ABOUT MIKE
Accounting book

 

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Portrait of Mike

Starting Out

Mike was born in Birmingham, England in 1943. He trained as a civil engineer at Birmingham and Loughborough universities, and worked on construction projects in Birmingham and Scotland. He emigrated to Sydney, Australia, in 1969 where he continued to work as a civil engineer.

In 1975 Mike was inspired by Peter Child's book The Craftsman Woodturner to take up the craft. Mike was able to start the 3-year trade course in woodturning at Sydney Technical College because it was run by the the School of Building and Mike was a civil engineer. A year later he also started the 3-year trade course in cabinetmaking at the same college, and finished it in 1979.

Mike's Woodturning

After completing both courses, Mike started turning professionally in his garage in 1979. A year later he moved to a leased workshop in the inner-Sydney suburb of Chippendale. As the business expanded, eventually employing 5 turners and a cabinetmaker, it moved to larger premises in nearby Alexandria. Mike Darlow Woodturning undertook every type of turning work including restoration, replacements, patternmaking, and architectural components. The two main specialties were columns up to 6 metres long, and lamps. Giftware, gallery and craft items, and pieces for interior designers were also important. The business had twenty-one lathes, both hand and automatic, and much special equipment was developed. The depth and breadth of the woodturning experience thus gained is reflected in the wealth of detail and practical discussion in Mike's publications and magazine articles.

Woodturning writing and books

Mike's first woodturning article was published in 1981 in Fine Woodworking magazine, and about 140 articles later he is still one of woodturning's most productive writers. In 1992 and 1993 he was the woodturning writer for theEnglish magazine The Woodworker. He 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 a succession of 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 300-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 (1997) 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. His most recent woodturning book is Turned Chessmen (November 2004).

DVDs

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 first of series of high-definition DVDs, the 3-hour Sharpening Woodturning Tools. The second DVD in the series, The Taming of the Skew was published in February 2007. Between 2006 and 2009 the Darlows lived on the British island of Jersey just off the coast of France. Now that Mike is back in Exeter, he'll be adding to his series of woodturning DVDs.

Teaching

In the early 1990s Mike started a very successful woodturning school at his premises in Alexandria. He focusses on the basics, and has constantly refined 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.

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.

Woodturning memberships

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 continues to be an active member of the Southern Highlands Woodies branch of the Sydney Woodturners' Guild.

Accounting book

As is explained on the accounting book page, when temporarily unable to continue professional woodturning while living on Jersey, Mike conceived a new way to represent accounting information, and started to write an accounting book.

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