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A long, thin spindle can vibrate while it’s being turned. And when a part is vibrating, it’s impossible to get a smooth surface.
Over the years, wood turners have devised various forms of a shopmade gadget called a steady rest to keep thin spindles from shaking. But the steady rest can be difficult to make and use.
Commercially made steady rests are another option, but they too aren’t exactly user-friendly. Usually, they require individual adjustments of wheels or ball bearings. And with wheels or bearings in the picture, it becomes difficult to add or remove a spindle from the lathe.
So, while at a turning symposium last spring, I was intrigued when I spotted a new steady rest by Oneway Manufacturing, one that addresses all of the typical problems I mentioned earlier. I immediately arranged to try it out in my shop.
Once the steady rest arrived, I put it to the test by having each of my students in a Shaker-furniture class use it to turn 1 5/8-in.-dia. by 43-in.-long back posts for their rocking chairs. This allowed me to see just how well the Oneway steady rest performed at a variety of skill levels.
Oneway’s design differs significantly from others I have seen. The base bolts to the bed of the lathe via a T-block that’s supplied. It even can be mounted on a tubular bed.
It’s easy to adjust the height of the Oneway. Simply loosen a setscrew, then raise or lower the height of the support assembly and retighten the screw. Once the height is set, the use of the Oneway steady rest is simplicity itself. First, mount the workpiece in the lathe and start it up. Then, working only in the short section that the rollers are going to contact, turn the workpiece fully around. Now loosen a series of wing nuts and squeeze the handles at the back of the steady rest. This brings the three wheels into firm contact with the work, perfectly centered. After that, simply tighten the wing nuts while maintaining pressure on the handles. At this point, with the wheels supporting the spindle, the turning can be completed with little fear of vibration.
My students found the Oneway easy to use, and it produced good posts. Their only criticism was related to the small wing nuts: They were difficult to tighten adequately by hand. We all resorted to pliers.
Overall, though, the Oneway steady rest is a well-made tool and, except for the wing-nut issue, it lived up to all of its advertised virtues.
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