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dave booth

    Everyone has his own method of skinning a cat. Here is a steady rest I made several years ago, because the ones on eBay were ridiculously expensive. This one is made to fit my 8mm Peerless lathe. The basis is a piece of 3/16″ thick aluminum plate, which I got from a shop in Baltimore that makes prosthetic limbs and braces. They have a lot of smallish, odd sized pieces of scrap, and were willing to part with a shoebox full for $5.00. (I also bought some stainless steel flat and bar stock from them for a similar price.) When I made miner, I still had a Unimat 3, so it was a simple matter to mill slots, but I used the same method as Will to lay them out – I had a 3/4″ hex nut that came from who knows where (I never toss anything out, until I am sure I will want it the next day – ) Cutting and fitting the bottom to my Peerless ways was one of those “cuss and fit” projects; I’m sure some of you machinist types could figure out a way to measure and lay it out, though. If you look carefully at the photo, you will see I number stamped the rests and the slots, because my milling setup was not as rigid as it probably should have been. (If I had it to do over, I’d run the mill at a higher RPM, and feed it more slowly) Each rest was individually filed to fit that particular slot. They don’t show up well in the photo, but each rest also has a slot cut for the mounting screw, so that I can adjust it. The screws are #4-40. I drilled and tapped the bottom for #8-32 threaded rod. Fender washers and a wing nut secure it to the ways. (I use a pair of fender washers, because a single one has a little too much flex to make me comfortable.)

    Incidentally, when machining aluminum, kerosene is your friend. Except I use a little fuel oil robbed from my furnace, because it is an easy matter to go down in the basement and open the bleed valve on the furnace pump to steal a cup or two. If you haven a handy supply of either of those, go to your local automobile filling station, and buy a gallon of Diesel fuel – it is all essentially the same stuff. Kerosene is also great cutting oil to use for touching up your pivot burnisher, and your screwdrivers and gravers.

    I will make up another post, wherein I talk about cutting lubricants, and which ones to use for what metals, and where you can get the stuff cheaply.