Woodturning articles and books
Mike’s first woodturning article was published in 1981 in Fine Woodworking magazine, and more than 200 articles later he is still one of woodturning’s most productive writers. In 1992 and 1993 he was the woodturning writer for the English magazine The Woodworker. He also wrote a long series of design articles for each issue of the American magazine Woodturning Design.
Mike wrote his first book in 1981, but after being let down by several publishers, he and his wife started The Melaleuca Press (named after the genus name of the Australian paperbark trees) in 1985 to self-publish The Practice of Woodturning.
The Darlow family decided to “go bush” in 1995, and moved to the 350-soul village of Exeter, halfway between Sydney and Canberra. Once there, Mike first revised his book The Practice of Woodturning, but saw that it could be improved by using many more illustrations, and by having them in colour rather than black-and white. (The costs of colour printing had dropped substantially during the preceding decade.) Mike also saw that by producing an integrated series of books he could present much more information much more efficiently. The first book of the series was The Fundamentals of Woodturning (1998) which covers the basics and superseded the earlier The Practice of Woodturning. Woodturning Methods (1999) and Woodturning Techniques (2001) cover a host of special methods, for example, turning spheres. The next book, Woodturning Design (2003), is the outstanding text on the subject. Turned Chessmen followed in 2004. There was then a gap until Useful Woodturning Projects in January 2021. Mike is now busy on the seventh book in the series.
In 1993 Mike’s first video, the 7-hour The Practice of Woodturning was published. It is now available as a DVD. In 2006 he published the high-definition, 3-hour DVDs Sharpening Woodturning Tools. The DVD The Taming of the Skew was published in February 2007.
In the early 1990s Mike started a very successful woodturning school at his premises in Alexandria. In his teaching He focusses on the basics, and is constantly refining his knowledge of their “how” and “why”. He believes students progress best through gaining a thorough understanding of the basics and the problems turners have because understanding banishes fear and allows self correction. He does not believe that there is such a thing as advanced turning, there is instead doing the basics better and applying them to new situations.
Few amateurs turn competently, not because it’s difficult, but because they haven’t devoted about 40 hours to disciplined learning and practice. Only when the technique hurdle is cleared can turners start to widen their horizons and find real fulfillment and enjoyment. Why when they can turn wood for several decades beginners are so reluctant to commit those few hours to start properly Mike cannot understand.
Mike has taught in Australia, New Zealand, the island of Jersey, and England, and has made five teaching tours to Canada and the United States, and demonstrated at the American Association of Woodturners annual symposium.
Mike is a founder member of the American Association of Woodturners. While living in Jersey between 2006 and 2009, Mike was involved in starting the Jersey Woodturners’ Group. Mike has been an active member of the Southern Highlands Woodies branch of the Sydney Woodturners’ Guild for more than 25 years.
As explained on the accounting book page, when temporarily unable to continue professional woodturning while living on Jersey, Mike conceived a new and graphical way to represent accounting information, and wrote a book to explain it.