First lathe - Rikon Mini

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Review by Berg posted 09-20-2009 02:59 PM 8699 views 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
First lathe - Rikon Mini No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

If you have looked at the bowl project I posted you know I am a complete turning neophyte AND you know I don’t actually own a lathe. Until now!

I was at The Guild of New Hampshire Woodworkers’ annual meeting with a friend who suggested we make a trip to the neighborhood woodworking supply store. I thought it was a great idea because from where I live it’s an hour to either of the two stores (in the state, believe) that have cool stuff like lathes. He knows I have been looking to buy my first lathe; probably a mini. And he knows I have been looking on Craig’s List for the best deal. Turns out, talking to the salesman at “the neighborhood woodworking supply store”, that the Rikon 70-100 is on sale and close to the price I was considering for a used one. OK, the used one had some tools and “extras” but also has an unknown history and no warranty. You know where I’m going with this… I am now the proud owner of a new Rikon mini.

I got it home last night and started pulling out and unwrapping and cleaning and screwing-on and … remembered if I wanted to post something on LJ I had better start taking pictures. So I unscrewed (no comments!) laid out and grumbled that this is really going to increase the box-to-turning time. Darn, the things we do for LJ.

Rikon Out of the Box 1

The packaging was well done; two big pieces of Styrofoam, some plastic bags for the small parts not already on the main piece and the box and strapping. The headstock, tailstock and motor were already on the bed. The 4” face place was screwed on the headstock. The other little parts were bagged and include live center, spur center, two knockout tools, spindle lock, tool tray, tool rest and wrench. All accounted for and cleaned. All the parts were oiled for shipping.

I have everything out sitting on the table and I check the belt speed and set it low, plug it in and turn it on. Spins (as advertised) but I notice a lot of hum from the motor. Turns out the table is a greate sound board. The hum was minimal after mounted it on a stand. Next I installed the spur center and the live center and checked out the alignent of head to tail. It looked dead on to me.

Rikon Out of the Box 2

Got everthing together and cleaned and looked around to decide where I was going to put this thing. Then I spied the victim: my belt/disk sander. “I only use that occationally.” I redeployed the Delta stand. Had to add the plywood “plate” because the stand is a little small. The height would have been perfect if I didn’t have to use the plywood. As is, the turning centerline is about 1” too high (for me). If this setup works out I may have to nip the legs a little. :) The picture makes it look awkward sitting on the stand but its nice and stable.

My only complaint so far is the plastic cover over the pullies buzzes sometimes. I think some electrical tape (black) around the perimeter of the cover might help. As I mentioned, I was worried about motor hum too but on the stand it is not an issue. Pretty quiet actually.

Finally I can turn something! I decided to christen the new member of the household by making a mini bat on my mini lathe. The only problem is I have never turned a spindle and I have borrowed two bowl gouges and a scraper. AND I’ve only turned two bowls in two classes in my life. As you can see from the picture I ALMOST made it. :)

To summarize my experience, the Rikon came with all pieces in working order, is quiet, is heavy with minimal vibration and takes about 20 minutes to clean set up if you are not taking pictures and scabbing stands. At first blush it appears to be an incredible value. (compare cost/features to the Jet 1014, for example)

Respectfully submitted (or not)

-- Pete - "To every thing there is a season Turn! Turn! turn!" [Ecclesiastes and Pete Seeger]

View Berg's profile


117 posts in 4044 days

13 comments so far

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4739 days

#1 posted 09-20-2009 03:23 PM

Good review! Thanks for the post!!!!!

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Roper's profile


1389 posts in 4567 days

#2 posted 09-20-2009 04:04 PM

great review, i also have the same machine it is my small pen turning lathe and it is a great machine for the price. i also noticed the plastic cover vibrating so i put some duck tape around the ball and know it is alot better. my one suggestion is to get rid of the handle on the tail stock, it vibrats like crazy and will fall of one day if you don’t keep tighting it. have fun and be safe.

-- Roper - Master of sawdust-

View Berg's profile


117 posts in 4044 days

#3 posted 09-20-2009 06:21 PM

I also noticed that the scale markings on the tailstock are completely unreadable without a strong light and looking at the right angle. I don’t imagine it is terribly important. I know I have 2.5” of travel.

Roper, thanks for the tips.

-- Pete - "To every thing there is a season Turn! Turn! turn!" [Ecclesiastes and Pete Seeger]

View SteveRussell's profile


101 posts in 4814 days

#4 posted 09-20-2009 10:16 PM


Welcome to the addictive vortex we all call ”Woodturning” who’s prisioner you are and from which there is no escape. :-)

Seriously, you will really enjoy woodturning and getting your lathe broken in… I’ve been a professional woodturner for 14 years, so if I can help you please do not hesitate to contact me, or post a question. Take care and all the best to you and yours!

-- Better Woodturning and Finishing Through Chemistry...

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4086 days

#5 posted 09-20-2009 10:38 PM

Just a slightly more experienced turning newbie to a newer newbie. Stick some money in a starter set of turning tools you won’t feel bad if you mess them up learning to sharpen… I personally have the PSI 8pc set. Works great, and not anything like Sorby so if I screw them up on the grinder, no huge loss…

My first turning was a laminated spindle for a lamp. It never got as far as the lamp stage. I managed to find a big crack in the stock and was very grateful for my face shield when it came off the lathe and bounced off of the shield. No blood but it did compress my nose a bit… So if you don’t have one yet, GET A FACE SHIELD!

Get over to Radio Shack, or just about any electronics store, and grab some coax sealing tape for the edge of your plastics. (The tape should be near where the Amateur radio / CB stuff is…. These days typically in the back room). If not that, then the rubber electrical tape from a hardware store. DO NOT use the typical Vinyl electrical tape. It dries out and falls off really quickly…

And lastly thanks for the write up on the Rikon mini. I am sure there are lots of folks looking at that late…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Dusty56's profile


11859 posts in 4542 days

#6 posted 09-20-2009 11:02 PM

If the thickness of the plywood base has made your lathe height less than perfect , then simply get another piece of the same thickness plywood and put it on the floor to stand on …it’s a lot easier than cutting down four legs : )
Is there any way to enlarge your photobucket pictures ? I clicked on them and it went to the PB site but no magic occurred as far as enlargement goes. : (

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Berg's profile


117 posts in 4044 days

#7 posted 09-21-2009 02:48 AM

Steve R, thanks for the offer. I’m sure I’ll take you up on that. You may be sorry. ;)

DBhost, I’ve been told get a face shield a couple of times since talking about turning. I have an old one but it’s time to update. The coax tape idea sounds good. I use 33+ black tape when I do electrical work. It’s great for that but not for sticking to plastic like we are tlking about. Thanks for the info.

Dusty, I wasn’t really going to cut the legs. I plan to get a foam mat to stand on. A good one is about an inch thick, I think (I hope). That will put me just right. Maybe I’ll end up with two cheap ones. :)
I have put some full size pics on Photobucket. If there is one I didn’t that you would like to see let me know. If there is a shot you want that isn’t there I’ll take it for you. Lets see if this works.

-- Pete - "To every thing there is a season Turn! Turn! turn!" [Ecclesiastes and Pete Seeger]

View Dusty56's profile


11859 posts in 4542 days

#8 posted 09-21-2009 06:31 AM

Hahaha , just offering a solution to your vertical challenge…..I’ve worked with enough people over the years and after reading that you were going to cut the legs off as your solution ,well , it gave me some horrific flashbacks ! LMAO
Thanks for the big pictures…they came through great !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Darell's profile


436 posts in 4448 days

#9 posted 09-21-2009 08:31 AM

Well, nuts, you beat me to it. :-) I set up my new Rikon 70-100 lathe a couple of weeks ago. I’d planned to do a review of it but you did it so much better than I would have. I didn’t take any pictures. Had the same problem with the belt cover rattling, I just slap it and it quits. Compared to the Jet I think it’s way easier to change speeds. The pulley cover moves right out of the way so you can get your hands in there to move the belt Haven’t had a problem with the tail stock handle. I have had a bit of trouble getting the tool rest holder to snug down. Finally got it to where it works fine. The lower pulley on mine keeps working loose. Think I need some lock-tite for the set screw. It runs smooth. Mine isn’t even bolted down yet and it doesn’t move or vibrate at all. Turned a few pens so far with more projects for it in the pipeline. Great review. I agree it’s an incredible value.

-- Darell, Norman, Ok.

View Berg's profile


117 posts in 4044 days

#10 posted 09-21-2009 10:40 AM

Dusty, The first house I owned was a duplex. Instead of bothering me the tenant decided to fix a door that was sticking. He chisled (probably kitchen knifed) the casing.

Darrell, Glad you like the lathe and the review. Last night I decided to put some tape on the cover. I used the 33+ electrical tape. It matches the black cover perfectly ;) The fix for me came when I taped the two long verticle edges where the cover sits against the head stock. My other passion is motorcycle riding. I have a Harley and as a good HD rider I also have blue Loctite. I used it on the stand bolts but I’m thinking I didn’t need to. I’ll keep it close by in case I have pully problems. Thanks for the heads up on the pully.

-- Pete - "To every thing there is a season Turn! Turn! turn!" [Ecclesiastes and Pete Seeger]

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

541 posts in 4335 days

#11 posted 09-22-2009 07:33 AM

Hey, thanks for the review, I’ve been wanting to know more about these lathes. If you want a good set of turning tools for not a whole lot, I did a review of the Benjamin’s Best 8 piece set ( that you can get from Penn State Industries. If you do get them though, I suggest finding someone with a Wolverine system for their bench grinder and learn to use it, you’ll need to touch the edges up a little.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

View Berg's profile


117 posts in 4044 days

#12 posted 09-22-2009 12:03 PM

Chris, Thanks for the recommendation and the review of the BB tools. I think I’ll get a set in the mail today. :)

-- Pete - "To every thing there is a season Turn! Turn! turn!" [Ecclesiastes and Pete Seeger]

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 4380 days

#13 posted 09-24-2009 03:48 PM

Thank you! I have been looking at this lathe myself…

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

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