New lathe 70-220 or 70-100?

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Forum topic by Ron9577 posted 06-30-2015 05:52 PM 1538 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1062 days

06-30-2015 05:52 PM

I’ve been taking some turning classes at Woodcraft and want to get my own lathe to do more. This will be another hobby added to furniture making, gardening, etc so I don’t want to spend an inordinate amount of money but I still want a lathe that will allow me to turn small bowls, pens, and lamps. The lathe we use at Woodcraft is the Rikon 70-100 and I’m comfortable with it and it seems to be able to turn all I would want. However, the Rikon 70-220VSR has a 1 hp motor, is longer, and is variable speed versus the 1/2 hp motor, shorter length, and no variable speed of the 70-100. If I buy the 70-100 (on sale now) I’ll have $350 to spend on grinder, sharpener, chucks, gouges, etc. Any suggestions?

-- Ron9577, In the non-stop tsunami of global information, librarians give us floaties and teach us how to swim - Linton Weeks

4 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile


6715 posts in 2199 days

#1 posted 06-30-2015 06:05 PM

I may be in the minority, but I really don’t like variable speed machines – particularly those that use electronics to accomplish the speed change. Why? Because I know from experience that the electronics will be the weak point of the machine. It will fail eventually, and trying to get it repaired will either be impossible or costly. Using stepped pulleys to change the speed is foolproof. YMMV.


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

View Wildwood's profile


2306 posts in 2134 days

#2 posted 06-30-2015 10:19 PM

From what you say want to turn would go with the bigger 70-220 VSR lathe. But if money is tight get the smaller Rikon.

You can turn small things on a big lathe but a small lathe cannot turn big things. Agree somewhat with Brad, midi & mini lathes with VSR have been hit or miss. Some people have had no problems what so ever and others have been plagued with them.

You can get by with inexpensive bowl & spindle turning tools starting out. Buy the best grinders & sharpening jig you can afford. Only tip on buying grinder have for you is buy locally, if have problem easier to exchange or get your money back. I am partial to the Basic Wolverine and optional Vari Grind jig for sharpening but there are others. You can always get a chuck later.


-- Bill

View LeeMills's profile


543 posts in 1301 days

#3 posted 07-01-2015 02:06 PM

A local turning club has about 7 Rikons and I have never heard of a problem with them.
The variable (electronic) speed will allow you to start slower which may be more important with a midi lathe than a larger lathe due to weight.
My lathe is the Nova 1624 but I purchased the Nova Comet2 for my daughter about two years ago and it has had no problems.
Both the Rikon and Nova have about the same speed ranges. The Rikon does have a 4” longer bed and is heavier.
The quill also has an inch more movement with the Rikon when drilling but the Nova can be modified fairly easily.

The Rikon states 1 HP but also states 6 amp and given the definition of a HP, it is impossible to generate 1 HP with 6 amps on a 120V circuit. Most DC motors are 80-90% efficient but the Rikon would have to be close to 110% efficient which is not doable except for a very short peak. The Nova states 550W or 3/4 HP which is doable and falls in the 80-90% range. IIRC the motor plate stated 5.7 amp, the 550 watt is what is in the manual.

I think either would serve you well.
Tools-Plus has the Nova for $540 with a free G3 chuck and free shipping. So the cost of the lathe in essence is about $400 if you were planning on buying a chuck. You can get the bed extension for about $100.

Whatever you end up with consider getting some tube steel to give a better base (this assumes you will be mounting it to a wooden bench top). I purchased two section about 16” long and mounted the lathe very close to the front edge. The tube steel runs perpendicular to the lathe at each end giving it a very rigid footprint compared to just screwing it to wood.

-- We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. Albert Einstein

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4217 posts in 2561 days

#4 posted 07-01-2015 02:16 PM


I have the Rikon 70-100 to teach other vets with like me and like you said it is a good lathe. However, if I had to choose between them I would get the 70-220VSR because of the variable speed which is Very handy in turning bowls, lamps, and such things like that.

I do now have the Powermatic 3520b that a lot of guys donated a large amount to helped me get it. I also waited until Powermatic has it yearly sale of 15% which saves a lot too.

I am looking forward to seeing what you buy and make with it. :)

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

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