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Fixed steady use

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larry phelan 103/09/2019 13:38:32
577 forum posts
11 photos

I am looking for advice about how to set up my fixed steady.

I have mounted a length of 50mm round in my 3 jaw chuck in order to centre

drill it for turning between centres later.

I tried to get the workpiece running true, not easy, owning to the long overhang, ,then tried setting the steady close to the chuck.

Problem is that when I move the steady to the other end of the work, it is anything but true.. It is quite clear I am doing something wrong, but what ?

I would appreciate any advice and comments, good or bad, because I,m sure I am missing out on something simple.

Thanks in advance.

old mart03/09/2019 13:45:44
1085 forum posts
113 photos

You need the work running true at the point where the steady is going to be positioned first, then set the steady. The surface of the work needs to be reasonably smooth and round for a steady to work. A disc of card fitted on the work next to the steady will help to keep turnings from getting trapped in the fingers.

If the end of the work is cut square, you should not need a steady to use a centre drill, unless the work is really small diameter, and then you could probably just slide the work down the spindle bore and drill it next to the chuck jaws.

You might try your original plan with the steady next to the chuck, back off one of the fingers and slacken the chuck jaws, and then reposition the steady, do up the finger gently and tighten the chuck jaws last, it might work.

Edited By old mart on 03/09/2019 13:50:33

Edited By old mart on 03/09/2019 13:56:59

larry phelan 103/09/2019 14:09:31
577 forum posts
11 photos

The workpiece is 50mm dia, so there is no way it can fit through the bore and being some 600 mm long, I do not like the idea of rotating unsupported while I try to drill it, I.m not that brave !

I will have another go at it later. Thank you for your reply.

Douglas Johnston03/09/2019 14:55:10
670 forum posts
32 photos

Put a short piece of the same diameter in the 3 jaw chuck (better still a 4 jaw ) and set the steady fingers with that. Change for the long bit keeping the chuck jaws slightly loose and place the steady at the far end of the bar. You can lift the top finger of the steady to allow the bar in then refit the top finger. Fully tighten the chuck and all should be well. I also like the idea of the cardboard to prevent chips getting trapped in the steady fingers.


Michael Gilligan03/09/2019 15:11:56
14767 forum posts
635 photos


I would locate [and fix] the stready towards the distal end of the work ... leave the 3-jaw not tight and then then adjust the fingers of the steady to centralise the [slowly rotating] workpiece.

When satisfied that it is running sufficiently true ... then tighten the chuck firmly.


Edited By Michael Gilligan on 03/09/2019 15:12:42

JasonB03/09/2019 15:19:32
17063 forum posts
1839 photos
1 articles

I try to set it in the chuck as level as possible using a marked out ctr point on the end then when you set the steady at the chuck end it will be as true as the chuck allows, then slide to the tailstock end. A large cone ctr works well if you have one.

Not sure if Michael's loose jaws would work as the weight of the 24" long 2" bar would tend to drop at the tailstock end as soon as the jaws were loosened so you may get it rotating true but it could be low.

generally works for me.

Edited By JasonB on 03/09/2019 15:21:25

thaiguzzi03/09/2019 15:40:05
619 forum posts
131 photos


I don't understand your problem.

Try initially taking the fixed steady close to your headstock and adjusting it to run true, before pulling it towards the tailstock end.

not done it yet03/09/2019 15:46:19
3933 forum posts
15 photos

First thing is what is the finished diameter? Close to 50mm means a lot more care. Next is how round is it?

A few mm less for the finished piece, and the end of the round could be drilled in the centre to allow a modicum of support with a tailstock centre, and a concentric cut put on the work followed by mounting in the steady.

I expect there are several ways to find the centre of a round bar to a reasonable precision. A precise centre can be added later.

Cutting the area for the steady could be carried out near the chuck, then reverse the piece in the lathe to achieve a centre drilling with that end set to run true in the steady.

What you need to be careful of is to have chuck tightening evenly and straight - or the work could ‘walk’ its way out of the chuck while machining, so I tend to turn the piece a couple of times to make sure both ends are concentric. I think a 4 jaw independent chuck is a necessity for a job like this.

David Noble03/09/2019 15:52:04
112 forum posts
3 photos

Would it be possible to put a centre in the end of the bar with an electric drill? I've done this a couple of times successfully.


Edited By David Noble on 03/09/2019 15:52:16

Nick Hughes03/09/2019 16:00:13
210 forum posts
131 photos
John Reese03/09/2019 16:15:39
817 forum posts

A method that works for me is this:

Set the steady where you want it, jaws nor touching the work. Turn the work slowly. Advance the front finger of the steady until that finger makes 360* contact with the work. Do the same with the back finger. Adjust the top finger for desired tension.

If you have roller fingers in your steady a holding your finger against the roller will help you determine when you have full contact. The roller will stop momentarily when it is out of contact with the work.

Michael Gilligan03/09/2019 16:29:01
14767 forum posts
635 photos
Posted by JasonB on 03/09/2019 15:19:32:

[ ... ]

Not sure if Michael's loose jaws would work as the weight of the 24" long 2" bar would tend to drop at the tailstock end as soon as the jaws were loosened so you may get it rotating true but it could be low.

generally works for me.


I think it depends upon interpretation, Jason

[something which I was trying to avoid]

My not tight may not be the same as your loose

.. That said, I can't recall ever working on 24" x 2" diiameter bar stock.

A compromise between our two approaches should do nicely.


larry phelan 103/09/2019 18:58:55
577 forum posts
11 photos

As I expected there was a good response to my question. Some, I have already tried, others are new to me, all are welcome.

Yes, I did try setting the steady close to the chuck and then moving it along the bed, this produced the best results, although not perfect. I must admit I did not use my 4 jaw chuck, but will try that tomorrow.

The reason for the 600mm length is that is what is required for the job in question although it can be skimmed down slightly after mounting between centres.

Please accept my thanks to all who took the trouble to respond, as the say "Every little helps"

Paul Kemp03/09/2019 21:07:31
376 forum posts
18 photos


Simple way I think is make an adjustable holder for a clock that fits over a good running centre in the tailstock. Tailstock is on spindle centre, so set your bar up with the chuck nipped up and bar running true at the chuck. Adjust your steady lightly at t'other end of the bar and run the clock on the centre round the periphery. Adjust the steady fingers until the clock shows the bar running true (remember you are rotating the clock around the bar, not the bar against the clock). Go back and fully tighten the chuck jaws against a clock in the normal way so the bar stays true in the chuck. Job jobbed.


larry phelan 104/09/2019 08:36:48
577 forum posts
11 photos

Thanks Paul, I like that idea ,well worth a try.

JasonB04/09/2019 10:38:28
17063 forum posts
1839 photos
1 articles

That may not work for you Larry as you craftsman probably only has 600mm detween ctrs so by the time you have got a chuck and the 600mm stock you won't be able to get much in the tailstock or may even need to remove it. When it comes to drilling a ctr drill in a bush in an MT collet may gain a few inches.

larry phelan 105/09/2019 14:26:03
577 forum posts
11 photos

Hi Jason, I am lucky in that I bought a longbed Craftsman lathe, although I never need the full length until now.

So, I might just get away with some of the ideas here.

There was little difference in the cost of the long and the short bed and since space was not an issue, I went for the long one.

Many thanks to all for their help.

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