The New Rikon 70-220 VDR Wood Working lathe

  • Advertise with us
Review by ncdon posted 10-18-2014 04:20 PM 27043 views 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
The New Rikon 70-220 VDR Wood Working lathe The New Rikon 70-220 VDR Wood Working lathe No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

After a couple of weeks of near full time turning I think I can write a decent review of my new Midi Lathe. To date I’ve turned a couple of bowls, several pens and some Christmas ornaments
To tell the truth I stopped in my local Woodcraft store to look at the Jet 1221. I was very surprised to see a Rikon lathe with virtually identical specs.
The 70-220 VSR is an electronically controlled variable speed lathe, with reverse. It advertises a 12 1/2 inch swing over the bed, a 1 hp motor, electronic variable speed with 3 belt positions. It comes equipped with
a tool holder, spur drive, live end, knock out, a 3 inch face plate, 6 inch tool rest, open end and Allen Wrenches.
I’ve found it to be very smooth and quiet yet powerful in operation. Even with limited room on my bench mount belt position chances are a breeze and can be accomplished in seconds. Actual speed ranges on my unit are low, 225-735 rpm. middle position 490- 1600 rpm and high 1125-3750. In all speed ranges actual and advertised speeds vary. ymmv Those of you who mount your lathe to a bench will find a convenient predrilled flange on both ends for fastening your lathe to the work surface. Assembly is straight forward. Prior to use I removed the light oil coating from the machine. I do have two small griefs with the 70-220. I’m not crazy about the position of the off on switch, I’ve already turned the lathe off by butt pressing the switch while turning the inside of a bowl. Probably more to do with the way I mount my machine than with the lathe. Second I wish that the tail stock locking lever was 1/2 inch longer as I pinch my knuckle every time I release it.
All in all I’m a very happy with my purchase and would recommend this unit to anyone. I think you’ll also be very happy with the price.

-- Don, North Carolina, Working full time at retired.

View ncdon's profile


220 posts in 4327 days

14 comments so far

View NormG's profile


6576 posts in 4454 days

#1 posted 10-19-2014 03:13 AM

Sounds like a nice machine that you will use for a long time

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Woodknack's profile


13593 posts in 3831 days

#2 posted 10-19-2014 05:16 AM

Good points on the switch and locking lever, you should mention those to Rikon. I can tell by looking that the locking lever should be longer if it remains where it is. What was the price?

-- Rick M,

View Wildwood's profile


2959 posts in 3585 days

#3 posted 10-19-2014 04:41 PM

Rick, last time checked did not have them on their web site. Stores that have them were selling for on sale price. Not sure if that sale still going.

Don, thanks for the review!

-- Bill

View ncdon's profile


220 posts in 4327 days

#4 posted 10-19-2014 09:47 PM

Rick, purchased it in Va. with tax the sale price was $620.00 and change.

-- Don, North Carolina, Working full time at retired.

View Ken90712's profile


18113 posts in 4639 days

#5 posted 10-21-2014 08:17 AM

Nice review. I so need to get one.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View woodtickgreg's profile


212 posts in 4569 days

#6 posted 10-27-2014 01:32 AM

I just got a sale flyer from woodcraft, they are on sale here for $549.99 I’m going to get one next week. I think the sale runs until Sept 25th? I went and looked at the lathe today, very impressed for the money. A substantial midi lathe.

-- wood tick tools for turners by woodtickgreg @

View PASs's profile


605 posts in 4549 days

#7 posted 10-31-2014 07:52 PM

Thanks for the info.
Just picked mine up.
Will blog install later.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View Klif's profile


3 posts in 3171 days

#8 posted 12-04-2014 10:19 PM

I bought my new Rikon 70-220 VDR at Woodcraft for $549.99 three weeks ago and love it. After years of using my old 1935 Atlas this one is a god send. At first I thought the on/off switch felt awkward but after about 3 usages I mentally adjusted and now it is as natural to use as my old lathe. As for the tail stock locking lever I unscrewed it completely, turned it 180’ and screwed it back in, now it is in the up position when it is locked down and has plenty of clearance for my extra large hands. I just checked and it appears that the sale price is over at my local DFW area Woodcraft because they now have it priced at $649.99. Even at the higher price I feel like it is a great buy and I would recommend it to anyone. I am very happy with mine.

-- Klif, Texas

View AgentTwitch's profile


631 posts in 4947 days

#9 posted 12-17-2014 07:33 PM

I picked up this lathe after reading Don’s review. This is an excellent lathe. I really like the size and variable speed options. My own lathe required very little tune-up out of the box. There was very little offset between centers (less than 1/32”) which was fixed with a shim in the tail stock. I picked up a Woodcraft 5/8” spur center and a 60-degree ball bearing live center and have been letting the shavings fly. My only complaint with this very capable lathe is that the box that the variable speed controller fits into doesn’t feel very robust.

-- Regards, Norm

View woodtickgreg's profile


212 posts in 4569 days

#10 posted 12-17-2014 09:14 PM

I have heard of a couple of guys that have had problems with their lathes not starting up. There was a problem with a few early production lathes, not all, and Rikon will send the part to fix it and instructions. I talked to the folks at my local woodcraft and they confirmed it. But with a 5 year warranty I’m not to concerned about the one I purchased.

-- wood tick tools for turners by woodtickgreg @

View ncdon's profile


220 posts in 4327 days

#11 posted 12-25-2014 02:03 PM

Update: I’ve had my 70-220vsr for about 3 months now. Sunday while turning a bowl, I heard a pop and the lathe shut down. An error code 02 appeared on the LED and I was unable to restart. Monday I contacted Rikon Customer Service. They promised second day delivery of a new control panel. I assumed printed circuit board.
Wednesday fed ex delivered an entire new control box with the best written installation instruction sheet I’ve seen in years. I took about a half hour to remove the lathe from the bench, replace the control box and get the lathe up and running. I rate Rikon C/S 5 stars on their response. With so many complaints about crappy service it’s nice to hand out an attaboy when it’s deserved. Am I Happy, you bet. Merry Christmas.

-- Don, North Carolina, Working full time at retired.

View woodmaker's profile


323 posts in 4142 days

#12 posted 12-27-2014 04:54 PM

Just picked this up at Woodcraft yesterday and they gave me 15% off because I knew there was a sale coming up in two weeks. I hinted at that plus the long distance I have to drive and viola I get 15% off. Here’s the best deal I was looking at the new Rikon Mortiser with the x-y table, all of a sudden the wife says can we get the same deal on this also! I’m thinking she lost her mind, but they agreed and I took them both home. What a wife!
Can’t wait to start using them.

-- Mike

View Clutch's profile


4 posts in 2683 days

#13 posted 01-11-2015 05:00 PM

Thanks for the review.

I am looking to turn spindles in the 3 inches wide by 36 inches in length range and I have narrowed my search down to this model with the extension bed and the smaller 70-100.

I will not be turning bowls.

My gut tells me the extra heft of this machine will suit me better. What do you think?

View Pap1940's profile


1 post in 2478 days

#14 posted 08-04-2015 01:50 PM

My son and I got one of these after the tax rebate in April 2015. $549.99 + tax at my local Woodcraft store. Set up was easy. By the way, they have it for the same price now until 08/28/15.

I put it on a Harbor Freight hydraulic table cart that has a piece of plywood bolted to the top. This allows me to move it around the garage or stow it along the wall when I need room for other projects. I raise and lower it to suit the project (and the way my back feels at the time!). It allows me to stow in under a workbench too.

Last week it started acting funny, sometimes it would only run in reverse and you could slow it down by holding the face plate. Not good. It would stall and stop in forward when my son was turning an ebony spindle. After an hour or so he tried again and had the same result.

Contacted Rikon support and after a few emails and further checks and tests they decided the control box was faulty. I received a new one in a few days. The new control circuit board is definitely more robust, bigger capacitors, revised layout of the heat sink and components, different relays, etc. Came with excellent instructions and works perfectly. Can’t say enough good things about Rikon support (Rod). It was really refreshing to deal with a company that’s willing to back up a product.

Oh and the codes it displays are not error codes as some reviews have stated. There’s no reference to these in the manual. Rod said, “the board will run a systems check before start up and after power down. The codes only show up for a few milliseconds during startup. They stay on the display until the capacitors draw down.”

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics