All Replies on Rikon vs. Central Machinery Mini Lathe

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Rikon vs. Central Machinery Mini Lathe

by A10GAC
posted 06-07-2012 01:09 PM

28 replies so far

View b2rtch's profile


4861 posts in 3047 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


6714 posts in 2198 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


1458 posts in 2984 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


4030 posts in 2970 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 2997 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 3077 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


8535 posts in 3647 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


379 posts in 2801 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 2196 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 2181 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 3077 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


2899 posts in 2247 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


4030 posts in 2970 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 3077 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 2982 days

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

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

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3159 days

#16 posted 06-09-2012 02:33 AM

A10, your first link to the HF unit has a MT1 tailstock. That, IMO, knocks it out of the running. The link that Bert included has an MT2 for the TS, but I don’t see a thread spec. for the headstock. 1”-8 or 1.25”-8 are both acceptable. Do NOT go with MT1 anywhere or a non-standard thread for accessories. Just my 2c worth.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 3077 days

#17 posted 06-09-2012 02:48 AM

Rance, there appear to be some discrepancies with HF’s tech writers. The specs on the webpage list a MT-1 tailstock, but, if you download the product manual is calls out a MT-2 tailstock. The headstock spec shows as a 1”-8…but down in the reviews one talks about a 3/4”-16 thread.

The oddball thread and taper discrepancies are pushing me towards the Rikon. If I can get that info sorted out I may take a ride to the local HF store and see if the level of fit/finish is acceptable. My main concern is looking forward; if I decide to upgrade at a later date I would like a majority of the accessories to be able to carry forward to the new machine. I may never need the capability, but I want to make sure it’s available.

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

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3159 days

#18 posted 06-09-2012 12:22 PM

A10, you have a good handle on this with the right thinking forward. You can expect to spend as much on accessories as you do you lathe. No, you’ll spend MORE. Seriously. And don’t forget about HF coupons and discounts. I look forward to seeing your new creations.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View dhazelton's profile


2767 posts in 2295 days

#19 posted 06-09-2012 12:32 PM

I was going to buy the HF and read that the Morse taper head is not a conventional size, meaning bowl chucks etc will NOT fit it. Then decided to spend a bit more for a Penn State (Grizzly lathe like that unit gets poor reviews) and add a variable speed motor kit. Then I just said to heck with it and bought the JET VS. When you have to access the back of the lathe to change belts for every little speed change I’ll bet it gets old. I like just dialing down to rough out and have infinite speed options as the piece gets more finished.

However I did buy the Windsor Design high speed steel chisel set at HF, and they are a bargain for under fifty bucks, then maybe on sale, plus 20% off…

View Stephenw's profile


273 posts in 2384 days

#20 posted 06-09-2012 12:57 PM

I have the HF 10” x 18” lathe. The headstock has a 1”-8 spindle. The tailstock is a MT2. It runs smooth. I haven’t had time to put it to much use yet.

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 3077 days

#21 posted 06-09-2012 07:50 PM

For those curious; it has been confirmed by multiple sources that the headstock is in fact 1”-8 and the tapers are MT-2. Gotta love Lumberjocks. Thanks to all who helped clear up HF’s website misprint.

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

View D_Allen's profile


495 posts in 2783 days

#22 posted 08-04-2012 01:27 PM

Well, even though this is an old thread, I want comment for the record.
I have the 34706 mentioned above. My consideration at the time was, as argued above, that a longer bed would allow me to turn small and large projects. Well, that’s true to a point. You can turn long items but if they are small diameter you will need a steady rest. Lately, most of my lathe work is in making pens. I have had to do some serious adjusting to this lathe to get it to the point where it is at least acceptably accurate. Among the things I don’t like about it is that the lowest speed is still sometimes too fast. But, that’s a feature you can only get in a higher priced machine. 150 rpm on the low end would be nice sometimes.
Also, as for the space it takes up, it sits in the same place all the time. So, I chose a spot that was convenient to work in an would not interfere with the mobility of my other tools. Actually, it probably takes up no more room than a bench top that is on a bench or cabinet.

-- Website is finally up and

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 3077 days

#23 posted 08-05-2012 03:52 PM

After overanalyzing the purchase for way too long and spending 3 days reorganizing the garage (still not sure where I’m going to put the A/C units this fall) I ended up with the 34706. It basically boiled down to the bigger motor and reeves drive speed adjustment pulling out the win for the bigger model.

After using it for a few weeks I only have a few gripes, the tool rest had a dip in the middle that was big enough I couldn’t file it out by hand. I ended up bringing it to the machine shop at work; they used the CNC mill to take a majority of it out and then surface ground it to .001”. While they were watching the CNC work, the guys made me a 6” tool “T” style rest out of 1” round stock. Since I’ve only been doing small stuff so far, I actually like the smaller tool rest better. The longer one just seems too big.

My other concern is the motor, I had read that it got hot…but holy cow! I’m not too worried about it, if it dies during the warranty I’ll just get a replacement from HF. After that, Tractor Supply has a decent selection of electric motors in stock and the difference in price between the 3/4 and 1 HP is close enough to make an upgrade possible.

D_Allen I was following your Spindle Washer thread and thought I recognized the paint color in your picture. I ended up cutting a washer out of an OJ jug. What ID did you use for your lexan washer? I used a piece of copper to punch one with a 1” ID but ran into the same loose fit that you had once it was past the threads.

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

View justinwdemoss's profile


148 posts in 2894 days

#24 posted 08-05-2012 09:55 PM

I just posted on another similar topic where a young turner is looking for a lathe under $250. You can read a more full response there. I have the HF you are referring to and its a good machine for cheap to get started. Here is where HF shaved themselves money and cut the cost. The step pulley isn’t just 5 speeds, its made out of some type of polyurethane. Again I love mine, but it isn’t going to last 20 years. I got the extended warranty by the way, and after two years, haven’t needed it, and I have have alot of hours on the machine. Another issue is no indexing. Chucks and faceplates can really get stuck on there and are a pain to get off. HF put a hole where you can use the 5/16 diameter bar to hold the spindle for removing chucks, but the holes in the head stock are larger than the 5/16 bar and made of a soft metal. Mine are now worn into oval spaces and not useful. I use a hex key now in the hole.

I know there are a number of HF lathe supporters on this forum and I to an extent am one of them, but contrary to some thought, this is not the exact same lathe as the Jet 1018 or 1014. It is similar, but there are a few corners cut. I think, but don’t know, that if you check, all of the clone lathes have similar down grades in materials or features. If you want a mini to turn on that will last 20 years, the clones are likely not it. However, if you are like most newer turners, the mini will be a beginning in turning that will lead to a full size lathe. My feeling is, its a small lathe, pay a small price and start getting yourself ready for a really big lathe purchase.

-- Justin in Loveland, OH

View D_Allen's profile


495 posts in 2783 days

#25 posted 08-06-2012 12:10 AM

A10, do some searching and find out what V-belt you need from the local NAPA parts store to replace the cheap one it comes with. May as well get the green one so it will last longer. I can’t find the sleeve or I’d say which one it is. That will also quiet it down and make changing speeds easier. Also, as soon as mine shows signs of being difficult to change speeds, primarily lowering it, I take off the cover and use some spray lube on the springs and shafts. Be careful not to get any on the belt or the surfaces where the belt rides. Also, if you end up getting better centers, check the point to point alignment of the head. The live center on the tail stock is cheap and cannot be trusted for this check. I found it necessary to really tighten the head swivel and even then often need to make a final adjustment with my rubber hammer.
The lexan washer I used was removed and is no longer used. I don’t use any washer on the scroll chuck when doing critical center hole boring and when the plastic one is used I hold it in the center while tightening the tool.

-- Website is finally up and

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 3077 days

#26 posted 08-06-2012 01:13 AM

A review over at shows the Napa part number as 3L240W; my local store has them in stock for about $11.50. I may pick one up before mine goes south just to quiet it down a little and then keep the original as a spare.

What are you using for lube on your shafts/springs? I cleaned everything up when I assembled it and coated both shafts with Triflow (it’s a mineral oil base with teflon added) but I wasn’t sure if I should use something a little thicker like motorcycle chain wax.

I used a new set of centers to align the head and tail sections when I assembled it and then snugged it down square. I need a lot more practice before I turn anything outboard, so I’m not worried about the swivel function right now. I’ve checked for drift a couple of times now and everything is still point to point. I’ll keep an eye on it, but don’t really expect anything to move on me.

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

View D_Allen's profile


495 posts in 2783 days

#27 posted 08-06-2012 02:00 AM

That Triflow is exactly what I use and it seems to last for a while. And the belt, well, My original is also put up as a spare. When you checked for the lineup of the centers, was the height the same on both? I have to shim mine up by about .003”. Also, mine has a .002” runout on the drive shaft. Nothing I can do about it so I found the ‘sweet spot’ with the dead center and marked the shaft and center. It compensates for most of the runout.

-- Website is finally up and

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 3077 days

#28 posted 08-07-2012 12:58 AM

Triflow is great stuff…doesn’t hurt that it smells like bananas either. I used to use the old version of Breakfree CLP around the shop; it worked great but smelled lousy.

Mine was right on height wise. I did run a file lightly over the bottom of the tailstock casting to get rid of a couple of burrs before I installed it on the bed, but that was it.

I haven’t checked the runout on the headstock with an indicator because I can’t seem to find the magnetic base to my dial indicator. I’m sure it will turn up when I stop looking for it. I marked my drive center for the perceived sweet spot and will fine tune it later. So far I’m pretty happy with the performance.

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

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