When I met with Hendrik for our first one-on-one session I expressed to him a dissatisfaction with available furniture. It was either poorly conceptualized, poorly constructed, or used second rate material. What followed was an incredible series of lessons not just on craftsmanship and wood working but on the effort that was required to do things right. A digital designer myself, Hendrik’s approach to furniture design and wood working reinforced how important planning was in the overall creative process, and the thoroughness required to execute the design with integrity.
Over the past two plus years I’ve learned so much from Hendrik. I would recommend his private instruction to anyone who has been curious about wood working or craftsmanship in general. He is an excellent teacher who can make even the most difficult concepts simple. Had it not been for a big personal life change that took me out of province, I would have been a student for life.
— Cameron L. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Hendrik Varju is by far the best teacher in woodworking. I have taken a course at college and just a couple of days with Hendrik provided more information than an entire semester in a post secondary course.
He is by far the most thorough teacher I have ever had.
posted on Fine Woodworking website
As art director of a woodworking magazine I thought it would be valuable to take a woodworking course and actually use the tools that I spend so much time photographing for the magazine. Hendrik’s course was perfect; I used a table saw, jointer, planer, bandsaw and router and ended up making a beautiful black cherry shelf. Hendrik’s ability to teach with clear instructions and important safety information made the two days a very positive experience.
Canadian Home Workshop Magazine
Thanks to Hendrik I am now beginning to understand wood! I can pick up a board, decide which parts to use, read the rays and grain and know which way to joint and plane. I now understand and can calculate wood movement and I know how to deal with it. I recognize that after ripping off as little as 1/8″ from a board, the stress may cause it to move so it is no longer flat and that it may have to be jointed and planed again.
At first this seemed way too picky; we were putting more miles on the jointer than I would have believed possible. What difference could a hair (one of Hendrik’s favourite measurements) make? Then I found out! When we assembled our hall table we didn’t even need to check for right angles, the legs were all the same length and the drawers fitted perfectly! I was amazed.
Hendrik’s quiet expertise and pride in his skills instill a confidence I thought I would never have. I can use the machinery with respect but without fear knowing he’s watching every move. I will never again use blunt chisels or planes – now I understand the science behind it, sharpening isn’t the ordeal I thought it was. And because we discuss the merits of different kinds of joinery before deciding which to use, I can now make informed choices.
And Hendrik is always there for us even after classes. He answers all emails immediately, he discusses with us the pros and cons of new equipment, he lists our “for sale” stuff, and he readily tells us again what we have forgotten. Hendrik has taken the frustration and fear out of my woodworking and replaced it with confidence and pride. Taking lessons from Hendrik was the best thing I ever did.
— Maggie A. (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada)
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the advancement you have made to my woodworking skills. I remember awhile back when I was leaving one of your seminars, I started to talk to another seminar participant and I told him how much I learned from the one-on-one training. He then asks if one-on-one training was worth it for a “hobby”. We know many individuals who take individual training on a number of hobbies such as golf. My reply to his question was that it was worth every cent as well as my time. You have moved my individual skills far beyond “tinkering” to building pieces of furniture I am proud to show friends who come into my home. OK, I still make mistakes but I now know to analyze the issue to ensure I do not make the same one again.
To give you some background of mine. I have taught practical welding to college students as well as trained a number of individuals on a wide range of profession topics in my field of quality auditing. I have found your approach to training the best (ok, just behind mine) I have had the pleasure of attending. However, I like the seminars but I still prefer the one-on-one training. This way I can focus on the task specific to my needs.
Once again, thanks for the help you are truly a craftsman.
— Pat S. (Acton, Ontario, Canada)
Hendrik’s teaching style is detailed and accurate and emphasizes fundamentals. There were several techniques that differed from what I had previously read/learned
and each proved to be a superior approach to the process — highly satisfied.
— Eric S. (Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA)
Hendrik, I would like to offer my genuine thanks for the one-on-one instruction you provided over the past few months. I think my four and eight hour sessions totaled in excess of 60 hours, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Honestly, I did not know what to expect from your lessons, so I signed up for one of your Saturday seminars to get a feel for your teaching style. I had heard that your teaching technique made a student of any level feel at ease and that was exactly the case. I was impressed by your detailed, yet understandable approach in that seminar, which was on mortise and tenon joinery. Your extensive knowledge in the woodworking field was obvious.
I arranged for a series of personal lessons to design and build a large bench seat with drawers. While I had some woodworking experience in framing a basement etc, I soon learned that ‘fine woodworking’ involves a different mindset and skill set. We covered design, wood types, wood structure, the dimensioning of rough lumber to a finished product with the use of the table saw, jointer, planer, routers, drill press, dado blades, hand planes and card scrapers. I also learned about proper clamping techniques, glue ups, edge banding, dowelling, rabbetting, drawer construction, sharpening tools, proper sanding and finishing techniques. I am sure I left some areas out, but what I am trying to say is that I made the right choice in pursuing this field as a hobby and choosing you as an instructor! I truly believe that learning to do things correctly from this early stage will save me from untold headaches down the road. You have provided me with the knowledge, comfort level and skills that will last a lifetime.
Oh, and my wife was duly impressed with the bench when it arrived home. As you know, you will see me around, as I plan to continue with some of your Saturday seminars.
Keep up the good work!
— Greg H. (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada)
Being a student of Hendrik’s has been a great pleasure. I have gained considerable knowledge, dealing with wood science as well as practical woodworking. His teaching techniques are excellent, from a simple question to learning proper ways of doing woodworking related tasks. My situation, of having only one hand, has been a great but rewarding challenge. Hendrik has made woodworking quite possible for anyone wanting to learn. Looking forward to new and exciting challenges that await us.
— Tim L. (Milton, Ontario, Canada)
Hendrik’s patience, attention to detail and obvious knowledge of his craft make the on-site learning experience a real pleasure. Also, his support and advice by telephone for project specific issues and equipment purchases bear the same characteristics.
— John A. (Caledon East, Ontario, Canada)
Learning from a real craftsman like Hendrik, at Passion for Wood, I have learned, is the only way to go! His courses have broadened my wood working skills in ways vital to my home repair and improvement business.
— Dale C. (Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada)
I’ve taken one-on-one instruction from Hendrik for the past couple of years. I call him whenever I need help on a project, an arrangement which works extremely well for me. We’ve covered everything from selection of rough lumber to final finishing, and just about everything in between. He’s helped me go from very basic projects to fairly advanced ones. Hendrik is very good at what he does, and very good at teaching. If you have a chance to take lessons or attend one of his seminars — go for it!”
— John B. (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)