I finished the lathe. I used a few bar clamps to hold a piece of 1x3 against the poppets to make a simple tool rest. It works great, but takes a few more steps to set up the piece you are going to work.
I ripped a few pieces of pine 2x6 down into square cross sections and started to turn them. The pine is very wide grained and prone to checking. I can see where rounding over the piece takes a lot of time on a lathe. I ordered a few draw knives, so I will be able to round over square stock on my shaving bench soon. As pine is a soft wood, the poppets have a tendency to slowly enlarge in the piece I was working as it was spinning.
I'll probably get some hardwood soon and give it a go. For now, I'll keep practicing on the pine.