©2019 by Guild of Woodworkers Wellington.

Mark Wilkins

I was born in Malawi in 1956 and have lived in UK, Jamaica, Uganda and Australia eventually moving to New Zealand in 1997.

As a child I was always taking things apart building go-carts bicycles from parts I scrounged from junk. Even though I had a strong attraction for making things I ended up taking a degree in Physics at Imperial college in London which really convinced me that I had taken a wrong turn in my choice of career. After graduating I joined Sperry as a trainee and became involved in the development of electronics and software.

After a few years as an employee I left the safe haven of permanent employment and joined a startup venture developing CNC controllers for cutting steel. The recession of the early 90s put paid to that venture and in 1992 I was offered a 1year contract in Sydney with the Commonwealth bank. It was while I was in Sydney I started to develp a keen interest in woodworking. I attended evening classes with Bob Howard in both carving and cabinet making and when I returned to the UK I was hooked.

After started to investigate full time furniture making courses but with no financial means of supporting full time training I convinced a local maker, Barnaby Scott at Waywood furniture to give me some informal tuition at weekends and under his guidance I made several pieces. See https://www.waywood.co.uk

I also attended a short course in wood carving with Ian Norbury https://iannorbury.com/


My experience in Australia planted the seeds for me to leave the UK and in 1997 I moved to NZ with a plan to switch to a career in making furniture. Unfortunately the distractions of a divorce and having a house built pushed woodwork to the bottom of the list and my plans were abandoned.

A few years later my interest re-kindled and finances recovering, I attended a short woodturning course with Jim Lowe at Lindale, and also resumed making items of funiture.

But with no lathe of my own I quicky forgot what I had learned until I tracked down Hugh Mill in 2014 and have been happily turning wood into shavings ever since.

Since then I have also tried to expand my skills and explore woodworking in general. I have made several more pieces of furniture, jewellery boxes bowls, platters 4 ukuleles and 2 cigar box guitars. I have also acquired a CNC router and am exploring all the possibilities offered by CNC machining and carving.


My plans for the future are to improve my my woodworking skills further and try and improve my artistic eye to produce exhibition quality work. I am looking forward to when I retire so I can spend more time in the workshop.