Buying a holiday gift for a serious woodworker is a difficult task, since these are often people who have everything.
It's a safe bet that even the most gadget-ridden woodworker doesn't have the five new videocassettes from the Taunton Press, publishers of Fine Woodworking, Fine Homebuilding and a new magazine called Threads aimed at workers in textile crafts.
I've had a chance to view one of the tapes, "Wood Finishing With Frank Klausz," as well as screen a 20-minute demonstration tape of the four others offered: "Dovetail a Drawer With Frank Klausz," "Carve a Ball-and-Claw Foot With Phil Lowe," "Radial-Arm-Saw Joinery With Curtis Erpelding" and "Bowl Turning With Del Stubbs."
Retailing for $59.95 and running about two hours, the cassettes are up to the level of books and magazines from Taunton.
Frank Klausz's wood-finishing tape covers much more than just staining, varnishing and similar techniques; he also deals with planing, the use of a scraper, sanding techniques, etc.
Instructional videocassettes are such a good idea that it is surprising that more aren't made. As a matter of fact, there are several other producers of videocassettes in fields that would appeal to readers of this column; I'll report on them as they become available for review.
To sum up, I can't think of a better way--other than a one-on-one session--to learn a craft such as wood finishing, joinery (watching Frank Klausz make a dovetail without measuring tools is worth the price of the tape!) than these first-rate Taunton Press videocassettes.
One suggestion to Taunton: Include some kind of printed outline or booklet with each cassette, if possible keyed to the information in the tape.
Information about the five tapes, available in VHS and Beta formats, can be obtained from The Taunton Press, 63 S. Main St., Newtown, Conn. 06470.