Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box
with Hendrik Varju

Produced by Passion for Wood, Ontario, Canada

ISBN 978-0-9881280-9-5


As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 190

This is the first of two video presentations from Hendrik Varju this year. The second, (a guide to making tapered legs), will be reviewed in the next Issue of The Australian Woodworker.

These are the 18th and 19th videos that Hendrik Varju has produced in his series ‘Private Woodworking Instruction in a Box’.

The first two of the four DVDs in Finger Joints on a Table Saw describe the laying out of this type of joint to suit the stock being used, setting up a dado saw for the necessary cuts, making the simple jig necessary and then actually producing the joints.

As expected from his previous presentations, Varju approaches his subject with care, continually stressing the objective of producing joints of the highest calibre.

The basic method will be known to many potential viewers, but the way in which it is used here bears the usual stamp of Varju’s hunt for perfection.

The simple jig that he uses is no different in design to that which appears in any book or magazine article on the subject, but the way in which he makes the jig and prepares it for use, differ markedly in their detail.

For example, he constructs the locating pin on the jig so as to ensure that it performs its function perfectly – allowing the cutting of pins that fit snugly, neither so loose as to allow movement, nor so tight as to cause problems in fitting them together.

But the construction of the jig also ensures that its operation is not compromised by the inevitable build-up of dust on the sawtable. It is this attention to detail that is one of the distinguishing features of Varju’s videos.

Another is the way in which he uses drawings to explain the intricacies of his subject. Adopting the same stance as he would in front of a live class, he uses a felt pen in a practised hand to sketch on paper loaded on an easel.

Each step is explained, then demonstrated as the making of the joints flow towards their final assembly.

At the end of these videos is a short comment piece expressing his opinion that ‘glue-ups are stressful’ and noting the ways in which this stress can be reduced or even eliminated.

Certainly Hendrik Varju takes glue-ups very seriously. He remarked in an earlier presentation that when engaged in one, he is ever mindful that it offers the last opportunity he will ever get to correct an error that could ruin the entire project.

The glue-up for this finger-jointed box is no less tense than those in previous videos. In order to ensure that the clamping produces the result that he plans and expects, he shows how to make serrated clamping cauls that apply pressure at the exact points necessary to achieve this objective.

It’s worthwhile adding that Varju is clearly mindful of the fact that his insistence on achieving joints of a high standard mean that a substantial amount of time is taken in setting up the job. He suggests, however, that while this might be difficult to accept for making just one box, the same set-up can be used quickly and easily to make the sides for multiple boxes in a single day.

Once the finger jointed box has been assembled, Varju turns his attention to the other elements that will complete the project.

The third disk in the presentation begins with making a bottom by either of two methods.

The first requires a rebate to be cut on the inner edges of the assembled sides to accept a ply or solid bottom.

The second requires grooves to be cut towards the bottom of each side – grooves which must, of course, be routed in the sides before assembly.

The final disk covers the making of a solid lid which is rebated so that part of it drops into the top of the box.

One of the interesting aspects of this and other presentations by this author is his introduction of uncommon tools or pieces of equipment which are mentioned in much the same way as they would be in a normal classroom.

Two such items that appear in this presentation are the drillpress mounted sanding drum which he uses to finish the curves on the corner of the bottom and a small router-mounted sanding drum.

Consistent with his practice in earlier presentations, Hendrik ends by briefly addressing some topics relevant to woodworking in general. These are Precision is Everything in Joinery, Machine Methods Save Time and Glue-ups are Stressful.

While the techniques described in Making Finger Joints on the Table Saw take time to execute, Varju demonstrates that they can be used to produce a virtually perfect end-result.

Duration: 7hrs, 40mins, 4discs

DVD – English – NTSC


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