How to Make Your Own Lathe Tool Rest

What You'll Need
5/8 x 4 1/2 steel bolt and similar sized nut
3/4 hardened steel shaft or cold rolled steel
Tack welder
Cut off saw

Wood turning enthusiasts often make their own lathe tool rest for a variety of reasons. For one, tool rests sold commercially in stores are usually very expensive. Other than that, the materials used by manufacturers in creating their lathe tool rests are often not as durable as people expect them to be. Manufacturers often use light materials that are easily dented or damaged. One advantage of making your own tool rest is that you can tailor its dimensions according to your needs. You can easily make your own tool rest as long as you have a compact welder. If not, you can always bring the metal pieces to a welding or muffler shop and have the components tacked for a relatively low cost.

Here are some simple steps on how to make a small lathe tool rest using simple metal materials that you can easily source at the nearest hardware store in your area.

Step 1 – Preparation

Lay all the materials needed for the project on a work table. The size of the post will all depend on the size of the tool post that your lathe has. In the case of a mini tool post, the usual size is around 5/8 of an inch in diameter. This is the reason why a 5x8 x 4 ½ bolt is required for this activity. The bar of the tool rest should be made from hardened or cold rolled steel and should ideally remain below 12 inches in total width. If you go beyond the specified length, you might experience vibrations during the turning activity.

Step 2 – Cut the Steel Bolt

Use a cut off saw or hacksaw to remove the head from the bolt. If you happen to need a shorter post, then it is best to cut along the threaded portion of the bolt as well. Make sure to run the nut on the cut end to clean the thread.

Step 3 – Weld the Nut to the Bar

Use a tack welder and attach one side of the nut to the steel bolt. The nut should be welded on the center of the bolt.

Step 4 – Attach the Post to the Bar

Attach the post to the bar by inserting the post on the nut. Turn the post clockwise until tight. It is best to mount the improvised tool rest on the lathe to ensure a perfect horizontal alignment. Remove the tool rest from the lathe and use a tack welder to weld the nut to the bar.

Step 5 – Test the Tool Rest

Attach the tool rest to the lathe and check again for proper alignment. You are now ready to use your own mini tool rest.

Keep in mind that you can source any kind of scrap material when making your own lathe tool rest. You can find quality scrap metal at your local junk or salvage yard. Remember to wear protective gear such as goggles and mask, especially during the welding process. Always handle power tools with care.