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Thread: I need to drill two parallel holes

  1. #1
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    Smile I need to drill two parallel holes

    Hi,

    I wasn't sure where to put this. However, it is for my wood lathe, so I put it here. I want to fasten a half-inch diameter, very smooth, steel rod on to my lathe tool-rest.

    I really should be ashamed to ask this question since my father was an excellent machinest (hobby related). He was good enough that, occasionally, one of the commercial machine shops in town would come to him and ask him to do something for them. On the other hand I have his old Atlas lathe and have not even used it for 35 years.

    What I want to accomplish is to drill two parallel holes, crosswise, through a very smooth half-inch diameter steel rod so I can screw it to my steadyrest. I am totally new to woodturning, even though I have had a woodlathe for a few months now (I did one 6" bowl and am working on a turning tool handle).

    The steady rest is not the smoothest thing in the world and it is tapered towards each end. Therefore when I am turning (on my first spindle) I get friction on my finger that rides the steadyrest AND my hand is forced to different distances from the wood by the steadyrest's artistic shape. I want to attach this eleven inch smooth piece of steel to the rest so I can slide my hand across easily (on the smooth rod) and maintain a constant distance from the wood.

    Now I can be such a newbie that I don't have the foggiest notion how to use a lathe and have a heck of a lot to learn or my smooth rod will be a great help. Anyway I thought I would give it a try---unless you guys and gals tell me that it is a dumb thing to do.

    QUESTION: How can I drill two holes through the rod, to insert counter sunk machine screws, to fasten to the steadyrest. I figure it would be great if the two holes went through the center of the rod and that the holes were parallel to each other. I would imagine the holes would be about 6 or 7 inches apart. I have a good drillpress and a machinest's V block.

    I think that there might be a more complicated way to ask my question, however I could not think of it.

    Thanks and Enjoy,

    Jim
    Last edited by Jim C Bradley; 07-17-2009 at 03:21 AM. Reason: clarification
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
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  2. #2
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    Jim, I can't answer your hole drilling question, but I think I can solve your problem.

    First off, I'm pretty sure you're talking about a tool rest, instead of a steady rest. A tool rest looks like this:


    And here's one version of a steady rest:



    Now, back to the problem at hand...

    As I understand it, the top edge of your tool rest is not smooth. Your idea for a steel bar across the top edge of your tool rest is a good one, although on the tool rests that have this feature, the bar is hardened steel, and it is welded in a continuous bead to the edge of the tool rest. I'm afraid if it was just screwed on at each end, there would be too many opportunities for vibration, and on lathes, vibration is not good.

    If your tool rest is cast iron or mild steel, the easiest way to smooth it up is with a file, followed by a few progressively finer grits of sandpaper, and perhaps finished up with a coat of paste wax. Tool rests tend to get dinged up by the hardened tools that are used with them, so it's pretty common for turners to periodically smooth up their tool rests. Personally, I hit mine with a fine file, give it a few swipes with some 220 and 320 grit sandpaper, then rub the edge with a bar of canning paraffin that I keep by the lathe. I use the paraffin any time the tools don't want to glide smoothly on the tool rest.

    Here's a look at one of my tool rests. You can see the paint is worn from use and from filing and sanding:



    I hope my assumptions about your question were correct. If not, let us know. Pictures of the item in question would also help.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  3. #3
    Jim, look at the Robust Comfort Tool Rest http://www.turnrobust.com/Comfort_Tool_Rests.html, The steel rod it epoxied in place and does not come loose. I have two of these rests, and can say they are very good quality. You could grind a slight "V" in your tool rest, and use JB Weld epoxy, or West System Epoxy mixed with powdered steel or aluminum as the bonding agent.
    Gil

  4. #4
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    Gil, I stand corrected. I thought the Robust rests were welded. (One of their rests is on my wishlist, but I've not used one or seen one in person yet.)

    Jim, it sounds like epoxy would work. I'd still advise against the screws. Keep in mind if the rod you use is mild steel, it'll still get dinged up over time, and you'll eventually still be filing it to smooth it up.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  5. #5
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    Hi Vaughn,

    Well when you get to be a hundred you can't tell a steady rest from a tool rest. I had been looking at a thread about building a steady rest and my brain did rest when I got to tool rest.

    I knew what I ment. However, I sure did not express what I ment. I was going to put the smooth round rod in that concave part below where the tool rests. I have smoothed the top of the tool rest for the tools. It is my finger holding the turning tool that is the problem. I have been holding my left hand under the turning tool and sliding my finger along in the concave area below where the tool goes. It is there that I want to place the smooth (for my finger) rod.

    My tool rest looks like yours, except it is Delta color. There is plenty of material vertically at the center for finger stability. However as I go across the wood cylinder I lose that support at each end making it more difficult to keep the tool at the correct distance and angle.

    I figure I will learn the feel after a few hours of turning. I thought that something smooth there and a uniform feel would speed up the learning process by eliminating a trouble spot.

    I did work on the concave area so that my finger would slide better. I even waxed it. I wasn't sure how much material I should remove from that area. To get it smooth there I would have to remove up towards a thirty-second of an inch.

    Part of the problem with this piece of mahogany is that it is 15 inches long. The tool rest is like 9 or 10 inches long so I am going pretty much from end to end of the rest. Every so often I have to move the rest to continue on.

    Thanks and Enjoy,

    Jim
    Last edited by Jim C Bradley; 07-17-2009 at 05:42 AM. Reason: for clarification
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
    VOTING MEMBER

  6. #6
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    Ah, I understand now, Jim. I still think an epoxy like JB Weld might be easier than drilling and screwing.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  7. #7
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    Now, I understand.
    What Vaughn said.
    Simple solution. That's good. I like simple.

  8. #8
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    Vaughn, you always have something useful to say.

    Here are photos of what I have and what I thought I wanted to do. However, after seeing the design of the tool rests (note: not steady rests) that Gil Jones (thanks Gil) lead me to, I can see how my rod might be more hindrance than help. The books show placing the heel of the tool on the wood and then raising the handle until the cut starts. Using the rod means the tool handle will be able to go down enough to do this only on material 1.5 inches in diameter or larger.

    You will notice that I had already filed, sanded and waxed the tool rest area. I used an abrasive wheel to remove the nice textured surface that Delta provided in the concave curve of the rest. I also had waxed that. It is almost smooth enough and easy to smooth more. My real problem is that I run out of support as I go towards the ends or I am just doing it wrong.

    I have purchased a couple woodturning books and I have perused the books available in four libraries. Most of the photos show the turner supporting his/her hand on the tool rest with a finger sliding in the concave area. Some photos however show an overhand grip on the turning tool and only the tool touches the tool rest. I figured that it would take a lot longer to learn control if the left hand did not touch so I had not tried that.

    I was looking forward to a semester woodturning class at Palomar College. Unfortunately the paperwork that was sent to me had the sign-up July 15. When I signed up the class was full and had a waiting list. I called Palomar. The date was an error. It should have been June 15. Result is no class for me.

    Guess I will just have to mess around and see what happens.

    Years ago I was a real photo nut...had all kinds of cameras, darkroom, etc. It is amazing how much technique one can lose over the years. It probably took me over a half-hour to take these photos and I am certainly not proud of them. I think you can see the shine where I polished the tool rest part and the concave part of the toolrest. One of the photos shows the rod attached to the tool rest. I stuck it on with tape.

    Enjoy,

    Jim

    I'm Glad Frank likes simple. I seems that in woodturning I am as simple as he could want. Duhh
    Last edited by Jim C Bradley; 08-20-2010 at 06:00 AM.
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
    VOTING MEMBER

  9. #9
    Jim, your steel rod could easily be epoxied into that ledge in your picture, and would makd for smooth sliding of your hand.
    Gil

  10. #10
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    I would use the epoxy method if I were to do it. But, you're talking about working beyond the ends of your tool rest. You really don't need or want to do that. Work as far as you need to and them stop and move the tool rest so that you can continue working. It's not that tough. Or, am I missing something here?
    Working flat so I can play round,
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