Steadying rest for a lathe


1 Iron lathe steadying rest

This item is part of the contents of the workshop that Scottish engineer James Watt developed at his home, Heathfield, at Handsworth, Birmingham, from c.1795 through to his death in 1819. Although Watt is best known for his work on the steam engine, his workshop contains a wide variety of objects from many different projects, from chemistry to sculpture-copying.

The description of the item was written by Edward Collins, the land agent responsible for Heathfield when the workshop was given to the Science Museum in 1924. Collins could not always identify what he was looking at, but always described what he saw clearly. This has allowed his descriptions to form the basis of subsequent research.

This is a steady for turning slender articles, and formed part of the original equipment for the lathe, positioned in the workshop beneath the window. This type of rest was commonly supplied to support workpieces that might be deflected significantly by the force applied by the cutting tool. The base was secured to the bed-bar and the jointed upper part adjusted to embrace a part of the workpiece that had previously been turned true.


James Watt's Garret Workshop
Object Number:
Major J.M. Gibson-Watt