When hollow form turning, one frustrating thing is getting the cutting tip on the centerline when finishing the inside center bottom. Once the drill hole is gone we MUST be cutting exactly on the center line. This is necessary to eliminate all the frustration of dealing with the “nub” in the bottom of the vessel. The main reason we drill the center hole part of the way down, is to make an easy entry for each cut and not have to deal with the nub all the way down to the bottom but once the drill hole is gone, we have to switch gears.
When we are cutting exactly on the centerline, the nub cuts away like butter. So how do we get on the center line? Remember on my DVD? We scratch a line with the cutter, while the lathe is off, and shine a light in the hole and see if we need to move the tool rest up or down. Now here is the tricky part, it is hard to move the tool rest very small increments. So, we move up and it’s too high, and we move down and it’s too low, and back and forth we go until we get lucky and end up on the centerline.
This must be exact. If we are high, the cutter will bounce around at the center point and fight us without cutting and leave the dreaded nub. If we are too low with the cutter, we leave a cylinder shaped area that does not get cut at all. Now here is where the new hollowing tool rest comes into play. The hardened threaded rod that the tool rest post is made from has a nut included that will allow infinitesimal adjustments. Just twist the nut and slightly move the tool rest up or down as needed. Use the lathe banjo to hold the tool rest in place just like any other tool rest. Now we can finish the bottoms quicker and easier. Stop all the frustration of the nub, forever!
I chose to make this out of cold rolled steel. I do not want the tool rest harder than my tools. Any damage done can be filed or sanded off, I do not want my hardened tool rest damaging my turning tools.
Even though this ultimate tool rest was created to solve a specific hollowing problem, I have designed this tool rest to work very well in all applications, not just hollow forms.
(1) The angled ends allow you to get inside a bowl nicely.
(2) The height adjustment keeps you cutting on the centerline when moving the tool rest around for bowl applications and when turning the outside of hollow forms. It is not as critical with a bowl gouge but everything works better if we are cutting near the centerline.
(3) The angled front face keeps your support up close to the wood and allows you to get the handle down for pull cuts and sheer scrape cuts.
(4) It is the right size at 9 inches long to do a wide variety of turned objects. This is the best of all worlds. A great tool rest with multi-purpose flexibility.
As Alton Brown of the Food Network says it’s a multitasker. I must give some credit for the original idea and inspiration to take it to another level of usefulness to Frank Sudol, he was the first person I saw use a tool rest with a threaded rod to position the cutting tip on the centerline in the mid-1990’s. Sand the paint off the top of the tool rest and you are ready to go!