Video Review by Jim Mattson
Title: Table Saw Techniques
Star: Dr. Roger Cliffe
Published by: Handyman
Club of America
VHS Tape, 42 minutes
John is a good friend and valued customer. As a former university
professor, you know he's a smart dude. Currently he runs a sizable
chunk of our Federal government and very rarely does he lose
With this in mind, I found it very surprising when he walked
in one day and tossed me this VHS tape. Then after a few expletive
deletives, he told me how he signed onto the Handyman Club and
couldn't get signed off. They kept sending him something every
month, whether he wanted it or not, and expected payment in return.
John was tired of sending the stuff back so he had given up,
giving their latest offering to me. "What am I going to
do with this piece of (expletive deleted)?", he said. "I
don't even have a tablesaw!".
After such a negative introduction, it wasn't easy to muster
much enthusiasm for this review. Still, I carried on and found
myself pleasantly surprised. Other than the beginning, where
we are welcomed to the Handyman Club by it's "deer-in-the-headlights"
president, Tom Sweeny, Table Saw Techniques is a first-rate production.
Video-wise, it's a standard two camera, one videographer shoot
with excellent sound and good one-take video shots. Unlike the
last woodworking video we reviewed, the transitions and titles
were professional and non-distracting. I was impressed!
The star, Dr. Roger Cliffe, was equally
impressive with his relaxed demeanor and acceptable air of authority.
To be honest, the impression I had from his numerous writings
had to be re-thunk. He seemed like an OK guy!
As to the content, I'm afraid advanced
woodworkers aren't going to get much from this video. Using the
tablesaw to make moldings or cutting compound miters with a sled
is nothing new. But beginning woodworkers can definitely benefit
from seeing a variety of different applications, especially where
workarounds are used to negate the hassle of using a guard. Illustrated
were a variety of hazardous pitfalls and how to avoid them. Dr.
Cliffe seems very comfortable with all safety gear in place,
and I learned a thing or two if I ever un-bury my tablesaw guard
from the corner of the shop.
Another thing I liked was Dr. Cliffe's sense of humor. Tape measuring
was scarce during this production, and we find the star eyeballing
a fence position instead of pulling out a ruler. To explain this
lack of precision, we hear from Dr. Cliffe, "If you don't
measure, you don't make measuring errors." I roared with
In the quibbling department, this video
revealed a poor attention to detail in a couple areas. Much of
the stock was improperly prepared, showing twisted parts during
machining and a twisted picture frame after assembly. And I was
a bit surprised to see Dr. Cliffe's jerky feed rate through the
saw. He would rip a part so far, stop the feed, reach for a push
stick, and then resume the operation. Often this would result
in a burned spot where the feed was stopped. Obviously, the shoot
wasn't staged in his shop, with the tablesaw only a few feet
in front of a wall, and I suspect certain niceties such as push
blocks and flat lumber weren't provided. Oh well...
Should you go out and join the Handyman Club so you can get this
video? I don't think so unless you want to risk having an attitude
like my friend John. But Dr. Roger Cliffe's engaging style is
hard to resist and beginners might want to look for his titles
elsewhere. It's so much better if you can actually see someone
do something, as opposed to just reading about it in a magazine.