In-Depth Review: RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe

Summary

RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe
85 %
Review

The thing that I like about the Rikon Mini Lathe is that it claims to be the largest mini lathe (or one of the largest) available. That might sound as contradictory as getting the largest ant or the biggest microbe, but it does have its uses are far as my woodworking hobby is concerned.

The main point of a lathe is to be small so that it can cut, grind, or drill a smaller work piece that you can't do anything with bigger power tools. However, the advantage of having a big yet still small mini lathe is that it's big for its class of tool, allowing it to have more power than smaller, weaker lathes. I find that the Rikon Mini Lathe has been an excellent tool to work with, and with reasonable prices that I was able to find online, I'm not one to complain.

We Like

  • The motor is decently powerful at ½ HP.
  • This mini lathe is one of the largest mini lathes ever made, allowing for heavy duty work for bigger work pieces.
  • Intuitive variable speed trigger is easily accessible so that it's quite easy to go from one speed to the next depending on the application.
  • Tail stock is able to eject itself so that you won't need to remove the center with the assistance of a knockout bar and the like.
  • There's 2½-inch travel for the laser-engraved ram as well as the multiple extension capabilities.

We Don't Like

  • Poor tech support and reports of certain units breaking down.

Introduction

A lathe is any tool that rotates a work piece on its axis to grind, drill, deform, cut, knurl, or sand it down. Obviously, a mini lathe is the miniature version of a lathe. Also known as a micro lathe, the mini lathe mostly exists in order to allow woodworkers with workshops to afford them. They're also handy in grinding, cutting, drilling, or sanding smaller work pieces that are too hard or too small to deal with using ordinary power or manual hand tools.

It's the same deal with work pieces that are too soft or too brittle to drill, sand, slice, and what-have-you as well. The mini lathe is excellent for working with wood, metal, or plastic that you can't ordinary drill with a power drill, cut with a power saw, or grind with a grinder or sander. This type of lathe swings at a range of 3 inches to 7 inches or 76 millimeters to 178 millimeters. In radius terms, that's a 1.5-3.5-inch or 38-89-millimeter radius, for your information.

Instead of having a spinning saw or grinder get into contact with a work piece, you instead attach the mini lathe onto your miniature work piece and have it spin on its axis instead to manipulate or alter it in any way you see fit. These lathes are commonly put in MRO or home workshops because they're no larger than your typical power or rotary tool.

Who Is It For?

This work-piece-rotating tool is made for and used by glass workers, parts reclamation workers, thermal spraying workers, metal spinning workers, metalworkers, and woodworkers. The larger version of the lathe work mostly with doubling as a power drill, sander, saw, or chisel except this time it's the work piece that's spun around rather than the drill bit, saw blade, or some other rotary contact piece.

The most well-known lathes are used by potters and are known as the potter's wheel. The spinning disc used on wet mud so that you can mold it into a pot is a lathe. Meanwhile, metalworkers used metalworking lathes in order to screw threads or helices, plane surfaces, or produce most solids of revolution. A mini version of such a lathe allows you to do the same things and more for smaller metals that are virtually indestructible otherwise with larger power tool. Ever tried flattening a screw with a hammer? It's the same principle.

The miniature lathe is made to create an object with symmetry in regards to its axis of rotation using smaller work pieces that are usually too small to either cut in half with a table saw (or even band saw) or grind down with a grinder. In order to do some turning, facing, deformation, drilling, knurling, sanding, and cutting with this mini work piece, you need a mini work tool like the mini lathe.

Buyer's Guide

What Benefits Should This Mini Lathe Have?

A mini lathe should have the following benefits.

  • Detail Work

You should have a mini lathe capable of detail work, preferably one with a 12-position indexing head. This enables you to lock the work piece in various positions to improve the precision of your work when doing details and intricate nuances in patterns. This advanced type of lathe is dependable for layouts, drilling, grooving, and straight fluting.

  • Time Saving

A mini lathe should save you time and effort. Features such as a self-ejecting tail will help you streamline your work because you won't need a knockout bar to remove the center. This will spare you frustration, wasted time, and the like. A mini lathe can also save you time in the form of a powerful motor that spins the work piece faster.

  • User-Friendliness

A mini lathe can demonstrate its user-friendliness in many ways, including a flip-up handle for easy portability, a tool holder at the back of the unit to give you access to knockout bars and centers, variable speed setting that's easy to operate, a self-ejecting tail to allow for center removal without the use of a knockout bar, a nylon face plate washer to prevent accessories from sticking to the spindle, and easy self-explanatory operation of the machine itself.

Things to Consider When Buying a Mini Lathe

Remember the following before buying your own mini lathe.

  • What is it for?

What are you going to use your mini lathe for? Do you want to grind, drill, deform, cut, knurl, or sand it down? Are you a woodworker, metalworker, factory worker, construction worker, or amateur hobbyist that grinds small work pieces for the sake of DIY home improvement or wood sculpting for a workshop?

  • What is your budget?

A mini lathe is a hefty investment. In particular, the RIKON 70-100 12-by-16-Inch Mini Lathe is approximately $400 to $500. Some mini lathes can be as expensive as $1,600 or as low as more than $500. Many of these lathes fall within the $400-$500 range. Which one should you go with? The ones that make the most sense to you budget-wise.

  • What's in the box of a given mini lathe product?

The average mini lathe package that isn't just a bare tool or something that only contains the unit itself should include the spindle lock assembly, spur center, live center, 8-inch tool rest, adjustment wrench, the owner's manual, pan head screw, tool holder, and knockout bar/s. The amount of useful extras and accessories you can get from a given mini lathe kit should influence whether you should buy it or not.

Product Details

RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe

Description

The main claim to fame of the RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe is that it allows you to do more with less space. All mini lathes are supposed to be small, but the compactness of this lathe (which ironically is the biggest mini lathe of its class) allows it to use its inherent smallness to its advantage while at the same time using its bigness for a mini lathe to provide bigger or stronger outputs (like a 12-inch swing and 16-inch swing between centers) compared to its smaller brethren or competing counterparts.

Product Information

  • Dimensions: 33.8 x 18 x 11.5 inches
  • Item Weight: 91.4 pounds
  • Top Speed: 3,900 RPM
  • Horsepower: ½ HP
  • Power Source: Corded electric

Features & Benefits

  • Powerful Motor and Variable Speed

For a mini lathe, a ½-HP motor is significantly powerful, especially when you consider how the machine is able to perfectly transfer that power in terms of rotational speed. Meanwhile, the unit can also vary its speed so that you can go from somewhere as low as 430 RPM or as high as 3,900 RPM depending on how small or tough your work piece is.

  • Self-Ejecting Tail

Arguably the piece de resistance or most remarkable feature of the RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe is its self-ejecting tail. The tail of this unit ejects on its own so that the center can be removed without you using the knockout bar, thus saving you time and effort of removal. This on top of the fact that the ram can travel up to 2½ inches allows you to move the tail stock along the lathe belt by simply unscrewing the locking lever then locking it at a more favorable position.

  • Multiple Extensions, Adjustable Working Height, and Multiple Size Tool Rests and Face Plates

The RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe is also known for how you can customize or tailor the unit to suit your specific lathing requirements. You can adjust the height to go with the size of the work piece or vary the tool rests, face plates, and extensions to accomplish different tasks or vary the results.

Pros

  • The RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe includes a ½-HP motor that can spin and grind even the toughest and smallest of work pieces.
  • You can add various extensions to this device in order to extend its possible applications.
  • The laser-engraved ram includes a 2½-inch travel.
  • The tail stock self-injects so that there's no need to bust out the knockout bar for center removal.
  • You can easily change the speed from different speed ranges (430 RPM, 810 RPM, 1,230 RPM, 1,810, 2,670 RPM, and 3,900 RPM).

Cons

  • The Rikon tech support is quite poor.
  • Some units were received as already damaged by a number of customers.

Alternative Choices

Here are your alternatives to the RIKON 70-100.

1) PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Commander 10-Inch Variable Speed Mini Lathe

The PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS is favorably comparable to the RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe in terms of size and dimensions (give or take an inch), weight (it's lighter at 89.5 pounds, but not by much compared to the 70-100's 91.4 pounds), and speed (the top speed of the TCLC10VS is at 91.4 pounds while the RIKON 70-100 can only go up to 3,900 RPM).

Then again, the TCLC10VS is more than twice the expensiveness of the mini lathe, so for all those slight discrepancies in size, weight, and speed, the PSI mini lathe should at least be twice as effective at its job as the RIKON mini lathe to justify its more-than-doubled price. It certainly does help that it has ¾ HP while the RIKON one is ½ HP (¾ is more than ½ or )

2) Nova 46301 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Bundle

As for the Nova 46301, it's also close in terms of specs to the RIKON 70-100 the way the PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS is. It's only slightly smaller by a few inches or so. It's way lighter at 81 pounds or about a 10.4-pound discrepancy. Its top speed is at 4,000 RPM, which is better than the RIKON 70-100 by 100 RPM but less than the PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS by also 100 RPM.

It checks out that the Nova 46301 is a little better than the RIKON 70-100 at everything, but not by huge margins. However, it has the same price as the TCLC10VS, so if you want more bang for your buck, the RIKON choice makes more sense.

3) Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe Variable Speed 

As for the Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe, you have a mini lathe that's a bit smaller than the RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe in terms of dimensions. Also, at 92 pounds of weight, the Mophorn mini lathe is about 0.6 heavier than the RIKON mini lathe. However, in terms of top speed, the Mophorn milling machine is at a low 2,500 RPM versus the much faster rotations of the RIKON at 3,900 RPM. Also, RIKON has a higher review rating to boot.

On the bright side, it has a ¾ HP motor just like the PSI TCLC10VS, but the TCLC10VS is still superior thanks to its 4,100 RPM top speed. Also, the Mophorn costs approximately $500 to $600, which means the RIKON mini lathe is superior to it in terms of top speed and pricing. However, both the RIKON and Mophorn lathes offer better pricing than the PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS and the Nova 46301 Comet II.

4) Signswise High Quality Motorized Mini Metal Working Lathe Machine 

The Signswise Mini Metal Lathe is a curious case. It is way smaller than the self-proclaimed biggest mini lathe around, the RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe (although the PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS is slightly bigger). Almost more than half the size as many of the mini lathes on this list. Furthermore, it has a whopping 20,000 RPM speed, which means it's designed specifically to work on the hardest metal work pieces.

It's easily five times faster with its top speed compared to all the heavier mini lathes on this list. It only gets a 3.5-star rating mostly because it compares itself to a different class of mini metal lathe and only four people reviewed it, so even just one negative review has more impact on its overall score compared to a unit that's been reviewed by tens or hundreds of people.

5) Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe

The Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe is also a metal lathe like the Signswise Mini Metal Lathe Machine, but it's more comparable to the Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe with their shared speed of 2,500 RPM. Obviously, the Mophorn and Grizzly metal mini lathes belong to a slower and larger class of metal lathe. This is reflected also with its 89.2 pounds of weight.

The Grizzly indeed has a comparable size that's close to the sizes of the rest of the lathes on this list (the Signswise mini lathe is the exception because it's the smallest yet fastest lathe of them all). In terms of how the Grizzly G8688 compares to the RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe, it's about the same as the Mophorn mini lathe. It has a lighter weight yet slower top speed than the 70-100. 

Alternative Choices Comparison Table

Alternative Choices

Our Rating

Price

PSI Woodworking TCLC10VS Commander 10-Inch Variable Speed Mini Lathe

Nova 46301 Comet II Variable Speed Mini Lathe Bundle

Mophorn Metal Lathe Precision Mini Lathe Variable Speed

Signswise High Quality Motorized Mini Metal Working Lathe Machine

Grizzly G8688 Mini Metal Lathe

The Final Cut

It's also capable of rotating the work piece on its axis with varying speeds of430 RPM, 810 RPM, 1,230 RPM, 1,810, 2,670 RPM, and 3,900 RPM. You can raise the speed depending on what sort of material you're working with (could be wood, metal, or plastic).

The RIKON 70-100 Mini Lathe is also a versatile kind of mini lathe filled with accessory options that enable you to get more out of your investment because every last accessory allows you to do more mini lathe applications, maintain the integrity of your power tool, and streamline your mini-lathe-related operations in ways that a bare-tool mini lathe unit cannot.

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