You can imagine how it was in the times before they had lathes because believe it or not they did have spun wood and detailed woodwork, woodworkers must have had to work really hard because the hardwood most people love for their furniture is not really easy to work with. The lathe was one of those revolutionary inventions which would transform the industry as we use it and make the lives of woodworkers very easy. With a lathe as a woodworker, you can manipulate any type of wood to your liking, it also saves time as you can turn wood in a matter of minutes or be more precise you can rotate it over 1,000 times in a single minute.

As times flies by things change and evolve, so does our machinery. We have seen lathes develop to become so efficient that you can complete a project that would take days ten years ago in just a single day. As a modern-day wood spinner, you need to be a step ahead of the competition by having the best tools, after all, a craftsman is as good as his tools. It can be a real headache looking for the best lathe in today’s market which is filled with so many substandard yet cheap lathes which will save you a couple of dollars but not deliver the results. That is exactly why we are here, to recommend the best machine for you. The Rikon 70-220VSR is one of those lathes you would consider whether you are a professional turning wood to put food on the table or just an armature spinning wood in their spare time. We will explain in detail what this lathe has to offer before drawing a conclusion if it’s worth the investment.

The size of wood you can fit in your lathe is greatly influenced by the swing size, this model comes with a 12.5” swing size coupled with a 20” centre to centre distance leaving 6.25” from the lathe bed to the swing allowing one to fit a considerably big piece with a maximum width of 12.5” and a length of 20”. It is not the largest centre to centre length but you won’t find a better one for this price range. This swing size is enough for all decorative purposes and general purposes like making bowls, furniture, parts, and everything in between.

One might argue that it is better suited for the home workshops but assure you this lathe can compete in any commercial workshop. For lathe of this size, power is a key feature for success, the Rikon 70-220VSR does not fall short in this department. It features an efficient 1 HP motor with the ability to send powerful torque to the spindle. With this motor, you cannot only turn big heavy blocks but raw lumber as well. For such a large and powerful motor, it is very quiet compared to some which you might need earplugs to operate.

BrandRikon
Model Number70-220VSR
RPM250-750, 550-1650, 1300-3850 (three speed)
Motor1Ph, 6A, 120V
Facelift Size
Weight
Dimensions40.75×12×17.63 inches
Horsepower1
Voltage120
Warranty5 years 

Speed is one of those features you need to keep an eye on when getting a lathe. The Rikon 70-220VSR delivers in that department as well, through its electronic variable speed control you can change the speed to your liking through its three steps, 250 – 750 rotations per minute on the first, 550 – 1650 rotations per minute on the second and last but not least 1300 – 3850 rotations per minute.

These speed ranges allow you to adapt the material you are turning to its speed and give more control over your finish. The lower speeds are best for removing lots of material fast which is why they are often used when starting to turn your material, the higher speeds are for smooth and polished surfaces.

The spindle also rotates backwards which is a great feature when designing, the forward and backward motion is controlled by a pushing button which is easily reached. It also features an LED speed display which will give you a digitised representation of your speed at all times. For added precision, this lathe has 24 indexing positions which is a useful feature when making detailed pattern work like grooving. 

Pros 

  • Powerful motor 
  • Forward and backward transmission 
  • Beginner-friendly 
  • 24 index positions 
  • Compatible with extensions 
  • Great torque at 250 RPM

Cons

  • Pricey 
  • Extensions bought separately

Aesthetics

At this medium, to large scale looks are not that much of a concern but regardless, Rikon paid attention to them. The lathe was designed with looks among the priority features this is because beginners are among the targeted market, as the world evolves people have developed the perception that where you start determines how long it will take to reach your goal so no one wants to start with those small lathes anymore but the big ones usually scare them away, but not this one.

Performance Review

The performance of the Rikon 70-220VSR is very satisfying, its belts are easy to access and though this might seem like a useless feature in practice it is an award-winning feature. If you are upgrading from a smaller lathe you will be pleased by the reverse option which you can activate with a simple push of a button. Its spindle is lubricated by industrial ball bearings which ensure the smooth running of the lathe. To work on larger pieces, the lathe allows you to attach a bed extension at its end. For precise speed reading the lathe has a digital RPM readout. Using this lathe only gets better with time, it has an adaptive speed controls which over time get used to your preferred turning speed 

Safety

Safety is of the essence in any workshop and the equipment plays a very pivotal role in the safety of all personnel in the workshop. The Rikon 70-220VSR midi lathe has its controls conveniently located on one side and at a safe distance to operate without risk of harm from the spinning material. It also has a child safety on the on/off switch, this is especially useful when you use the lathe in your home workshop or garage where children might unknowingly turn it on and get harmed. 

Who is this product ideal for?

We recommend the Rikon 70-220VSR to anyone looking for a durable, powerful and sophisticated wood lathe for any scale. It is a great investment especially for those practising woodturning as a business because it is an efficient lathe. For the beginners, there is no better way to get your feet wet with woodturning that with a high-end lathe.

Our Verdict

When all has been said and done the question that matter is, is it a great buy? The simple answer to that is, Yes. If you are a beginner and cannot afford this high-end lathe you can take a rain check and settle for a cheaper one but if you are a professional wood spinner with an outdated lathe this is exactly the upgrade you need, definitely worth the investment. 

David D. Hughes