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Thread: Lathe Tool Rests need some help here

  1. #1
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    Lathe Tool Rests need some help here

    So this winter I am planning on getting my lathe into the basement to do some spinny work during winter.
    But.....I am not going to continue to live with the tool rest on this lathe.
    I am not just referring to the piece we rest the tool on but the entire assembly that runs on the bed.
    So I am thinking surely I must be able to buy a rest from another lathe as spare part and put it on my machine.

    Anyone done this before.?

    I want a rest that's easy to adjust and decent handle and that's machined properly.

    Any suggestions on how to go about this if its possible?
    cheers

  2. #2
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    watching with interest... I'd love to 'upgrade' my tool rest as well!
    -Ned

  3. #3
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    For the sake of making the conversation a bit easier, let me start with a few definitions:

    Tool Rest: The typically T-shaped metal thing your turning tools ride (and usually slide) on when you're turning. The horizontal part is sometimes called a crossbar; the vertical part is called the post.

    Banjo: The part that is attached to the lathe bed and onto which the post of the tool rest is connected. The banjo is typically made of cast iron.

    T-Nut: The t-nut is the heavy round or square steel plate attached to the bottom of the banjo. It's the part that goes under the lathe bed and locks the banjo in place. It is machined in such a way that the center portion of the plate fits between the ways of the lathe bed and the outer portion rides on the bottoms of the ways. It is typically attached to a bolt on the bottom of the banjo, and the bolt is attached to an eccentric mechanism that tightens the bolt quickly with a locking lever on the front or back of the banjo, but on older lathes the t-nut bolt is tightened directly with a wrench from above.



    It sounds like you're wanting to replace the banjo on your lathe. That's definitely doable. The first consideration is the height (thickness) of the banjo as well as how high it will hold the tool rest. If the part of the banjo that rides on the lathe bed is too thick, it will potentially limit the diameter you you can turn. And if the part that holds the tool rest is too tall or too short, the tool rest will not be usable. So, for example, you could find a way to mount the banjo from a full-sized lathe on a Jet mini, but it likely wouldn't be usable. Same thing if I was to put a banjo from a Jet mini on my Powermatic. So the replacement banjo needs to be somewhere in the same ballpark size-wise as the original.

    The second consideration is that you need to make sure the inner part of the t-nut is sized to fit between the ways of your lathe bed, and the bolt has sufficient length to be able to position the t-nut where it needs to be. Both of those things can usually be remedied by someone with a machine shop if need be, although the parts from your old banjo might be usable on a new one.

    The tricky part will be finding a banjo. The companies that make the bigger lathes (Oneway, Vicmark, Powermatic, Nova, etc.) sell replacement banjos, but they are not cheap. I believe replacement banjos are also available for most mini and midi lathes, but chances are they will be of similar quality to the ones you have now.

    What lathes do you guys have? (I know you've told me, but I've slept since then.) And what are the specifics of your complaints? If the banjo is not staying in place, there are usually ways to fix it. Or if it's not sliding on the lathe bed when you want it to, there are often fixes for that, too. It might take a replacement part or two, or a bit of elbow grease, but I suspect fixing your existing banjos will be easier and less expensive than replacing them.
    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

  4. #4
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    Lathe Tool Rests need some help here

    I have a Delta midi , unsure of the model # , in my case my banjo works fine, I simply would like a new tool rest. Mine has some wear & tear on it, and I'd like to either tune up the current one and/or replace it. Thinking of a curved bowl rest or simply a longer straight rest.


    Ned
    -Ned

  5. #5
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    I think, from this thread that Rob has this lathe ]

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Rob my Nova DVR had a sticky banjo for a while and I toyed with the idea of upgrading it to a Oneway Banjo, but in the end I took mine apart and went over it with a fine tooth comb, the parts that rub and slide together were not the smoothest, I'm talking about the shaft that is rotated just off center by the locking handle and the piece that it slides through that holds the T-bolt and T-nut. I took some sandpaper and hand sanded the parts up to a very fine grit, maybe #4000 or so, and make sure they were REALLY smooth, then I make sure that the part of the banjo that slides along the ways was also VERY smooth with no bad edges, this made a LOT of difference. I also put a piece of wood on my locking handle to make it fit my hand better and to make it a bit longer, that made it a whole lot nicer to use.

    The ways of my lathe do take a beating from dried finish to the occasional dropped tool, so now and then I take a #400 diamond plate I have and just make sure my ways are also smooth.

    Lastly I lubed the sliding parts of the banjo with some dry silicone lube, all in all it made a huge difference and I did not have to spend the money.

    I'd give all of that a try first.

    I'll post some pics later.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  6. #6
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    II replaced the tool rest with ones of various sizes from Robust Lathe tools. A hardened rod is braised to the top to become the smoothest sliding surface I have every used and the 'bar' has a curved for your fingers. Love them. Have two, looking at a third. Different bar lengths.

    http://www.turnrobust.com/Comfort_Tool_Rests.html
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ned Bulken View Post
    I have a Delta midi , unsure of the model # , in my case my banjo works fine, I simply would like a new tool rest. Mine has some wear & tear on it, and I'd like to either tune up the current one and/or replace it. Thinking of a curved bowl rest or simply a longer straight rest.
    Cast iron tool rests are pretty quick and easy to smooth up. I've gotten rid of some deep gouges in mine by starting with a metal file, and working my way through the abrasive grits up to about 400 or 600 grit. I also keep a bar of paraffin wax at my lathe and periodically wipe the tool rest with it to keep it slippery.

    The Robust tool rests Carol mentioned are great tools. I've got one of theirs, and also a Oneway curved bowl rest. I like them both a lot. Still, the vast majority of the time I end up using the cast iron one that came with my lathe.

    And Rob, I'll second Stu's recommendation. Sanding and smoothing the bottom of your banjo, as well as lightly lubricating the other moving parts, will make a world of difference.
    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

  8. #8
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    OK, this is my set up.....



    You can see that I added a wooden handle to my locking lever, this makes everything easier to operate.



    This is the underside of the banjo, the shaft you see there is all smooth and coated with dry silicone, it all slides very nicely.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  9. #9
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    Rob,

    I have a Delta 46-460 midi. I was totally amazed when I put Johnson's wax (NOT the non-skid for floors kind) on the ways and the bottom of the banjo. The improvement was not just better, it was a whale of a lot better.

    The can containing the non-skid wax is plainly labeled non-skid.

    Enjoy,
    JimB
    Last edited by Jim C Bradley; 09-27-2013 at 10:30 PM. Reason: add more info
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
    VOTING MEMBER

  10. #10
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    On the 1642...Robust 6" is amazing!! I have a couple specialty rests for pens, but the Robust stuff is hard to beat based on the stock Jet goodies.
    Johnsons paste wax is the bomb!!! 3x a year on the ways and the bandsaw table...hard to dispute the results...but a good chunk of candle or canning wax is a good friend!
    Last edited by Jim Burr; 09-28-2013 at 12:09 AM.
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

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