Making Handrail Posts
The Live Steamer, Jan-Feb 1950
The use of a simple formtool held in the lathe toolpost and made from an old file or piece of steel that has been first softened and ground to the handpost shape and then re-hardened, makes an easy job of turning out the necessary number of such posts needed, and is perhaps a familiar way of doing it to many readers. However, it was the writer's experience that unless some outer support for the rod being worked was used, it was almost impossible to get the posts true round shape. A toolmaker friend gave a very simple solution to the problem and I pass it on for the benefit of readers.
Put a piece of 1/2 inch round brass rod in the tailstock chuck of the lathe and drill a hole in it with a size drill a few thousandths larger than the rod the posts will be made from, for a depth of approximately 1 inch--nothing critical on this depth dimension. Then file away half the diameter at the outer end for a distance of 3/4 inch, or enough to let the formtool get at the work. In use, the piece is of course held in the tailstock chuch, with the filed away portion facing the operator. The tailstock is brought up so the end of the rod being worked turns in this simple jig and as the formtool does the job, it bears against the solid back support, thus forming true round posts as easy as falling off a log, and in the fraction of the time and effort it takes to make them one at a time by ordinary method without the formtool and support piece.