Mini Ball Bearing Follow Rest
© Frank Ford 2004; Photos by FF

I was in the midst of another Top Secret Project* when I figured I needed a tiny follow rest to turn .022" diameter shafts on the ends of some 11/16" diameter 304 stainless. Since I'd be making a couple dozen identical parts this time, I figured I could rough them out first and get my toolpost follower all set up to take a final finish cut in one setting, just popping the parts in and out of the collet.

As I thought about the follow rest, I realized I've never wanted one for a big turning, so I set about devising a tiny one that would fit my needs - say, about 1/2" and under. Mostly I turn small things, rarely beyond the range of 5C collets.

So, using scrap I had around, I came up with this:

It's a teeny follow rest that simply screws down onto my Aloris double tool holder.

I tried to reduce the size of the project to the scale in which I work, and eliminate any welding, which is not my strong suit.

It took me a while to get the hang of adjusting it, but it works quite well, and is plenty rigid enough for my small parts. The aluminum support is 5/8" thick, and the brass arm is 1/2" - just stuff I had in the scrap drawer.

Here it is in action on a test piece of aluminum:


A shot from the outboard end:

And, my version of an exploded drawing:


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My wife, Joy, is a potter, and is always completely supportive of whatever dopey project I get myself into! She'll come into the shop and say, "I see you're still working on the Secret Weapon," or something like that. . .