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madPete

Making a hat block

9 posts in this topic

Hat blocks: I've been searching for a reasonable priced hat for mid 17th century. No one has hat blanks with both a tall crown and wide brim. I'm told no one makes em that big anymore.

So, either it was have a hat custom made, and pay some bucks, or learn how to do it myself, which is kinda what I'm about these days. I'm pretty handy and I took a couple of unshaped hats and got pretty close to what I'm looking for just using a couple of bowls. the problem is, the shape is close, but the hat is not big enough for my head, if I put the hat stretcher on it, it starts to get funny looking again.  I'm also making a compromise on the brim size, I really want the tall crown, the brim size is negotiable :P

So I'm posting an antique hat block I found on eBay which is similar to the shape I want (but very expensive), followed by my first attempt at blocking my hat. as I said the shape is close, but when stretched to fit my noggin, it starts to come undone a bit.

What follows is the start of a project to make my own hat block. I started with a 6 in wide mahogany board, why mahogany? to be brief, I didnt want poplar and I know mahogany is fairly easy to work. The 6 inches is roughly the height of the hat crown.

I measured the widest part of a wool hat that fit me, then took the perpendicular measurement. I measured out the pieces to be glued together. Cut them in a trapezoid shape,  the bottom slightly larger than the widest part of my head, the top slightly larger that the shape I desired on top.  The center pieces are full size, the outermost sides are slightly smaller, because the finished rounded size is smaller.

I'm gluing two pieces of wood together at a time, then I will glue the larger pieces together.

After that I will start shaping. so look for Part II at a later date.

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You might want to look at ordinary clay flower pots for a crown shaper.   They taper quite a bit, and can give you a nice Sugar Loaf crown shape.    They vary quite a bit in size and degree of taper.     I have made a couple of hats using them

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Since the hat block is already started, there's no point. besides, no ones head is perfect round. I can cut this hat block in half and make it adjustable as well.

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10 hours ago, madPete said:

Since the hat block is already started, there's no point. besides, no ones head is perfect round. I can cut this hat block in half and make it adjustable as well.

 Being perfectly round is not a problem at all.  A hat jack will fix that issue quite easily.   The shape of the crown is the important thing.

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I look forward to more progress images on this build.  We need more threads like this showing the process using classical techniques.  

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This will be shaped using a hand planer. unfortunately I dont have any period tools, so modern equivalents will have to do. When I take on these projects, I like to look at it from how they did it. I glean a lot more about the era that way

 

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After a week of 110 deg heat, I finally got the ambition to spend some time in the garage. I worked with the hand planer but it was slow and hot work. In the end I punted on that idea. I used a hand saw to take off the corners of the block to get most of excess out of the way. Then I went to town with the power sanding unit.  It is rough shaped now. There is obviously some finish sanding to do, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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It has the virtue of being unique, period and practical.  Not all period builds have to be made with rudimentary tools.  We have to have time to go to work, sleep and eat.  That's turning out great.  

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Progress. after a bit more sanding to shape, and then a little more finish sanding. it started looking so good I put several coats of tung oil on it. It actually looks like a hat block. I need to try it on a hat and decide whether to cut it in half and add adjuster. but so far its looking good.

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