I own a Taig (q.g) microlathe. It is about 60mm center height and about 30 cm bed. It is enough for me right now, and it fits in a very small space. Now I am adding a feeedscrew (or leadscrew) to it, following a detailed recipe at Dean Williams's page (look under leadscrew) out there on the web. A feedscrew is a long screw that allows you to traverse the carriage of the lathe by controlled amounts. Dean calls for a 1/4-20 left-handed thread; but I am using an ordinary hardware store threaded rod. Well, at some point the recipe calls for me to turn the threads off the rod. There came the rub. When I got the rod into the lathe the thing whipped around like an enraged Anaconda and bent the rod beyond repair. Now all machinists -- I am a very indifferent one -- know you can't turn long whippy stuff without a steady rest. A steady rest is just a set of fingers in a frame. Taig will sell you one, but I follow George Dyson's principle: never buy anything you can make, and never make anything you can find. Well, I did not think I'd find a Taig steady rest on my walks, so we begin the odyssey.
Now we have to make the fingers. Classic is brass. Don't have any in the right size. Use Al instead, something like 1/2x1/8 RGU hardware store stuff. Cut it with a hacksaw. Now we need slots in the fingers so we can adjust them to fit the work being turned.
I drilled a row of holes in the proto-finger. This leaves a whole bunch of metal as webs.
And of course this gadget had to have a name. Behold Steady Eddie. Long may he hold long whippy things.
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