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My old “improved” adjustable tool rest works fine, but is fussy to move around and adjust for some situations. How about a “banjo” to offer more flexibility. This one wasn’t hard to make and has offered outstanding convenience. It can slide easily back and forth along the ways, be locked down at virtually any angle to the lathe axis, and has a tool rest that can be raised, lowered and turned as desired.
From the top, we see two wood elements, the slotted base and the tool rest block. The base is oak 3/4″ x 3 1/2″ x 12″, with a 9/16″ slot down the middle. The octagon shaped block is laminated from oak, measuring 1 1/2″ x 3″ x 3″. It is screwed to the base.
The tool rest holder is nothing more than a simple piece of steel plumbing pipe 1″ inside diameter. The pipe is epoxied to a hole in the octagon shaped block. The stell rest is a Robust 6″ wide “comfort” tool rest on a 1″ diameter post.
In the middle of the slot, we see the top of a 1/2″ carriage bolt, about 5″ long. It’s cut to size to fit the height of the ways plus the seating block (another bit of oak) that clamps it in place from the bottom (next two pics).
That filler block in the middle is a simple piece of construction lumber, cut loose enough to slide with no friction between the ways, and about 1/8″ shorter than the height of the ways. In other words, it assists sliding around without getting in the way.
Now, those handles. Both are from McMasters Carr.
The short one (3 1/8″) at the top has a 1/4″ unthreaded hole. I cut a piece of 10/24 screw and epoxied it into the handle’s hole. Then, I threaded the pipe to take the screw.
The longer one (4 5/16″) on the bottom also has a 1/4″ unthreaded hole. But in this case, I epoxied a 1/2″ nut that matches the carriage bolt.
Add a simple 1/2″ washer. Then, cut the carriage bolt to allow tightening before bottoming out the nut.
Simple, works easily. A feature of these handles is that they are adjustable. If the handle gets tightened in such a way that its tail is sticking up on the way, press the button in the center, and rotate it to a more convenient position. Nice!