Ian Kirby's "The Way to Woodwork" 3 DVD set is a big disappointment

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Review by dckchk posted 02-22-2012 10:52 PM 7320 views 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Ian Kirby's "The Way to Woodwork" 3 DVD set is a big disappointment Ian Kirby's "The Way to Woodwork" 3 DVD set is a big disappointment Ian Kirby's "The Way to Woodwork" 3 DVD set is a big disappointment Click the pictures to enlarge them

I purchased the three DVD set “The Way to Woodwork” for use as a partial “instruction manual” for my grandsons to use with a full workshop that I have recently provided them. After reviewing all three videos in this set I must say I am very disappointed. I found the universal “critical path” description to be a sensible way to describe a basic woodworking methodology. However, as it is laid out in these DVD’s, it is not successfully developed. Furthermore the videography is sorely lacking and many critical steps aren’t sufficiently zoomed in to allow the viewer to clearly see what’s going on. Also some techniques are described more apparently for product advertising than instruction, and finally, there are some handwork operations which are not sufficiently explained.

The following are just a few of the many specific defects I found in these videos.

1. Video 1 describes how to cut a mortice and tenon joint for a stool by hand. Video 2 starts out explaining how to cut the same mortice and tenon joint – using a repetition of the very same footage from video 1.

2. Video 2 continues to describe alternate methods of making the mortice and tenon joint using the bead-lock jig, a router, a hollow-chisel mortiser, and finally the Festool Domino machine. The Domino machine has no place in a set of DVD’s intended for use by a beginning woodworker – unless your primary goal is to sell Domino machines.

3. Video 3 shows several examples where a hand plane is used to plane end grain. Never is there a mention of the issue of breakout on the back of the cut, which is nearly always a problem if not correctly handled.

4. It is simply impossible for the viewer to see what is going on in detail during Ian’s hand cutting of the dovetails in Video 3.

5. Kirby performs a number of marking operations by holding a part with one hand with no referencing rabbit or other mechanical assist. This is less reliable for a newbie than techniques recommended by others.

This set of DVD’s should have focused on one or two projects, followed the process through in complete detail using fundamental joinery involving hand tools and only basic machinery. I have provided my grandsons with only hand tools but I would have been happy with videos that included the use of the table saw, bandsaw, and jointer/planer. Introduction of Beadlock and Domino is crass commercialism and repetition of previous footage is insulting to the viewer. I originally submitted this review on the Rockler website. It has not been posted.

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#1 posted 02-22-2012 11:20 PM

I’m pretty sure Rockler screens their feedback regardless if it’s good or bad, considering I have read both types on their site. It took a few days before the review I posted on Rockler’s site to show up.

-- San Diego, CA

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#2 posted 02-23-2012 12:51 AM

No chance of a refund , ay ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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#3 posted 02-23-2012 04:54 AM

I have the same thoughts on Ian Kurby’s instructions I feel he comes across as more of an intelect than a woodworker. No disputing his knowledge but hard to follow. He seems to make instructions more complicated than they need to be. Just my opinion

-- Denis in Grande Prairie. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mistery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.....Pink !

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#4 posted 02-23-2012 09:46 PM

I think you’d be better off with the Paul Sellers book and dvd’s. Even though I’m a brit, Kirby seems a bit poncy.

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17039 posts in 4102 days

#5 posted 02-24-2012 09:24 PM

Disappointing. I have learned a few valuable things from Kirby’s various articles in WWJ some years ago. The main one being how to properly chop mortises. Kirby knows his stuff and though he surely isn’t blameless for the videos quality, it could be that the video producer wasn’t up to snuff either.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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