Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Little Extra Support

I'm in the midst of turning a bunch of legs for 3 kid's comb backs. They are a bit longer than the legs on adult chairs and a bit thinner.

This means that vibration tends to creep in and slow down the process. I can turn them reasonably well by holding my hand at the back of the piece, but still, at some point, the piece will flex a bit and the chatter starts. I use the skew to shave away the chatter in most instances, which works great, but does take some care.

A couple of years back, I gave my shop made steady rest to Tim Manney for the use on the reamers that he produces. It's the one featured in my book. I wasn't doing a lot of turning that required it and up until recently, a little slow down in turning time didn't bother me compared to stopping to make another. But I happen to have some nice plywood on hand so the other day I made a new steady rest.

I covered this jig for the first time about 6 or 7 years ago, you can see the original post and plans here. I've learned a few things that I think make it worth revisiting, plus my own rediscovery of it's usefulness makes me think that you might feel the same. The plan dimensions in the original post are still good, but with this one, I made the notch in the support block 45 degrees on both sides.

It's a very simple affair, basically a weighted wedge (the c clamp is perfect for added weight) pushes a block with a notch against the back of the workpiece, effectively cutting the turning in half, vibration wise. Even on a 23 inch leg, you are never more than 6 inches from a support, which means I can turn more aggressively and not risk chatter. This is especially helpful if you are focusing on developing technique or design.
One of my favorite parts of this design is that you can cut right across the front of where the steady rest supports the work. The weighted wedge simply drops, pushing the block up against the smaller diameter.

I position the rest directly behind the largest part of the vase.

To set the steady for best results, turn the part to round, about 1/16" larger than the largest diameter, then place the steady block and wedge in position. Get the round spinning again and with the steady rest in place, take a very light pass across workpiece opposite of the steady block. This allows the block to seat on the piece and ensures that it's spinning true with the pressure of the block at the back.

Using the same concept as my Galbert Caliper, if you place a piece of tape at the right spot on the steady block, you will know that your dimension near the steady rest is perfect when it just about touches the tape. Of course, something more permanent could do the job, like a stick on a pivot, but I just did this on the fly, so you get the concept.


Then use some wax to lubricate the workpiece. I've found that there's no need for bearing guides if you just add some wax.

Turning is fun, or it should be. I know that there is a conversation around certain jigs or techniques being crutches. I get it, but I'm having more fun at the lathe and thinking more about the shapes that I am making rather than the ways of avoiding vibration, which is a way better way to spend my day.


Anonymous said...

I need to make of of these. I'm a fairly competent bowl turner, but spindle turning is a horse of a different color. Legs are OK, but I had to resort to some 220-grit on the posts that I turned for my fanback.

By the way, I've been following your work for years, but this is the first time I've commented. Your book is wonderful and it's finally given me the confidence to begin my first Windsor chair. So thank you!

Unknown said...

i have seen your post for chair and you have good old design things which is pretty impressive...you have done good work on this post which is nice to see it keep doing well and to know more about me click here beautiful chair

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