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A steady rest is basically a heavy and rigid ring afixed to the bedways of a lathe or turning center, which ring is equipped with jaws to support the work piece.  Jaws are usually thee in number, though less commonly four, five, or even six are employed. The jaws are typically equipped with roller that contact and support the workpiece, though in some applications, bronze, babbitt, oil impregnated nylon, or other suitable bearing material are used rather than rollers.  Typically the frame of the steady rest is split, with the top half of the ring being either hinged to the bottom half, or  sometimes it has a “pick off” top.


In turning, as in all machining operations, rigidity is essential to a quality job.  A workpiece with a long length to diameter ratio will deflect away from the tool easily, causing a lack of precision, and also oftentimes causing harmful vibrations …”chatter”.  A steady rest, or in some cases a follower rest which moves with the carriage rather than being fixed to the bedways, is used to alleviate that problem.

In other cases, a steady rest is used to support a workpiece that is too long to be held by the chuck alone, while operations are performed on the end of the piece, or inside the piece.  The flange on an axle is one example of a workpiece where the end of the piece is mach@larined.  A hydraulic cylinder is an example of a workpiece where operations would need to be performed on the inside diameter.

Though some machinists and some shops don’t use a steady rest if they can possibly avoid it, preferring instead to put a long piece through the bore of the lathe spindle so they can chuck up close to the place they want to cut,  the likelihood of getting the workpiece straight in the machine by so doing is somewhat close to nil. Precision work required a steady rest.  In fact,  a lathe without a steady rest is really only half a lathe. They are that important.


Doubtless, if you are a machinist reading these words, and you have read this far,  you already understand why a steady rest is needed.  And likely you either have one already, or you need one, or you need one that is of greater capacity than the one you already have.  We can help.  We here at Uintah Machine have been building steady rests since the late 1970’s. To this point, we have built in excess of 1300 of them.  Though the advent of CNC machinery has reduced the demand for them (an almost eliminated entirely the demand for taper attachments), we still field quite a few inquiries, and we still build a few every year. Call us and tell us what you need.

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