this wasn’t a major problem as the section turned away to act as the running surface for the rest would be re-turned later – but I felt it could be improved.
So I added a lip at the front of the sled to allow for a safer and more secure attachment for the bungy, and cut some of the half-moon away as it wasn’t required and would allow turning through that section with the rest in place. The bungy pulling the rest in as the material is removed.
This worked very well indeed. The bungy pulled the rest section onto the stock just enough to resist the turning forces. I found I could make far more aggressive roughing down cuts, which of course speeds the whole process up. Excellent.
I made a coffee and sat down to drink it and cast my eyes to an earlier steady rest from a long time ago. I’d made it from skateboard wheels – the way people do! – but have never been happy with it. I wonder…
So whilst my coffee went cold I made another carrier -which can be removed and replaced in seconds – using two of the skate wheels instead of the static friction rest.
The bungy hooks are screwed to the front lip and the carrier is far longer to allow clearance from the workpiece. This works even better, although the wheels do make quite a noise. I think the bungy could be sited elsewhere, perhaps above and securing on a downward facing hook on the carrier.
Whatever it ends up as it works very well and will be a great help. It takes no time to set up and remove, it’s made from scraps, and is easy to modify and adapt. All in all the youtube clip was quite a find. So if you want to see it…here it is…many thanks to the author of the video for the inspiration…(I did leave a comment to thank him!)…http://youtu.be/6fNzAw1O0h8