Wood Working Tool Rest

I attended a seminar at Lee Valley on making pens. They used a Taig lathe, and I decided that I liked the tool rest that I used. I looked at the Taig version and the Sherline version, and decided that I liked the Lee Valley version.

This describes what I did to adapt the Lee Valley tool rest for the Taig lathe to work on my Sherline.

Lee Valley Tool Rest

This is the Lee Valley tool rest that I started with. Bigger...

Original Dovetails

This shows the original dovetails, which are 45 degrees, versus the 55.5 degree angle on the Sherline. The Taig lathe bed is also wider, at 2.215" versus 1.75" for the Sherline. I didn't like the fact that the screw on the back pressed directly into the dovetail, even if it was made of brass. Bigger...

Remove Dovetails

The first step was to remove the dovetails from the tool rest. The base is made out of aluminum so it was easy to machine. Bigger...

Dovetails Gone

Here it is with the dovetails removed. Bigger...

Prepare new Dovetails

I had a big chunk of brass, so I cut a slice off, and used the fly cutter to make both surfaces nice and parallel. An end mill was used to finish the edges. The surface looks fairly rough in the picture, but it's actually quite smooth to the touch. Bigger...

Cut Dovetail angle

I used the angle plate, in conjunction with a slitting saw to cut the brass into two pieces. The angle plate is set to 34.5 degrees (90 - 55.5 = 34.5). The slitting saw couldn't make it quite all the way through, so I used my Xacto saw to finish the cut. With the top portion removed, the slitting saw was able to finish the cut. Bigger...

Drill Mounting Hole

The brass pieces were threaded for a 10-32 thread (which matched the thread on the little brass bolts that came with the tool rest). I drilled the pilot hole through both pieces to ensure that they would be lined up properly. A clearance hole was drilled in the base, and the front hole was countersunk on the top side. Bigger...

Finished Base

This is the finished base. The rear screw (with the knurled knob) which used to be on the back, is now on the top and clamps the rear dovetail piece against the lathe bed. The rear dovetail is just a bit wider than it needs to be. This ensures a bit of clearance for clamping. i.e. When mounted on the lathe bed and secured there will be a slight gap between the brass piece and the tool rest base. Bigger...

Bottom of Base

This is a picture from the bottom of the base. Bigger...

Assembled Base

The fully assembled base, with the arm for holding the tool rest. Bigger...

Flat on rest

I happened to have some 3/8" brass rod, so I cut a piece to length, cleaned up the ends on the lathe and put a slight chamfer on the ends. I then put a flat along the length. Here you can see the machinist's jacks being used for support. Bigger...

Mounting Notch

Using a 3/8" end mill, I put a notch half way through the 3/8" rod. It's half way through depth wise and thickness wise. I then cut a short vertical piece, put a 45 degree angle half way though, and soldered the two pieces together. Bigger...

Assembled Rest Piece

Here's the rest portion, with the two brass pieces soldered together. The flat portion is next to the table. Bigger...

Fully Assembled

This is the fully assembled tool rest. Next time, I'll probably use steel for the tool rest portion, because the brass has numerous scratches on it already after making a half dozen pens. I should have expected that resting an HSS gouge on the relatively soft brass. I'd also make the tool rest a bit shorter. Bigger...

Mounted on Lathe

The tool rest mounted on the lathe, with the pen madrel in place. Bigger...


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Copyright 2006 by Dave Hylands