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  1. #1
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    Default Advice on Tool Rest Maintenance

    I almost exclusively turn spindles, so between the skew, the roughing gouge, and the parting tool, I've named about 95% of the tools I use.

    I've noticed that the better I get at turning, and the more precise the beading etc. I want to do, the more sensitive I've become to irregularities in my tool rest. I believe the parting tool is the most likely culprit, as it is the only sharp sided tool I have. All of my skews have rounded over corners (not ovals, just relieved edges).

    So my question is, aside from just regularly filing it, is there anything that others are doing to prevent nicks in the tool rest which can later cause the tools to snag as they're being moved back and forth?

    I know this is a bit of a weird question, but I'd be interested to hear any thoughts.

    Thanks!
    Luke

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  3. #2
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    Feb 2007
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    Default

    I slightly roundover or blunt the corners of the tools with sandpaper. On a standard parting tool this would just be the bottom corners that contact the rest. It is a problem that the rest is softer metal than the tools but all that can be done is to remove nicks as they appear with a sanding block or file. Some of the more metalwork minded members may have other answers.
    Regards
    John

  4. #3
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    Yeah, it's a problem. This is one of the reasons it was popular, way back when, to braze a small dia. hardened steel rod across the top of the rest. Mind you, if you dinged that with a bad catch, it was a nightmare to get rid of.

    Similar to Orraloon, I remove any sharp arrises on the bottoms of my tools with a mild file... bringing them down to a <1mm flat. Then round the face with a burnishing tool to get rid of the "new" arrises. Unorthodox, perhaps, but it works for me.

    Whatever you do, don't round any edges that actually meet the cutting edge, else you'll either end up with a less than full-width cutting edge or rounded ends that can be a headache to sharpen..
    I may be weird, but I'm saving up to become eccentric.

    - Andy Mc (AKA "Ghost who posts." )

  5. #4
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    You can fix/weld/silver solder a HSS rod around 6-8mm dai to the leading edge of the toolrest this will take a lot of wear and bashing .Plus isf you use low temp silver solder it wont interfere with the HSS hardness . Sounds difficult but its not really. Some folk tack weld with the stick welder on the ends, if you go that way move up 8mm or even 10mm. Buy through aliexpress or McJings they have them on hand out of China will take a month of sundays but it will cheaper.

  6. #5
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    Yes,I tacked some 10mm McJing HSS on a couple of my rests and am very pleased, they polish up nicely.

  7. #6
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    Default

    Ok, cool, that's good advice. I never thought about reinforcing the tool rest with something harder.

    Thanks a lot everyone!

  8. #7
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    I second the advice on relieving the sharp edges on spindle tools.

    I have seen a stainless steel "L" epoxied to the working edge of tool rests.

    A caution about silver soldering HSS rod to tool rests - with some cuts it makes the tool more "skittish" - i.e. more susceptible to a catch if your tool presentation is a little off. The softer steel / tool HSS interface has a higher coefficient of friction compared to a HSS / HSS interface, so is a little more forgiving.

    Then there are tool rests and there are "spindle tool rests." I find the original Woodfast tool rests to be my favourites for spindle turning - great profile & an appropriate steel hardness. The castings of many generic lathe tool rests are simply horrid, soft granular castings, poor profiles, .. terrible!
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  9. #8
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    Feb 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by hughie View Post
    You can fix/weld/silver solder a HSS rod around 6-8mm dai to the leading edge of the toolrest this will take a lot of wear and bashing .Plus isf you use low temp silver solder it wont interfere with the HSS hardness .
    HSS won't lose its hardness under silver soldering temperatures. It can even be heated to red heat without affecting its hardness as this is what it was designed to do. To soften HSS it has to be held at high temps for long periods and even then it won't lose much hardness.

    Also some stainless steels are quite soft, some are softer than mild steels and are likely to be dinged more easily.
    If you want something a bit softer than HSS but a lot harder than cast or mild steel then something like A2 might be a good compromise. It's relatively tough and it it does get dinged it won't be as difficult as HSS to refurbish.

  10. #9
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    I think we have all been through this problem. I made new toolrests to "Retired's" design out of 316 stainless and as Bob just posted, they were too soft. Last year I was lucky enough to drop in and visit Robo hippy in Oregon and had a look at all his products including his tool rests with the A2 drill rod welded on and I liked them. So Nubsnstubs took me to a metal shop in Tucson and I bought a couple of metres of the rod in 6mm, as I don't like a thick rest, brought it home and TIG welded it onto my rests. Best mod I have ever done.
    Rgds,
    Crocy.
    R

  11. #10
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    Luke's question was about spindle turning rests, so I left the spindle turners to reply.

    However, I point out that when bowl turning the rest can get a hammering, particularly when turning large out of round blanks or interrupted cut pieces. HSS steel and other hardened rods welded to the tool rest may save the rests from dings, but they also put your HSS tools and yourself at risk. I value my HSS tools (and myself) too much to run the risk of them snapping off from one highly hardened steel impacting on another highly hardened piece of steel.

    If A2 is tempered to only go as high as the upper 50s or very low 60s HRC then that may be less of an issue.

    My preference is to use good quality cast iron toolrests that absorbs the shock and just occasionally dress them if necessary. If I did a lot of spindle turning I might resort to a separate set of spindle only turning rests with hardened top edges.

    And, like everyone else, I round over the bottom edge of any tool that might dig into the tool rest.
    Stay sharp!

    Neil



  12. #11
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    I've always found it mildly amusing that people will spend a small fortune on chucks, jaws and cutting tools for specific purposes, yet overlook the one thing that every wood lathe must have; a tool rest.

    The rests most lathes come equipped with (long 'n straight) are generally better suited for spindle work than bowls and are often of the minimal quality a mfr can get away with.

    In the past I have broken the rests on "respectable badge" machines when I've had what should've been insignificant catches. Just for the record I should add that they've almost always happened when I've been working at the end of the rest while turning bowls. My bad, but...

    When it comes to bowl turning, I heartily recommend buying - or making - a set of curved rests. Whether they be bent 1" dia. stainless rods or hammered plate, having a set of rests with different radius curves can make a job soooo much more enjoyable!
    I may be weird, but I'm saving up to become eccentric.

    - Andy Mc (AKA "Ghost who posts." )

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobL View Post
    HSS won't lose its hardness under silver soldering temperatures. It can even be heated to red heat without affecting its hardness as this is what it was designed to do. To soften HSS it has to be held at high temps for long periods and even then it won't lose much hardness.

    Also some stainless steels are quite soft, some are softer than mild steels and are likely to be dinged more easily.
    If you want something a bit softer than HSS but a lot harder than cast or mild steel then something like A2 might be a good compromise. It's relatively tough and it it does get dinged it won't be as difficult as HSS to refurbish.
    Bob Yup thats true. But for those not so familiar with silver soldering I added the low temp comment. If your going the stainless way you have really only two options 316 or Martensitic at least you can harden this variety, albeit a bit complicated.
    But by far the best, is to hunt around the for linear bearing shafts as they are hardened by either induction or flame and so can be softened some, where you want to weld the pin. I have several and haven't had to go near them in years.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skew ChiDAMN!! View Post

    When it comes to bowl turning, I heartily recommend buying - or making - a set of curved rests.
    Second that!



    Sent from my ZTE T84 using Tapatalk
    Stay sharp!

    Neil



  15. #14
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    Mar 2015
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    Default

    So I notice that Vicmarc use 4140 rod on their tool rests. Depending on the temper this can range from 13 to high 50's for Rockwell C hardness. Not sure what temper they would use. Does anyone have experience with the vicmarc tool rests for spindle turning and can you comment if they are more/less suceptible to this issue?

    Cheers, Dom

  16. #15
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    I've had my share of dramatic catches bowl turning, but cannot remember ever getting a catch spindle turning, but lots of times a ding has stuffed up a nice rolled bead. I'll stick with the HSS top for spindles.

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