Rikon 70-220VSR Midi Wood Lathe Review

The wood lathe is an ingenious invention that has transformed the way woodworkers manipulate wood. With a wood lathe, you can quickly and easily turn wood in a matter of minutes to make intricate designs that would otherwise take days or even weeks to perform manually.

If you are fresh on the market for a wood lathe, one model that stands out from the rest is the Rikon 70-220VSR. This popular model has many features that make it appealing to both beginners and experts in equal measures. But is it really worth the investment? That’s exactly what we are going to find out with our review of the Rikon 70-220VSR.

RIKON Power Tools 70-220VSR 12-1/2

1. Technical Features

Before we start, here is a quick specs sheet for your reference:

Model:Rikon 70-220VSR
Motor:1.0 HP
Swing Size:12.5” 
Center to Center Distance:20"
Speed:250 - 3850 RPM (variable) 
Dimension:40.75” x 12” x 17-5/8”
Warranty:5 years
Learn more:Check reviews & rating on Amazon

Swing Size:

The swing size directly affects the size of the material you can turn. This model sports a 12.5” swing size and a 20” center-to-center length, which means that the distance from the lathe bed to the swing is 6.25”. Consequently, you will only be able to turn material that is no larger than 12.5” across and 20” in length.

This is not the largest swing size or center-to-center length we have seen but it is definitely a standard dimension in most mid-range to high-end wood lathes these days.

In our experience, this swing size is large enough for decorative and general purpose woodturning projects like making bowls, furniture parts, and DIY wood decorations. It definitely belongs more in a home workshop than in a commercial one, although it will still perform well. 


An under-powered wood lathe will do a poor job when working with big and heavy material. Rikon 70-220VSR is a power tool that most definitely “need” a powerful motor to operate efficiently. The 1.0 HP in this Rikon model is able to send very powerful torque to the spindle, which in turn rotate your material very fast. We would have been very disappointed if this high-end model had a 3/4 HP motor, leave alone 1/2 HP. Gladly, it does not!

In terms of power, Rikon 70-220VSR has enough room to operate and can be used to turn heavy material like big blocks of raw lumber with great ease. The power it delivers is constant, in turn giving you more control and accuracy over your wood turning. Good job, Rikon!

And lastly, one more interesting note about the motor. Despite being so powerful, the motor in this unit is very quiet. You will not require earplugs while operating this unit. Many of its customers are equally impressed with its quiet operation.


The Rikon 70-220VSR shines and outcompetes its competitors when it comes to speed. This is where this power tool truly delivers.

It has an electronic variable speed control that allows it to do speed-steps (ranges) of:- 250 - 750 RPM, 550 - 1,650 RPM and finally 1,300 - 3,850 RPM. Those are pre-defined speeds that allow you to adapt the speed to the material you are turning. It also gives you more control over your finish.

 Rikon 70-220VSR

Use a high RPM for a smooth and polished surface, and a slow RPM for removing lots of material fast. A slow RPM is generally where you want to start when starting to turn your material. Slowly increment it afterward and observe the result.

For even more versatility, the spindle turns in both direction - forward and backward. This can be achieved by simply pushing a button located at an easy to reach position.

Other Features:

  • LED Speed Display: You get a visual representation of the speed of your unit at all times. This is a handy feature if you forget the speed you’ve previously set the device.
  • Lock Key: You can lock the motor from switching on with the provided key.

2. Accessories

The accessories delivered with this wood lathe is one of its poorest strength. You do not get spare chucks or extensions with this unit. The shipping carton itself has a nice diagrammatic representation of the power tool printed on the outside, and you will get a pretty good idea how to set it up by just looking at it. Other than this, it is pretty basic.

On the plus side, the fittings in this power tool are standard and you can purchase additional parts separately. They shouldn't be very expensive.

3. Price

At the time of writing, the Rikon 70-220VSR is offered brand new at around $800 (check current price). That is not an affordable price and can be a tough pill to swallow especially for those on a tight budget. You can even opt to get a used model for around $500. It will work just as well. Anything under this price point and you will get a ton of other wood lathes choices; but almost none will have the powerful motor of the Rikon 70-220VSR and its legendary ease of use.

4. Pros/Cons


  • Beginner-Friendly: This model is straightforward and intuitive. You do not need a lot of experience to use it and the learning curve is very small. 
  • Decent Swing Size: The swing size and center-to-center distance are big enough for most types of wood turning. Unless you plan to make a 50” soup bowl, it is adequate for almost everything. 
  • Good build quality made from quality materials. Durable and should last a long time.
  • Heavy-duty motor of 1 HP is able to handle woodturning of heavy materials. Furthermore, it is also a very quiet power tool.
  • Speed Control: 3 pre-defined speeds allow you to get the desired finish or adapt to your material. 
  • Back/Forward Rotation: The spindle can turn both backward or forward. As an added bonus, the speed control works for both settings.


  • Definitely the price. It is a tough investment.

Who Should Buy?

It is not difficult to recommend the Rikon 70-220VSR to anyone looking for a durable, powerful and versatile wood lathe. This model allows you to perform any type of woodturning tasks, from wood bowls to commercial wood parts. It is performing, quiet and adapts to the way you turn wood thanks to the adaptive speed controls. If the price is not an issue, (and even if you are a beginner), this model is currently one of the best wood lathe in the upper mid-range to high-end tier money can buy.

Last Updated on January 20, 2019 by Tom Bradly

Our Score
Tom Bradly

My entrepreneurial journey started in 2006, when I dropped out of university. I wanted to work with my hands, to build things. Now I mix my background with computers with my first-hand experience with woodworking to provide insights into the tools I like best. I love everything about woodworking and have been building stuff for over 20 years of my life. I hope to pass some knowledge and expertise. See more at TomBradly.com

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