Most people think that spinning of wood is just for small pieces like the ones we see in our home furniture and toys for the young ones together with decorative pieces, not knowing that some buildings actually use wood turned on lathes. The lathe itself is an ancient tool dating to around 1300 BC in Ancient Egypt, as most would know the ancient Egyptians were very crafty people but that’s a story for another day, today we are discussing lathes more specifically the Rikon Midi Lathe.

Most might not recognise it but the lathe was a very crucial piece of technology in the Industrial revolution. Though much attention was directed to the metal lathes a couple of centuries ago, woodworking lathes have steadily gained popularity over the past centuries after all they were the first of the lathe family, this is mainly because tools have evolved especially the weapons of war which used to be swords and spears requiring sharpening easier done with a lathe.

This midi lathe is just the right tool you need to make your transition from armature work to professional work. It offers a lot of features which somewhat make it stand out compared to its competitors in the same price range, we will discuss some of the standout features which make it suitable to feature in your workshop. This Midi lathe is what one might call a small but with big features, it’s features allow it to fit with the industrial lathes with no questions asked as long as the size is not considered. It is powered by a DC motor delivering 1 horsepower which is enough to turn any weight of wood including the hardwoods. 

A very crucial factor that most people often forget is the accessibility of controls, the amount of work you would get done in a day hinges on how comfortable you are when working. This lathe has all its controls easily reachable so you don’t strain yourself trying to set the best conditions for your work, they are also very safe as they are carefully placed away from the spindle where you will have your spinning piece. It is equipped with three-speed ranges with the ability to take on any type of turning. The speeds ranges are 250-850, 430-1450, 950-3200 rotations per minute, you easily change through them using the electronic variable speed control which is very accurate. Some additional convenience is all that’s needed when working on long tiring projects, Rikon considered all that and added a digital RPM readout which displays your speed as it changes in real-time. All these are easy to change through the courtesy of the easy to access the pivoted belt.

Its diameter together with its spindle length was carefully chosen to accommodate everyone with the ability to turn bowls as well. Reverse speed is very crucial in design work and Rikon was sure to include it in this midrange lathe. The lathe is made of cast iron which is not only great for durability but is so heavy that it damps the vibrations made by the motor as it runs, vibrations can make long sessions unbearable and one gets fatigued without much work having been done.

The fact that vibrations are less intense on this lathe means you can take turns more than you otherwise would on any other lathe. The control box is not only corded but also has a magnetic back which lets you move it along the front of the cast iron bed into the position with the best access while using the lathe in an emergency stop. To make working even smoother the lathe has a ball-bearing construction.

BrandRikon
Model Number70-150VSR
RPM250-850, 430-1450, 950-3200 (three speed)
Motor6  Amps, 120V
Facelift Size3 inch
Weight43 kg
Dimensions36 × 13.38 × 15.63 inches
Horsepower1
Voltage120
WarrantyFive years

Pros 

  • Reverse and forward drives 
  • Digital RPM readout 
  • Cast iron bed reduces vibrations
  • 24 indexing positions

Cons

  • Lowest speed of 250

Aesthetics

If there was a beauty contest for workshop machinery this lathe will be among the best looking in the top 3. It takes a less serious look which is a great feature for beginners who don’t need any intimidation about the trade. An easy looking lathe like this one is what you can easily mount to a bench in your garage or home workshop if you like taking your work home.

Performance Review

There are various features which impressed us with the performance of this lathe, its indexing positions are incredibly accurate at 15-degrees intervals. It does not only have 3 convenient speed ranges but they are easy to change through the courtesy of the easy access pivoting belt. It is among the smoothest runners you will ever come across in this price range courtesy of the ball bearings. Another feature which greatly adds to the performance of the lathe is the magnetic control box which allows positioning anywhere along the lathe bed. 

Safety

Worry not for your safety, I don’t know if it was part of the plan to make this piece so safe or it was just a coincidence but the bottom line is it’s among the safest in the market. All the controls are well away from the spindle which would otherwise hurt you if you dwell too close unaware. The emergency stop is among the headline safety features on this piece. 

Who is this product ideal for?

This is a one size fits all lathe, it’s a midi lathe, translating that means its medium so it accommodates all sides. It is a great first lathe for any beginner looking to turn some wood in their spare time while at the same time it is a great upgrade coming from a small lathe. For professionals, you won’t regret making this purchase as it has all the features the high-end industry requires. 

Our Verdict

After all, has been said and done this is a great lathe suitable for anyone from novice to professional woodturners. Our advice is to those looking for their first lathes don’t be tempted by the price tag of smaller lathes and consider this one as it has more to offer. 

David D. Hughes