Private Seminars
(in Hendrik’s Workshop or for Private Groups)

I have taken in almost 40 of Hendrik’s Saturday morning seminars and have purchased his Jointer and “Planer Secrets” DVD. His work is amazing and his teaching is very detailed.

— Gary G. (Innisfil, Ontario, Canada)
posted on Fine Woodworking website

Hendrik, I thought you might be interested in my little story. I had finished the last six panels for my shutters and had flattened them to 1″ with the sanding frame. I wanted to take them down to 7/8 ” and because of the glued up width I needed a wider planer. So I took the panels to a local woodworking shop this morning and they planed them for me. After finishing, the woodworker asked if I had done the glue up of the joints. When I answered yes he told me of all the work that comes in for jointing and planing he has never seen such good glue joints; they were the best he had ever seen. I appreciated his remarks but credit needs to go where credit is due. I told him about taking your seminars and following your instructions for glue up to the letter, including watching your DVDs. I told him that as a hobbyist I take my instruction from Passion for Wood and explained the techniques you teach.

— Dwight C. (Guelph, Ontario, Canada)

Hendrik, I have had nothing but terrific feed back on your seminar. It was well designed for the group. I hope to provide more opportunities like your seminar or visits to your workshop for our volunteers. Thank you.

— Elaine Darling
DesignAbility Coordinator for March of Dimes Canada

I decided to take up woodworking about 2 years ago with little knowledge beyond knowing how to handle a skill saw which I used to build a deck. After equipping a shop with some nice equipment I managed to create enough expensive sawdust that I thought it was time to seek some good instruction.

I wanted to learn how to do fine work, learn it properly, and professionally without an abundance of screws and nails to hold things together. Hendrik has taken me from rough carpentry to being able to design and build cabinetry and do fine furniture joinery in that time. I have also found that, through his years of experience and depth of knowledge, I have learned woodworking techniques that have saved me time, taught me useful methods that would otherwise have taken me years to learn, and picked up techniques that have saved me from making expensive mistakes.

I would recommend his courses to beginners and seasoned woodworkers who are interested in advancing their skills to a professional level.

— Fred W. (Caledon, Ontario, Canada)

Over the last three years I have attended 12 of Hendrik’s woodworking seminars and have found them extremely helpful. Hendrik is incredibly knowledgeable and has an ability to teach well. Hendrik is very thorough and his step by step instructions are very helpful. Since taking his courses I have become a better woodworker because of the knowledge and skills I have gained.

I truly have benefited from taking Hendrik’s woodworking seminars.

Thank you Hendrik.

— Ken J. (Acton, Ontario, Canada)

Hendrik combines a true passion for working with wood with a wealth of practical hands-on experience. His seminars are small enough that everyone can literally gather around the workbench and learn from a true craftsman, and provide a treasure trove of knowledge that would take years of tinkering to obtain. I have never come away from a seminar without a ton of notes and ideas that I can truly put to use. And I have been saved from making many a dumb mistake from what I have learned in his workshop. Make the drive to his shop for a Sat morning – and bring along your sweet tooth for a few donuts – you won’t regret the experience and you’ll become a better woodworker for it.

— Tim L. (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)

Hendrik, I know you are busy but I wanted to let you know this while I was thinking about it.

I enjoy all your seminars. I always learn something or am reminded of something, but the seminar that has had the most impact is the Tuning Hand Planes seminar. I have used my hand planes a lot over the years but I had never thought, or was told, by anyone that they could be made to work better by paying a little attention to them. After the hand plane seminar I took the time to carefully go over them and the result is very good. They cut easily and are even more of a pleasure to use. Rest assured, your seminars are useful and all the effort is appreciated.

— Bryon B. (Fergus, Ontario, Canada)

I know it’s been a while since I’ve been to one of your seminars and I thought I’d take a moment to show you what I’ve been doing with what you taught me. The photos I’ve attached are of a bowl I completed last week. An art gallery in Waterloo is now showing some of my work and two stores, one in Elora and one here in Conestogo, are also carrying my creations. This latest bowl would not have been possible without the knowledge I gained from you. The seminars on using the jointer and planer, gluing a tabletop and especially the seminar on how to read the grain in wood were extremely valuable.

It was a five stage gluing process and the hardest was gluing the cherry at a 45 degree angle. I was confident in the skills I had acquired through your seminars and practiced on many other projects and knew this would be as beautiful a bowl as I could imagine. I’m calling it my “Wave” bowl and it is as much a testament to your teaching ability as it is to my turning ability.

Thanks again and I hope to see you as soon as I get some spare time.

Update: Here’s some photos of my latest glue-up and the resulting bowl. The bowl is 11.5” across and 3″ high. The woods are Ash, Wenge and Bloodwood. The gallery manager at Paula White Diamond gallery in St Jacobs asked me to make one of my “Wave” bowls with a very dark wood and a coloured wood. The glue-up is done in three stages. The photo here is the final and most critical stage. I think this is one of the nicest pieces I’ve made. The lines all line up the way they should and there are no gaps in the gluing. I’m often asked by other turners and carpenters as well as non woodworkers, where I learned to do this and I always tell them who taught me how to properly dimension my wood. I know I’ve said it before but, Thanks Again.

— Mark R. (Conestogo, Ontario, Canada)

I have been interested in wood working since childhood but have had no instruction since my high school manual training some 50 years ago. I have recently been expanding my shop, adding more power equipment and getting more personal time for pursuing my love of woodwork. I found Hendrik on the web in 2002 when I had bought my first jointer and needed some personal instruction. He took me through the process of edge and face jointing. I practiced on his machine and then worked on my own with confidence and without fear of the machine! Since then I have attended 12 seminars over 4 years. I try to pick a topic that I will be able to apply in the near future as this maximizes my learning experience, although I do make copious notes to back up my memory.

Hendrik’s presentations are well thought out and carefully demonstrated. When he is presenting techniques it is a delight to watch him. It is said that the devil is in the details and he is a detail man and has each step carefully thought through. He is also an idea man and always has clear reasoning for whatever he is doing.

All the 12 courses that I have taken such as Dimensioning wood, Dovetails, From Concept to Plan, Drawer Making etc have been “keepers”. I have taken some subjects that I would consider to be quite dry such as Sharpening and Tuning a hand plane and I have been thoroughly excited by what I learned.

As a teacher, I appreciate his teaching skills and the way that his classes are set up. The classes which are held in his shop are small enough (about 10 persons) that everyone sees what is being demonstrated, has an opportunity to have questions answered and is treated individually no matter what their level of knowledge. I look forward to many more sessions with him. Clearly Hendrik has a passion for wood and a passion for teaching woodworking skills.

— Ralph M. (Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada)

Thank you for another season of excellent seminars.

The first seminar which I attended dealt with the fine tuning and safe operation of the table saw. Although I had used a table saw for approximately fifty years, I still learned more than enough to
justify the tuition fee. Now my saw gives cleaner cuts than it had ever done before.

Another highlight for me was the seminar on mortise and tenon joinery. Again, I had made mortise and tenon joints on previous projects, but had never benefited from any instruction and just “ploughed on” as best as I could. Since your seminar, I have made three bar stools with the finest of mortise and tenon joints. I jokingly told my wife they were so good, I wouldn’t need to glue them!

Your combination of woodworking skill and knowledge coupled with a wry sense of humour make the seminars a delightful learning experience, and the flexibility to pick and choose the seminars of most interest to me is a real plus. I look forward to next year’s sessions, and to further honing my woodworking skills. (Oh yes, the doughnuts and coffee are great too.)

— Bruce W. (Milton, Ontario, Canada)

I have taken a number of seminars with Hendrik. It is always a pleasure to join a number of kindred spirits in a learning experience.

Hendrik is without doubt an extraordinary craftsman. His attention to detail and technical prowess is really very exciting to watch. The seminars are always well prepared and the accompanying aid memoirs are extremely well presented. I personally file these for future reference. I also found the hands-on afternoon sessions to be, for me, particularly helpful. I am hopeful of joining the Traditional European Workbench Seminar Series. I would recommend Hendrik’s seminars without reservation. Also the coffee and donuts are a treat!!!

— Patrick B. (Erin, Ontario, Canada)

Over the past few months, I have taken several Saturday morning seminars at Passion for Wood. Hendrik’s seminars are always very informative and enjoyable. His knowledge in fine woodworking is vast and his style of teaching gives you the confidence to attempt almost any woodworking project.

These seminars have taught me how to correctly mill lumber, produce accurate mortise and tenon joinery and even understand the science of wood. You can get information from magazines but there is still no substitute to learning from someone who makes a career out of fine woodworking.

In today’s mass produced, disposable society, it’s nice to know there are still craftsmen like Hendrik who take pride in producing quality work that will last a lifetime.

— Steve S. (Thornhill, Ontario, Canada)

As you know, I bought a . . . table saw . . . when I was at the woodshow in October. I then took your setting up a table saw course a few weeks later. I just wanted to let you know that the difference your “tune up techniques” course made was nothing short of amazing.

When I started cutting some pieces for some projects I was working on, the difference was unbelievable. The saw was quiet. The vibration was almost nil (even though I keep the saw on steel casters for moving).

1) With the grain – I could put the 2 pieces of wood together and you would be hard pressed to see the cut line!
2) Cross grain – No splitting and the surface was almost polished (it was that smooth!).

Best Regards

— Alan T. (Elora, Ontario, Canada)

Hendrik, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your staining and finishing seminars – especially the last one. It is wonderful to hear all your tips and very helpful suggestions.

I did not mention, but I attended two finishing seminars last year at a well known woodworking store – one that was 3 hours and one that was from 9:00-4:30. The first was quite good, but the longer one was dreadful. It was given by a fellow who I was told had been doing them for several years. My daughter came with me as she wanted to learn to finish furniture. The course was just awful. The fellow could not teach and every time he began to say anything I was interested in he sent us out for coffee – every hour just about. I figure he might have talked for two hours max and half of that was demonstrating the odd thing like spraying lacquer; as if anyone there was ever going to do that, let alone buy the machine!!! I really wanted to leave at lunch, but felt obligated to stay. Whenever he demonstrated something, he never had anything ready so we spent a great deal of time waiting for him. A couple of times he couldn’t do the demonstration because he realized as he began that he did not have the right tools, etc. If you are a teacher, as I am, it is extremely annoying to pay for something like that. He was so horrendously disorganized and basically taught us very little.

You could certainly teach him a thing or two, not the least of which is to have a purpose and set out to accomplish that goal. Let me know if you have any further courses to do with finishing and I will certainly attend. Thanks again for a great ten hour course. You certainly pack a lot into that time.

— Trish C. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

I was always able to put a decent project together, but I had problems with the finish. I was never able to get it looking professional. Your seminar on hand finishing and rubbing out was a Godsend, (took your seminar two years ago). It gave me the confidence to build my own kitchen, and you can’t imagine the compliments I get. The workman who installed my counter top asked who made my cupboards, and when I replied that “I did” he asked if I was a carpenter. Since then I have gone on to build several oak and maple chests and am currently working on a cherry side board. Your private session on building a jig for tapered table legs enabled me to complete the legs for my sideboard, and they all turned out identical.

I’m looking forward to next year’s sessions.

— Neil M. (Brampton, Ontario, Canada)

I had the opportunity to attend Hendrik Varju’s hand cut dovetail seminar this past Saturday and I have to say I was impressed with Hendrik’s approach and teaching methodology.

The class was made up of people with differing levels of woodworking experience and Hendrik did an excellent job of making everyone feel thoroughly welcome and comfortable. The seminar was well laid out with lots of teaching examples. Hendrik manages to instruct without talking up or down to any individual, and is ready with answers to any question, while still moving along nicely with the material. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his perspective on woodworking and things in general.

Overall a very enjoyable and productive half day + spent with someone who quite obviously knows his business. Thank you Hendrik!

— Felix B. (Brampton, Ontario, Canada)

Being a novice to this craft, I am eager to learn the proper techniques involved in making beautiful furniture. I met Hendrik for the first time at the Kitchener Woodworking Show, and was so impressed with his demonstration on finishes that I immediately signed up to be on his e-mail list for his seminars.

What impressed me the most was Hendrik’s sincere concern about including more women into the world of woodworking, and he even went so far as to offer one seminar to women for free! So, I took the plunge with my first seminar, Sharpening Planes and Chisels, and I was so thrilled and pleased with how well it was structured and with what I learned, I am now hooked!

Hendrik’s exceptional knowledge and experience shines through as he offers thorough instruction in his seminars and clearly illustrates techniques with written and practical demonstrations. The atmosphere in his seminars is very relaxed, and his family makes you feel at home with their generosity. Hendrik is a really down-to-earth guy that, no matter how basic or silly you think a question may be, he always answers in a style that puts you at complete ease. There are different levels of experience in the students at his seminars, and Hendrik encourages everyone to share their experiences as well. I have thoroughly enjoyed Hendrik’s seminars and plan to take as many as possible!

Thank you, Hendrik, for giving me that push of confidence to go forward and become a better woodworker.

— Vanessa T. (Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada)

I’ve attended several seminars offered at Passion for Wood. I found the seminars well balanced, and very informative. Hendrik’s passion for sharing what he knows, coincides well with his relaxed and friendly approach. There’s plenty of opportunity for both discussion and hands on participation, and the fact is, you might just find it hard not to get involved. If you’re a novice and want to take your skills to the next level, or a professional who wants a catch up on the latest woodworking concepts, this is the place for you.

— Gerald V. (Fergus, Ontario, Canada)

I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your seminar on mortise-and-tenon joinery on Saturday. Although I have been woodworking for over 20 years, I’ve had limited opportunity to learn from a true craftsman and I learned a great deal. Your insistence on accuracy was very evident, and it provided me with a gauge as to the level of accuracy I could expect to achieve myself. It was also refreshing to hear your comments regarding purchasing equipment and tools. Very often we are led to believe that we need to buy specialized tools to achieve the desired result, when having a greater knowledge of our current tools could achieve our goal.

Thank you for an excellent day. I look forward to the opportunity to attend more of your seminars.

— David E. (Burlington, Ontario, Canada)

I just wanted to let you know how much I not only enjoyed, but also learned in today’s session on plywood. I never realized there was so much to know. Since I am a beginner in woodworking it is all new to me but I find it extremely interesting. I learned more today about wood then I have since my grade 8 shop class (now that’s going back a few years). I certainly am looking forward to the next session.

— Wally B. (Brampton, Ontario, Canada)

Hendrik provided our group with an excellent presentation on hand-applied finishes. He skilfully guided us through the various classifications of finishes, thinners and their solvents and how to identify, use, and fix various finishes. His presentation provided invaluable information on this complex subject.

— Halton Furniture Makers’ Society (Ontario, Canada)

I would like to thank you at this time for all the knowledge you have given me when taking your seminars. I started out by taking your intensive 1 week course on building a table. We went from picking out the rough cut lumber right through to the finished product. You gave me the confidence that I could actually build something of great beauty.

From there, I took many of your seminars on how to do different processes, from learning about wood itself, estimating how much wood is needed for the project, joining with dowels, rabbets and hand cut dove tails, right up to how to finish the piece. I also learned a lot from you on how to use different pieces of equipment, jointer, planer, router and table saw.

Up until then, I had used rabbets occasionally, but for the most part, I used either nails or screws then filled the holes with putty. Not a very pretty sight. One of the most amazing things I learned (not the most critical) was that the stock lumber you buy from the local lumber yard is not uniform in width or thickness. I have used this lumber since and have had to always mill it to get it uniform.

I have just now completed my first table on my own and I am quite proud of how it turned out. I have a long way to go to become a craftsman, but you have given me the tools to walk that path. Thank you.

I look forward to taking more seminars with you Hendrik.

— Wayne H. (Burlington, Ontario, Canada)

I have attended several seminars conducted by Hendrik Varju. It is rare to find an expert in their field that can share their knowledge and experience in terms that others can understand. Hendrik is one of those rare individuals.

Using practical and detailed explanations and demonstrations, Hendrik’s seminars provide the hobbyist of any skill level with new or additional knowledge and skills that can be put to immediate use on their own woodworking projects. With a limited class size, all attendees are able to share their own experiences or have their own unique questions answered, which only increases the learning level for all.

I highly recommend Hendrik to anyone who wants to learn and or improve their woodworking skills.

— Bryan M. (Markham, Ontario, Canada)

I have taken a number of Hendrik’s Saturday workshops as well as private instruction in both Hendrik’s workshop and mine. I highly recommend both formats to anyone wishing to expand their knowledge of furniture making.

Hendrik has extensive working knowledge in all areas of woodworking and over the course of many sessions, public and private, I never felt I asked a ‘dumb’ question!

— David K. (Oakville, Ontario, Canada)

Attending your workshops is a pleasure for the information they provide, the skills they teach, and the insights provided by your well prepared presentations. There is constantly more on offer than I am able to take advantage of but I recommend any of your workshops to beginner or advanced.

There’s something everyone can learn from your mastery of technique.

— Brian R. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

I found Hendrik’s wood preparation and finishing seminars very informative and
enjoyable. He is an excellent instructor who presented many techniques and procedures that I use in my current furniture finishing projects. He has taken away the mysteries of how to create great wood finishes.

— Danny P. (Newmarket,Ontario,Canada)

I had a great Saturday morning at Hendrik’s shop, Passion for Wood, with 9 others learning much about the Science of Wood. It was a good seminar because although I have read a couple of books on the subject, Hendrik tells it the way it is in real life woodworking. So whether you are making craft type projects or a complete house full of furniture, you can better relate the information to the piece you are working on.”

Before we left, Hendrik showed us some of the beautiful furniture he has built. What is truly amazing is the fact that this guy does not have a Norm Abram type shop – you know, the operational Delta ad.

His hand planed table tops are a work of art by themselves. If he holds a seminar on hand planes and their use it will be a ‘must attend’ event for me.

Box joints next week. I can’t wait.

— Andy B. (Georgetown, Ontario, Canada)

I have attended classes at Passion for Wood, and personally thought the way that Hendrik teaches is excellent. He answers all questions from his students and when you leave one of his classes you leave knowing it was time well spent. His workmanship is precise and during his classes he spends time to explain things in a way that anyone can understand, from an experienced woodworker, to a beginner like myself.

— John M. (Georgetown, Ontario, Canada)

I have been to a few of the seminars that Hendrik Varju has on the weekends and have found them to offer a wealth of information. From ‘Wood Science 101’ to ‘Hand-cut Dovetails’ and ‘Sharpening Techniques’, I have learned many, many things, that I was rather deficient on in woodworking.”

I have always found that his seminars are a lot of fun whether it is a hands
on seminar (‘Using the Jointer and Planer’) or sit back and learn type seminar (‘Wood Science 101’ or ‘Finishing Techniques’). Thank you Hendrik for furthering my quest in building better furniture and knowledge in woodworking.

— Derek P. (Alcona, Ontario, Canada)

Even though I have not attended Hendrik’s seminars for a long time I still remember the day I was watching him unveil with simplicity his techniques. How inspiring to see his abilities being displayed creating awesome pieces of art. I have not enough words to describe his work. I wish I will be able to attend another of his seminars very soon!

— Calixto A. (Milton, Ontario, Canada)