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Showing posts from 2009

Lacote Guitar, Legnani Model, circa 1830

The Lacote, Stradivari and other guitars of their eras were of poor design. Their size created difficulty in obtaining volume or quality.
Vincenzo Scaletti, Guitarra magazine, issue 7, Nov.-Dec. 1965

I found some measurements for an original "Legnani model" by Rene Lacote the other day and with the help of a ruler and compass I think that I came up with a close approximation of the guitar's outline without actually getting my hands on the original. I think that this is a beautiful shape, very narrow waisted and, yes, very bulbous upper and lower bouts. The original has a 595mm string length (23 and 7/16 inches) with 21 frets to the sound hole without a raised fingerboard. Luigi Legnani was a guitar superstar in the 19th century and worked closely with Johann Stauffer of Vienna (the original C.F. Martin worked for him before Martin emigrated to the US) to create a guitar that suited his needs. Apparently it was a sought after style for Lacote was one of many who made a &q…

Bear Mauls El Portal Community Center's Backdoor

A couple of weeks ago a black bear decided that it needed to get into the El Portal Community Center for a snack and went in through the back door.


It literally went through the back door and tore it off its hinges. Take a look at the right hand side of the photo above and you can see pieces of the door. The door was made from one and one-quarter inch thick redwood and offered very little resistance to the bear.


Here are the claw marks....

Here is the replacement door that I am making from redwood, a little thicker than the original, but I am using the same techniques as the original builder.

Yosemite Valley and Wawona

For Veterans' Day we drove the 44 miles from our house to Wawona and then 37 miles from Wawona to Yosemite Valley where my wife walked the dogs and I followed. Stoneman Meadow has such a nice view of Half Dome and Royal Arches. It is always nice to get into the park and remember why we work here and for the National Park Service, we both are still very excited about working at Yosemite. Wednesday was a great day to be in the park, there weren't very many tourists, the hordes have left for the summer.


This is the Hodgdon Cabin at the Pioneer History Center in Wawona, which is at the south end of Yosemite National Park, near the historic Wawona Hotel. Several of us in the Historic Preservation crew just built the log steps on the building, it was a summer cabin originally located in Aspen Valley in the northern part of the park, the stairs that were built back in the early 1960's fell down several years ago-here are the new ones.

Concert Ukulele

Somehow, once you get hooked on this "little guitar", you can't stop playing it....
Jim Beloff, Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Tips 'n' Tunes, 1994



My apologies for taking so long to blog about this little uke.



Today I tried out out our new Canon camera, I guess I need to put it on a tripod to take these shots, maybe I'll just go back to using the Pentax.






The Redwood Uke next to the Redwood Lacote, both await final French polishing.

I am finding that it is easier to French polish an instrument then to try and slap on an oil or water-based varnish. As I have said before, French polishing is a very organic dance.

Mariposa County Courthouse

It's been a busy summer for me, working 10 hour days, running all over Yosemite NP working on various historic structures. Work still continues on Bldg. 705, the crew has gone to the old Tioga Ranger Cabin (1931) at Tioga Pass and we've done some repair work on the comfort station at Chinquapin (1933). Soon we'll go to the Wawona Covered Bridge to do some maintenance work and some repairs at the Wawona Pioneer History Center.



Here's a shot of the Mariposa County Courthouse in Mariposa, California. It was completed in 1855 at a cost of $9,300, the original building is made from sugar and ponderosa pine from a grove that was only one mile away from the job site. All the lumber was sawn and finished by hand. As I took this photo this morning a passerby remarked on how beautiful this building is, I agree.

Hiking Lembert's Dome, Yosemite National Park

We walked up Lembert's Dome on July 1st, I thought you might like a photo of a gorgeous day in Yosemite National Park.

Ukulele #1, Redwood and Walnut

2 photos of a ukulele that I am working on. I decided that I wanted a little guitar to play when we drive to Colorado this September, what better than a ukulele. It's gone together remarkably fast compared to a full size classic guitar, its small size lends to the ease of construction. The chunk of wood that you see glued on the bass side of the neck is a patch where the router went amok when I was making the binding channels.



This is a concert size ukulele (oo koo lay le, if you want to sound Hawaiian, I prefer the American English of you ka' lay lee), the top is reclaimed redwood from a redwood water tank and the back, sides and headpiece veneer are the last of the walnut from a tree my grandfather planted back in 1941. The neck is Spanish cedar, the binding and bridge will be ebony. I hope to finish construction soon, it will take a while to do the French polish.

Half Dome and Tunnel View at Yosemite NP

In almost every granitic mountain range (but especially in the Sierra Nevada of California) enormous, astounding hemispheres of naked stone-called domes, appropriately-stand above the surrounding terrain to catch the eye and fuel the imagination.

Jon Krakauer, Home Ground, Language for an American Landscape, 2006



We went to the park 2 weeks ago, stopped at the Yosemite Sugar Pine Railroad, (what a blast) and then braved the traffic into Yosemite Valley. It was the Saturday at the end of spring break, talk about a traffic jam. Yosemite is the Hyde Park of the West.



On the way to the valley I just had to stop and take another photo from the Tunnel View. It is always a great spot to people watch, that day there were alot of Asian Indian families there, all the men were in their business suits. If you love to look at waterfalls, now is the time to be in Yosemite. The spring runoff is going great guns and all the valley waterfalls are running full, and there are not that many people in the pa…

Guitars and Porches

Sorry for the time away from the blog, lots going on, the online class I am taking takes alot of free time, deed, census searches, etc.



Every now and again I actually make it into the shop and work on a guitar. Several weeks ago I routed out rosette channels for the Simplicio style double soundhole guitar and I need to update with new photos of that guitar top, because I installed the inlay of curly redwood burl. This photo shows my hand holding the top to drill holes for the router index pin.



The porch has been poured at #705. From left is Marty, Rod, Randy and Casey. Now we are ripping cedar shingles down to 5 and 1/2 inches to nail on to the exterior walls at the Curry Village registration building in Yosemite Valley. My eyes got crossed today from ripping the shingles, it is a very monotonous task.

How to Lift a House

Here we are, once again at #705 in El Portal. This is the formal entrance of the building, one corner of the house is pretty much rotted and Derek and I needed a way to suspend this side of the house while we dug a trench to pour a footer.




We knew that we needed to sling the rim joist, but how to hold the beam that would carry the chain hoists and a come-along. One of the guys at work suggested that we use A-frames to hold a beam. I really liked the idea and built them. The middle beam sports a 2-ton come-along where we have slung the cable through the sling to double its lifting capacity, the other two beams have 3/4 ton chain hoists attached to the sling. The slings wrap around the rim joist and I had Derek ratchet the hoists as much as he could, we were able to put a half inch crown in the middle of the joist.



This is Derek, the man with no face. He leaves next week to go work for the US Forest Service to be a firefighter, I wish him good luck. This photo shows you how we stabilized …