Picking out a lathe

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Blog entry by SarahDIY posted 04-25-2016 03:12 PM 874 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I took a class recently on for beginning turners, and I’ve become quite intrigued by the process and the possibilities. I now have a chance to buy a used Rikon 70-100 mini lathe for $250 including a chuck and some tools. Seems like a decent deal. Does anyone have experience with this one and can steer me towards or away from it? Or would I be better off getting something different. Not a lot of money to put into it right now… Thank you!

3 comments so far

View bigJohninvegas's profile


722 posts in 2067 days

#1 posted 04-25-2016 05:04 PM

Hello, the rikon lathe looks ok. The 12” swing I feel is a minimum, but a good start. You will get tired of moving the belt everytime you need to change speeds. Also does it have the bed extension? As I see it pictured on amazon it is very short, only 16” between centers. Which makes for limited turning. Such a short lathe is only really good for small projects. Pens, handles for things like ice cream scoops, and small bowls. At 16” between centers, maybe a small vase. Small lathes are light weight and move around alot.
Price may be ok depending on what chuck, and tools that come with it.
Avoid the little chucks with tommy bars. You want one with a chuck key style.
Price goes up of course, but if you can hold out for a something like a 12”X36” lathe with variable speed contol, you will have a lathe that will work for you for some time.
With that said. If small stuff is what you want to do, then this little lathe may be perfect for you.
Also I started with Rocklers 10” excelsior lathe with the bed extension. Made the mistake of buying the nova chuck with tommy bars. Had about $300 in that setup. Used it for about a year and got most of what I paid out of it when I sold it. That little lathe got me started, and gave me the chance to learn what I wanted to do as a turner.
Good luck.

-- John

View Dave G's profile

Dave G

335 posts in 2654 days

#2 posted 04-26-2016 08:24 AM

type the following into the search field in the upper right corner. I think you’ll get some interesting information

rikon 70-100 lathe review

-- Dave, New England - “We are made to persist. that's how we find out who we are.” ― Tobias Wolff

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 3940 days

#3 posted 04-26-2016 03:24 PM

I think the Rikon is a good little lathe and $250 is about 1/2 the new price, so especially good for a starter if everything works on it. It is also beefy enough with the mt2 spindle that you will probably be able to use any accessories you buy for it with a larger lathe later. 12” dia. is a pretty good size for most turnings unless you want to turn really big bowls and if you will be doing mostly faceplate turning and not a lot of long spindle work, then the length shouldn’t be a big issue either. I bought my son the same lathe under another name (Woodfast) and it is very nice to use and runs quite smoothly. Here he is using it.

Personally I have Record lathe which is 1/2 horsepower with a 12” swing which I bought about 20 years ago and I have done a lot of turnings on it through the years, though I wouldn’t mind a larger and more powerful lathe, but don’t really feel the need for it. I can do up to 18” turnings on it with an outboard tool rest accessory I bought for it, but rarely (read almost never) use it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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