Easy Lathe Upgrades

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Tool rests: Quality can be all over the board when it comes to the tool rests that with lathes. Often they’ll need to be filed or sanded to achieve the flat, smooth surface you want for your turning tools to glide across. (Any irregularities in the tool rest will transfer to your turning.) Rockler offers 4″, 6″ and 10″ replacement Lathe Tool Rests that incorporate a 5/16″ bar along the top edge to provide a smooth surface for your tool and a contour underneath to provide comfortable support for your finger while you turn. Special curved tool rests also are available to provide support while turning the inside bowls.

Excel Lathe

Bed extension: One of the limitations of mini lathes is that you typically can’t turn stock that’s longer than 18″ or 20″. If you want to turn legs for an end table or side table, that’s not enough capacity. But with many mini lathes, bed extensions are available to expand the distance between centers by about double. So if you want to turn longer stock but aren’t in a position to buy a bigger lathe, a bed extension can be a great solution. (Bed extensions also are available for some larger lathes.)

Live center: If you have a “dead” center in your lathe’s tailstock ( i.e., it doesn’t have bearings that allow it to spin freely with the workpiece), you might want to step up to

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