LaymarCrafts Woodturning Hints & Tips

Tool Rest Extension

My Lathe came with a 250mm (10") Tool Rest which was too long for the majority of Work that I do and too short for the occasional pieces I have Turned between Centers.

To overcome my initial requirements I had made two Rests, one was 150mm (6") long and the other was 50mm (2") long which is used to get into tight areas, the 150mm is my "Standard" Rest being used for perhaps 80% of my Turning.

The first time I had a requirement for a "Longer" Rest was when I was commissioned to make 5 off 380mm (15") Spindles for a Kitchen Unit, these were to be in Oak which was to have a Limed finish. As I was also provided with the Oak my only profit was to be in the actual Turning and due to circumstances I did feel that a Rest of at least the same length as the Spindles was necessary, to purchase a Rest would have eaten into my Profit.

My solution was to take the Rest originally supplied with the Lathe and modify it as shown below, this now gave me a 250mm Rest and a 406mm Rest for very little cost (3.50).

I purchased from a local Tool Shop a 500mm Length of 25mm x 8mm Mild Steel Bar, my original intention was to make the Rest 500mm Long but I found this to be unstable at the extremities and therefore reduced the size to the final 406mm.

By increasing the Thickness of the Bar from 8mm to 10mm would probably have been sufficient to give stability over 500mm but I have never had the need to go to this length of Rest so I have not tried this theory out to date.

As this Rest is meant to be used only on relatively short and therefore lightweight Spindle Work the sizes I employed are sufficient for these criteria.

The Bar was Rounded along one edge with a Medium Cut 10" File using the Draw File Method, this will achieve a far better and controlled Rounded Edge.

I then marked out the Bar for 2 fixing Holes at a center distance of 200mm (i.e. 100mm either side of the center of the Bar) and 12.5mm in from the long side (i.e. in the middle) the holes were 6.2mm and Counter Sunk to a depth to suit the M6 Countersunk Allen Screws I was to use.

You then Clamp the Bar to the top of the Rest and accurately mark the position of each of the Holes, remove the Bar and carefully Drill the Holes to suit the Tap Size for the Screws (M6 = 5mm) to be used. ( I used M6 Screws which are equal to perhaps a "UNF Screw) and then Tap the Holes.

These Holes will not weaken the original 250mm Rest which can still be used as normal, and when you require additional Rest length you simply attach the 406mm Extension Bar and you are ready to Turn.

Parting Off Rest

How many times have you finally finished an item and are parting it off, when it finally comes away and catches the Tool Rest? I'm sure we've all done it and rued the damage done.

I believed the problem lies with the Tool Rest (or is it the Turner?) a standard Tool Rest just gets in the way and often is in my opinion too far away from the Piece being Parted Off for good control, in fact lets be honest it's the wrong shape.

I again have experimented with a number of designs and the one I detail here is by far the best, giving constant results and good control of the Parting Tool and the Work.


Again the Rest is made using a length of the 25mm x 8mm bar I used for the Rest Extension described above, this needs to be 120 /150mm long bent at one end to an angle of approximately 30, I say approximately because you need to match this to your particular set up of Lathe/Cross Slide/Chuck.

I started by making the Tool Rest Post, in my case this is 20mm , first cut down the center line of the Bar to a depth of 25mm (i.e. the width of the Rest) with a Hacksaw and then cut across the Bar to remove one half.

This recess should now be carefully cleaned up with a file.

Now with the Post inserted into the Cross Slide at the right height you can with the aid of a thin piece of Steel or any other suitable material such as  Cardboard 25mm wide and 120 / 150mm long determine which is the right angle for the Rest to be bent too and also the final position  for attaching the Rest to the Post, by trial and error.

The position you are aiming for is shown above, as you can see the Rest is Square to the line of the Cut and at the same time it is in very close to the Work and therefore there is very little overhang from the Parting Tool throughout the Parting Off process.

Having decided on the final shape you now transfer this to the much thicker Bar which will require heating to a cherry red to enable you to bend it. 

I show the Rest Bolted to the Pillar (with a M6 Set Screw) and this was my initial method of fixing, which worked well, but I have now had the assembly Welded (kindly done by a local garage) to make it more sturdy.

I now find I can control the Parting Off of my work, giving a much cleaner Cut and without the Piece coming into contact with the Rest and therefore causing no damage. 

These two pictures show the Parting Off Rest in position and in use, showing just how close you can get into the Work and the very small amount of the Rest that is actually adjacent to the Work. at the point of Parting Off.

A recent lack of concentration saw the Parting Tool Slip off the end of the Rest and destroy the item I had Turned, to prevent this from happening again I have modified the original design and have now inserted a Stop Pin into the Rest as shown below.

I simply drilled a hole into the top of the rest and inserted a Spring Pin which was then covered with a piece of Plastic for added protection, for this I used piece of Plastic Shielding from an Electrical Cable.


More Tool Rest Articles II.
More Tool Rest Articles III.
More Tool Rest Articles IV.
More Tool Rest Articles V.

Abrasive Holders for Deep Pots & Natural Edge Bowls

Having often Turned Pots for use as Pencil/Pen/Brush Holders I always had difficulty getting a reasonable Finish at the bottom of the Pot if the depth exceeded the length of my digit (finger).

I came across the solution whilst watching a Furniture Restorer who was sanding the inner edge of an ornate cutout on a Chairback, he had a series of Wooden Dowels slotted to about a third of there length into which he inserted, then wrapped, a length of Cloth back  Abrasive.

I experimented with this idea and came up with two variations to this theme, the first was a copy of what I had seen, using a piece of 20mm diameter Dowel and later added 12mm Dowel versions for items with smaller neck openings.

I cut a 250mm length of Dowel and using the Bandsaw I cut a Slot down the center of the Dowel 115mm long which is equal to the width of the Abrasive I normally use. To make this Cut I held the Dowel in a simple Wooden V Block for Stability and Safety.

Now all you need to do is thread the end of the piece of Abrasive into the slot and wrap the remainder around the Dowel, it is important to wrap in the right direction so that when in use the rotation of the Lathe does not try to un-wrap the Abrasive.

The illustration above shows the correct wrapping direction for normal Lathe rotation it will require wrapping in the opposite direction if the Lathe is reversed or when using the outboard facility.

The above solution works well on Pots with parallel sides, but is not really suitable for use with curves, for this situation I use a length of Clear Plastic Hose (the Reinforced Type is best) again a length of 250mm was used and at one end I cut the pipe to an angle of approximately 40 as shown below.

I then sealed off the angled end using some Adhesive Mastic (typically Gripafill or Liquid Nails which dries hard but with a degree of flexibility) and allowed this to dry, I then filled the Pipe with some Kiln Dried Sand and again sealed the open end as before, when the Mastic is Dry you can easily tidy up both ends with a Sharp Knife to give a clean flat surface.

This now gave me a sturdy yet flexible support onto which I could now attach the Abrasive. I first fixed some Velcro (Hook Type) around the Pipe using double sided tape, plus along the Top Edge where the Velcro overlapped I used a couple of Heavy Duty Staples to ensure a secure fixing.

Since making these I have found a source of Self Adhesive Velcro that is more Flexible than that originally used and it is well worth finding such a supplier, the one here in the UK is Simbles, try visiting their Web Site

I have a number of variations on this theme, one is to insert a piece of Dowel into the Tube for its complete length and another option is to insert the Dowel only up to the Velcro / Abrasive this gives support to the "Handle" part at the same time leaving the business end flexible.

 The three basic types are as shown above:

A Reinforced Plastic Tube with Dowel inserted for full length, for Deep Pots.
B Reinforced Plastic Tube with Dowel inserted up to the Velcro and open end sealed gives a Flexible Head.
C Reinforced Plastic Tube with sealed ends and Kiln Dried Sand fill, ideal for the Contours of a Bowl.

Now I can apply Velcro Backed Abrasive to the Tube and finish off the inside of any Curved Pots and  Natural Edged Bowls can be safely sanded without damage to Wood or Limbs.

The Photo above shows the Plastic Tube versions, from the top, you see type "B" then type "A" and a second of type "B" and then finally type "C", you can clearly see how the Velcro is Stapled to the Plastic Tube, 3rd one down.

The Photo above shows the Split Dowel type of holder:


20mm Split Dowel Abrasive Holder, for Larger Pots and Vessels with a long Handle.


20mm Split Dowel Abrasive Holder, for Larger Pots and Vessels.


12mm Split Dowel Abrasive Holder, for Narrow Neck Vessels.

The choice of Length and Handle should be to suit your own requirements, however I find the Longer Handled unit far better than those with the Shorter Handle, also the use of a good grip is essential and the Ribbed Water Hose is superior to the Soft Foam Tube Insulation used on the 12mm Holder.

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Last update 19 July 2007
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