Woodworking Courses on DVD

Here are some comments regarding DVD Box Sets. If you have a new comment to add, please e-mail it to Hendrik.

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

I was just going to email you to let you know that the course DVDs arrived yesterday. I watched the first two chapters and I want to tell you how very good they are! I think you are just forceful enough to impress the safety measures without sounding like “chicken little”. The rest of the lesson is detailed in just the right areas that are important. I would rate this among the best educational videos that I have. Thanks. I can’t wait to get back to it.

[Sent a month later]
Please tell Hendrik that I remain very grateful that I was able to find his instructional DVDs. They are amazing in their production quality and in the way he is able to explain the craft of woodworking and put it into a safer and coherent context. I have never [before] been able to sit and watch instructional videos for hours at a stretch. This includes courses sold by “The Great Courses.” Thanks again.

— Christopher A. (Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, USA)

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

I have all of Hendrik’s DVDs and every one is excellent and very thorough. The DVDs are the next best thing to having Hendrik come to your shop for live instruction – which I also do with Hendrik. In my opinion, there is not a better woodworking instructor than Hendrik – live or on DVD.

— “MikeLogan”
      posted on Fine Woodworking website

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

I own three of Hendrik’s exceptional and very detailed woodwork training videos already: Using and Tuning Your Bandsaw, Using Your Router and Router Table Safely and Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety. I also attended all his weekend woodworking seminars a decade or so ago and I can truly say that I enjoyed and my craft and cabinetmaking benefitted from every bit of it. Hendrik is a very personable, detailed, and talented woodworker and instructor. (I’m not saying this because it would make any difference to winning another DVD, since it won’t, but I am taking this opportunity to plug him because the videos are truly worthwhile whether you are or aren’t able to experience his classes in person!)

— “user-3922638” – Wayne (webSherpa)
      posted on Fine Woodworking website

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

It is because of Hendrik I fell into fine woodworking 5 years ago. He goes into details and explains how and why things work like nobody else. Thanks to him I still have my 10 fingers! I’m glad he keeps on making videos. They are worth it. I’m looking forward to learning more woodworking skills with this one 😉

— “Capludi”
      posted on Fine Woodworking website

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

As I view the cuts (ha ha!) from this preview DVD I see all the same care and detailed instruction that make all of Hendrik’s instructional DVDs the best I have available. I have learned the patience and care he exhibits in DVD training produces invaluable learning that I am able to reference anytime while I am on the road to learning fine woodworking. Thanks for making a great tool available! I look forward to continued learning!

— Frank G. (Shohola, Pennsylvania, USA)

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

With this order we have now purchased 13 of the 16 DVDs. We (my wife and I) find these to be excellent training tools that we watch multiple times based on projects we are attempting to undertake in the shop. We appreciate the depth of material covered and the complete explanations – they answer many of the follow up questions we typically have when watching the more common “cover a topic in 60 minutes” DVDs.

— Steve L. (Twin Mountain, New Hampshire, USA)

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

Hendrik helped me find my dream job. After buying all of Hendrik’s DVDs and implementing them into my hobby, I was able to land a furniture repair and refinishing job based on what I had learned. I managed to do this without a college diploma or other formal training in woodworking. Hendrik’s DVDs are jam packed with knowledge and expertise. Most important is the level of detail put into each topic.

— Norm W. (Cambridge, Ontario, Canada)

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

I recently purchased your “Surface Prep. & Staining”, “Hand Finishing & Rubbing Out” and “Using Your Router Safely” DVDs. I also have others. Let me just say I found them outstanding and your attention to detail and explanations of the whys & wherefores was very educational. Took a lot of mystery out of these subjects…for me anyway.

— Don R. (Red Deer, Alberta, Canada)

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

I have Hendrik’s entire DVD set; well worth the money . . .

— “Sabian”
      posted on Fine Woodworking website

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

Hendrik’s DVD’s are simply the best. Very complete and personal to watch.

— “Jayelton”
      posted on Fine Woodworking website

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

Have now received the DVDs. Could I congratulate Hendrik on these wonderful DVDs. They really are excellent and difficult to “put down”. I have learnt a good deal and they will merit repeated viewing. I will certainly order some more soon, and I would be grateful if you keep me informed as any new titles come out. I am 100% satisfied and am happy to endorse your products to anyone who cares to listen. Could you send the latest DVD list please?

— Gary S. (Thorrington, United Kingdom)

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

I have several dozen DVDs on woodworking (and quite a few VCR tapes as well) but none of the quality and specificity of yours. Having been learning about woodworking for maybe 5 years now I naturally have seen and tried many of the techniques shown in your lessons. What is so completely different is you actually show the setup. I cannot overemphasize how beneficial this is. Last night I watched with amazement as you explained why I could never get consistent results from any of the planers at the Marc Adams School.

I’ve worked for several years as a machinist and as a “way-scraper”, so the techniques you show were immediately understandable. Until you discussed them I never considered applying them to woodworking. In fact, at any of the half dozen woodworking schools I’ve been to, any hint of working like a machinist is looked down upon. I always try to stand up for our sister trade (the guys with calipers and micrometers) but usually with little effect. I’m glad to know you are a kindred soul.

I bought several DVDs from a certain woodworking luminary who shall remain nameless. The production value was flawless. The tablesaw made perfect cuts, the jointer too. Every part fit exactly as it was supposed to. I learned absolutely nothing. When I spoke with Marc Adams about the DVD, and asked if the “luminary” would accept any constructive criticism, he told me to forget about it. The guy would take great offense and I might make an enemy. Your effort succeeds where his fails.

— Mike (New York City, New York, USA)

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

I own all of the DVDs. This is my last one. They have been invaluable in my learning. I don’t know of any other way I could see and hear the info in these DVDs. These are as important as any tool I’ve bought.

— Brian S. (New Martinsville, West Virginia, USA)

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

I am enjoying your DVDs and also bought a couple from a well known English woodworker who I have known about for years and is a great craftsman. His DVDs are awful, just awful! Fabulously and expensively produced but all fluff and very little content. Yours are all content and no fluff, which is great. I saw him at a show in Mass. but he was demonstrating, so I couldn’t tell him his videos are awful – probably just as well.

— Gavin P. (New York City, New York, USA)

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

I can’t wait to watch them [the new DVDs I ordered]. I have your hand rubbed finishing DVD and the content is unmatched in any other DVD I have watched. All others are just tip of the iceberg. Your DVDs are organized and content rich. I take notes and write the info on a big whiteboard like yours. I need to see it to learn it and that white board you use is a good aid in doing so. You can tell the information you give has been learned through experience and that makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for the DVDs and keep up the good work.

— Bryan W. (York, Pennsylvania, USA)

Testimonial Regarding All DVD Boxed Sets

I thought I would pass along a fun story. When I was watching your first group of DVDs, my wife walked into our “barn” and commented to me how detailed your explanations were… as in “boring!” I laughed, considering that comment was coming from an elementary ed teacher (with a Masters in Art Ed) who is a reading specialist and deals with kids who have reading problems. Anyway, undeterred, I’ve made a habit of watching instructional DVDs for an hour on Saturday mornings before I get started with my woodworking or other activities. Your DVDs are an important part of my growing woodworking library and a main staple of my [woodworking] educational process.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to re-watch your DVD on table saws, particularly the sections on cross and rip cuts. I recently bought a new SawStop PCS and wanted to review your methods and instructions. Indeed, I truly appreciated your detailed explanations. Good job, my friend.

— Phil S. (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA)

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

At 4 hours and 38 minutes you’ll need a sackful of popcorn to get through this DVD. And don’t expect non-woodworkers to sit through more than a few minutes. But whether you are a complete novice or have been woodworking for a while I’ll wager that you’ll get some useful tips from this DVD that Varju markets through his own Web site.

He starts by explaining how the jointer and planer operate, what you use them for, and how they are complementary tools, not alternative ones. He places great emphasis on safety.

The part I found most interesting was the section at the end on how to edge-glue a solid wood panel. This falls into the category of something that’s easy to do badly but hard to do well. After showing how to prepare the boards using the jointer and the planer, Varju shows how to set the boards on blocks of wood. This enables cauls to be used to keep the joints even, and clamps to go over and under the boards to pull them together. Varju explains his method in exhaustive detail but time spent here will be more than made up by not having to flatten glued up panels later.

I sometimes wondered whether Varju, a former lawyer, thinks he’s still being paid by the hour. But settle down with that popcorn, pay attention, and prepare to learn.

— Mark Schofield
     Managing Editor of Fine Woodworking Magazine

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

This set of two DVDs is billed as the first in a series of “Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box”. The presentation style is interesting in that Varju talks to you as an individual. There is strong emphasis on safety, reinforced through regular habits, and his approach is extremely thorough. Covered are the principles and practices needed to convert rough-sawn timber into planks with four flat sides and four right angles. This includes some coverage of wood movement and together, it provides a thorough understanding of how to use a jointer (planer in the UK) and a planer (thicknesser).

The front of the box promises bonus footage – and does so, with 1 ¾ hours of coverage of edge-gluing a solid wood panel. Finally, he shares some of his thoughts on woodworking in general, including the hand versus machine debate, and advice on tool purchasing. Overall, this DVD offers good value-for-money and should enable the viewer to improve the quality of the end products from their planer thicknesser.

— Alan Wadsworth
     Furniture & Cabinetmaking Magazine

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

“ALL you need to know about using the tablesaw.”

Like each DVD in this set, let me start this review with a warning and a disclaimer: If you are the kind of person who starts using a new tool as soon as they get it and only consults the manual after something has gone horribly wrong, this DVD set is not for you. You will get bored well before the end of the first disc and nothing short of being confined to a chair with a broken leg will make you sit through the nearly 10 hours of instruction.

If, however, you read the fine print before you sign anything; you study the whole manual before assembling a tool let alone using it, and if you more than a little nervous about using the tablesaw, this DVD set is for you. Varju starts with setting up the saw, covering subjects such as blade parallelism, fence alignment and splitter placement. He then goes on to other safety features such as featherboards and inserts. We then learn about the basics of ripping and crosscutting, including how to safely handle wide or narrow stock.

How to safely make beveled rip cuts on a right-tilt saw is shown in great detail, as is how to cut dadoes and rabbets. Lastly, Varju shows you how to make a dead-on accurate crosscut sled and concludes with some general thoughts on woodworking. The $95 (Canadian) price may seem a bit steep (it currently equates to about $80 U.S.), but Varju’s DVDs match their claim of being “Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box”.

The only thing that makes me hesitate to praise this DVD is that Varju may ask me to review his next production. Based on his first DVD, “Jointer and Planer Secrets” lasting 4 hrs 38 mins, and this DVD set lasting nearly 10 hrs, at this rate of growth the next epic will last over 21 hrs. Broken leg anyone?

— Mark Schofield
     Managing Editor of Fine Woodworking Magazine

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

Hendrik has done an amazing job of providing a ton of detail. It’s almost as if you have travelled to his shop and you’re taking an all day seminar with him. He puts so much information into these DVDs that it really feels like you are there. The best part about it is you can pretty much put him on pause, walk away and do whatever it is that you need to do, then come back a couple of days later and you can pick it up right there where you left off. With this new DVD, “Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety”, you just might have to do that because there is close to ten hours worth of information here. It’s set up on five different DVDs, so you’ve got a ton of watching to do.

You can jump feet first into a lot of the stuff with the table saw, but a lot of times we kind of get ourselves in over our heads. Hendrik has helped to point out the little things that, in all honesty, down the road make a huge difference. So it’s definitely worth checking out.

One of the most important things in this DVD, and I can’t emphasize this enough, is when we get to the safety aspects. He does an excellent job of talking about the proper way to set up your blade guard, ripping a board, crosscutting a board and working with solid lumber versus plywood. He really, really breaks this down in a very, very informative way. But I think that the number one thing that I took from this DVD, and I’ve watched it several times over and over, he explains how kickback actually occurs and what can happen. He not only explains this with diagrams and just a dry run, but he actually takes a piece of very thick rigid foam and demonstrates an actual kickback. He shows how it happens, the way that we pinch the blade just the right way and you see this thing flying backwards! Now obviously it’s a lot safer to do it with a thick piece of foam than it is with a solid piece of lumber, but the camera person actually slows this down so you see the blade catch on the piece, flip it back, and even though it’s a piece of foam you can see the reaction is scary enough as it is. So that alone to me was just outstanding. It’s something we talk about enough but to actually see it is a totally different thing and it may be just enough to make you even more safety conscious.

— Matt Vanderlist
     Host of Matt’s Basement Workshop Podcast

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

Hendrik has done an amazing job of providing a ton of detail. It’s almost as if you have travelled to his shop and you’re taking an all day seminar with him. He puts so much information into these DVDs that it really feels like you are there. The best part about it is you can pretty much put him on pause, walk away and do whatever it is that you need to do, then come back a couple of days later and you can pick it up right there where you left off. With this new DVD, “Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety”, you just might have to do that because there is close to ten hours worth of information here. It’s set up on five different DVDs, so you’ve got a ton of watching to do.

You can jump feet first into a lot of the stuff with the table saw, but a lot of times we kind of get ourselves in over our heads. Hendrik has helped to point out the little things that, in all honesty, down the road make a huge difference. So it’s definitely worth checking out.

One of the most important things in this DVD, and I can’t emphasize this enough, is when we get to the safety aspects. He does an excellent job of talking about the proper way to set up your blade guard, ripping a board, crosscutting a board and working with solid lumber versus plywood. He really, really breaks this down in a very, very informative way. But I think that the number one thing that I took from this DVD, and I’ve watched it several times over and over, he explains how kickback actually occurs and what can happen. He not only explains this with diagrams and just a dry run, but he actually takes a piece of very thick rigid foam and demonstrates an actual kickback. He shows how it happens, the way that we pinch the blade just the right way and you see this thing flying backwards! Now obviously it’s a lot safer to do it with a thick piece of foam than it is with a solid piece of lumber, but the camera person actually slows this down so you see the blade catch on the piece, flip it back, and even though it’s a piece of foam you can see the reaction is scary enough as it is. So that alone to me was just outstanding. It’s something we talk about enough but to actually see it is a totally different thing and it may be just enough to make you even more safety conscious.

— Matt Vanderlist
     Host of Matt’s Basement Workshop Podcast

Testimonial for Working with Plywood 5-DVD Boxed Set

I had my “ah-ha” moment when I watched your DVD. I know when people watch this they will get a ton out of it. And of course, as always, you have some bonus footage in which you demonstrated a technique using a stopped dado router jig and you show how to build that. That’s fantastic.

As always, you put a ton of detail into this. Many DVD producers out there only really hit the highlights. They mention things and then say you can either visit their website to learn more or you can look it up yourself. I like the way you go through and add the detail that needs to be there to explain why you do things. That’s just fantastic.

The way I’ve always described your DVDs to people is that it’s like you’ve made a personal trip to someone’s shop and you’re standing right there with them. That’s the way that it plays and I think that’s perfect. I like the way you do this and that’s one reason I highly recommend it to people.

When it comes to the Table of Contents, and the way the DVDs are laid out, you can sit down and watch the 11 plus hours if you wanted to, or you can break it down step by step the way that you would normally work on your project. The person who is setting up a project can follow along on this DVD and follow those steps that you’re laying out there. I think that’s great.

What I really liked was watching the dry fitting because that’s something that I think a lot of people skip over. Now a dry fit is a huge part of any project that I’m working on.

There are some things you just have to see to really have it sink in. Like I said, I had several “ah-ha” moments. I highly recommend this DVD. I can’t recommend it enough.

— Matt Vanderlist
    Host of Matt’s Basement Workshop Podcast

Testimonial for Working with Plywood 5-DVD Boxed Set

For larger projects the use of plywood saves the time and effort required to plank up large panels and can provide the same strength and appearance at a lower cost.  However, as Hendrik Varju explains in his DVD set, Working with Plywood, there is much more involved than just substituting plywood for solid timber.

For cabinetmaking applications plywood cannot be effectively jointed or planed.  Components must be precisely cut on the table saw and routed to shape as required.  You have to learn how to work with slightly bowed panels and inconsistent sheet thicknesses.  The edges need to be covered by iron-on veneering or solid edging.  A number of specialized skills are required to be able to work successfully with plywood.

Hendrik Varju has previously released two DVD sets, Jointer and Planer Secrets, and Revelations on Table Saw Set-Up & Safety.  If you have purchased either set, you will be familiar with Hendrik’s video style.

The DVDs run as if you are attending an actual one-on-one workshop with Hendrik at his woodworking premises, Passion for Wood, in Erin, Ontario, Canada.  Hendrik conducts numerous classes and produces these DVDs as a means of spreading his instruction to a wider audience.

As with the previous topics, the footage on Working with Plywood is lengthy – 11 hours, 18 minutes spread over five DVDs.  While not inexpensive, Hendrik’s DVD sets provide excellent value as they go into their topics in great depth.  In effect you receive one-on-one class instruction without paying for the full cost of the class, nor the airfares and accommodation.

Another benefit is that Hendrik’s DVDs cover subjects that have not been extensively covered by previous publications or videos.

When you open the DVD case, don’t panic if you don’t see DVD1.  I found it attached to the front cover, hidden behind the Table of Contents.  This is a single sheet that lays out the chapters and the DVDs on which they can be found.  While the chapters appear on the menu on each disc, it’s handy to be able to locate the correct disc before inserting it into your DVD player or computer.

To demonstrate the basic skills and steps required to successfully build with plywood, Hendrik constructs a simple bookcase with two shelves.  As he explains, it’s not the most exciting project, but the same techniques can be applied to much larger and more complex cabinets such as entertainment units, wall units and kitchen cupboards.

The bookcase has veneered plywood panels finished with both solid timber and iron-on veneer edging.  Some smaller components are cut from solid timber to illustrate how veneered plywood and solid timber can be matched together in a completed piece.

The first chapter on Planning Your Project  covers the type of construction used, the reasons for various conventions and what you should consider when designing your own pieces, preparing the cutting list and marking out the plywood for cutting.  Much of the information in this chapter can be applied to any cabinetwork, irrespective of whether plywood is used.

In Choosing and Roughing Out Parts Hendrik discusses plywood selection, what defects to avoid and the importance of the correct blade.  The sheet is then cut into oversized components on the table saw.

Solid Wood Edging covers the ripping of solid stock into multiple edging pieces, with an emphasis on safety and accuracy.  The strips are then glued onto the plywood panels.  In this process, care must be taken with colour and grain matching, positioning, clamping and trimming.  Included are a number of professional tips on how to overcome problems that inevitably arise.

The Iron-on Edge Banding chapter refers only to the use of genuine timber veneer, not to artificial iron-on edging.  The final result is a veneer similar to the outer veneer on the plywood.  Again there are a number of tips to assist you to achieve a perfect finish.

With the exposed edges trimmed, the panels are trimmed to their final size and rebates routed for the shelving and back panel.

To form the rebates Hendrik makes good use of his stopped dado router jig.  In Chapters 11-13 he details how you can make your own copy of this jig.

Further chapters cover dry assembly, drilling shelf support holes, final glue-up and the installation of adjustable shelves and the back panel.

Housed joints and dowels are used for assembly.  The section on dowelling is quite extensive and offers many tips on making these joints easier and more accurate.

In extra footage (about 15 mins) on Disk Five, Hendrik discusses the use of plywood versus solid wood, checking for square and his personal philosophy on why he puts so much detail into his DVDs.

Working with Plywood is a comprehensive workshop on the construction of a basic cabinet unit.  It is an excellent introduction for the novice while providing a wealth of tips and information to enable more experienced cabinetmakers to enhance their work.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 151

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

After earlier DVD’s on the tablesaw and the jointer and planer, Hendrik Varju, (author of Fine Drawers without Dovetails in Fine Woodworking issue 208, http://www.finewoodworking.com/ProjectsAndDesign/ProjectsAndDesignPDF.aspx?id=32980) has turned his attention to wood. He covers the structure and properties of this material, how humidity affects wood movement, and how to design furniture to take account of this movement and not be blown apart by it.

Watching the three DVDs that last nearly 6 hours I get the strange sensation that I’m back at university listening to a lecture. Professor Varju is at the flip chart going into great detail about flat sawn boards, cell structure, attaching tabletops and so on. I know it is all useful information and I should be taking detailed notes but I’d rather be doing something else. If you’re thinking of inviting some woodworking buddies over for an evening’s entertainment this is not the movie to get the party swinging.

I’m being unfair of course. The literary equivalent to this is Bruce Hoadley’s Understanding Wood, and you wouldn’t exactly take that on vacation either, but the information is equally valuable. You can learn more about this DVD and the others by Varju at www.passionforwood.com.


— Mark Schofield
    Managing Editor of Fine Woodworking Magazine

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

This set of three DVDs comes from a Canadian maker and teacher based near Toronto. Varju begins with an entertaining demonstration of the ‘bundle of straws’ structure of wood by blowing through a 10in length of red oak coated at one end with washing-up liquid and water to produce soap bubbles. I had not seen this demonstration before and he even repeated it with a 4in piece of hard maple.

The first DVD is slow moving at the beginning and repetitive in places but usefully covers how wood is cut from the log, how the cuts (flat, rift, and quartersawn) affect grain pattern and how each distorts with changes of water content.

The second DVD is well presented and covers humidity, moisture content and wood movement in considerable depth – a topic of great importance to all makers, especially
one who is based in an area where the equilibrium moisture content of his wood can vary by as much as 6% during the year.

The final one looks at cross-grain construction problems and solutions with advice on edge-glued panels, tabletop attachment, frame & panel design, breadboard ends and similar situations.

This set, comprising almost six hours of viewing, provides an excellent course for beginners. More experienced furniture makers will be familiar with its content but it nevertheless provides a timely reminder of the importance of looking at the end grain (growth rings) when constructing solid-wood items such as table legs and tops; a ‘refresher course’ always helps to clarify one’s thoughts on the topic.

— Richard Parrott
    Furniture & Cabinetmaking Magazine

Testimonial for Surface Preparation and Staining 5-DVD Boxed Set

Few things let down a good project more than poor or insufficient surface preparation, yet there isn’t a lot of information available about the topic. Generally speaking, it seems to be regarded as a boring subject and most authors are happy to pass over it quickly.  Inevitably, Hendrik Varju was going to have a crack at it. As a professional woodworker he knows the importance of surface preparation and as viewers of his other videos will know, he always explores his topics thoroughly and keeps the footage entertaining.

Surface Preparation and Staining runs for 9 hours and covers five DVDs.  The first two chapters cover Hand and Machine Sanding while Card Scrapers and Scraping Planes appear later on DVD 5. A section on Tuning Scrapers is included in DVD 4.

In Hand Sanding, he discusses some of the different abrasive materials available, the amount of sanding required for each grit size and sanding techniques to minimise uneven removal of material. Running a small cabinetmaker’s shop, Hendrik prefers the versatility of portable sanders. Larger stationary machines are not included in the DVD. While typically he works a glued-up panel with a handplane, he acknowledges that a belt sander is an option. For those not proficient in the operation of this tool, he recommends the use of a sander frame, available as an accessory for some models. He moves on to orbital sanders and random orbital sanders, and the differences between the two including sanding technique. With the random orbital sander he discusses the amount of sanding required before changing grits.

The best way to avoid problems with glue squeeze-out is to refine the gluing procedure. In Glue Squeeze-Out he provides tips on keeping the glue within the lines of the joint. However, glue squeeze-outs do occur, even in professional shops. Further tips enable you to identify squeeze-out before you stain and methods of removing the excess glue.

While tear-outs have to be planed or sanded out, in Steaming Out Dents and Pre-raising the Grain, he shows how to remove indentations formed by compression of the wood. This has to be done prior to sanding, in case the wood decompresses later and ruins the surface finish.

DVDs 2, 3 and much of 4 are devoted to staining. Hendrik begins with Bleaching and separate chapters on Staining End Grain and Plywood. Bleaching is used as a colouring process in its own right and for this he works with a two part wood bleach. However, he mentions that a different product, chlorine bleach, can be used to reverse dye colouring and some blemishes. The darkening of end grain when staining is a common problem. Hendrik discusses the options and then demonstrates his preferred methods. Plywood presents its own challenges. Alternate surface veneers can absorb stain at different rates and in low grade sheets the glue can penetrate through the thin surface veneer to create ‘glue patches’ where the stain won’t take. Again, he discusses the causes of the problems and how to deal with them. In Blotching he extends the use of his techniques to cover difficult species which are prone to blotching when stained.

On the third DVD the various types of stains and dyes are discussed. The information provided is generic, so it is relatively simple to purchase a suitable Australian-manufactured alternative. However, the timber species used are North American so it will be necessary to carry out your own experimentation with local species to determine the end results. The final staining chapters cover application techniques and preferred stains for specific timbers. As he points out, the best stain for one timber may not suit another.

As with all Passion for Wood videos, the production is first class. Hendrik’s style is clear, friendly, informative and instructive. Ideal for schools and Clubs, the video also deserves a place in the library of any hobbyists who take their cabinetmaking seriously.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 159

Testimonial for Surface Preparation and Staining 5-DVD Boxed Set

In Surface Preparation and Staining, Hendrik leaves no stone un-turned and the complete picture he paints will cover old ground for those with some experience. However, the individual chapters of which there are 16, are well segmented with references throughout to further explanations within the box set.

At nine hours long this is an in depth tutorial that needs to be spread out and that is very much the intention. There’s plenty of time for background information to support the advice such as how veneers are cut commercially and why this can lead to issues of mixed tones in the finished article.

The five DVDs are packed with tips and advice to get you into a fit place to begin applying your finish of choice. At times Hendrik is obsessed with the minutiae of the process and I applaud him for his attention to detail, for this is not an easy subject to cover in an exciting way. But the lessons learnt will save you time in the long run and a lot of unnecessary head scratching, often when it’s too late.

— Derek Jones, Editor
    Furniture & Cabinetmaking Magazine

Testimonial for Hand Finishing and Rubbing Out 5-DVD Boxed Set

In Hand Finishing and Rubbing Out, Hendrik Varju continues on from Surface Preparation and Staining, covering the selection and application of a finish. This video is even longer than the previous one — almost 10 hours over five DVDs.

He starts with accessories such as brush cleaners and respirators and moves on to a variety of finish applicators, such as rags, hair and synthetic brushes, rollers and foam pads. Selection of a finish depends in part on its characteristics. Hendrik categorises products according to their film thickness, type of solvent and curing method. He then discusses and demonstrates the use of shellac, water-based clear finishes, oils, oil-varnish blends, polyurethane and wiping varnish. The final chapter is on the rubbing out of the finish, ie. refining the surface and removing any dust, etc. The fifth DVD contains bonus footage demonstrating Hendrik’s version of the Perfect Polyurethane Finish.

There are a number of informative publications on finishes, so apart from his many tips, this DVD set does not cover new ground. However, many woodworkers will appreciate seeing the material, particularly the demonstration of techniques, in video form.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 159

Testimonial for Hand Finishing and Rubbing Out 5-DVD Boxed Set

Marc:  When you get to information quality, that is where this thing just shines. . . . Top notch information.  It does not get better than this.  Generally, I see this DVD as just a giant brain dump.  This is like everything that’s in Hendrik’s head, organized and thrown into video.  Honestly, in a lot of ways, this DVD set really would replace any book you might need to buy on the subject of finishing.  If you’re more of a person who learns by video and watching these things happen on the screen, you probably will never need to buy a book if you have this DVD set.

Hendrik really just goes through everything.  He laid it out really well.  When you look at these chapters, it goes through categorizing the finishes and then individually shows you everything you need to know about those finishes.  The one thing that I think really sets this apart is that even after he shows how to do these things, he shows how to apply the finishes, all the different tools you can use and of course he’s using test boards to do it, there’s bonus footage on disk 5 and this is just phenomenal.  One of the things I get a lot of crap about on my finishing DVD is the fact that I never did an actual piece of furniture.  I showed flat panels and everyone says, “That’s nice, but what about this situation?  He actually finishes a small cabinet inside and out and shows you exactly how he approaches the sides, the inside corners, what he does first, what he does last and goes through the entire methodology.  That is a really nice bow to tie on this package.  Once you do get through all of this information and you’ve got it in your head, that’s the thing you want to watch right before you do your own project because it really shows you a true application of everything.  He’s kind of walking the walk.

The bonus footage is absolutely super valuable.  That in and of itself is a potential DVD and the bottom line is this is how you get a ten hour production – by putting all this information in and leaving nothing out.

Now, honestly, I have no cons to say about information quality on this DVD set.  I mean, this is the first 5 out of 5 that I’ve given anything in any category.  I don’t think I could justify giving him anything less.  If I could give him more than 5 I probably would.  I honestly think, especially for a person who is new to woodworking and just getting into finishing, fantastic.

As for overall value, the price is $94.95 and that’s a lot of money.  But holy smokes.  For ten hours of good information that is a solid instructional manual book’s worth of information packed into this video over five disks, $95 is nothing.  The other thing with something that is a resource like this:  it’s something that you’re going to go back to over and over and I think that’s part of what we really have to consider when we’re deciding what to spend our hard earned money on.  Spending nearly $100 sounds like a lot, but if this is something you’re going to go back to over and over. . . .  Let’s say you’re going to start with varnish, so you watch that section.  Maybe you do your finish and it’s not quite perfect, so you go back to the DVD and watch those rubbing out portions.  This is something that you are going to constantly refer back to, so that “re-watch” aspect I think is, in addition to its total time frame, what makes it a really good value.

This is an absolute treasure trove of finishing information.  When new woodworkers ask me where they should start with finishing, I usually recommend one of the well-known books that grace most of our shelves. But from now on, I think I’ll be recommending this DVD set. Its a little pricey, but this is a resource you’ll be dipping back into repeatedly.  Even if you’re a little bit more intermediate to advanced in the world of finishing, this will be a gap filler for you.  It sort of fills in those spots and those little tricks you may not have known . . .

Matt:  Information value:  This really made the disk. . . . The only way I can describe what is in this [DVD set] is “encyclopedic”.  Hendrik covered a ton of information . . . and it wasn’t just the tools he used, it wasn’t just the finishes or their applications, etc.  It was almost like I was back in college, and I just signed up for the “Hand Applied Finishing 101” and I even picked up the lab for it.  It’s encyclopedic – there’s just no other way to describe it.

It’s all in real time too.  These aren’t like cut-aways and then coming back to it.  If I remember right, there are a couple of times where he’s doing the individual finishes and he’s explaining some of the problems you are going to run into – the pitfalls, how he’s holding the tool, etc.  For example, when he was doing the brushing lacquer with a brush, as he’s doing it he’s even explaining how he tries to tip the brush this way so that only one edge is getting more pressure and he doesn’t get a line in the finish.  Occasionally, some dust would fall and you’d see him go back and try to either correct it or explain “Don’t touch that”.  So again it’s that real time thing that gives it this feeling that you’re in a class with Hendrik in his studio or shop doing this.  That’s something I don’t think any other DVD I’ve had the chance to see can really do.  Usually, it’s like they’re giving me the best case scenario and we might talk about a problem down the line.

It cracked me up because for the bonus material I’m almost thinking “Given all the information you’ve given me so far what else could you possibly have to add to this?”  I’m giving him 5 out of 5 [on information quality] as well.  If you think about it, some of the books that are out there will touch on the various finishes but one thing they often won’t do is really go into the depth that you are getting here, especially considering this is all hand-applied finishing.  The overall value, given the extensive length, I think the price is totally worth it.  If you’re watching this, the nice thing is that he’s doing it in real time so you can do it with him.  We’re always talking about “practice, practice, practice”.  That’s one of the things that woodworkers need to do to get better at whatever skill they want to improve.  So if finishing is one of the things that you are terrible at, this is one of the resources you can watch in real time and get right in there with Hendrik.

One thing I do have to say in terms of keeping its promise, on the front, as he always does with his titles, he refers to it as “Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box”.  Yes, it has kept its promise with that.  This is a seminar in a box!

Hendrik Varju is an amazing woodworker and artisan with a reputation for building prized pieces for his clients and paying an amazing amount of detail to his work. As a teacher and instructor he brings a vast amount of information to his students and it shows in the extent of detail he dives into to make sure every topic is covered, no matter how big or small the detail is. It’s a great title for anyone who breaks out in a sweat when they think of hand finishing their projects. I’d recommend this to woodworkers all of levels of experience, but especially those for whom spray finishing just isn’t an option and you want to be able to use a wide variety of finish types.

— Marc Spagnuolo
The Wood Whisperer
Matt Vanderlist
Host of Matt’s Basement Workshop Podcast
(excerpts from the Wood Talk Online Review)

Testimonial for Using and Tuning Your Bandsaw 4-DVD Boxed Set

Several of Hendrik Varju’s DVDs have been previously reviewed in The Australian Woodworker, but it is still probably necessary to begin with a few words about this talented woodworking teacher and the way in which he approaches each of his presentations.  Hendrik Varju is a Canadian whose business — Passion for Wood — is located in Erin, an hour’s drive out of Toronto.  In the past few years, in addition to his work as a designer, maker and restorer of fine furniture, and as an extension to the classes he conducts in his workshop, Hendrik has been producing educational videos that are trademarked: ‘Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box’.  It is this idea that the viewer should share as closely as possible the experience of a student in his workshop, that is one of the distinguishing features of Varju’s DVDs.

On this set of four disks, he initiates the theme with a lightly theatrical introduction to the surrounding countryside, turning in at the gate and the crunch of footsteps on the gravel paths.  Inside the workshop, Hendrik is waiting with a cup of coffee and a friendly greeting.  The presentation begins in a style that is quiet, professional, relaxed and sincere.  It’s impossible to imagine Hendrik Varju using an auto-prompt, and he only very occasionally appears to be checking his off-screen notes. He speaks without hesitation, making sure that the main points are covered, but also interspersing them with remarks often drawn from his own long experience in woodworking.  As an example, while talking about the need to relax the tension on a bandsaw, he mentions the use of quick release levers and how these often have only a maximum and a minimum setting.  In the minimum setting, the sawblade loses contact with the wheel since it is in that position that the sawblade can be removed. This means, says Varju, that the blade may shift on the wheel/s before it is fully re-tensioned. Even a very small movement will upset the tuning of the saw and should therefore be avoided.  He describes how, when working in another workshop, he clamped a block of wood to the frame of the bandsaw in order to stop the lever at the point where the tension was approximately half of its working value. This overcame the problem, but still allowed the blade to be replaced at any time simply by removing the block of wood.  These embellishments of the central core material and the ease with which Varju integrates them into his presentations, go a long way towards engendering a feeling of one-on-one personal instruction.

In common with every disk in all of Hendrik Varju’s videos, the first of this set starts with a brief statement about safety.  Once that has been dealt with, he turns the viewer’s attention to the first two topics:  Cast Iron Bandsaws and European Bandsaws.  Two machines are used for the demonstrations — an American made 14″ Delta and an Italian made 16″ Laguna.  The cast iron frame Delta has a 6″ riser kit fitted to it and both have other modifications.  On the Delta bandsaw, for instance, extensions to the back and front rails allow the fence to be used on the right hand side of the blade.  Varju contends that this is both more convenient and safer for use by a right-handed operator.  He remarks that it means the woodworker approaches both the tablesaw and bandsaw in a similar manner.

The differences in manufacture between the Laguna and the significantly less expensive Delta, allows an exploration of some of the upgrades that can be undertaken to improve a bandsaw’s performance.  These include changing the tensioning springs and using zero clearance table inserts.

The discussion on Bandsaw Blades that follows is the first of several on various aspects of this topic in the 4-disk presentation.  It concerns folding and unfolding blades with particular reference to not losing bits of skin in the process.  Varju even demonstrates an outdoor method of unfolding bandsaw blades; the coil is untied and thrown onto a grassed area (to ensure it is not damaged) making certain that there is not the slightest chance of being grazed by its sharp teeth.  Elsewhere in the presentation, Varju describes the various types of blade available and their characteristics, the changing of blades, adjusting their tension and tracking, the setting up of blade guides and also such related topics as how to check that a blade is running true to the table and how to determine the amount of blade drift (by a very simple test) and compensate for it.  The discussion of each topic is aided by a demonstration on one or both the Delta and Laguna machines.  Woven into this material is a comprehensive coverage of the setting up of a machine when it first arrives in your workshop and a detailed description of how to fine-tune a bandsaw to achieve the best performance.

After dealing with the mechanics of the bandsaw and its components in the first two disks, Varju spends the remaining two disks on actually working with the machine.  The chapter titles indicate the scope of this content: Ripping Rough Stock, Fine Ripping and Crosscutting, Resawing, Free-hand Curve Cutting, Cutting Circles and Joinery Work.  The basics of how to rip both rough and milled stock and crosscutting using a mitre gauge leads on to a full chapter on successfully and accurately resawing thick material.  The discussion on cutting curves presents some interesting innovations that produce accurate results with a high level of safety.  The last section on performing joinery on a bandsaw includes the use of templates to make curved components for furniture.

In the Bonus Footage, Varju gives his views on the role that a bandsaw should play in a workshop, citing its special abilities, but acknowledging that it is not really a ‘finishing tool’ and that its need for careful set-up may be seen as fussy.  While the wealth of material contained in Using and Tuning Your Bandsaw is sure to make it invaluable to the novice or less experienced woodworker, it’s likely that even those who have significant experience with the bandsaw will find here new and innovative ways to setup, maintain and use their machine.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 160

Testimonial for Using and Tuning Your Bandsaw 4-DVD Boxed Set

Using and Tuning Your Bandsaw is the seventh in Hendrik Varju’s series of woodworking DVDs and, like his previous titles this is an exhaustive coverage of the subject.  Over four DVDs and nearly eight hours Hendrik covers all of the essential topics relating to these machines. These include bandsaw selection – of both American and European types – blade selection, the types of steel used to make each blade, blade installation, care and tune up.

For those nervous of tuning up and improving large pieces of woodworking machinery Hendrik’s patient and measured advice is worth every penny. But this forms only part of the instruction given:  there are seven further chapters on bandsaw use including general crosscutting and ripping techniques and re-sawing tasks. There are also chapters on free-hand curve cutting, including how to make tighter outside curves with a wider blade using relief cuts, circle cutting using a simple jig, how to cut a full tail board for dovetails and the cutting of a tenon to achieve an accurate fit in a mortise.  Hendrik also teaches how to cut a complete half-lap joint on the bandsaw, showing a simple way to creep towards a tight final fit.

The bandsaw is perhaps the most under used machine in many woodworkers’ workshops. If you own a bandsaw and want get more from it or are planning on investing in one and want to know the details of use and tune-up then this DVD will cover all you need to know. Highly recommended.

— Furniture & Cabinetmaking Magazine

Testimonial for Using Your Router and Router Table Safely 4-DVD Boxed Set

Many woodworkers regard the router (and router table) as one of the most versatile tools in the workshop. Hendrik Varju agrees though he also considers it the most dangerous tool in his workshop, particularly the router table. Hence the mention of ‘safely’ in the title of his latest DVD which covers the use of the router.

Starting with a look at common features of the router and router table, Hendrik states why he has six different routers in his workshop. He acknowledges that some hobbyists have even more and some have only one, but gives his reasons why woodworkers, having bought a good general purpose plunge router to begin with, should consider some of the more specialised models for inclusion in their workshop.

There are important advantages in having a second bigger router to make the best use of the router table. However, when purchasing a router specifically for table use, he recommends that a number of features be considered.

Hendrik’s own router table is a shopmade unit. He uses it as an example to explain the features that a router table should have, irrespective of whether they are shop made or bought commercially. If you are making your own router table, just the tips presented in this segment are worth the purchase of the DVD.

He then moves on to a discussion of those cutter profiles which he finds particularly useful. He covers straight, top and bottom bearing, up and down spiral, roundover, profile, fluting, bead and dovetail bits, plus slot cutters.

A well equipped router table will accommodate what Hendrik calls ‘massive bits’ such as a raised panel cutter, but he recommends that they are used only by experienced router users, due to their potential for destruction if something goes wrong.

Running through a series of routing operations, Hendrik covers both handheld router and router table methods, starting with the handheld.

While the router table is ideal for some applications, he points out the virtues of handheld routing, noting that it does a better job when the workpiece is not perfectly straight. Generally speaking it is safer to use and offers more freedom, though it does require more skill than the router table.

With each operation he provides a series of tips intended to improve the quality of the cut, eliminate burning and tear-out, reduce the load on the cutter and promote safety.

Other topics covered include taking incremental cuts with minimum set-up, zero tolerance inserts, routing end grain versus routing along the grain, the use of ‘balance’ blocks to provide stability and eliminate tear-out, varying cutter speed, reading the grain, positioning featherboards, use of wide-reach clamps, safe handling of the power cord and correct positioning of the operator’s fingers.

The first operations are machining an edge treatment or rebate on a four-sided board or panel, using either a pilot bearing bit or the accessory fence. This is followed by routing a housing or groove in the centre of the panel using a straight edge as the guide, a homemade trim guide or a housing jig (full details on the housing jig appeared in Hendrik’s Working with Plywood video).

Stopped housings require plunge cuts. He forms these with the trim guide or housing jig, but the operation is a bit more involved.

Mortises are effectively deep stopped housings, if machined with the router. Hendrik uses a template bushing and a shopmade jig to neatly and accurately cut the mortise in a coffee table leg. He repeats the process, this time using a top bearing cutter in the jig.

Moving to the router table, he machines a profile to the four edges of a board and takes a new piece of wood to show how to cut a rebate around the perimeter. On the table, not only is the end grain troublesome to cut but the workpiece is unstable if it is narrow rather than wide. The use of either a backing board or the mitre jig to overcome this is demonstrated.

Housings near the edge of the board or panel can be machined on the router table. These are cut in a similar manner to a rebate, but there are additional points to note, such as the clearing of shavings and the risk of climbcutting when widening the groove the wrong way.

Making stopped housings on the router table requires the use of a stop block. If the housing is stopped at both ends, then a plunge cut is required. Hendrik explains how this is done on a router table. This is one of the riskier applications of the router and he recommends that all such procedures should only be undertaken by someone with significant experience with the router and a sound knowledge of how it works.

As an example of a stopped slot (ie. a full-depth housing cut), the mortise jig used earlier in the video for handheld router use is shaped on the router table.

Cutting or profiling shaped forms on the router table is essentially a freehand operation because the table fence cannot be used. Some table top inserts provide a starter pin, which Hendrik agrees is an important accessory for both safety and accuracy. However, he discusses the limitations of the typical starter pin arrangement and goes on to demonstrate his own solution, a shop-made starter ‘stick’ which he calls a single-point fence.

Climb-cutting, ie. operating the router or router table in the reverse direction, is a dangerous procedure which should only be attempted by a skilled operator. Hendrik discusses how climb-cutting can be used to eliminate tear-out, but also notes that other approaches such as larger diameter bits can achieve the same result.

The final chapters cover template routing with both the freehand and table mounted router.

There is a brief segment on Hendrik’s use of a Dylos Air Quality Monitor to keep track of the airborne dust in his workshop. He installed it to check the improvement provided by his new cyclone dust extraction system, but it also provides interesting data on the dust production of various machines as well as the efficiency of his workshop air filter unit.

Like all of Hendrik Varju’s DVDs, Using Your Router and Router Table Safely is easy to watch and very informative. It offers excellent value for money for anyone who uses a router.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 161

Testimonial for Sharpening & Tuning Hand Planes and Chisels 5-DVD Boxed Set

A story attributed to Stirling Moss, the 1950’s British racing driver, tells of the time when he allowed an enthusiastic, but inexperienced, driver to take his car for a spin. He said afterwards that even as his car fish-tailed out of the pits, he was aware that he had made a serious mistake. As it happened, the car and driver arrived back in one piece, but not before causing a good deal of consternation for everyone at the racetrack. The problem was that although the loaned vehicle had the normal four road wheels, as well as its controls in their usual locations, its performance was so far removed from that of a normal car, that a novice might easily, though inadvertently, cause it injury.

To see something akin to this in a woodworking environment, you have only to walk into a professional woodworker’s workshop, idly pick up what is clearly a favourite handplane and start looking for a piece of wood to plane. A handplane, as Hendrik Varju is at pains to demonstrate in this comprehensive DVD presentation, does not come straight from the retailers, ready to work. It must be carefully fettled — a process that may take as little as an hour or two for a high quality, high priced plane, or significantly more than a day for a less expensive tool. This fine tuning converts an assembly of parts into a cohesive whole that generally needs just gentle guidance to cut evenly and smoothly. Because the work must usually be carried out only once, the routine maintenance of the plane is reduced to little more than a light honing of the cutting edge.

While the handplane is the primary focus of these DVDs — since it is the more complicated of the two — preparation of the woodworking chisel is also considered in detail. Varju begins with an overview of the procedures involved, remarking first on the need to remove any oil or lacquer applied by the manufacturer. The purpose of this coating is to protect the tool during transit from the factory to the user. Oil can be cleaned off with paint thinners, but lacquer is more difficult to remove. He shows how chisels may be stood in lacquer thinners while handplanes must be washed down carefully (to avoid damage to paint or plastic surfaces) and then disassembled and cleaned afterwards.

Next comes an examination of the structure of a plane, showing how the frog is mounted within the body and remarking on how any misalignment will affect the plane’s performance. Later, Varju suggests an ingenious method of using epoxy and wax to effect a permanent repair should the frog be poorly supported by the body casting.

The need to grind a back bevel on the cap iron or chipbreaker is often overlooked by users of less expensive planes. But if this is not done, the sometimes poor contact between this component and the back of the blade, can easily lead to vibration which will in turn affect the cutting action of the plane. Varju shows how to grind the back bevel accurately with minimal effort. Grinding a back bevel on the front edge of the mouth of the plane is also recommended. The purpose of this is to encourage the curling of the shaving away from the blade, up into the body of the plane. In showing how this is done, Varju also demonstrates his own meticulous approach when he notes that the grinding must leave a short vertical section at the extreme edge of the sole so as to ensure that the width of the mouth is not altered. This operation is followed by the grinding of the lever cap which is necessary in order to increase the area of firm contact between it and the chipbreaker.

Only when all of this work has been carried out, does Varju suggest beginning to flatten and smooth the sole of the plane. Here, he introduces a variety of methods from commercially available lapping plates to marble slabs, plates of glass and diamond ‘stones’. He discusses each of them in turn, giving their advantages and disadvantages and shows his preferred methods for their use. Now he gives attention to the blade, beginning with the flattening of the back of both chisels and plane blades.

The third DVD is devoted entirely to Effective Cutting Angles and Hollow Grinding while the fourth discusses Honing Guides versus Free-hand Honing and Free-hand Honing Technique. Varju uses a grinding jig (which he demonstrates) but prefers free-hand honing. Nevertheless, he shows many of the honing guides that are currently on the market and discusses their pros and cons. The fifth DVD contains ‘Bonus Footage’ on Cambered Edges as well as interesting comments on topics such as the choice of handplanes, the diminishing return from sharpness and money versus time.

The presentation techniques employed in this series are similar to those in Varju’s past 8 videos. He begins with scenes of the country surrounding his workshop, studio and school which is located just outside Toronto, in Canada. Once inside, he appears, cup of coffee in hand, welcoming the viewer as if he or she were a student in one of his classes. This is obviously the ambience he wishes to create — a relaxed atmosphere in which he can talk conversationally, covering the subjects in a manner that makes it easy to assimilate the information he presents.

Most ‘classes’ begin with an array of tools and equipment on a bench while to one side there is an easel on which is clamped the drawing paper Varju uses to write and draw as he illustrates each point as it is raised. The result is a set of deliberately orchestrated, but easily absorbed, lessons in preparing handplanes and chisels for use. Over the past seven years, this style has earned Hendrik Varju a formidable international following. A feature of his presentations is that they are clearly based on experience in his own workshop. The material is therefore practical and immediately useful. But perhaps more important is that he discusses procedures that parallel those that he recommends, so that the viewer can confidently choose the most appropriate methods for use in his or her own workshop.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 167

Testimonial for Sharpening & Tuning Hand Planes and Chisels 5-DVD Boxed Set

For those not familiar with Hendrik Varju, he runs the Passion for Wood workshop just outside of Acton Ontario in Canada, where he builds fine, custom-made furniture and teaches woodworking techniques. These DVDs are the closest that many of us will get to having a private lesson with Hendrik and it is a tribute to the studio’s production values that it really does feel like you are actually in his shop.

Hendrik has a measured, reassuring manner and covers each topic he approaches carefully and thoroughly. Sharpening & Tuning Hand planes and Chisels covers everything you need to know to successfully tune and sharpen your chisels and hand planes, all spread over nearly nine hours over five discs.

The DVD course starts by taking viewers through some of the sharpening tools Hendrik recommends for tuning and sharpening work, including grinders and water stones. Hendrik then takes us through his step-by-step list for chisel and hand plane tuning. He demonstrates every technique, from cleaning and inspecting the frog, to grinding a back-bevel on a chip breaker, filing a back-bevel in the mouth, grinding the lever cap, flattening, smoothing and beveling the sole, and flattening the backs of chisels and hand plane blades. In Hendrik’s methodical way, he spends no less than six full chapters taking viewers through the various steps, demonstrating on chisels, block planes and larger bench planes. He demonstrates on many of his own planes, from older, less expensive brands to higher quality models that don’t need nearly as much work. Hendrik covers every process he demonstrates in exacting detail.

The real beauty of this production is that all of the demonstrations are done in real time. If you have a day to spend on improving your technique it would be well worth using this set of DVDs and have it set up and running to teach and then pause while putting the techniques shown to use. There are more concise guides on sharpening techniques, but none approach this highly professional production for sheer attention to detail. Whilst not cheap, buying any of Hendrik’s productions represents an investment in adding to and improving any woodworker’s armoury of techniques and would therefore be money well spent. Highly recommended.

— As reviewed in Furniture & Cabinetmaking Issue 202

Testimonial for Hand Planing Techniques 5-DVD Boxed Set

This is the second of two DVDs which Hendrik Varju has produced to cover the preparation and use of handplanes. The first, titled: Sharpening and Tuning Hand Planes and Chisels, was reviewed in the last Issue of The Australian Woodworker. It was clearly the author’s intention that the two DVDs should be seen in sequence, but it is equally clear that he recognises some viewers will perhaps not be able, or may simply prefer not to do this. He therefore starts his treatment of Hand Planing Techniques with a brief overview of the most important aspects of handplane preparation and tuning. (For those who have already seen the previous video, these notes will serve as a helpful reminder.)

The revision of hand plane tuning allows Varju to move directly to an examination of cutting angles in both bevel-up and bevel-down planes. He demonstrates the effectiveness of various cutting angles, emphasising the manner in which the angle influences the ability of a plane to achieve a good result, particularly with difficult woods such as those that exhibit wavy grain. These and other circumstances in which there is a reversal of  grain along the path of the plane, give rise to tear-out.

The demonstrations are, in some instances, quite dramatic. For example, he shows that just one stroke of a plane against the grain can cause so much tearout that it may take 30 or more strokes in the opposite direction in order to clean the surface. Reading the grain is therefore essential to obtaining a smooth surface on either an edge or the broad face of a board and this is a recurring topic throughout the various sections of this video.

Another recurring topic is the choice of an effective cutting angle of the plane blade to achieve the best surface. Increasing the effective cutting angle tends to reduce tear-out, but it increases the amount of force necessary to move the plane along the wood as the action of the sharpened edge moves more towards scraping than cutting.

Varju shows that it is relatively easy to increase the effective angle of a bevel-up plane simply by re-grinding the blade. But it is more difficult when using a bevel-down plane. Since there are likely to be more bevel-down than bevel-up planes in an average workshop, the need to increase the effective cutting angle of a bevel down plane may well arise. Varju describes a technique by which a micro-bevel may be ground on the back of such a plane blade. Typically, he says, the angle of this micro-bevel would be about 15°. When added to the standard Common Pitch of most bevel-down planes, this would achieve an effective cutting angle of 60°. If the plane has a York Pitch (50°), the effective cutting angle would be 65°. Since the grinding of a micro-bevel may only be carried out to perform a specific task, the manner in which the plane blade might then be returned to its normal configuration is also discussed.

After describing the procedure for setting up first a bevel-down and then a bevel-up plane, Varju demonstrates the tendency of a handplane to cut a convex curve when used to plane an edge. He suggests that many woodworkers are probably unaware of this and shows why it occurs by comparing the cutting action of a hand plane to that of jointer. To overcome this obvious impediment when edge-jointing boards, Varju carefully demonstrates a method of making sequential ‘stop-cuts’ that ensure a perfectly straight edge. After this, he covers the planing of an edge so that it is exactly square to the wide surface of a board.

The next major topic (it absorbs an entire disk!) is the planing of panels such as table tops. First, there is a demonstration of how to determine the degree of flatness of the panel. The high areas are marked and careful planing begins, keeping in mind which one of the several distinct planing techniques that are shown, should be used to accommodate the grain which the plane encounters.

The next disk (#4), contains instructions for levelling solid and iron-on edgebanding, flattening a mitred frame or door frame and levelling end-grain. The latter is discussed with special reference to common tasks such as dovetails and finger joints, the demonstration pieces being either partially made or completed drawers.

The fifth and final disk provides some‘bonus footage’. This begins with several small jobs such as planing chamfers and corner splines as well as the ends of dowels. The next and final section is a detailed examination of the shoulder plane, its sharpening, set-up and use. This tool was omitted from the previous DVD on sharpening and setting up hand planes. It is dealt with here in the same manner as the other planes — everything from complete disassembly, through to final sharpening.

Hendrik Varju now has a well-established audience in many parts of the world, including Australia. This is hardly surprising. All of his DVD presentations including the one reviewed here, offer extraordinarily detailed instruction in a casual manner that makes information easy to assimilate. The teaching methods employed are obviously those which Varju has been using for years in the classes he takes in his workshop. Every session begins with all the necessary tools assembled, with demonstration pieces ready to be lifted onto the bench and with paper sheets hanging on an easel waiting for him to illustrate each point as it is made.

The run-time of the five disks in Hand Planing Techniques is an unhurried 10 hours and 29 minutes but viewers are unlikely to want the time to go faster.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 168

Testimonial for Sharpening & Tuning Hand Planes and Chisels 5-DVD Boxed Set and Hand Planing Techniques 5-DVD Boxed Set

Hone your hand plane skills. Helpful instruction in the comfort of your workshop.

I recently took the time to watch CHW contributor Hendrik Varju’s latest sets of instructional videos, and I have to report that they both are chockfull of useful theoretical and practical knowledge. The first set, Hand Planing Techniques, offers 10-and-a-half hours of information on the setup and specialized uses of various types of hand planes. The other, almost nine-hour set, Sharpening and Tuning Hand Planes and Chisels focuses more specifically on tweaking planes and chisels for peak performance and provides tutorials on sharpening these tools.

Varju’s instructional style is easygoing and perfectly comprehensible, even when he explains relatively complex notions. Effective cutting angles for bevel-up and bevel-down planes, the benefits of cambered blades in certain circumstances and developing proper sharpening angles on hollow-ground blades are all easily understood – especially after he makes a trip to his trusty, low-tech easel to illustrate using his marker. I found his tips on lapping and flattening metal and keeping waterstones flat for honing particularly valuable.

While the instruction is pitched at a level that new woodworkers will be comfortable with, more advanced woodworkers will benefit from learning these techniques as well. Whether you are a mechanized workshopper who wants to take things to the next level by moving on to hand planes, or you presently have a collection of planes and chisels that don’t perform as you want them to, you can learn from these DVDs.

These are not three-minute YouTube videos that leave a lot unsaid. Instead, the effect is, quite literally, as though you’ve spent a few days with Hendrik in his shop. The material is covered in great real-time detail, and the hours invested in watching it will pay dividends to both beginners and more advanced woodworkers. As a final testimony, I’ll confess that after finishing the last DVD, I went immediately to my shop to soak my waterstones. For more information visit passionforwood.com.

— Michel Roy, Contributing Editor
    Canadian Home Workshop Magazine

Testimonial for Mortise and Tenon Joinery 5-DVD Boxed Set

Hendrik sells his DVD sets as ‘Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box’.  Anyone who has viewed any of his DVDs will relate to this comment.

Hendrik talks and demonstrates as if you are there in the workshop with him.  The sets are long — this one is over 10 hours of instruction — but he covers the chosen subject comprehensively. In spite of their length, the tutorials move at a brisk pace.

While Hendrik employs various joints for assembling his furniture, he acknowledges that one of the strongest connections is the mortice & tenon joint.  He uses them for the main joints in a bed frame, for instance, and where he wants a joint he terms ‘bulletproof’.

In this set of five DVDs, he looks at forming the mortice & tenon joint using his preferred methods involving the table saw and mortising machine or a drill press with a mortising attachment. He also covers the use of the bandsaw for cheek cuts.

While machines do most of the work, for a perfect joint Hendrik uses hand tools to refine the final fit. Having formed the joint, he then proceeds to glue it together.

The bonus footage with this DVD set is a tutorial on sharpening the hollow chisels used in mortising machines and mortising attachments and a demonstration of how to make through-wedged mortice & tenon joints.

The DVD set begins with a look at forming a mortice & tenon with a router. In a previous DVD set (Using Your Router and Router Table Safely) Hendrik showed how to rout a mortice. However, this is not his preferred method and he discusses his reasons.

The next approach utilises a Forstner bit but this also has its drawbacks.

Hendrik then introduces the hollow chisel with mortising bit. This can plunge into wood up to 50mm deep and leaves a square sided mortice. In addition to neatly forming a hole with parallel sides and right angle corners, the device is also safer and quieter to operate than a router, and produces chips rather than fine high velocity dust.

The hollow chisel and mortising bit can be mounted in a drill press with the use of an adapter. Alternatively it can be mounted in a dedicated tool, ie. a mortising machine. Both options require the provision of a fence to enable rectangular mortices (ie. a progressive series of holes) to be cut and a means of securing the workpiece firmly to the worktable.

Next Hendrik discusses the design and terminology of mortice & tenon joints. He marks out a few joints and points out the possible traps such as interfering tenons.

For the first couple of mortices, Hendrik uses the chisel and bit mounted on a drill press. He explains the various techniques that he uses to fine tune the mortising attachment and ensure an accurately cut mortice.

Hendrik prefers not to use mechanical stops to define the mortices. Instead he cuts them using the marking out lines and then uses hand tools for the final shaping, ensuring that each joint is a custom fit.

In Hendrik’s experience a well-set-up attachment in a drill press will perform equally as well as a mortising machine. However, having a dedicated machine in the workshop is an advantage as it leaves the drill press readily available for other tasks.

With a drill press the mortiser needs to be set up each time. With a mortiser the machine should be ready to use when you need it, but it’s not necessarily accurate or perfect straight out of the box. Hendrik explains the checks and modifications he made to get the best results from his mortising machine.

Having drilled four mortices (two on each machine), he cleans out the bottoms of the recesses as necessary with a mallet and chisels.

When forming the tenons, Hendrik first cuts the tenon shoulders, using a table saw with a cross-cut blade, mitre gauge and single point stop block. A neat trick with shims helps to form a perfect cut around all four sides of the board.

While he only uses one method to form the tenon shoulders, he discusses a few approaches to cutting the cheeks. When using the table saw for this step, he changes to a rip blade.

The first option is a tenoning jig (in this instance a proprietary jig, though many woodworkers make their own). This holds the component perpendicular to the worktable of the table saw. Over two chapters he cuts the face and then the edge cheeks with the jig.

The restriction of a tenoning jig is that it suits shorter components. Very long components must be held vertically which makes them awkward and potentially dangerous to handle in the jig (though Hendrik admits to cutting a hole in his workshop ceiling to handle long boards).

One alternative is to remove the waste from the face and edge cheeks with a dado set in the table saw. This is more time-consuming and does not form as neat a tenon, but it does allow the tenon to be cut with the board flat on the table saw.

Another alternative is to cut the cheeks on a bandsaw. Again the board is flat on the worktable. Hendrik demonstrates both methods.

At this stage Hendrik has four completed sets of mortice & tenon, but none fit. The tenons are deliberately cut a slight fraction bigger than their mortices to allow for final fitting.

The tenons are cleaned up if necessary with a mallet and chisel. The final dimensioning is done with a shoulder plane, or a block plane and chisel (the chisel is required because the block plane can’t cut right against the shoulder). Hendrik then glues the joints together.

The DVD set represents a comprehensive coverage of the construction of mortice & tenon joints using a combination of machines and hand tools. Hendrik’s clear explanation of the processes involved make the DVDs suitable for novices through to experienced woodworkers looking to enhance their skills.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 174

Testimonial for Mortise and Tenon Joinery 5-DVD Boxed Set

Hendrik Varju’s latest DVD is the eleventh in a series dating back to 2007 that covers everything from precise machine setups to wood science. This latest film is well shot and his delivery is as polished and precise as it has ever been. At two minutes shy of 11 hours, the footage is spread over five DVDs and begins with an explanation of the joint, breaking down the constituent parts and assessing the role each plays in achieving a sound joint. This is all good advice and covered in great detail so transfers to either hand-cut or machine-cut joints.

This DVD centres around the use of machines to cut both parts of the joint, which will limit appeal to anyone without either a pillar drill, mortising machine or tablesaw.

Having shown you how to cut the joints using machines, Hendrik moves over to hand tools to fine-tune things where there are some nice tips to gauge mortise depth and how to steer your chisels in a straight line to clear out the corners of the machine-cut mortise.

I had to wince a couple of times as Hendrik turned the chisel toward himself to clean the bottom of a mortise, but fair dues, he did cover it in a safety bulletin in the next breath. Some of what he demonstrates is shot for the convenience of the camera and the production process of making a film and not always best workshop practice; a point he is clear to make.

Hendrik’s films happen in real time. If it takes 20 passes, 20 passes is often what you see and on some operations, this can be a little unnecessary but it is a thorough explanation, and for anyone starting out, I’d say it’s reassuring to know that you get the full picture. As far as safety goes, Hendrik is diligent in his approach but remember these are machine-based techniques of which some rely heavily on the tablesaw where nearly all the procedures shown in chapters 6 and 7 would fail a UK HSE examination [non-through shoulder cuts and using a tenoning jig without a full blade guard set up]. However, we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet as he moves on to the bandsaw to demonstrate a tried a tested method of cutting tenons, finetuning the process with paper shims to get a perfect fit. In light of the fact that the chapters are in depth and cover quite a bit of ground at one time, it would be helpful to break some of these down to smaller sections or provide a navigable menu.

Towards the end of the film there is a section on choosing quality tooling for your mortising machine or attachment and how to sharpen them. After taking us through the process of cutting and fitting a through wedged tenon, Hendrik rounds things off with some bonus footage where he discusses the importance of accuracy over method, the need to keep your machines tuned and the mindset of craftsman’s approach to good technique.

— Furniture & Cabinetmaking Magazine Issue 218

Testimonial for Mortise and Tenon Joinery 5-DVD Boxed Set

When Tage Frid passed away, I thought I’d lost my last opportunity to continue improving my woodworking technique. With this set of DVDs I may have that opportunity once again.

— “Robert1889”
    posted on Fine Woodworking website

Testimonial for Honing and Setting Jointer and Planer Knives 3-DVD Boxed Set

Hendrik Varju’s DVDs come with the strapline ‘private woodworking instruction in a box’. Complete and unabridged, this is number 12 in the series and, true to form, the style is relaxed and friendly, yet practical and informative.  There’s an emphasis on accuracy and precision right down to the basics, which might get a little tiresome for old hands. Having said that, there are plenty of tips and even those of us who are familiar with the machines discussed could learn a thing or two. This three-disc set spans more than six hours, which makes it good value considering you don’t have to leave the comfort of your armchair to benefit from the virtual one-on-one tuition.

The series starts by observing the individual benefits of both these machines and the jobs they do. Understanding this is perhaps the key to getting the most out of each machine and the explanation is very thorough. When it comes to tackling such problems as snipe and tapering boards, Hendrik’s methods for eliminating both is well explained.

The DVD covers important subjects, such as sharpening knives. Of course, before you start working on them you need to remove them from the machine and this is demonstrated, almost in real time. It might seem a bit entry level for some but this DVD is a complete tutorial and you can be sure that no stone is left unturned.

Hendrik’s discussion about honing is equally thorough and the lesson begins with an explanation of why it is important to have the outfeed table set in relation to the arc of the block first and continues with setting the outfeed bed relative to the knives. Knowing how and why things work helps with troubleshooting later and introduces a healthy level of safety to your working methods.

I was impressed to see Hendrik honing his 600mm long planer knives freehand on a 1,000 grit water stone. This does, of course, rely on your stone being dead flat, so if you haven’t got this covered, then don’t try this at home. The bonus footage includes examples of jigs for honing the knives while still in situ. Hendrik claims this has increased edge life up to four times before removing them and re-sharpening, which I can well believe and is worth noting. His obsession with sharpening extends to brand new knives and considering you’d give the edge of a new hand tool the same treatment straight out of the box, it’s good practice.

In fact I like Hendrik’s methodical approach to any given subject. He includes methods for removing rust on the beds of the planer and polishing the surface with Autosol. I’ve never heard anyone suggesting a random orbital sander with a polishing bonnet to dress the beds before, but it makes sense and I’ll definitely be giving it a try.

As I said, a lot of the DVD is in real time so when things don’t go right first time, that footage doesn’t end up on the cutting room floor. Again, this can be tedious for old hands but for the beginner, I’d say it is an essential part of the learning process. All in all, another great production and worth the price.

— Derek Jones
    Editor, Furniture & Cabinetmaking Magazine

Testimonial for Making Drawers 5-DVD Boxed Set

Watching one of Hendrik Varju’s presentations may remind you of a time when you taught someone to drive. Telling a student how to do something can take longer than actually doing it yourself.

Reviewers, being human, and being already acquainted with at least some of the subject material, may therefore occasionally let their attention wander while watching one of his videos. But just when that happens, there always seems to be a sudden need to hit the pause button, then go back and see that bit again.

This is because the path between the beginning and end of a Hendrik Varju project is never straight. If Hendrik picks up a saw, a chisel, a dado set, a piece of wood… he almost always has a comment to make about it.

These comments are never less than pertinent and they help to flesh out the basic information that a student may have already gained on the topic. They are not diversions, but expansions that frequently offer surprising insights and new opportunities to achieve better results and greater enjoyment from the craft.

One of the many examples, that can be chosen from just the first few chapters on this set of DVDs is the way in which a board might be selected from several that have been milled for the sides of a drawer.

Varju suggests that one element in the selection may be the appearance of the top edge of the board. If it exhibits a particular pattern, is this similar to the pattern on the top edge of the board on the other side of the drawer? A marked difference between the two could spoil the appearance of the whole drawer.

The construction may be just as strong, and the drawer may satisfy every other criterion, but it would still not be as good as it could have been.

Does it matter whether the growth rings on the sides of a drawer face in or out? Varju argues that if the concave rings face out, then a change in the ambient humidity could make the boards tend to cup inwards (ie. in the opposite direction to the growth rings). If this happens, then the top and bottom of the corner joint will tend to press harder together.

If the growth rings are placed the other way round, and the opposite occurred, even a small movement would be noticed in a slight, but ugly opening of the joint. A similar consideration of growth rings is applied much later when inserting the dowels that Varju uses to re-inforce the joints between the front and sides of his drawers.

While these particular comments relate to the project itself, there are equally many that refer to the workshop equipment or its method of use.

For instance, Varju makes his own stop blocks for his custom-built router table. The fence on this table has a slot running almost its entire length.

When a stop block is needed, it is bolted to the fence through this slot. The stop blocks sit about a centimetre above the table and have a rebate about the same size on the inner edge (that faces the fence).

These two gaps allow sawdust to escape rather than build up against the block so that subsequent workpieces can’t be placed in exactly the same position. The error would be small, but not too small to make a difference when working to Hendrik Varju’s high standards.

The way in which Varju uses his thicknesser is also of special interest. He accepts the fact that conventional blades can rarely, if ever, be set so that their cutting edges are exactly parallel to the table. He uses this ‘fault’ to take cuts of a fraction of a millimetre off the sides of a drawer.

It’s a fine balance between removing a thin shaving and leaving pressure roller marks — but he shows that with care, his method can save time and effort and achieve remarkably good results.

The drawer design that is used for the demonstrations contained in these videos is one that Hendrik says he uses for most of his work. It is sturdy and attractive but less time consuming to make than traditional dovetailed drawers. (He comments that he still makes these for customers who are prepared to pay for them.)

Grooves in the sides of the drawers are supported by runners attached to the inside of the cabinet.

Vertical dadoes are cut in the sides to accept the back of the drawer, while the front is rebated to accept the sides before these joints are strengthened with dowels. These pinned joints are pleasing to the eye and much faster and easier to make than dovetails.

As you might expect, Hendrik has his own way of refining store-bought dowels (which are generally oval) so they can produce gap free joints.

The bottom of the drawer is made from ply or, occasionally, from solid material.

The final form of the drawer is heavier than some might expect in fine woodworking, but Hendrik justifies this is in a brief discussion at the end of the videos.

He remarks that he has had to repair many pieces of furniture because their construction was too light, but has never had a customer complain that the pieces he makes are not strong enough.

DVD 1 discusses the basic types of drawer, the design of a true front drawer (ie. as opposed to one with a false front), a detailed analysis of the operations necessary to complete construction and the cutting of rabbet joints on the table saw.

DVD 2 deals with cutting dado joints on a table saw, milling the drawer back to fit the dado, cutting grooves for the drawer bottom, completing the back and cutting the grooves for the runners. This completes the preparation of all of the components.

DVD 3 begins with the glue-up, then demonstrates the preparation of dowels and insertion to pin the front to side joints.

DVD 4 shows how the drawer bottom is made and inserted and adds information on finishing touches as well as fitting and installing drawers.

DVD 5 provides detailed guidance in the use of metal drawer slides and also contains Varju’s personal reflections on some topics related to woodworking.

It has been said before, but it bears saying again, that it is the meticulous attention to detail and the ferreting out of every subtle nuance of a decision or action, that is the strength of Varju’s presentations.

The videos should therefore prove of value to woodworkers of virtually every level of knowledge and experience.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 181

Testimonial for Making Frame and Panel Doors 5-DVD Boxed Set

The frame and panel method of door construction is believed to have originated in Asia, probably China.

Although known and used for many years previously, it appears to have only gained popularity in England during the building boom that followed the Great Fire of London in 1666. It’s superiority over simple plank designs lies in the relatively small expansion and contraction of the door with changes of ambient humidity.

The progression in use of the style from architectural doors to cabinet doors was gradual, though it is not, perhaps, as evident in English period furniture, as it is in the Shaker and Mission furniture of the New World.

Single and multi-panel doors are often seen in contemporary North American home and commercial interior decor. The use of doors incorporating small panels suggest that this is principally because of the appearance of the design, rather than its practical benefits.

The doors are made from five pieces: two stiles, two rails and a panel.

In this series of DVDs, Hendrik Varju covers the making of each of these components (including several styles of panel), their assembly into a completed door, and, in an addendum, the fitting of the door into its aperture.

There are, of course, a host of ways in which the work could be done. For example, one of several types of mortise and tenon might be used for the joints between the stiles and rails, or they could be made with dominoes, biscuits or dowels.

Varju chooses to demonstrate the techniques involved in dowel construction. This, he says, is the method he commonly uses for his commercial work. He has, in fact, taken his own advice, which is to try various ways of performing a particular process, then select the one with which you are most comfortable.

Three dowels are used in each of the top joints and four in the bottom, since the lower rail is a little wider.

As has been noted previously, the value of Varju’s presentations is not only in the meticulous care with which he approaches every step in the construction of a project, but also in the way in which he incorporates other relevant information on everything from the fundamental design to the materials, tools and machines that he uses.

For example, shortly after showing how the stiles and rails are made and prepared for jointing, Varju discusses the possibility of decorative routing on the inside edges of the frame. He considers several possibilities for this, weighs the merits of each and describes how specific outcomes might be achieved.

The first panel dealt with is a simple flat board. While many presenters would be content with saying no more than that it should be pinned in place within the frame, Varju points out why pinning is desirable, shows how the placement of the pins should be marked and how they should be inserted as well as giving reasons for the use of pins of unusual design.

The second panel has a bevelled edge. Two types are considered. One has a narrow edge, vertical to the raised panel, which defines the upper end of the bevel. On the other, which Varju prefers, the bevel extends from the outer edge of the entire panel to the edge of the raised central panel. Great attention is paid to safety when describing the method used to create the bevel on a tablesaw.

The third type of panel is a cove, also made on a tablesaw. While coves can be routed, Varju argues that this means purchasing a special (and usually costly) router bit made to produce a cove of only one size. This may be necessary and even cost-effective, when a large number of frame and panel doors must be made, but Varju suggests that to produce only a small number of doors, it is much less expensive to make the coves on a tablesaw.

Safety is again emphasised in demonstrating how the saw and special fence are set up to obtain a cove of precisely the size required. Careful measurement is necessary to ensure that the outer edge fits comfortably into the grooves in the frame while the width of the cove offers an attractive proportion in relation to the size of the panel.

The final panel has an ogee shaped edge which is formed using a panel raising bit in a router table.

It is one of the virtues of Hendrik Varju’s DVDs that with a single exception, his machinery and tools are not all that different to those that might be found in any well-equipped recreational workshop. (The exception is his dust-extraction system which is well above average.)

This particularly applies to the router table which he designed and constructed around a Bosch 2.4kW router. It has a large laminated MDF tabletop, a long straight fence and a variety of additional custom-made fences, clamps and other accessories which appear from time to time in his videos.

For example, to rout an ogee shape on the edges of a panel, two subsidiary fences are attached to the main long fence. They have the ogee shape already routed in their ends so they can be placed close together over the cutter to provide maximum support for the workpiece.

The next chapter describes the final preparation of the panels — particularly their shaped edges — by planing, sanding and scraping.

After that, comes the glue-up and then the actual hanging of the doors. This is an area that can be troublesome, even for experienced woodworkers.

Hendrik Varju demonstrates the making and use of an uncomplicated jig that he has invented to simplify the rebating of butt hinges in both the door and the frame into which it is fitted. The jig would be easy to construct and clearly offers important savings in time as well as increased accuracy.

The Bonus Footage on this DVD series deals with ‘keeping things simple’, the importance of grain (specifically with respect to the overall appearance of frame and panel doors) and the use of jigs.

As mentioned earlier, like previous Hendrik Varju videos, Making Frame and Panel Doors presents both the fundamentals of the process as well as a steady stream of comment and information on topics relevant to the main subject. In this case, however, those who view the videos may attach special importance to the highly effective hinge rebating jig which they can make for very little expense in their own workshop.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 182

Testimonial for Making Frame and Panel Doors 5-DVD Boxed Set

What a great series.  Each of the 5 DVDs were extremely well done.  Hendrik goes into depth at all the right places.  And the finished products are handsome and creatively done.  Great inspiration for my next project! Thanks Hendrik!

— Geoff W. (San Diego, California, USA)

Testimonial for Handcut Dovetails 4-DVD Boxed Set

This is the 12th DVD set from professional Canadian woodworker, Hendrik Varju.  All of his sets are intended to be a woodworking class ‘in a box’, ie. he presents each topic in the same manner as he runs the student classes in his workshop.

Hendrik calls a Honing and Setting Jointer and Planer Knives class ‘the world’s most boring seminar’, yet he has no trouble finding woodworkers to attend his classes because their planers and jointers simply don’t work the way they should.

While the topic is very dry, it is also a very important one if you want your machines to work properly.  Hendrik endeavours to make his presentation interesting as well as informative.

He uses the American terms for these machines.  The Australian terms for the jointer and planer are the planer and thicknesser respectively (we’ve kept the American terms for the body of this review).

He points out that not only must the knives be sharp but they must also be installed at the same height to each other. Another important relationship exists between the bed heights and the knife height.

Other aspects addressed in the tutorial are snipe and tapered cuts and what causes them.  The outfeed bed needs to be set to the optimal height relative to the arc of the knives and this may vary according to the density of the wood.

In the bonus material Hendrik shows how to hone the knives while they are still installed in the machine, saving the time and effort involved in removing and replacing the knives.

After an introduction covering machine safety, Hendrik starts with the sharpening of the knives. While you can do this yourself, he prefers to use a sharpening service to remove the large nicks.  However, his experience is that the sharpened blades always require further honing to produce a truly sharp edge.

He discusses the tricks involved in assessing the state of the blade and determining the further work required.  The blade is then honed on a variety of sharpening stones and blocks.

The next segment covers the relationship between the knife and bed heights, how these should be measured on your machine and how they might be adjusted, depending on the model.

On a jointer Hendrik shows how to remove the knives (safely), do a general maintenance, clean the cutter head and then fit the sharpened knives.

Safety is a primary concern because the knives, particularly the newly sharpened ones, will cause a severe injury if your hand slips over them during the removal or installation procedure.  Hendrik provides simple tips to minimise the risk of injury.

The outfeed and infeed tables are set relative to the cylinder of the cutter block.  This is done before the first knife is adjusted.  The setting of the first knife must fulfil some criteria but the height is not critical.  However, it is essential that the remaining knives are adjusted to the same height as the first.  Hendrik shows how this is done.

After the jointer is cleaned and the fence checked for square, a test piece of wood is fed over the cutter block.  In this segment he demonstrates snipe and how to minimise it by altering the height of the outfeed table.  However, overcompensating will cause a tapered cut.

If the infeed bed has a stop system, this can be used to set a final pass (minimum depth removal) and a coarse pass (maximum desirable depth removal).  Once these are set, simply using the release handle enables the operator to switch from one setting to the other very quickly.

Having set up the jointer (planer – Aust.), Hendrik goes through the same steps with the planer (thicknesser – Aust.).

The planer knives are similar to those on the jointer, though he notes that in some cases the replacement knives cost little more that having the existing ones sharpened professionally.

On the planer the cutter block is tucked away and there is more disassembly required to access the knives.  When reinstalling the knives, the height cannot be easily referenced to the feed tables, so Hendrik uses a knife setting jig.  He says that all of his planers came with such a jig but that some of his students have had models without one. Aftermarket ‘universal’ knife setting jigs are available from some woodworking outlets if required.

The planer knives are installed, the machine cleaned and the dust collection reinstalled.

In spite of the tips in this video, it still takes a couple of hours to change the knives on a machine.  In the course of his professional woodworking, Hendrik was changing the knives on his jointer and planer every 4-6 weeks. After he developed a method of honing the knives on the machine after they had dulled, he was able to get 3-4 times the life out of them before they had to be replaced/ resharpened.

Hendrik hones the knives with a diamond plate, creating a secondary bevel on the cutting edge. The process with the jointer is relatively quick but there are a number of steps involved.  The cutter block must be locked at the desired position and the cutter block and outfeed table must be protected from any abrasion.

On the planer the method is more involved and requires a special jig to hold the diamond sharpener but it still works.

In his very first DVD set, Jointer & Planer Secrets, Hendrik explained in detail how to use these machines to produce straight dimensioned timber (some of the tips from this first DVD appeared as an article by Hendrik Varju in AWW #170 August 2013).

In this latest DVD he covers a lot more than honing and setting the knives. The information provided will allow you to set up the machines to their optimal operating condition. As such the DVD set is the perfect companion to Jointer & Planer Secrets and should interest anyone keen to get better performance from their planer or thicknesser.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 177

Testimonial for Handcut Dovetails 4-DVD Boxed Set

I was the lucky guy who won the first Fine Wood Working anniversary blog contest.  I won a 4-cd set of talks and demonstrations titled “Handcut Dovetails” by Hendrik Varju, of “Passion for Wood,” in Ontario Canada.  The cds run to 6 hours of fascinating and helpful instruction.  Clear discussion of the value of the joint, appropriate uses for it, issues of layout and design (for both strength and aesthetic value), equipment (saws, chisels, etc.) and much more are all covered in detail.  It is on the one hand very personal, and on the other, very professional.  I learned a lot.  Indeed, shortly afterward, I began a long considered, and long delayed, project to build a case for 6 drawers to fill the space in my workbench which had been essentially wasted for years.  Confession: I did not cut dovetails for 6 drawers by hand.  But I often used hand tools to trim and finish the joints I cut with a router and jig; and I felt much more confident about the whole procedure after the fascinating “discussion” with Hendrik (who now feels to be at least an “e-mail friend”; after watching the cds, I contacted him several times about some details, and he kindly replied quickly and helpfully).  And the next time I take up project (probably a smaller one with, say, 4 dovetail joints), I certainly will lay them out and cut them by hand, if only to say “I did it.”

— Dan M. (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)

Testimonial for Dowels, Splines and Mitres 5-DVD Boxed Set

The five DVDs in this set absorb a total of only three minutes less than 10 hours.

The first disc begins with a general discussion about dowel joinery and its benefits (comments that are reinforced in Thoughts on Woodworking at the end of Disc 5).  Varju then shows how to set up a drill press to produce the holes required for the dowel joints in a picture frame.  Since this procedure is time-consuming (and also unable to accommodate the drilling necessary for some other types of dowelled joints), a dowel jig is suggested.

For the purposes of the demonstration, the Dowelmax jig is shown in use.  This jig was invented by Canadian woodworker Jim Lindsay and further information about both the jig and its inventor can be found at:  www.dowelmax.com/.

DVD 2 turns the attention to mitres, a joint often favoured for its elegant appearance but one that suffers, as Varju explains, from an inherent weakness because of the partial end grain that is exposed on the joint faces.

The video explores the cutting of mitres for picture frames, the design and marking out of dowelled mitre joints, followed by the glue-up process.

The last segment in this part of the presentation deals with the cutting of mitres for boxes.

The third DVD starts by covering the gluing up of mitred boxes.  The remainder of the disc is devoted to the use of splines.

Adding one or more splines to a mitre joint substantially increases its strength.  Splines can also improve the overall appearance, particularly if the timber chosen for them contrasts in colour and perhaps texture with that used for the body of the box.

A tenoning jig is used to hold the picture frames and later box frames in order to cut the kerfs for the splines on the tablesaw.  While it is unlikely that many would have the exact model of jig shown, many similar jigs would perform the same duty.  Mention is also made of the possibility of constructing a custom jig for the purpose – but principally for boxes that are too large to fit in commercially available jigs.

In order to be effective, both structurally and aesthetically, the splines must be uniform in thickness and fit exactly into the kerfs made to receive them.  Varju shows how to achieve a perfect result using a conventional thicknesser.

The box mitres used to demonstrate the process include joints with splines of varying size and distribution showing how they can be used not only to strengthen the joints, but also to decorate the box.

At the beginning of DVD 4, the glue on the box joints is now dry and the excess on the splines is cut off with a flush cut saw.  Their ends are smoothed with a hand plane – using planing techniques that ensure that the surrounding surface is not damaged (taking into account the grain direction in the host material).

Up to this point, all of the splines have been inserted in the same direction as the grain in the box sides.  The remainder of the fourth disc is devoted to showing how to construct box joints using vertical splines, ie. splines that are embedded in and run the entire length of the mitre joint being visible only on the top and bottom of the box.

Again, the splines are cut flush and trimmed using a handplane followed by a little sanding.

The final joint is made by inserting a long spline between the edge of a 20mm thick sheet of cabinet-timber-faced ply and a peripheral moulding.

The grooves in the ply are made with a slot cutter in a router used freehand, while those in the moulding are made with the same cutter in a router table.  The entire process is covered, from preparing the ply and moulding, to making the spline, assembling the components, routing the moulding and then carrying out the finish planing and sanding.

The scope of the whole video presentation is obviously formidable but, as usual, its value is extended by the many asides that Varju adds, in the same informal manner that you might expect of a teacher in a physical classroom situation.

Many of these are little more than explanatory comments but some offer explanations and even warnings that look well beyond the topic under discussion.

One, for example, is a review of the relationship between vertical splines and their host material showing why the size of the joints made in this way must be limited so as not to court premature failure.

Hendrik Varju has earned a worldwide reputation for his instructional videos.  Dowels, Splines and Mitres follows the same successful format as those that precede it, as well as exhibiting the same measured treatment of meticulous woodworking techniques employed in the pursuit of superior results.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 197

Testimonial for Simple Vacuum Veneering 5-DVD Boxed Set

It seems fitting that this, the video that Hendrik Varju has said will be the last in his long series of “Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box”, explores a subject that takes us away from traditional woodworking.  He leaves the familiar world of conventional tools and machines to examine the benefits of relatively recent innovations in the application of veneers.

The first topic covered is the special equipment required.  Varju introduces the particular vacuum pump that he uses, discusses its supplier and many aspects of its operation.  He then turns to the other components of the entire system necessary to vacuum clamp veneered panels after they are glued.  While this information will probably prove invaluable, it must be said that Australian woodworkers may find it necessary to also do their own research into possible local and overseas suppliers before deciding upon specific gear they intend to use.

Rather than launch immediately into a description of the way in which a vacuum system is set up and used, Varju first describes the clamp and caul method of performing the same task.  He shows that even a relatively small veneered panel demands the use of a largish numbers of clamps, at least a couple of which must have sufficient reach to exert pressure on the centre of the panel.  While the method can be used quite effectively, the author employs its description to show how much easier and faster it is to use a vacuum pump and bag.

Since it is likely that anyone interested in establishing a vacuum system in their workshop will probably want to engage in making their own veneers, Varju shows how this is done on a bandsaw.  He demonstrates the cutting of fairly thick veneers consecutively from the one board, then using a  planer/jointer to smooth the sawn surfaces.  He also shows how these veneers are laid up ready for gluing.  Specially designed veneer saws are used to crosscut them to length and also to prepare the mating edges where they are to be joined.  This is an important phase in the operation since the joins must be practically invisible if the veneering is to be successful.  The work continues with the taping of the individual pieces of veneer to cover the substrate, the application of the glue, and the assembly of the veneer and substrate before their insertion in the vacuum bag.

As usual with all of Hendrik Varju’s presentations, there is at least as much value in his hints, tips and side remarks as there is in the main discourse.  For example, his method of arranging the edges of an assembly so as to make it quick and easy to later trim the edges, saves time and promotes accuracy.  And his use of pencil marks to gauge the application of the correct amount of glue ensures that enough, but only enough, adhesive is used to form the desired bond.

While some projects may be satisfied by the use of custom-made veneers, others will require the use of commercial veneers and Hendrik presents some of his own stock to illustrate what is available and to comment on the suitability of specific veneers for particular jobs.  Commercial veneers are typically much thinner than those made in the workshop and they therefore require somewhat different methods when they are used.  Varju discusses these in detail showing how the more fragile material can be handled with minimum loss to achieve perfectly veneered panels.  Ensuring precise joins between the sheets of veneer tends to be more difficult to achieve when using thin commercial veneers.  Varju shows how the edges can be trimmed on a planer/jointer and also how the task can be undertaken with a router using a simple jig as a guide.  In addition, he describes methods he has developed for avoiding the problems that are apt to occur at various points in the process.  For example, he shows how he manipulates the vacuum pressure to avoid possible bleeding of glue through the veneer.

As Varju explains, veneer must never be applied to just one side of a substrate and while it is often necessary to complete veneering of each side separately, it is sometimes possible to save time by doing both of them together.  Eventually, the substrate, with the veneer glued to each side, is removed from the vacuum bag and Varju discusses how long it should be left and details the methods of cleaning up and trimming that are necessary to complete the project ready for sanding and finishing.

While it is dealt with as part of the discourse on vacuum clamping of veneers, the next discussion, which covers the veneering of edges and faces, is equally relevant to any other form of veneer work.  In addition to the actual techniques involved, many fundamental questions are considered including, for example, whether a face or an edge should be given precedence in the veneering of items such as drawer fronts and cupboard doors.

The last Chapter deals with unusual veneers.  These heavily patterned veneers are often chosen for their dramatic appearance but they demand care and special techniques if the result is to be satisfactory.  The burls and wavy grained veneers that are used for the demonstrations in this presentation can only be successful if their natural fragility is overcome.  It is essential that they provide a smooth surface; the veneer must be firmly bonded to the substrate without voids or cracks.

To this point, the entire discussion has centred on flat surfaces.  Attention is now turned to the veneering of surfaces that are curved.  As an example, Varju shows how to construct a curved drawer front, veneer it by vacuum methods similar to those used earlier and then trim it ready for use.

The video presentation is rounded out with some Thoughts on Woodworking – a defence of veneers, advice to let the wood do the talking and finally, and most fittingly, given that this is the last of his videos, an exhortation to Try New Techniques to Broaden Your Horizon.

At 9 hours and 20 minutes on 5 DVDs, Simple Vacuum Veneering is a comprehensive guide for anyone wishing to explore this extremely interesting and powerful method of achieving high quality results.

Varju’s many followers in this region will already be aware of the broad scope, meticulous attention to detail and high visual quality of his video presentations.  But even they may be surprised to learn that woodworking is not his only passion.  On this, the occasion of the last review of one of his videos in The Australian Woodworker, it is perhaps not out of place to suggest that those interested may wish to visit:  https://passionforwood.com/cooking/ .

The first of Hendrik Varju’s woodworking videos was released in 2007, the same year in which this profile of him and his work to that date was published in an overseas magazine:  http://www.woodworkersjournal.com/hendrik-varju-creativity-goes-law/ .

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 199

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

Imagine that you’ve asked a professional woodworker over to your home to give you some private lessons about using Jointers and Planers. Imagine that when the guy arrives, you find he’s brought his workshop gear with him.

Sound good? Well, this two disk set of DVDs comes close to giving you just such an experience. Not surprisingly, they’re labelled: Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box.

Hendrik Varju, who calls his business Passion for Wood, is located just outside Toronto in Canada. He’s a professional woodworker who does a lot of things other than making fine furniture – he also repairs and re-finishes furniture, restores antiques and teaches woodworking. As a spin-off of the latter he offers an unusual service: he supplies phone or e-mail advice for a pre-determined fee on any topic related to woodworking.

This is his first foray into the production of instructional DVDs. They are divided into 13 chapters, 12 of which are devoted to using a Jointer and Planer to prepare the boards that might be used to make something like a tabletop.

First, he discusses the differences between Jointers and Planers and why one can’t be used to replace the other. Then he goes on to the steps that must be taken when milling timber and, in Chapter 3, he demonstrates the Jointing of One Face.

Everything is said and shown against a background of ‘reading the wood’. In fact, it is the author’s quiet and continual referral to understanding how the grain and texture of the wood affects any attempt to work it, that underlies the entire presentation. It is also this that adds so much value to the instruction, since Varju tries not only to show how each task should be performed, but also the precautions that should be taken when approaching it.

Chapters 4 and 5 deal with special cases – Twisted Boards and Planing Boards Convex Side Down.

Chapters 6, 7 and 8 go on to describe the next three steps of the process: Jointing an Edge, Planing the Opposite Edge and Planing the Opposite Face.

In Chapter 9, Varju talks about arranging boards in a panel, then in Chapter 10, Improving Edge Joints before Gluing. Chapter 11 and 12 cover Edge Gluing Procedures and the Glue Up.

The final Chapter shows the procedure for Edge Gluing a Solid Wood Panel and offers some comments on a number of subjects related to woodworking and learning woodworking.

The subject matter on these DVDs will be particularly interesting to those who have never had any formal education in the craft. The presentation is easy to watch and to listen to. The main reason for this is probably that the presenter is readily recognisable as a real and talented woodworker rather than a polished performer. He makes occasional mistakes, corrects them and continues on in the same way you might expect if you had a real live teacher in front of you.

For those who can’t attend a woodworking course, these DVDs offer an interesting alternative.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 137

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

This is a double-disc set of instruction that runs four and one-half hours long, and at first it seems somewhat repetitive as Mr. Varju goes over procedures several times. But I have to say, this is one of the few DVDs I’ve watched, that I didn’t feel I was missing something because it went by too fast and I had to back it up to review the material. By the time you’ve listened to and watched Hendrik correctly and efficiently make use of his jointer and planer, you will know how to get the best and safest results from them for your own woodworking.

Beginning with safety measures and equipment, Varju discusses the different purposes of planers and jointers, then jumps right into the basic steps for milling lumber. He covers machine setup and adjustment, recommends depths of cut for different steps, and explains how to read edge grain and end grain in the wood to help prevent tear out. One section is devoted to dealing with twisted or cupped boards by wedging corners with shavings, by applying top pressure unevenly, and by listening closely to the sounds of the operation as you proceed. When planing, the importance of cutting speed and feed rate is discussed, as well as how to avoid planer snipe.

The second disc covers how to use what you’ve produced with the jointer and planer by gluing up multiple boards for a flat tabletop. Varju spends a considerable amount of time showing how to select the arrangement of boards for appearance and to reduce the effect of warping during seasonal humidity changes. He teaches the viewer how to alternate end-grain growth rings for stability, how to align boards with similar grain direction, and how to select for color and grain matching.

Instruction for edge gluing newly jointed boards for a full panel is very thorough. He uses support risers and clamping cauls, shows preparation in a dry run, and then gives several tips for making a complicated glue-up go smoothly. He admits to sweating. With three clamped cauls and an edge-clamped panel, he says, “If you’re totally relaxed during this glue-up, you’re not doing it right.” He handplanes only the glue lines for clean-up afterward, and shows how to test for flatness. His methods of stock preparation and glue assembly yielded a 20″x36″ tabletop that was flat within three to five-thousandths of an inch, straight out of the clamps after glue clean-up.

If you are serious about getting the best out of your mahinery, Hendrik’s video instruction is worth having. To see more about his work and to order the double DVD set, visit his website at www.passionforwood.com.

— Barb Siddiqui
    Editorial Assistant of WoodCentral

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

“Hands down the best Table Saw DVD out there.”

I reviewed Hendrik’s DVD (Jointer and Planer Secrets) a while ago and was very pleased with it. When Hendrik came out with a new DVD on Table Saws, I was very interested in getting it. At first the price of $94.95 CDN, might seem a little high, but what you get makes it worth every penny. I really wish I had this DVD when I bought my first table saw!

This is a 5 DVD set and it has almost 10 hours footage. As with his Jointer DVD set, Hendrik always focuses on safe operation of the tool. To use a table saw safely, it needs to be set up properly and this is what he talks about first. His approach to setting up a table saw is different from most of what I have read/seen about table saws. Most books and DVDs really gloss over how a table saw should be set up. Hendrik goes into great detail on why he sets table saws up the way he does. His explains how his methods will improve your safety and the accuracy of your cuts.

Hendrik then goes into great detail on how to make just about every type of cut you would do on a table saw and how to do them safely.

  • Rip cuts on long and short boards
  • Rip cuts on wide and narrow boards
  • Crosscuts on all sizes of board
  • Rabbet and dado cuts
  • Handling large sheet goods
  • Beveled rip cuts

He also gives one of the most compelling arguments on why you should have a right-tilt table saw over a left-tilt. I don’t think this topic will ever have a clear “winner”. It’s like asking someone if you should cut tails or pins first ? I would like to try a right-tilt saw sometime, and will seriously consider it if and when I buy a new table saw.

Another concept that came up in the DVD, was the idea of using your miter gauge on the right side of your blade instead of the “standard” left side. After you learn how Hendrik recommends setting up your saw, this just makes all the sense in the world.

Also included on the DVDs is a demonstration of how kickback happens. If you haven’t experienced kickback yet, the demonstration will be an eye-opener! Hendrik talks quite a bit about kickback. I believe after learning what I have from this DVD and implementing Hendrik’s recommendations, I can be confident that I have done everything possible to eliminate the scary event.

Also included on the DVDs is a very detailed demonstration on how to build a crosscut sled. He doesn’t leave any step out. You see him build it from start to finish. He has many tips on how to get the most accurate set up for your sled.

Hendrik has inspired me to be a safer woodworker. So much so, I’m putting my splitter and guard back onto my table saw. Now that I know how it is supposed to be setup and used, I’m embarrassed I ever took it off! All those TV woodworkers that say they took their splitter/guard off for better “visual clarity” should be embarrassed! They are doing a great disservice to the new and novice woodworker.

You can find Hendrik over at www.passionforwood.com.

— 5-Star Rated Review on www.lumberjocks.com

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

“A Course on Tablesaw Safety and Setup”

Hendrik Varju recently released his epic DVD, Revelations on Tablesaw Set-up & Safety.  This is not your everyday average DVD.  At 9 hrs and 55 min. running time, this is really like a private weekend class.  Hendrik is thorough and methodical in his approach, and leaves no stone unturned.  This is one of those DVD’s that I like to think of as a reference DVD.  Its one that you’ll be pulling off the shelf for years to come just so you can get the low down on some detail that Hendrik covered.

Here’s what the DVD features:

  • Step-by-step table saw set-up techniques.
  • Crosscutting and ripping techniques.
  • Narrow, wide and short stock ripping techniques.
  • Dados, rabbets, bevelled rip cuts and other special cases.
  • Bonus footage on building a crosscut sled.

So who do I recommend this DVD for?  Primarily beginners.  I say that with a little hesitation because there are a ton of valuable gems that even experienced woodworkers will benefit from learning.  I wish this DVD were available when I first started woodworking as it would have saved me a lot of grief!

You can learn more about Hendrik and purchase his instructional DVDs at PassionForWood.com.

— Mark Spagnuolo
    Host of The Wood Whisperer Video Podcast

Testimonial for Working with Plywood 5-DVD Boxed Set

I have viewed all of your video instructions and learned more from them than any book.  Sure wish that you also have a bandsaw video upcoming soon.

No objections using my comments [on your website] but it may be better to emphasize that Hendrik’s videos show how to do cutting/milling and other operations in much detail vs just showing what to do.

I have purchased all of the videos and am looking forward to any others that will be made.  Thanks again . . . still learning even after watching the dvds over 3 times!

— Calvin H. (Waipahu, Hawaii, USA)

Testimonial for Working with Plywood 5-DVD Boxed Set

It’s like Christmas!!   I’ve been waiting for another title to come out, and you release two titles!!  Without a doubt, your videos are the most comprehensive and useful videos available (and I have many other videos).  I refer back to them often. Thank you!!

— David R. (Plano, Texas, USA)

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

When I watched this DVD I made notes but I have to go back and watch a couple of chapters once again because you’ve got a ton of information in here.  This is insane!  It’s perfect because it’s so relevant.  A great topic.  You really hit the nail on the head with this one.

Even in the parts where you get into the more scientific stuff, you do it in a way that really makes it easy to understand.  You really broke it down and your examples were perfect.  You broke out the whiteboard and your marker and did a great job with that.  To me, it’s one thing to talk about it, but you even held up real physical examples with the various woods.  You were able to explain it in so many different ways that it made sense.

In terms of reading the grain and how you covered it in “Jointer and Planer Secrets”, this DVD set, “Wood Science & Design”, really brought it home for me.  You used a loupe to show exactly what you were talking about.  In a lot of other situations, an educator might kind of talk about it but not really emphasize it or really show what they are talking about.  You did a great job with different species of wood to help emphasize everything.  Now every time I look at a piece of wood the end grain is one of the first things I look at.

Another topic you brought up, and I think this is one that is really essential to understand, is how the cut of the wood is helps determine how the shape is going to change with changes in humidity.  And the third DVD goes into the construction of edge-glued panels, how you attach a table top, frame-and-panel design and breadboard ends.  You explained how understanding the basic structure of wood makes it easier for you to design something.  And you have an actual formula you use to calculate wood movement.  Once you plugged in the numbers, it only took a few seconds to do the calculation and it gave you a huge advantage when it comes to constructing just about anything.

Between your two new DVDs, “Working with Plywood” and “Wood Science & Design”, you did a fantastic job of nailing home some ideas that have been thrown out there and a lot of people give lip service to but they don’t explain it.  That’s one of the worst things – when you’ve heard something and you think you know what it is but it turns out that, in fact, you haven’t got a clue.

When you watch this DVD, the number one point is that you’ll never design the same way again.  Even if it’s coming off a plan that you bought in a store, you’ll approach your lumber selection so much differently.  I had these light bulb moments and decided to rearrange my wood rack so that I can start taking advantage of this information.  After watching this DVD, I dare anybody to say that it doesn’t somehow effect the way they are going to use their wood and the way that they’re going to design their pieces.

— Matt Vanderlist
    Host of Matt’s Basement Workshop Podcast

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

Most woodworking books deal with skills, techniques and projects, but what about the material itself – wood?  In his fourth DVD set Hendrik Varju from Passion for Wood discusses the unique properties of wood and how a good design must allow for these properties or the piece will fail.

Advanced woodworkers will know most of the material covered in this set but novices and students will find the video both highly informative and entertaining.  Hendrik describes his videos as one-on-one tutoring and this set is no different.  He makes the rather dry topic very enjoyable to watch and listen to.  He makes particularly good use of the video medium when he demonstrates the porosity of wood by blowing bubbles through a series of solid boards.  On one sample he shows the effect of non-linear grain direction.  The timbers used throughout the DVDs are Northern Hemisphere species, but the information provided is universal and can be applied to any wood you may use.

In the first chapter he discusses the basic structure of wood, including the tubular nature of this “solid” material, growth rings, earlywood and latewood, sapwood and heartwood (also known as truewood), knots and branches.  Differences in these features affect the properties of a given species or tree.  The next chapter deals with the different cuts, in particular flatsawn (we call backsawn), riftsawn and quartersawn.  The type of cut affects not only the appearance but also the wood movement (which is covered at length later).  Another feature of the tree’s structure is the medullary rays.  Hendrik discusses their impact on the board’s appearance, particularly with quartersawn cuts.

Having covered the physical structure of the tree, on the second DVD Hendrik proceeds to examine the importance of tangential and radial movement (and why longitudinal movement is usually ignored).  Timber movement is affected by relative humidity and moisture content, so he discusses how this affects the treatment, purchase and storage of cabinet grade timber, as well as problems with cracking and distortion.

Joint design and construction introduces a whole new range of problems associated with timber movement.  He covers the conflict created by non-aligned grain in adjoining members and the effect of the width of members on the stability of the joint (ie. a wider board experiences more movement).  Throughout the discussion of movement and design, Hendrik clarifies his comments with practical examples, either drawn on his paper “whiteboard” or with the aid of timber samples on his workbench.

As he points out, some designs invite failure, either by cracking the board or breaking the joint.  He suggests redesigns which eliminate or mitigate the problem.  How much is too much?  Movement can be constrained by limiting the width of members.  Hendrik provides a few rules of thumb for design work.  He also examines the use of movement calculations and gives a number of examples of their use.  Australian timbers will have different values but the principles are the same.

While general movement problems can usually be overcome by making allowance for them, some fine woodworking applications require a more precise determination of the expected change on dimensions.  In these instances the use of calculated dimensions for movement is essential, to prevent drawers binding or panels cracking.

The third DVD deals with specific design applications.  The boards in a table top need to be laid out and glued together in such a manner that any distortion is minimized.  The top is then secured to the table frame with steel buttons or other devices to hold it securely yet allow movement.     In frame and panel construction the panel is also made by gluing boards together.  In this instance the panel must be left free to expand and contract within the confines of the frame.

Hendrik’s third example is what he calls an endcapped breadboard.  The end grain of glue-up panel is concealed by a member running perpendicular to the boards.  While aesthetically pleasing, it is a recipe for disaster if the endcap is securely glued to the panel.  Instead he demonstrates a pinned tenon arrangement that secures the panel in the middle of the endcap yet allows movement across the rest of the panel.  As an example, he shows how the same concept can be applied to a wide (bed) headboard attached at either end to a leg.

In the Furniture Tour segment he critiques a variety of furniture pieces including a trestle-style table, dining table, framed coffee table, chair, shelf unit, bedhead, bedside table and blanket box.  With each item he discusses the wood movement issues involved and how the design managed them.  In his usual informal style, he not only lists the design features used but also crawls under the furniture to point them out.

Finally, in his Thoughts on Woodworking footage, he talks about the use of wide boards versus narrow boards, practical humidity control for the weekend hobbyist and the concept of good design.

By the end of the video the viewer will know not only a lot more about wood and what determines its properties, but also how to select suitable boards or blanks for a project irrespective of the species involved and how to design and build to allow for wood movement.

While this DVD set will interest most woodworkers, its greatest appeal will be to novices, students and inexperienced woodworkers who will benefit enormously from Hendrik Varju’s presentations.  For this reason Wood Science & Design is very highly recommended for the libraries of woodworking Clubs, schools and TAFE Colleges.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 153

Testimonial for Surface Preparation and Staining 5-DVD Boxed Set & Hand Finishing and Rubbing Out 5-DVD Boxed Set

When I first met Hendrik in 2007, little did I know how much influence he would end up having on my woodworking.  I consider Hendrik to be a teacher, a mentor and most of all a friend.  What woodworking knowledge and skill I have can be traced squarely back to him.  So far, I have made the 1,600 mile trip from Houston to Acton twice – once in 2007 and again in 2008.  Hendrik has also made the 1,600 mile trip from Acton to Houston twice now – once in 2008 and again in 2010 and this coming July [2011] he will make his third trip to Houston as my traveling woodworking teacher as we venture into the world of bent laminations.  I assume you are getting the idea by now that I really enjoy and value Hendrik’s woodworking instruction.

I have taken live courses with Hendrik including his intensive course as well as courses in tuning up power tools, workbench construction, master level hand finishing, french polishing, hand cut dovetails, finger joints, splined miters and sharpening chisels, plane irons and scrapers.  I previously purchased his first four DVDs including Jointer and Planer Secrets; Revelations on Table Saw Set Up and Safety; Working with Plywood; and Wood Science and Design.  While I have covered most of the subjects in the DVDs in one of the live courses with Hendrik, I find these DVDs to be an invaluable reference and reminder of the things Hendrik taught me in the live courses.  These are not “single serving” DVDs – it will likely take you several sittings and probably should in order for you to absorb the wealth of information presented.  Without a doubt, there is nothing better than having a live one on one course with Hendrik but that is not always possible and Hendrik’s DVDs are a very close second to being with him in person.  The same patience, clear explanations and attention to detail you receive in his live courses are present in the DVDs.  I like to think of the DVDs as my “Hendrik in a Box” and I refer to them often.

The last time Hendrik was in Houston he was finishing up his two latest DVDs.  Not to let my library be incomplete, I asked Hendrik to send me Surface Preparation and Staining; and Hand Finishing and Rubbing Out as soon as they were available.  When they arrived I set about watching both of them over the course of several days.  I was not disappointed as the DVDs contained the same quality and attention to detail I had come to expect from the four earlier DVDs.  I suppose it would be easy or at least easier for Hendrik to throw together a 60 minute overview of a subject but that wouldn’t be Hendrik.

I’ve seen many of Hendrik’s furniture creations and admired the skill, craftsmanship and attention to detail – that is what makes Hendrik, Hendrik and it is the same with his DVDs – no detail overlooked and no questions left unanswered.  As with the earlier DVDs I have covered these subjects with Hendrik in live courses and as with the earlier DVDs I find these two new DVDs to be an invaluable reference and reminder of the things I learned in the live course.

Hendrik’s DVDs are filled with serious instruction and serious information.  Nine or ten hours per DVD is not for the faint of heart but within those hours of instruction is a doctorate degree in woodworking for the price of a nice dinner.  You can not help but be a better woodworker for having watched Hendrik’s DVDs.  While I have learned a lot from Hendrik. I have also learned how much further I still have to go.  I think Hendrik has a student and customer for life.

— Mike L. (Houston, Texas, USA)

Testimonial for Surface Preparation and Staining 5-DVD Boxed Set & Hand Finishing and Rubbing Out 5-DVD Boxed Set

I have attended almost every one of Hendrik’s seminars.  Many of the seminars a few times.  Do I need to own his DVDs?  Absolutely I do.  I own every one of them.  I can’t wait for the next ones.  Even though the seminars are exceptionally good there is something more in the DVDs.  His latest two DVDs are no exception.  Surface Preparation and Staining and Hand Finishing and Rubbing Out are essentially encyclopedias of knowledge.  There were so many tips that I either forgot or didn’t get at the seminar that I could pick up when I watched the DVDs in the comfort of my own home.  I can rewind or just watch a section over again.

Like most of Hendrik’s information the why is given so that one can gain knowledge instead of just learning a system.  For example, plywood is hard to stain based on the knowledge of how the veneer is cut from the log.  This knowledge allows you to make an informed choice on how to effectively choose a stain for your project.

Hendrik’s information is very understandable and is presented in a logical order.  The information just flows nicely when watching.  It makes for a very enjoyable watching experience.  For myself I get the most benefit when I take notes as I am watching.  I can then either refer back to the notes or quickly go back to a section in the DVD time and time again for further clarification and to just refresh my memory before I start to prepare to stain and finish my next project.  Often many months go by between my projects so refreshing my memory is extremely helpful to me.

In Hendrik’s DVDs there are so many samples that he shows you in real time.  For example he shows you what panels look like when all different stain options are chosen.  You can save yourself a lot of agony of ruining your project by letting Hendrik show you what happens with certain types of products.  It is very clear that some products are very good products but used in the wrong situation the result is terrible.  Many more samples are shown on the DVD than he could ever humanly do in a class room seminar.

I really don’t understand how anyone can do woodworking without watching Hendrik’s DVDs.  They are the standard that I compare everything I read or watch with.

— Wayne H. (West Montrose, Ontario, Canada)

Testimonial for Mortise and Tenon Joinery 5-DVD Boxed Set

I have bought other similar training guides on this subject over the years. A friend of mine has this particular copy and I am envious to say I would give a “thumb” to own this myself. Nothing I owned previously on this subject can even come close to the material by this author. Please choose me!!!!.


— “Paflov”
    posted on Fine Woodworking website

Testimonial for Handcut Dovetails 4-DVD Boxed Set

One of the remarks made by Varju in this video sticks in the memory. It’s a comment about the quality of dovetail joints found in antique furniture. He points out that they are often nowhere near as well made as those in the furniture produced by today’s leading woodworkers.

Of course, we have every right to marvel at the work of the masters who made the furniture treasures that have lasted through hundreds of years. We know that they were created entirely by hand and can hardly imagine what it must have been like to take boards roughly milled with huge handsaws and convert them to a precisely flat and superbly polished table top large enough to serve a dozen diners — all with hand tools and no power other than that which could be derived from their own bodies.

But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that they made their furniture for sale. It had to be sturdy, presentable and able to be produced at a price their customers could afford.

The bespoke furniture makers of today work within similar constraints, though there are differences. They have machines to do much of the heavy work for them, but it is arguable that they must now meet, if anything, higher standards of workmanship than were acceptable a few centuries ago.

The dovetail joint is not merely used for its strength as it was in furniture of two or three centuries ago. Then, it was not exposed to view (as it may be now), but employed to withstand the forces imposed on a drawer being continually pushed and pulled over decades of use.

Today, it is also used for its beauty. But there are many more jointing options — less expensive options — now available for the construction of contemporary furniture. So there is a significant additional cost involved when a customer wants the drawers in a cabinet or table to be made with dovetails.

However, when this choice is agreed between customer and maker, there is almost always the automatic expectation that the dovetails will be immaculate.

In the course of the presentation on these videos, Hendrik Varju makes clear that it is not his intention to simply teach his viewers how to make dovetail joints — but instead, how to make immaculate dovetail joints.

The videos begin with a discussion about the equipment that is required and the planning necessary to lay out dovetails so that they not only serve their physical purpose, but also appear as attractive as possible within their environment. This freedom of placement is not given to any but the most expensive of router based methods of dovetail construction so it is still largely the prerogative of the hand dovetail maker.

Varju’s instruction in actually making dovetails starts with what may be seen as the easiest part, the making of the tails.

For those who have already experienced this presenter’s quiet, relaxed style, there will be no surprises here. He goes about the task of teaching his viewers in the same way as on all of his other videos — with care, precision and the expectation that his student wishes to achieve the highest standards of workmanship.

Like many Western woodworkers, Hendrik Varju has adopted the Japanese Dozuki, a rib-backed, hard-toothed saw that cuts on the pull stroke to make a fine kerf. He shows how to use this saw in the cutting of tails, offering along the way, the benefits of his experience in the setting up of the workpiece to perform this operation quickly and accurately.

This is followed by the task of chopping the tails with a chisel and then tracing the tails onto the pin board.

Again the pins are cut with a dozuki before chiselling away the waste. This is one of the most significant parts of the whole demonstration since it focusses on the meticulous techniques that Varju has developed to ensure accuracy.

This includes a method of mounting the workpiece so as to provide a guide for the chisel and the use of specific chisel movements to completely clear the volume of waste without losing even a sliver of wood that must be retained.

While the use of covering such a mistake by filling with glue and sawdust is mentioned, it is obvious that this is regarded as an unacceptable outcome of the work.

The penultimate sessions are devoted to fitting the pin and tail boards and the hand planing of the finished joint.

The final session describes the application of techniques similar to those already covered, to the making of Half Blind Dovetails.

The Bonus Footage on these videos extends the discussion to the use of the bandsaw in making dovetails. While not recommended for small joints, this method of construction is useful when the boards are very thick.

There is also a comprehensive description of the construction and use of a dovetail making jig. This is Hendrik Varju’s own design and offers not only an alternative to the methods described in the body of the videos, but also further insights into the general subject of dovetail making.

As usual, Hendrik Varju has added some philosophical afterthoughts. Here, they reflect on topics such as hand tools and the pursuit of perfection.

Handcut Dovetails will appeal to any woodworker, regardless of experience, who has not yet mastered the intricacies of making these joints. While reasonable skill with a chisel is advisable, the methods shown here will be helpful in reducing reliance upon skill alone — but they still demand the sharpest possible tools!

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 185

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

After reviewing the DVD ourselves, we realized that this product will help our customers who purchase jointers and planers learn to get the most out of their machines. It is clear that Varju is not just an accomplished craftsman, but a master at passing his knowledge onto others. He is a very precise technician in describing how best to use these machines, including such rare instruction as how to stand, where the feet should be positioned, where hands and even individual fingers should be placed. Not only does Varju take viewers through the process of milling precise lumber, but he covers it with tremendous emphasis on safety practices that we feel can only benefit our customers.

We highly recommend it to all of our customers who are unsure of what their jointer and planer can really do.

— Steel City Tool Works

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

Hendrik Varju’s “Jointer and Planer Secrets”. This DVD is the most thorough review of fundamental jointer and planer techniques that I have ever seen. The set also includes bonus footage where Hendrik thoroughly reviews panel glueups, the hand tools vs. power tools debate, and tips for purchasing tools. Definitely take some time to check out Hendrik’s site, Passion for Wood.


— Marc Spagnuolo
    Host of The Wood Whisperer Video Podcast

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

Hendrik Varju’s “Jointer and Planer Secrets”. This DVD is the most thorough review of fundamental jointer and planer techniques that I have ever seen. The set also includes bonus footage where Hendrik thoroughly reviews panel glueups, the hand tools vs. power tools debate, and tips for purchasing tools. Definitely take some time to check out Hendrik’s site, Passion for Wood.


— Marc Spagnuolo
    Host of The Wood Whisperer Video Podcast

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

This 5-DVD box set is the second in a series of ‘Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box’. Varju offers woodworking training from his Canadian workshop and produces a range of fine furniture – check out his www.passionforwood.com website.

The first four chapters (around 21⁄4hours) cover a series of steps required to set up your tablesaw, as well as its safe operation, such that you can obtain accurate results from the saw. The topics covered include blade-to-mitre-slot non-parallelism, fence alignment and
splitter placement, as well as a range of accessories for the saw. The presentation is detailed and thorough and there is a very strong emphasis on safety.

Crosscutting and ripping
In the six following chapters (around 33⁄4 hours), the tablesaw techniques of crosscutting and ripping are examined. From ripping in general, Varju examines special approaches for ripping both wide and narrow stock and bevelled cuts.

The final chapter of this informative section covers cutting dadoes and rabbets using a dado head fitted to the tablesaw; note, however, that the use of dado heads is illegal in this country [England].

As promised on the front of the box, Chapters 11 to 13 provide the bonus footage. Varju presents a tutorial (a further 33⁄4 hours) on the construction of a crosscut sled for your tablesaw. This is presented in full detail concentrating on the preparation of the two slides which run in the mitre slots as well as getting the front fence at 90° to the cut line.

Finally, he shares some of his thoughts on woodworking, including the importance of regular habits for safe working practices. Overall, this DVD set offers value for money and should enable the viewer to improve the results from their tablesaw. The only downside is the variable sound volume – but a hand on the remote control solves this problem.

— Alan Wadsworth
    Furniture & Cabinetmaking Magazine

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

Hendrik Varju is a Canadian craftsman whose business Passion for Wood became known around the world when he produced his first DVD:  Jointer and Planer Secrets.

This is the second video in what he clearly intends to be a comprehensive instructional series.  Like the first, Varju calls it ‘Private Woodworking in a Box’.

It’s an apt title, given the quietly efficient presentation style and the wealth of information that Varju provides.

There are five DVDs in the pack totaling almost 10 hours of video!

The presentation begins with a discussion on safety, but unlike some other presenters, Varju never puts the subject of safety entirely aside; he refers to it continually as he progresses through the instructional material.

Varju starts his Revelations on Table Saw Set-up with a list of the topics to be considered.  The list is expanded later as he explores them further, but initially, it comprises:

  • Ensure that the extension wings and extension table of the saw are flush with the main table
  • Check that the table insert is flush or below the main table
  • Adjust the trunnions so that the arbor is exactly at right angles to the mitre slot
  • Make the rip fence parallel to the mitre slots
  • Check the saw tilt and accurately set the stops for 90° and 45°
  • Remove any slop between the mitre gauge and the mitre slot
  • Ensure that the alignment of the splitter (riving knife) is correct

On the face of it, this might seem like a reasonably simple list, but as Varju analyses each function of the table saw, he shows there is often much more to these adjustments than meets the eye.

He also explores peripheral areas that impact upon table saw accuracy.

For example, in a discussion about whether it is better to have a saw on the which the blade tilts to the left or to the right, he shows the impact of these alternatives on the accurate setting of the rip fence and the changes that occur with each when opting for a blade of a different thickness.

Included in these DVDs is a step-by-step tutorial for the building of a Crosscut Sled.

This section contains a fascinating demonstration of how to use a standard thicknesser to achieve the thousandths of an inch shavings necessary to make runners that will fit smoothly and firmly into the mitre slots of the saw.

Hendrik Varju has a talent for vocalizing his thoughts as he performs an action.  The viewer sees what is happening and at the same time hears what the presenter is thinking.

It’s unlikely that anyone who is seriously interested in learning how to set up their table saw for greatest accuracy and safety will be bored – even after 9 hours and 55 minutes viewing this video.

— As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 148

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

I had an opportunity recently to view some great woodworking videos made by Hendrik Varju.  Hendrik is a designer and maker of fine furniture, he also has many years as an educator and has offered many classes and seminars over the years.

The videos he has produced are a great value.  The videos contain in-depth information and many tips and techniques that will improve your success in the wood shop.  For example, the video entitled “Revelations on Table Saw Set-up and Safety” contains five DVDs with almost 10 hours of instruction on getting your table saw cutting safely and accurately.  Hendrik takes the time to meticulously go through all the steps of setting up this often poorly adjusted tool.

Other titles include:

  • Working with Plywood
  • Jointer and Planer Secrets
  • Wood Science and Design

These videos are not just for the novice woodworker.  They contain information that even a seasoned woodworker can benefit from.  This is by far the most comprehensive set of DVD’s I have ever watched.

— Vic Tesolin
    Editor of Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement Magazine

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

I just wanted to send a quick note to say thank you for all (and I mean ALL) the work you do around woodworking and teaching others about the craft.  I first came across your website about the time you put out your first DVD, Jointer and Planer Secrets.  All of your DVDs are comprehensive, engaging, and very informative.  They are much more informative and useful than other instructional videos available.  I understand that is quite a claim, but the level of actual instruction, demonstration, explanation, and illustration I get from your DVDs allows me to make that claim.  I have a lot (too many) videos/DVDs that I have purchased over the years and the one quality that distinguishes yours is that I can’t view the entire video in one sitting.  And I’m not talking about trying to view all 5 of the tablesaw discs in one viewing, I’m talking about viewing just one disc in one sitting.  There is so much information in your presentations that I am constantly rewinding and re-watching/re-listening to different parts of it.  And of all the videos that I own, yours are the ones I pick up months later to get “refreshed” or reacquainted to a specific issue.

It’s embarrassing to admit this but I thought the Wood Science DVD was going to be pretty bland and I actually put off watching it.  Boy was I wrong.  I was glued to those discs, not because I’m a geek and curious about science, but because I learned much more than I thought I would.  The examples you provide are relevant and effective (although I almost passed out watching you blow through that piece of red oak!!), and – believe it or not – your drawings are just as important as your words!

So, please keep up the great work.  I know there are only so many hours in a day and you have many things going on around you, but I hope you will continue to expand your DVD library.

Thank you again.  Stay safe.

— David R. (Plano, Texas, USA)

Testimonial for Surface Preparation and Staining 5-DVD Boxed Set & Hand Finishing and Rubbing Out 5-DVD Boxed Set

I’m going to tell you something – the things that I’ve learned in here is stuff that is really, really going to help me out when it comes to my finishing.  There are a lot of things I thought I was doing right but it turns out I can definitely use some improvement.

These DVDs are extremely informative and there is a lot of detail in them.  It’s like being in a classroom with you because you don’t just hit the details and move on – you really go into the details and demonstrate.  You really go into the practical and show everything in a real world situation.  It’s not sped up for the camera and there aren’t tricky little camera cuts.  Everything you show is in real time.  I can take these DVDs into the shop with me, set up my DVD player and work right along with you so that I can get a feel for it in real time.  I can see what your result is and what my result is and compare it.  So kudos to you.

A lot of people really gloss over these techniques.  You can only put so much into a magazine article and you’re definitely not going to see it in some thirty minute show on your local PBS station.  You know, some people might talk about the price of your DVDs because they are a little bit pricey compared to other ones, but the fact is that you get a ton of information that would normally just be glossed over.  To me, this is the price of going to a seminar where you’re actually standing in front of me.  Your DVDs really give the exact same effect.  I think it’s just awesome.

I like the way you talked about the different categories of finishes, especially the thinners and curing methods.  That is an area that most people don’t think about.  A lot of people have a misunderstanding that a finish is a finish is a finish – they all basically do the same thing, it’s just a different name.  But I like how you broke them all down.  I’ve really been trying to work a lot more with shellac because I really like it, but I’ve ripped my hair out quite a few times trying to use it.  Watching your chapter on shellac, I discovered that I’ve been doing everything wrong and that made a world of difference.  Having it go from what I think I know and trying to glean things from what other people have talked about or written about, your techniques were almost the exact opposite of everything I understood about shellac.  So . . . thank you!

Now that I’ve learned these techniques from you, my notebook is just filled with them.  In fact, my notes are going in the shop with me right next to the cans of finish themselves so that I have them to refer to.  As for techniques on rubbing out the finish, I’ve heard about this but with the detail that you covered it makes total sense now and I’m looking forward to trying this on my next project.  Before, I was satisfied with finished surfaces that I knew could be better, but I didn’t want to push my luck.  Now I’m looking forward to surfaces that I can be really proud of and say, “Go ahead and touch that!  Rub your hand across it”.

If you can get both of these DVDs, definitely do it.  Each stands alone perfectly fine by itself, but after watching both of them I can’t imagine having one without the other.  My projects are going to look pretty darn good from this point on.  So thank you for putting these DVDs out.

Here’s my little tip.  Don’t tell your loved one I said this, but tell them you’re going away for a seminar.  Then lock yourself in the shop, pop in the DVDs and it’s like you’ve gone away for a whole weekend with Hendrik.

— Matt Vanderlist
    Host of Matt’s Basement Workshop Podcast

<p”>Testimonial for Surface Preparation and Staining 5-DVD Boxed Set & Hand Finishing and Rubbing Out 5-DVD Boxed Set

As a totally blind woodwork hobbyist, I’m naturally disappointed I can’t see for myself Hendrik’s work in-progress, finished work or instructional diagrams on his gallery, videos or whiteboard.  However, Hendrik’s verbal explanations are so well paced, so thorough, so descriptive and so complete with meaningful analogies (such as cat’s fur and wood grain direction) that I can readily visualise at least 95% of all messages Hendrik is conveying. A quick review/viewing of any misunderstood DVD segments with my sighted “reader” quickly clears up all failures, on my part, of any initial miscomprehension.

I find Hendrik’s depth and breadth of knowledge and understanding in every aspect of fine woodworking from materials science and machine setup/maintenance/safe operation, through design, cutting, shaping, joining techniques, clamping and gluing, to surface preparation and finishing to be totally stunning.

While I’m extremely grateful to all of my various woodwork teachers at my local Blind School-Education Centre for the skills, knowledge and personal confidence they’ve given me, I can readily say that the DVDs I’ve bought from Hendrik are every bit as educationally valuable and significant to me as my 5 or so years of hands on workshop instruction.  Hendrik’s DVDs are not for a mere “one off” viewing, but are an educational/instructional resource that I return to over and over again.

Hendrik’s 2 latest DVDs, Surface Preparation and Staining plus Hand Finishing and Rubbing Out, have come at the perfect moment for me as I’ve just acquired a magnificent length (3000mm x 180mm x 70mm) of Western Australia Jarrah, which I’m told dazzles the eye with an abundance of fiddleback figure.  Thanks Hendrik!

— John M. (Brighton, Victoria, Australia)

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

For anyone who uses either the jointer, the planer or both “Jointer and Planer Secrets” is a must see DVD. Understanding how and why these two workhorses in the woodworking shop do their jobs and more importantly how you can bring out the best in them is all found in this DVD set. Each step is detailed extensively throughout the entire DVD, there’s no skipping a step or explanation for the sake of time. Watching this instruction is like being at Hendrik’s shop and learning directly from him. A must watch for anyone who wants to not only learn how to use the jointer and planer, but more importantly a must watch for anyone who wants to learn how to use these tools better. After I watched it for the first time, the results I got on my jointer went from good to great. Thanks Hendrik!

— Matt Vanderlist
    Host of Matt’s Basement Workshop Podcast

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

I recently had an exciting opportunity to do my first review. I was sent a copy of Hendrik Varju’s Jointer and Planer Secrets. He states that this is “Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box”, to which I have to completely agree with. It’s like having a private woodworking teacher.

This video is very thorough in every aspect, especially if you are new or just in the beginning stages of your woodworking hobby. Hendrik covers in fine detail how you dimension your lumber. Also things like the theory behind how the jointer and planer work, understanding wood movement and which way the grain should be facing as you plane and joint.

As an added bonus to this set, there is an entire section on edge gluing. With excellent explanations and demonstrations on proper edge gluing techniques, there will be no excuses why your next glue up should be difficult. He also has extra footage covering topics like, “How long will it take” and “Getting advice when buying tools”.

If you are looking for some 1 on 1 training with a master craftsman, but don’t have the time or the money to go to a school or to a private shop, then this video is for you. It gives you the best of both worlds, private instruction for a minimal price. Now be forewarned that this DVD is a 2-disc set, with a total of 4 hours and 38 minutes of video. But believe me that you will learn a ton and be a better woodworker for it.

— Kaleo Kala
    Host of This Week in Wood Podcast

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

I just finished watching Hendrik Varju’s new DVD “Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety” http://www.passionforwood.com/dvds.htm.  It is by far the most complete video I’ve ever seen on the subject.  Techniques and set-up steps that are barely brushed over in other videos are explained step by step by Hendrik.  There are interesting tips throughout and nothing is left for the viewer to ponder on how he gets from A to B as some videos tend to do.

Setting up and adjusting a right tilt cab saw, including wings and extension tables, takes up a good part of the DVD.  He explains his reasons for preferring right over left tilt and makes very convincing arguments for his conclusions.  There is a very good section on blade selection also.

In the technique section he covers quite a few situations that might arise while using the saw and gives good advice on how to handle them.

Safety is the paramount lesson from this DVD.  Hendrik goes into detail on how to safely make many cuts and mentions a few he wouldn’t make using a TS.

Like his first DVD on Jointers and Planers, this one leaves the viewer with very few questions at the end.  Neither are inexpensive, but the quantity and quality of information on them far surpasses the usual video fare.  I’ve been working wood for more than 30 years and there were eye openers for me on this DVD.

For a beginner I would unhesitatingly recommend this DVD.  It would probably save a few accidents or close calls even for the more experienced.

— Brent Smith (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
    Review posted on Workshop Buzz, Wood Central
    and Sawmill Creek woodworking forums

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

I wanted to let you know I was finally able to watch your new DVD “Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety”. I consider myself an experienced amateur woodworker. After watching your DVD, I learned how much I didn’t know about using a table saw. You have inspired me to put my splitter and blade guard back on my table saw. Now that I know what it is really for and how to set it up, I’m ashamed I ever took it off. I’ve read a lot about table saw set up and use, but many of the concepts you talked about were new to me. You gave the most compelling argument for right-tilt versus left-tilt saws. Your approach to use your miter gauge on the right side of the blade, was interesting. I’m not sure why I never thought of it. When I use a crosscut sled, I always cut from the right side so why not with the miter gauge. It must be because that is what you always see on TV. Speaking of TV, I now think the idea of removing the guard for “visual clarity” is a real cop out. I now think it does a real disservice for new woodworkers.

Thanks again for putting out a product that no one else is coming close to matching.

— Michael L. (Bothell, Washington, USA)

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

Hendrik, thank you for putting together these DVDs (Wood Science & Design and Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety).  I have learned so much from you and I love how you teach and get your message across.  The Wood Whisperer recommended your DVDs to me and I’m so glad he did.  Since woodworking schools are so hard to come by unless you live by one, books and the internet seem to be the only way to learn.  Even with the DVDs out there, they are so short and hard to learn from but you have changed that.

I will be buying your other 2 DVDs soon (Working with Plywood and Jointer and Planer Secrets).  I hope to see more DVDs in the future from you.  I know I would buy them.  I listen to you all the time on Matt’s Basement Workshop, great show.

— David S. (Marysville, Ohio, USA)

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

Sometimes as woodworkers we get too enamored by tools and techniques (like pins first or tails first in dovetails) however, never take the time to understand the nature of the medium we are using.  This DVD is the only one to my knowledge that addresses this important area.

Although Hendrick can come across as earnest, I really enjoyed watching this DVD and learned a lot.

Highly recommended.

— “LB”
    posted on Fine Woodworking website

Testimonial for Surface Preparation and Staining 5-DVD Boxed Set

Sorry about the delay in writing the mini review on the DVD collection.  It has been a very busy past couple of months. Now on with the review.

This DVD set is excellent. The Surface Preparation and Staining collection goes into great detail about surface preparation and staining.  It’s like having Hendrik Varju right in your shop teaching you all of his tips and tricks. I consider myself an intermediate woodworker and this DVD set gave many good ideas and pointers for both sanding and staining.  Hendrik Varju goes into great depth on the types of stains and their characteristics with different types of woods both common and figured.

I wish I had seen these DVDs before I used the aniline dye on birds eye maple.  It would have saved me from having to strip and refinish my guitar body. Whatever you do don’t use shellac on pieces that have been dyed. The dye will immediately bleed out of the wood and into the shellac… WHY?? you ask?  Because the alcohol in the shellac sucks the dye right out of the wood.

I recommend this DVD set for all beginners and even an advanced woodworker will find benefits after watching the DVD set. Thank you very much FWW, and Hendrik Varju for allowing me to review this great DVD collection. I will be watching it a few more times to to review the areas where I am still a little weak, and there is quite a bit of information to digest.

— “Whampoo”
    posted by Fine Woodworking DVD Contest Winner

Testimonial for Surface Preparation and Staining 5-DVD Boxed Set

I have thoroughly enjoyed the DVD on surface preparation and staining that I ordered a little while ago. I like the step-by-step approach and the high level of detail provided. I am also in a teaching profession and I can say that I’ve seen few teaching materials of any kind that are this informative about their subject matter.

— Daniel P.A. (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

I heard about this DVD over at Matt’s Basement Workshop. I hadn’t heard of Hendrik Varju before that, but I’m glad I know about him now. His DVD on the power Jointer and Planer is one of the best woodworking DVDs I’ve watched. It covers all of the techniques you need, to get the most out of your Jointer and Planer. If you are new to using these machines, I highly recommend this DVD. I wish I had had it when I first bought my Jointer and Planer. Many of the mistakes I made he talks about on the DVD. I’ve been using my Jointer and Planer for awhile now, but I still learned some new techniques that have saved me a lot of time with these machines.

This is a 2 DVD set and has about 4.5 hours of information on it. He spends a lot of time showing you how to deal with concave, convex and twisted boards. He also spends a bit of time showing how to read grain direction. Watching the DVD is like taking a class from him. There are very few cuts in the video, most everything is shown in real-time. There is also some bonus footage on edge-gluing techniques.

You can find out more about Hendrik Varju over at www.passionforwood.com.

— Michael L. (Bothell, Washington, USA)
    5-Star Rated Review on www.lumberjocks.com

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

A person can learn just about anything now by taking advantage of YouTube and commercial DVD’s. Most instructional DVD’s are satisfactory, but not professionally done. Hendrik Varju’s “Jointer and Planer Secrets” is one of the best, if not the best, instructional DVD’s I have ever seen on any subject. The DVD treats the viewer as if she/he has a brain, but Hendrik does not assume the viewer has any prior experience with a jointer or planer. As a good instructor is able to do, Hendrik is able to put himself in the shoes of a beginning woodworker. He shows every step in the milling process and explains the reason for each step. As a bonus, he also shows how to glue up the freshly milled boards into a flat table top. The photography is excellent and not rushed. The close-ups are clear and detailed showing everything from reading the grain of a board to using a feeler gauge to check the flatness of a glued up table top. The DVD is 4 hours 38 minutes long and is worth every penny.

I can’t wait for Hendrik’s next DVD to come out.

— David E. (Staunton, Virginia, USA)

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

Don’t ask me how or why but I no sooner ordered my table saw when I found myself looking at your web site.  I ordered 3 of your videos and once these arrived I became obsessed.  I know I’m not telling you anything you haven’t heard many times before but these are absolutely spectacular — you’re spectacular.  You’re wonderful — a true sage.

While I went out of my way to make sure I ordered the table saw from someone who would deliver and install it, in retrospect, that was a mistake as I literally had to completely disassemble it after coming to appreciate your Table Saw series — a brilliant work of art.  I’m not kidding you when I say I’m obsessed.  Between this series, the Planer/Jointer and the Plywood series, I don’t know which one I’ve watched more and whenever I’m watching one the others are calling.  There continue to be new insights every time I watch so I have to keep on watching.

— John D. (New Jersey, USA)

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

I’ve just watched for the first time (I’ll go back and make notes next) your extraordinary recent DVD set; as a confirmed book/instructional video junkie I consider myself something of an expert on evaluating that kind of stuff; yours is the best I’ve come across in the genres that have captured me over the years. Unexpected – the loads of examples such as how to drive a screw, make a pencil mark, etc.. It is indeed like having a private lesson.  This is much more than a safety demonstration; after 10 years of tablesaw use I found something new every few minutes.

All the best.

— Mark C. (Huntsville, Ontario, Canada)

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

I’ve had Bruce Hoadley’s book for a few years, but it wasn’t until I watched Hendrik Varju’s video that I began to understand the value of the information in both the book and the video.  As a self-taught amateur woodworker I did not have a good understanding of the properties of wood. I had learned how to select wood to get the best appearance in a project but it wasn’t until I saw this video that I developed an understanding of how to factor in wood properties to ensure that a piece is not just good looking, but also long lasting.  I highly recommend this video for all woodworkers.

— “boxster9”
    posted on Fine Woodworking website

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

I actually own this DVD so I don’t need a copy [from the free draw] but I will say it’s an amazing video.  I thought I would get bored watching a 5 hour DVD [actually, almost 6 hours] but I was glued to my seat watching it.  I learned so much and I recommend it to any new woodworker or anyone who really doesn’t understand wood.

— “forummfg”
    Posted on Fine Woodworking Blog

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

First off let me say how much I am impressed with your double DVD set on Jointing and Planing. It is well thought out and very thorough. Kudos. I can see what a wonderful woodworker you are.

Again, congratulations on a superior course that one ups any of the other courses out there of which there are sadly precious few. You are filling an awfully big void in courses available on DVD with good, solid and insightful teaching on jointing and planing, two activities that lie at the very bedrock of ANY wood workers’ daily and necessary tasks. Congrats! My hat is off to you sir. I look very forward to the next “several” courses.

I wish you all the best and much continued success in fine woodworking. Your work is of a very exacting and beautiful nature showing the fruits of years of labor and devotion. You are a wonderful teacher and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your course has really touched a lot of fine points that my many books have missed. Also I learn better seeing and hearing than just seeing or just hearing. Congratulations and God Bless!

— Steve S. (Dallas, Texas, USA)

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

Recently purchased Hendrik Varju’s “Jointer and Planer Secrets” DVDs. Great instructional video. Thorough enough for a beginner to follow, yet contains information helpful to even an experienced woodworker. . . . one of the great things about these videos is the minimal editing. You get to see Mr. Varju performing the ENTIRE operation about which he is speaking. This makes the lessons much more effective.

Fantastic DVDs. I have never received any formal woodworking instruction, but have instead learned by trial and error…and error…and error. Some of this has been good, but you can certainly get too much of a good thing. I learned a great deal from these lessons and can hopefully now experience fewer errors and more results. I was very impressed with Mr. Varju’s ability to clearly explain and demonstrate the various lessons.

I have a small suggestion, however. Perhaps you could include a brief highlight (or two) from the video on your website. While the DVDs are well worth the price, the price is not insignificant. I almost did not purchase them because I had absolutely no sense of what I was getting. There might be some folks that considered the DVDs, but declined because of uncertainty about the contents. A brief highlight or two could highlight Mr. Varju’s ability and demonstrate the tremendous value of this product.

I highly recommend these DVDs to anybody that wants to learn how to more effectively utilize their jointer and planer.

— Russell A. (Plainwell, Michigan, USA)

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

I have just finished watching your Table Saw DVD, which I actually purchased from you, and I now know that after owning a table saw for over 30 years, that I am just a beginner. I enjoyed it immensely and am now looking forward to setting up and using my new saw, properly. I hope you are planning the same instruction for the router table which you mentioned, was more dangerous than the table saw. It’s fun to learn incorporating safety as # 1.

I think your operation is first class . . . I have had extensive courses most of my life and I think that I know good from poor instruction. . . . people like Hendrik . . . seem to understand what we need to know and can present material in a simple yet technical manner. There are a lot of professors out there who get paid handsomely but can’t teach at all.

— Tom M. (Cambridge, Ontario, Canada)

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been using your table saw.   Hendrik teaches solid basics for all skill levels.  He brings, not only the how, but the why these procedures will keep you safe and give you the best results as well.  Hendrik has an even flow teaching method that keeps your attention and leaves you with virtually no questions in the end.  He covers it all, from a proper set up to final perfect cuts.  I’ve yet to see such a thorough lesson presented in a way that makes you want to run to your shop and check and adjust your own equipment to get those perfect results.

Five DVDs are a lot, but the lessons are broken down in a well thought out methodology so you can watch and apply as you go.  It made me wish I had a TV and DVD player in my shop to follow along.   Maybe I will now.  If you are a beginner woodworker this is definitely a lesson you need to invest in.  I guarantee it will pay for itself over and over.   For an intermediate, like me, it will add those solid basics to your arsenal of knowledge and give you better results while keeping you safe.  If you are one of those folks, invest and you’ll be pleased you did.

— Jim H. (Chesterfield, Virginia, USA)

Testimonial for Wood Science & Design 3-DVD Boxed Set

I have attended several of Hendrik’s day long seminars, one of which was Wood Science and Design.  I’ve also got both the Table Saw and Jointer DVD’s.  The DVD sets cover exactly the same content that he covers during the seminars which makes them ideal for those who can’t attend the seminar or as a reference tool for those wanting to recall.  The information Hendrik provides during the Wood Science and Design seminar is so extensive that this DVD will be a valuable asset to anyone who includes it in their library.

— “dave100”
    Posted on Fine Woodworking Blog

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

I received my DVDs a couple of days ago. I am extremely pleased with my purchase! Living in the middle of Texas far from any other wood workers makes it difficult to learn how to properly use my new tools. Your DVD has given me the confidence that I’m using my jointer and planer safely and that I will be able to get the highest quality from them possible. I’ve watched the DVDs a couple of times and have taken notes. I plan to watch them several more times until I feel that I have absorbed all of the tips and instructions.

I’d like to congratulate you for creating the DVDs in such a professional manner. The video and audio quality is excellent, making it easy to follow the lessons. The instructions are clear and concise leaving no apparent gaps or oversights. It is obvious that a lot of time and energy went into the production. I’m looking forward to your next set of lessons!

. . . thanks again for taking the time to create the DVD! It has been one of the best purchases I’ve made!

— Steve C. (Brownwood, Texas, USA)

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

My husband and I both benefited from Jointer and Planer Secrets. He learned so many new things and can always go back and watch it again when he gets stuck. I got peace of mind knowing that he follows your safety tips! Working in any shop can be dangerous. Thank you for your DVD and for another great gift idea.

— Natalie C. (Montclair, New Jersey, USA)

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

Bonjour Hendrik,

I just wanted to share with you my crosscut sled I built following your valuable instructions from your latest DVD.  I have used ½” baltic plywood for the base and ash for the fences.  Since I am a beginner I decided to play safe and I added an acrylic cover plus a wooden block to protect myself.  This is one of my first woodworking projects and I am amazed at the level of accuracy I was able to get.  Beginners luck (or very good instructor guidelines), my cuts are perfectly square without any tape on the fence.

Thank you again.

— Andre C. (Pierrefonds, Quebec, Canada)

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

Hi, I ordered and received and watched both of your DVDs.  I thoroughly enjoyed them.  I am a 44yr old beginner woodworker and am looking for all I can on instruction material.  I was wondering if you have any plans to release any new material on DVD in the future?  If you don’t that would be unfortunate for the many followers you have.  . . .

Anyhow I am now in the process of watching them for a second time and starting to put to use the skills you teach.  Just a great product.  Thank you.

— Pat L. (Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada)

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

I just finished your DVD set and thoroughly enjoyed it. I am a detail oriented woodworker and am always in search of instruction on woodworking that not only tells how to do something, but also goes into detail about the how, and also discusses what can go wrong. Your video answered all my questions and then some. I also liked how you dispelled common myths such as the starved glue joint. . . .

I hope that this will be the first of many videos from your shop. . . . Good luck with your business!

— Jim G. (Martinez, Georgia, USA)

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

The DVD by Hendrik Varju is very detailed, thorough and methodical.  He explains how to use a jointer to flatten any kind of warpage, cupping or twist. . . . Every time I watch it I pick up a couple of tips I had missed previously. . . . I have watched both DVD’s 4 times and will watch more thru the years as a refresher course.  His marking method has been useful to me and has reduced tear out when edge jointing.  I also have a much better arsenal of ideas to deal with twisted boards.

— Kip E. (Shannon, Illinois, USA)

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

After watching and following your instructions contained in the Revelations on Table Saw Set-up and Safety DVD, I tuned up my table saw. The saw is approximately 12 years old and I am amazed at how well it now performs. I have moved on to the Jointer and Planer Secrets and am really beginning to fully understand how to work with my planer and jointer. Most importantly because of both sets of DVDs I am developing what I believe are very good safety habits while working in my shop.

— Bob. M. (Pickering, Ontario, Canada)


Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

Your DVD’s are fantastic!  I have learned so much in the few hours that I’ve spent watching and re-watching them.  I wish I would have had these a long time ago before learning some bad habits on my own.  I hope you are able to do a DVD on the band saw and using hand planes and other topics as I will surely purchase those as well. Thanks for all your efforts–you are a fantastic teacher!

— Walter S. (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

I really got my money’s worth out of your DVD! It took the mystery out of the jointing and planing process, and gave me confidence that I would not have gotten out of a book or magazine. I look forward to the next one, and am hoping for the subject to be hand planing! I am finishing up my first commisioned piece, a mid-century modern style desk of my design, and your DVD got my milling off to a good start. Thanks!

— Mike G. (Russellville, Arkansas, USA)

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

I just want to compliment you on your DVD, you’ve done a great job. It explains in simple and easy to follow instructions on how to prepare lumber for woodworking projects…. you have a lot of good tips …do’s and don’ts. I love your cat analogy. I never could tell which way the grain was running and which end to feed first… If got tear out I would just flip the board and try from the other end.

This is a must see for my daughter. She built her own house and now she has all kinds of projects to work on.

Thank you.


— Al S. (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada)

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

I was somewhat surprised when I saw the new line of instructional DVDs that Hendrik Varju is producing. Comprising 5 DVDs with a running time of 9 hours and 55 minutes it certainly had the time to explore the subject at hand. With our attention spans shrinking and most TV woodworking shows typically running ½ hour in length with 8 minutes of commercials included, we have become accustomed to having our information delivered in short sections. With the popularity of YouTube, our attention spans have been further shortened to brief internet clips and I’ll have to admit that I had initially thought that with one subject spread over nearly ten hours of video, I would be fighting to stay awake and pay attention – the question is, was I?

Hendrik is well-known to many woodworkers through his articles in Canadian Home Workshop Magazine, Canadian Woodworking Magazine and Fine Woodworking Magazine as well as his appearances and seminars at various Canadian woodworking shows.

Hendrik’s stated goals at the beginning of the class are to teach the student how to set up their table saw so it produces accurate results every time, to demonstrate various table saw techniques and to show the possible safety risks of using the table saw.

First off, on disc one, Hendrik covers table saw safety: from the various safety glasses to the options for hearing protection and dust control. In addition to the personal protective gear Hendrik covers the safety equipment that comes as a part of the saw as well as other considerations that the average user may not have considered – from your choice of clothing and even your marriage. To close off the safety discussion, Hendrik uses some foam to demonstrate the dangers of a kick back incident.

With the safety considerations covered, Hendrik jumps into showing how to set up a cabinet saw. Without a properly tuned machine, you’ll never get accurate results. From the basic assembly and alignment of the major parts to a detailed discussion of the differences between a left and right tilt version, you’ll see what it takes to set up your saw for accurate, repeatable cuts that are perfect every time. How does the construction of the saw affect your choice of blade thicknesses and as a result, your accuracy; how does blade thickness affect the splitter position on a left tilt saw? Hendrik explains it all.

After working through all of the procedures to fine tune a table saw, Hendrik moves on to performing various operations. From rough and fine cross cuts, ripping lumber and using dado cutters, Hendrik covers it all with specific emphasis on safety and accuracy.

Some of the questions that Hendrik answers…

  • Which type of saw is better – left or right tilt?
  • How can a pencil help you get accurate 90 degree cuts?
  • At which locations will a little dust always accumulate and ruin your accuracy?
  • How high should you set your blade?
  • When is a piece of wood too short to cut on a table saw?
  • Why will your dado likely be deeper than you set the saw for?

Watch Hendrik show you how to…

  • Adjust your parallelism using a mitre gauge, a steel rod, feeler gauges and a pony clamp
  • Set you fence properly for safety.
  • Test your splitter set-up and adjust it for maximum safety.
  • Perform rough and fine crosscuts accurately and safely.
  • Crosscut multiple parts to exactly the same length.
  • Perform rough and fine rip cuts.
  • Rip wide stock safely.
  • Ripping narrow and short stock.
  • Make bevelled rip cuts safely.
  • How to set up a stacked dado blade and make dado cuts.
  • Build a cross cut sled.

This video course is jam packed with tips and ideas. One of these tips is Hendrik’s low profile splitter made of aluminum that he had featured in Fine Woodworking Magazine. Taking the time to make a couple of these will make any dado operation much safer. Not only does he explain how to make and use them, he explains the reason they work so well.

After running through the various operations you’ll be performing at the table saw, Hendrik walks you through every detail involved in building one of the most important jigs in the shop: the cross cut sled. By building one of these sleds, your cross cuts will be more accurate and safer than were you to simply use the mitre gauge that the saw came with. From machining the runners to assembling the sled and ensuring the fence is perpendicular to the cut, the entire construction process is laid out.

To finish off the lesson, Hendrik shares his thoughts on keeping it simple, what makes a good jig and the importance of regular habits.

So, the question is, why nearly 10 hours of video? Is it self-indulgent or time well spent? Very shortly after beginning the first DVD it became clear why this was a project that would require some commitment. Most video treatments of a subject are edited down into quick condensed clips that quickly move you through the material with the intent of getting to the end. This set of DVD’s that Hendrik has produced was not meant to give you an introduction to the table saw, it was produced with the sole purpose of explaining everything you could possibly need to know to use your table saw safely while producing accurate results. Not only does Hendrik cover the material, he explains the reasoning behind it and when you understand the material on that level, it is much likelier you will remember it. This is essentially a full-blown one and a half day one on one course with Hendrik that will give you the confidence you need to work with this tool, and because he covers the material thoroughly and methodically you won’t be left wondering how anything was done. I would consider Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety something any novice woodworker should invest in when they buy their first saw and possibly even before they make the purchase; hearing Hendrik explain the differences between the left and right tilt models might prevent one from making a poor decision. Even experienced woodworkers will find this set worthwhile as it is packed a ton of useful information.

So, to answer that question from the top of the review…. no, I was not tempted to nod off. This is a thorough, informative, intensive course packed with the type of information you would expect if you had hired Hendrik for a private lesson and at $95 it is a fraction of the cost of a private session.

The DVD is currently available directly through Passion for Wood.

— Canadian Woodshop News & Review

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

I have this guy’s DVD about tablesaws. His instructions are very clear. What I like is that he’s thought about the various challenges of using a tool or accomplishing a task, and he’s figured out a good way to handle them. You have to be prepared to spend time watching the detailed discussion, but the DVD is a great reference.

— “user-2815397”
    posted on Fine Woodworking website

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

I’ve really enjoyed Hendrik on the podcast. I just finished watching Jointer and Planer Secrets and it was WELL worth the time and money. I learned so much about milling that would have taken me years to discover on my own.

— Christopher B. (Dexter, Missouri, USA)

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

I finished watching your DVDs and conclude that you are an excellent teacher and woodworker. The best part was discovering how to use jointers and planers, but I learned much about edge-glueing boards together also. (My kitchen table was made with factory-milled edges.) Your guidance on how to convince one’s wife that time is not being wasted was very true!

Your DVDs are great learning aids – very clear and complete. I hope that you will continue to make them for other tools and woodworking techniques, and trust that you will advise me when they are available for purchase.

Now I must go watch them again.

— Charles H. (Orangeville, Ontario, Canada)

Testimonial for Revelations on Table Saw Set-up & Safety 5-DVD Boxed Set

I received this DVD set courtesy of Passion for Wood and Lumberjocks [as a contest prize].  I have completed the first DVD and most of the second one. There are several in the set, for a total of nearly 10 hours of instructions on table saw safety and use. Hendrik provides clear instruction on setting up the table saw, showing how to adjust the blade, the riving knife, safely cross cutting, etc. It is great for a beginner like myself. Hendrik speaks clearly and plainly, so he is easy to understand. You can watch him demonstrate each step, from setup to cutting, during the video as he shows what to do and explains why it is important. He even demonstrates a kick back, using styrofoam.

I have another 5 or more hours of instruction to watch, and look forward to doing so as time allows. The video is excellent for first time table saw owners, although I think there is plenty in it for those who have been working with a TS for many years. As with just about anything in woodworking, it isn’t cheap, but it isn’t any more expensive than any other DVD set. I would highly recommend it for a woodworking club that has new members or as a gift to someone just starting out in the hobby . . .

Just an update. I’m now on DVD 4 and have found the series to be a great asset. The safety information is invaluable for me, a newbie to real woodworking. I have learned more about ripping safely, using feather boards, crosscutting and the reason why he advises to do things a certain way. The current DVD is going over building a crosscut sled, which I thought I might do without, but now think is a smart addition to my little shop.

— 5-Star Rated Review on www.lumberjocks.com

Testimonial for Jointer and Planer Secrets 2-DVD Boxed Set

Just finished the 2 DVD’s on Jointer and Planer Secrets. That was wonderful…….. am ready to purchase another DVD of your experience and expertise. Are you working on another? When might it be out? Keep up the wonderful work!

— Chuck F. (Omaha, Nebraska, USA)