How to Choose the Best Lathe for Your Needs: Why the Rikon 70-220VSR Stands Out

How to Choose the Best Lathe for Your Needs: Why the Rikon 70-220VSR Stands Out

When it comes to turning, a reliable lathe is an indispensable tool. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned turner, selecting the right lathe can significantly impact the quality and efficiency of your projects. In this post, we’ll delve into the essential factors to consider when choosing a lathe and explain why I went with the Rikon 70-220VSR as my go-to choice.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Lathe

1. Size and Capacity

  • Swing Over Bed: This determines the maximum diameter of the workpiece that can be turned on the lathe. For most hobbyists and small workshop owners, a swing over bed of 12 to 16 inches is ideal.
  • Distance Between Centers: This measures the maximum length of the workpiece. A range of 16 to 20 inches is suitable for most projects.

2. Motor Power

  • The motor power influences the types of materials you can work with and the efficiency of your lathe. For general turning, a motor between 1/2 to 1 horsepower (HP) is sufficient.

3. Speed Control

  • Variable speed control is crucial for handling different types of projects and achieving different finishes. Look for lathes that offer a wide range of speeds, ideally from 250 to 4,000 RPM.

4. Build Quality and Stability

  • A lathe should be sturdy and well-built to minimize vibrations. Cast iron construction is preferable for its durability and stability.

5. Additional Features

  • Reverse Function: This allows you to sand and finish projects more efficiently.
  • Digital Readout: Provides precise control over the speed settings.
  • Ease of Use: Consider features like tool rest adjustments, tailstock quill, and easy-to-reach controls.

Why I Chose the Rikon 70-220VSR

After extensive research and hands-on testing, I decided that the Rikon 70-220VSR was the perfect fit for my turning needs. Here’s why:

1. Impressive Motor Power and Variable Speed

  • The Rikon 70-220VSR comes equipped with a 1 HP motor, which is more than adequate for a variety of turning tasks. Its variable speed range of 250 to 3850 RPM offers the flexibility to handle both delicate and heavy-duty projects.

2. Exceptional Build Quality

  • The lathe features a solid cast iron construction, providing excellent stability and reducing vibrations during operation. This build quality ensures durability and precision, essential for producing high-quality work.

3. Convenient Speed Changes

  • The Rikon 70-220VSR boasts a digital RPM readout, making it easy to adjust speeds accurately. This feature is particularly useful for fine-tuning the speed based on the wood type and the task at hand.

4. Reverse Functionality

  • The forward and reverse options are a game-changer, especially when sanding and finishing. This functionality allows for a smoother finish and greater control over the final product.

5. User-Friendly Design

  • The lathe is designed with the user in mind. It has an easily accessible belt tensioning system, a comfortable tool rest, and a robust tailstock quill, making adjustments and maintenance straightforward.

6. Positive User Reviews and Reliability

  • The Rikon 70-220VSR has received numerous positive reviews from turners of all levels. Its reputation for reliability and excellent customer support further cemented my decision.


Selecting the right lathe involves considering several factors, from motor power and speed control to build quality and additional features. The Rikon 70-220VSR stands out as a versatile, powerful, and user-friendly option, making it an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced turners. Its combination of impressive specifications, robust build, and thoughtful design features makes it the perfect addition to any woodworking workshop.

Investing in a quality lathe like the Rikon 70-220VSR not only enhances your woodworking experience but also ensures that your projects are executed with precision and efficiency. If you're in the market for a new lathe, I highly recommend giving the Rikon 70-220VSR a closer look. Happy turning!

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