Published in 1998, The Fundamentals of Woodturning is the first book in Mike Darlow’s colour woodturning series. It has 198 pages size 216 x 280 mm (8.5” x 11.5”), 50 diagrams and 418 colour photographs which include high-speed microphotographs and shots taken simultaneously from different angles by two cameras.

A German edition, Basiswissen Drechseln, was published by Ravensburger in 2001.

The book explains the “why” and describes the “how” of the basic techniques in detail. It’s therefore the ideal text for beginners, for those seeking to improve their techniques, and for woodturning teachers.

Its chapters are:

  1. Is woodturning for me?
  2. How to start
  3. Lathes and associated equipment
  4. Cutting and tools
  5. Design, wood, and workshop practices
  6. Spindle turning
  7. Cupchuck turning
  8. Faceplate turning
  9. Bowl turning
  10. Hollow turning
  11. Where next



Front cover

Figure 4.1   Peeling an upstanding rib.

Figure 4.7   Peeling with about 2 degrees clearance.

Figure 4.8   Peeling with about 12 degrees clearance.


Review by Hugh Foster published in More Woodturning magazine, April 1999

Mike addresses this book to novice turners, but many of us intermediate and advanced turners could really use the sort of tune-up that this volume provides . . . It’s readily apparent to this reader, as it will be to you, that this is the single most important turning book of the 1990s.

Review by Ron Hampton published in More Woodturning magazine, June 2000

A treasure trove that is essential to anyone who wants to master woodturning . . . There is only one Mike Darlow who understands the science of woodturning and makes it understandable to a regular guy like me . . . The photography is probably the best that i have seen in any instructional book . . . You will absolutely have to buy this book. It is that good!!!

Review by Fred Holder, editor of More Woodturning magazine, June 2000

I agree with Ron, this is a book you have to buy, because it is that good.

Review by Channels Vonnegut  published on, March 2016

This is a very detailed explication of how to master wood-turning techniques. How good one gets at turning wood from this book will depend on now much practice you’re willing to put in. IMHO, it’s the best book out there. I’ve looked at more than a few and bought two others prior to seeing this one mentioned on a woodturning internet forum. I’m glad to have this, as it has excellent diagrams and discussions of how and why tools interact with wood spinning on a lathe. Unless you’re already a master of the skill and art of woodturning, you will benefit from studying this book. And practicing your craft based on it

Review by Harold Cole published on, June 2013

I’ve got a long way to go to be a good wood turner. This book gives anyone the knowledge you need to get it done. It gives you a new respect for what it takes. It requires a lot of work and practice. The color illustration’s of every detail and the beauty of the finished work makes it all worth the effort. The book describes all the tool’s you’ll need for each project and how to present them to the wood. It is a whole new language. It’s like going back to school, but this time you really want to learn. Looking forward to the job.

Front cover of the German edition of The Fundamentals of Woodturning. The work shown isn’t by Mike

Figures 6.48 and 6.49 showing a rolling cut from two angles

Figure 4.50   Detail gouge geometry

Figure 6.92   Starting the seventh V-cut in the series needed to cut this cove

Figure 9.28   Cutting the floor of a bowl with a HSS ring tool

Figure 6.62   Starting the ninth rolling cut for the bead

Figure 6.63   Completing the ninth rolling cut. Notice how using the tied-underhand grip, the hand actively axially rotates the tool and moves it along the toolrest to the left

Figure 8.19   The design and cutting procedure for a hatstand base

Figure 8.24   Cutting along surface G with a detail gouge