Meet The Maker: Dar Lu
By Bjorn Jacobsen, 04/10/2019.
Dar Lu or Darwin as I know him is a well-known character in the Australian knife making scene. Present at most shows and events, and one of the more active makers in the online knife making community in Australia, he is a maker who is generous with his time and always willing to help with advice.
Originally from Indonesia, Dar and his wife Sue ran a photography retail store in Rockdale, south in Sydney for many years before semi-retiring a couple of years ago to focus on project work, hobbies and family time.
I first ever met Darwin – and Corin Urquhart – years ago on this bushcraft weekend organized by BushcraftOz.com where we were all forum members. Corin had gotten us access to an area used by the Scouts and Darwin showed up in this cool camping hammock he had made himself! We hit it off and I have counted him as a friend since.
Darwin has always been an inventor, a tinkerer, a maker. I remember the first time I walked into his back room at the camera store – it was part laboratory, part workshop and part spare parts warehouse for any project or invention he had been involved in over the last 20 years. On an overflowing work table he had partially assembled alarm systems, CNC parts, etching machines, knives and what I suspect was some kind of experimental submarine.
Darwin is “a bit over 50 years old”, now “working” out of his warehouse in Mortdale, NSW. His background as a civil/Electrical/Optical and mechanical engineer still keeps him busy designing micro controller programs and boards, as well as spending time on various hobby projects and stamp making.
And this is where we come to the knife making;
Starting when he was 12-13 years old, still in high school back in Indonesia he was not happy with the knives he saw and figured he could do better. Since then he has made in excess of 150 knives, as well as helped others through making their first knife. Darwin is a firm believer in that your first blade is to be made by hand, to truly understand the process and work involved.
Today Darwin mostly makes kitchen and hunting knives, preferring stainless or D2 steel and full-tang constructions. Being a hunter and sports shooter, he has made his own style of hunting and skinning knives, field tested and proven to do the job. When we asked for a maker he admires, he straight away said Bob Loveless. Classic, clean designs that really work in the field. Not a bad goal to make for yourself.
More than his knife making though, Darwin is probably known as the go-to-guy for stamps.
Leather stamps, maker’s marks for steel, even branding stamps for wood or a tiny jewelry stamp – Darwin’s your man.
On his web site Gelandangan.com.au he helps makers get their unique mark or logo onto their products. Each stamp is different based on materials, size and complexity but if you have a clear logo in mind, Darwin can help make it a reality. (read his FAQ first, this gets you a quicker estimate of price and time)
For me personally, Darwin is a great friend to have, and always prodding me to push forward with the hobby project that is Creative Man.
Darwin has helped man the table at many a show, for the first couple of years if you saw us at a market or show it would most likely been Darwin and I behind the table.
Darwin would be the one in the cool dress-up at Iron Fest or with the loudest laugh at the woodworker-show, dragging people over from other tables.
Not all “Darwin-at-markets” stories are suitable in print (yet very funny at the Christmas Party), but one that comes to mind is at Iron Fest 2017; When someone asked why we ran the Creative Man stand together, he told them we were Indonesian/Norwegian half-brothers, that our mother was just a very friendly person..
Darwin’s advice for new makers?
“Do it, do not procrastinate.”