Rikon vs. Central Machinery Mini Lathe

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Forum topic by A10GAC posted 06-07-2012 01:09 PM 13512 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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191 posts in 4158 days

06-07-2012 01:09 PM

I’m ready to pull the trigger on my first lathe and have narrowed it down to the Central Machinery Model 65345 (link to Harbor Freight) or a Rikon 70-100 (link to Rikon). From what I can see, the main differences are 5spd-HF vs 6spd-Rikon, a spindle index/lock on the Rikon, and slightly easier belt changes on the Rikon due to the cover design.

My question is this: Are the spindle index/lock and wider range of speeds available on the Rikon worth the approx $200 difference in price or would I be better off saving the $200 and putting it into tooling & chucks?

I’ve been watching the forums here and both lathes have pretty favorable reviews; online videos don’t seem to say much about the value of an indexing spindle…just noting that a spindle lock makes chuck changing easier.

Thanks in advance for the help.

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

28 replies so far

View b2rtch's profile


4921 posts in 4128 days

#1 posted 06-07-2012 01:36 PM

why not buy this one:

This is nice lathe sold for much more money by other companies such as jet

-- Bert

View MrUnix's profile


8559 posts in 3279 days

#2 posted 06-07-2012 01:57 PM

And with a 20% off coupon, the one Bert links to above is only about $20 more ($215.99 less tax).


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 4065 days

#3 posted 06-07-2012 02:47 PM

The Rikon’s quality is going to be so much better than that of the HF lathe. If cost is not much of an issue, I would go with the Rikon, as it would likely last you forever and the machining is likely to be very good. With HF, it can be very hit and miss. I have not tried either, but you have to be very picky about things at HF (not just model, but individual unit, as QC varies widely). I’m not knocking HF, as I have several tools from there, but you have to pick and choose. If you have the space for a larger lathe, the one linked to above gets great reviews.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4051 days

#4 posted 06-07-2012 03:07 PM

I have the HF lathe you are considering.
I looked at the Rikon and others very closely before buying the HF.

My opinion of the HF was it is a much more cheaply made knockoff of the others.
The HF is in fact closest to the cheap model sold by Penn State.
In fact, parts and acessories purchased from Penn State exactly fit and work on the HF lathe.

I only got the HF because with my HF Inside Track membership, a sale, and a 20% off coupon I got the lathe for less than $150. And, I was not sure I wanted to get into turning bad enough to spend big bucks. I figured at $150 if I wanted to go up scale I would have the little HF as a backup.

I wish I had gotten the larger and more powerful HF model 34706 Bert refers to above.
My problem with the HF model 65345 is lack of power and not enough range of speed control for turning bowls. For pens and mini baseball bats the small machine is OK. Bowls and larger spindles are another matter.
You need slow speed and high torque for bowls.

By the way, the lathe is much less than half of the cost of turning. You need tools, sharpening equipment, chucks, etc.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 4078 days

#5 posted 06-07-2012 06:51 PM

I would not really go for either of these. Variable speed is the way to go. Belt changes are a pain.

Spindle locks are nice as are indexing but there are multiple ways to do that and I can’t say I would be too excited about 12 position index.

Not considering price, I would say the Rikon has a bit of an edge (especially if it is the one that you can get a bed extension.) Also the MT2 tailstock has more variety of tooling.

I agree with Bert that the other lathe is much more lathe than either of these two. I have one and it is actually a nice lathe. You would have to get a much more expensive lathe before you got something better. If you don’t like HF, several other vendors carry the same lathe. Of course the one from Jet costs around $900 and the Grizzly is $600. They both have upgraded features but nothing that I would pay the price difference for.

Think long and hard because you can turn short stuff on a long bed but you can’t turn long stuff on a short one. The midi an mini lathe sizes make a great second lathe but they are pretty limited by capacity.

I do disagree with Michael above. The lathe is nothing compared to the price of the other goodies. :) They ought to give them away.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 4158 days

#6 posted 06-07-2012 08:54 PM

I wish I had the square footage for the larger lathe; time sharing the garage with the cars means everything needs to be put away at the end of the day in the winter. At this point, pretty much everything is on wheels here and I just can’t seem to find the extra real estate for another full size piece of equipment.

It’s always the accessories that cost the most; I’m working on a list for Father’s Day gift ideas, but, I’ll pick up a few of the items when I pick up the lathe. The “must play with the new tool” instinct will take over almost immediately upon arriving at the house.

Michael, you hit the nail on the’s tough to look at the HF lathe, factor in a 20% off coupon, and then go out and spend another ~$200 on a nearly identical item. That being said, I’ve never regretted spending a little extra and buying a quality tool.

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4729 days

#7 posted 06-07-2012 09:03 PM

$200 extra today in the pocket is always hard to pass on, but the way I look at tools is trying to look a year ahead – in a year from now, those $200 would be spent one way or another, would you be happy with a lesser tool/machine or would you rather have the one you really wanted to begin with?

sometimes the above statement is harder to justify/decide, but in this case, I would go for the Rikon. I’ve personally seen both, and the Rikon is just a better quality machine in all senses.

VS is yet another good thing to consider as mentioned in another comment. but not necessary – just a matter of convenience.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Bobmedic's profile


383 posts in 3882 days

#8 posted 06-08-2012 01:46 AM

I have the Rikon 70-100 and love it. Features and accuracy in my opinion are great. Don’t have any experience with the HF model but I like my Rikon. Hope this helps.

View Remedyman's profile


47 posts in 3277 days

#9 posted 06-08-2012 04:55 AM

No one asked but I will share my position on this as I am too looking at a lathe in my near future.

The way I look at things are like this. I know that I don’t have any experience with this tool so I know that no matter what I will find things that I wish it had or did. I would rather buy a decent tool for low cost knowing that in a year or two I will probably be upgrading so this will allow me to get into something so I can learn what I like and don’t like without spending too much money.

I understand the need to be able to clean up your garage after you are done, but I bet if you were creative you could probably find a way to get the bigger lathe. I was looking at the mini but I have decided I will go with the full size one.

Just my opinion. Let us know what you get and what you think of it.

-- As long as our customers are happy, we have done a good job. Even if we are our own customer.

View Bob Aber's profile

Bob Aber

9 posts in 3262 days

#10 posted 06-08-2012 05:13 AM

I have a Rikon in my workshop and is very very good and from my experience a lot better than the Harbor Freight.

-- Router Table Reviews

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 4158 days

#11 posted 06-08-2012 05:39 PM

I guess I could go over the shop/garage layout again, but I have to admit…I’m not sure where I would relocate anything. The biggest problems are the built-in cabinets, snowthrower, mobile workbench, jointer, and tablesaw.

Right now I think I’m going to get the Rikon; the headstock threading and MT-2 tapers mean that a majority of accessories purchased for this one will transfer over to the bigger unit if I upgrade later.

Thanks to all for the input…off to the shop to look for floor space.

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

View lumberjoe's profile


2902 posts in 3328 days

#12 posted 06-08-2012 06:03 PM

I just bought the one Bert mentioned, even though I was set on getting a smaller one. That was due to a lot of the advise I got here. Ripthorn, how can you be sure the Rikon is so much better quality than the HF if you have never tired either? If you read reviews anywhere on that HF lathe (including here), it rates very highly. Disparaging a product just because of it’s name brand without any first or even second hand experience can be quite misleading.

A10GAC – I would strongly urge you to consider the larger HF lathe. Why waste the initial investment if you plan to upgrade? I really don’t plan on turning anything large, however I will use the additional power. In addition, Michael is correct. While my lathe cost me barely 200.00, I have about triple that amount invested in the form of tooling, chucks, mandrels, etc. If you count the worksharp 3000 I bought a few weeks back it’s quadruple the cost of the lathe. Not only that but due to some unexpected illnesses in my family, I have not even taken anything out of the boxes yet, so I many find I need more “stuff”. I had similar space issues and got pretty creative with shop fixtures that could be dual purpose, and also bought a shed to house the larger outdoor power equipment. Gas and sawdust do not (and should not) mix anyway.


View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4051 days

#13 posted 06-08-2012 08:08 PM

I am not trying to sway you away from the Rikon at all. I have a Rikon bandsaw and 6” jointer and I am extremely pleased with both of them. I like my Rikon products.

But I have noticed a couple of comments about the MT-2 taper of the Rikon and the thread of the spindle. The HF has the exact same MT-2 taper tail stock and the same spindle thread as the Rikon, Jet, Penn State, etc. The fiit and finish of the HF is where it comes up short.

Like I said, the HF is virtually the same machine as the Penn State except for the paint color. Having said that, I am only satisfied with the HF because I didn’t spend much money on it. And I am glad I didn’t because I now know I want a bigger machine. If pen turning is your goal, the Rikon will serve you well and is quality machine you will probably be happy with.

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 4158 days

#14 posted 06-09-2012 01:54 AM

OK, so here’s where I’m at…the garage is space limited and sadly the tractor & accessories take up the shed (talk about accessories that cost $$, no complaints, the tractor saves me a ton of work around the yard.) also the reason the snowthrower lives in the garage. So at this point I’m committed to the smaller lathe. Given my skill level, or lack thereof, I’m not too worried about the bed length limitations at this point. It will also give me time to leverage a larger shed with the Mrs. when/if I decide that I can’t live without a bigger lathe.

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 4063 days

#15 posted 06-09-2012 02:24 AM

i have a rikon, and it is hands down better than the hf.

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