I have the Steel City VS mini and it's a great little lathe. Plenty of power and a breeze to change speeds. I don't know about the Rikon--I've only heard stories about them. About the Jet--the local turning club has several, and they burned up two of them at the State Fair a year ago--one had the bearings burn up and the other had the motor go out. I've had my little SC over a year and have had no issues with it. And at $250.00 for the lathe, it's a bargain that can't be beat. Here are the specs:
Available in six-speed and variable speed models, STEEL CITY™ Midi Lathes are perfect for pens, boxes and small projects. These midi lathes have a 1/2 HP drive and speeds that range from 500 and 3800 RPM. The headstock has 1"-8TPI spindle threads with 24-point indexing and the tailstock is self-ejecting with a 3/8" through hole. An optional 22" bed extension increases the between centers capacity to 36". Provided with a five year manufacturers warranty:
Includes 6" tool rest, 3" faceplate, spur center, live center, wrenches, knockout bar and instruction manual.
Net weight - 72 lbs; shipping weight - 80 lbs.
Five year manufacturer's warranty.
Model 60170 5-Speed Midi Lathe
Motor: 1/2HP, 115VAC, 5.6A, 1,725 RPM.
Speeds (5): 500, 1,300, 2,100, 2,750, 3,600 RPM.
Model 60100 Variable Speed Midi Lathe
Motor: 1/2HP, 115VDC, 1PH.
Speed ranges (2): 500-1,350 and 1,400-3,800 RPM.
Swing Over Bed - 10" (7-1/2" over base).
Distance Between Centers - 15".
Headstock Shaft: 1"-8TPI, #2MT, 3/8" bore.
Indexing - 24 point.
Tailstock Quill: 2-1/2" travel, #2MT, 3/8" bore.
Overall Dimensions - 18-1/2"H x 28-3/4"L x 10"D.
Of course, you do know that the purchase of the lathe is just the first step down that long vortex to the abyss, don't you? You can spend more on the necessary accessories for the lathe than you spend on the lathe itself. Just take a picture of the money in your wallet and post it on the wall above the lathe so you'll remember what it looks like. Hope you have deep pockets or a credit card with a high limit.Good Luck!!
Nancy and Dave Laird
Rio Rancho, NM
David works in the Pro Sales Divison at Woodworker's Supply.