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Showing posts from July, 2010

A "Mae West" style Lacote Guitar, part 2

"You see, Doctor Archie, what one really strives for in art is not the sort of thing you are likely to find when you drop in for a performance at the opera. What one strives for is so far away, so beautiful that there's nothing one can say about it."

Thea Kronberg, The Song of the Lark, Willa Cather, 1915

Here are some photos of the Lacote, I just glued the back on this afternoon, along with some photos of the shop. Will write more later, it's time to head to our water hole, River Rock Cafe in Mariposa.


The top is ready, I made a caul to use when I glue on the bridge, the back bars are fitted to the basswood lining.


I like to use fish glue (from Lee Valley) to glue the main parts of the guitar, it dries so hard that it is almost impossible to remove it with a sharp chisel. I really like using spools clamps to glue on the back with, so much easier, and less smelly, then the inner tube strap that Cumpiano suggests in his book.


Eat your hearts out, you people who think t…

Moore Cottage, Wawona Hotel, Yosemite National Park

"...to quote an old saw from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, 'A good plan makes a good elevation'.
Harvey Ellis, The Craftsman,1901-1904



The Moore Cottage at the Wawona Hotel complex at Wawona in Yosemite National Park, built in 1896 for the Washburn family that ran the Wawona Hotel at the time. It is part of a national historic landmark. Quite the Victorian era building. The nomination form states that the windows in the cupola are Palladian, one of our interns thinks that is incorrect, so I told her that maybe we should say that the windows are "Palladian-esque". She said she could live with that.


In 2003, the Historic Preservation crew lifted the porch and put a foundation under and replaced all the 2x4's that were inside the porch columns with 4x4's and now I am going back through attaching straps from the top of the posts to the bottom plate of the cripple wall that supports the porch roof. It takes an hour to pull off all the molding, cornices and fascia, 2…

Splitting Firewood

The ax is a symbol.

William Coperthwaite, A Handmade Life, 2007


The back porch thermometer reads 103F right now, and there is only a slight breeze. The last two mornings I have worked at splitting the oak and ponderosa pine I felled and cut up this spring, the oak (valley oak and black oak) is almost dry, but the pine is almost as wet as when I first cut it. Amanda and I plan on replacing the pellet wood stove that came with the house this winter for a real wood stove, one without a fan, an auger and doesn't have to be plugged into an electrical outlet. Living down here in Mariposa County has made me soft, because the house is insulated and I now that I work all winter, I haven't had the need to cut and split 4-5 cords of wood every year. I didn't realized how much I miss splitting firewood.


Before all of you start saying "What is he crazy? Who would miss splitting firewood? That's alot of work!" Yes, it is work, but it is enjoyable work and splitting wood is ve…

Superintendent's Residence, Yosemite National Park

In slating or shingling a roof, great care should be taken at the hips, ridges and valleys. Where the roof is shingled, two or three courses should be left off at the ridge until the two sides are brought up, then the courses left off should be laid together, and in such a manner as to have them lap over each other alternately. This can easily be done if the workman uses a little judgment in the matter; and a roof shingled in this manner will be perfectly rain tight, without the ridge boards or cresting.

William Radford, Practical Carpentry, 1907



I had to get up on the roof of Residence #1 this week with Fritz and Paul to find out why the roof is leaking. This photo from HABS taken in 1979 shows you the valley on the upper roof where we were working. We tore up the shingles in the valley, put ice and water shield down on the sheathing and then installed new cedar shingles. Will see if the roof leaks over the winter.

By the way, the building is boarded up and the interior is in terrib…

A "Mae West" style Lacote guitar

My face is my passport.

Vladimir Horowitz




(Dear Friends: There are more posts on this guitar, please see the months of January, June and July 2010. This guitar is being french polished this month, November 2011, stay tuned for postings on that. Wilson)

The sides are on the "Mae West" Lacote, when the tendinitis in my right elbow subsides (it is so bad I can't swing a hammer or shake hands with someone, the pain is pretty righteous!) I will attach the back. Before I do that I need to cut away the sides from the heel block so I can start "chalking in" the neck, the joint is very similar to a violin neck joint, just a "V" joint.



I am building this guitar for myself that is why I used pre-made basswood lining from Stew-Mac. I know that the lining of these old beasts should be solid, but I just don't have the time anymore to bind solid linings. The next romantic guitar I will build on an inside form just as a violin maker would do and also laminate the…