Published by The Melaleuca Press, Lot 17 Wilsons Lane, Exeter
in The Australian Woodworker Issue 79
Is this the feel good, fireside chat of the century on woodturning? Probably not, but as a technical manual, it is two lengths clear of the field and running away. It continues Mike's custom of focussing on the how and why of woodturning. Where his previous book, The Practice of Woodturning, was very comprehensive, almost encyclopaedic, this one appears to be aimed as much at woodturners who are starting out as it is at the more experienced turners who want to really understand cutting processes. Both will learn a lot from it. Fundamental spindle turning cuts are treated in great depth, while free end turning and faceplate work are covered in more detail than by most other writers. Mike obviously aims to give new turners enough information so that they can teach themselves woodturning, especially sharpening and traditional tool use.
Many authors who give advice on cutting techniques such as rolling beads, offer a photograph or two and a couple of tips which they believe will help the reader. They make no attempt to guide us through the whole procedure in detail. This is what Mike sets out to do. He explains the basic cutting processes in depth and gives tips on common problems. He also illustrates his approach with both diagrams and colour photographs - 50 photographs in the section on cutting beads alone! This is a realistic, practical and helpful way of tackling a difficult subject.
Mike has thought through the scientific aspects of woodturning in depth and sometimes uses technical language such as 'elastic recovery' and 'annular recess'. Some readers may be put off by this, but the well constructed diagrams and excellent colour photographs usually clarify any unfamiliar terms. The odd technical error appears to have crept in; for example, I believe the diagram on page 37 shows poor skew chisel technique (though to be fair, photographs elsewhere and on the facing page show the same cut performed beautifully) - but there is less to criticise in this book than in any other 'how-to' manual I have read.
The reader is encouraged to tackle a series of logically graded exercises and then to move on to 11 projects including a tool handle, furniture leg, lidded box, bowl with dimpled base and two narrow necked, hollow forms. Anyone who completes the projects in The Fundamentals Of Woodturning will have acquired a thorough grounding in the craft and the skills to go on to a wide variety of turnings.
198 pages and 400 colour photographs don't come cheap, but a soft cover has kept the price down - excellent value for those who want a detailed and comprehensive introduction to woodturning.
Woodturning For Me
How To Start
and Associated Equipment
Wood and Workshop Practices