Clark Steady Rest – Setup1
Clark Steady Rest
A steady rest is an old accessory widely used in both metal and wood turning. It allows one to hold a part while it is being hollowed internally or shaped externally. It becomes especially useful with long spindles but is becoming more frequently used to support tall vessels being hollowed. The forces exerted on a tall vessel can cause the vessel to vibrate or even become dislodged from the lathe holding mechanism (faceplate or spindle) during hollowing. A steady rest can minimize this problem.
The Clark steady rest was designed with larger lathes in mind, although they can be made for lathes with the centerline only 4 inches over the bed. (Please contact about accessories for smaller lathes.) The design of this steady rest is unique for several reasons. One reason these steady rests are unique relates to the materials. All the steel used is heavy-duty and supported to minimize vibration and stand up under heavy loads. A stabilizing rib is integrated by the bending process to the outside of the ring and spans beneath the attachment plate to suppress flex. The radial arms and guide tubes are well fitted and the sliding surfaces of the insides of the guide tubes are extremely hard to prevent wear and to minimize vibration. The surfaces are both hardened and impervious or powder coated for longevity. The arms are aluminum 1.25 inch diameter with a flat milled exactly 90 degrees to the wheel. In recent years a switch was made to aluminum arms. This has reduced the weight of the steady rest, plus the softer metal allows the set screws to make a more secure hold on the arm.
Number two reason for uniqueness of a Clark Steady Rest relates to the ring design which limits loss of the maximum swing diameter possible on a lathe. Other common designs use a vertical ring, which subtracts at least 4 inches from maximum swing diameter at the point supported by the steady rest. The only loss to maximum diameter in this steady comes from the ½ inch base plate. Even the attachment bolt is recessed in the base plate to keep it from interfering with turning diameter. Small lathe steady 9 arm with wrap around base for a 20 inch swing lathe. More arms cut down on the inevitable vibration that occurs from changes in shape with drying during the hollowing process. Multiple arms also help when hollowing a project with voids!
A large ring of a Clark Steady Rest allows the use of larger diameter wheels to place more rubber on the wood and to keep the wheel speed lower than that seen with smaller diameter wheels. In addition, the large ring makes it easy to
leave the steady rest in place on the lathe (with the wheel arms retracted) while using traditional turning tools
on the outside of the project.
Additional arms can be placed on a Clark Steady Rest as desired. A Multi-Steady is a convertible version that has the lower sets of tubes aimed at 8, 10, and/or 12 inches. With interchangeable alignment plates, the steady can be used on up to 3 different swing lathes for improved flexibility and improved resale (if you ever would
want to sell your steady rest).