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Hugh Beaumont

One of the Regulars
Messages
171
Location
Fort Wayne, Indy-ana
I am a disabled veteran and I am looking for a trade to learn to get me out of my current job working in a factory. It's just too hard on me now. I've always had a fascination with mens hats, especially the Fedora. Would love to learn how to make them and turn it into a profession.

If there are any hat makers here that can offer some advice, I would greatly appreciate it.
 

HatsEnough

Banned
Messages
1,142
Location
Cincinnati, Ohio
I would first wonder how disabled you are? Making hats takes a certain amount of physical labor. Pulling the felt down over the forms will not work with a lite touch, they must be pulled down hard. Plus, there is the standing in front of the turner as you sand the felt down, a lot of close hand work, etc. So, one would first have to know what limitations you have, I'd think?
 

Hugh Beaumont

One of the Regulars
Messages
171
Location
Fort Wayne, Indy-ana
the reason I am making the inquiry, to find out what is involved to see if it is something I can do.

I have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and degenerative Disc Disease. I currently work in a factory with a lot of manual labor, 12 hour shifts, standing and moving. In quite a bit of pain because of it and making my disabilities worse. Enrolled in the Veterans Admin Vocational Rehab program and trying to figure out a viable career change. Because of my PTSD, I am trying to learn something I can do at home as the older I get, the worse my anxiety gets.
 

tonyb

I'll Lock Up
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9,909
Location
My mother's basement
Firstly, Beaumont, you gotta love hats, cuz if you don't, you'll soon find the work nothing but tedium.

Most of the "how it's done" can be mined from the 'net. This site is perhaps the richest lode, but certainly not the only one.

Understanding how it's done and actually doing a satisfactory job of it are two very different things, though. I know of hatters who have been at it for a good long while now and are still developing their skills. Conversations among hatters often turn to how we messed up this or that.

Equipment is costly and often hard to find. Just how costly depends on how vast you wish your offerings to be, and how much you feel you can do without. (As time goes by, you'll find that latter category shrinking.)

Materials ain't cheap, neither. And, seeing how you're almost certain to mess up, especially when you're staring out, some of that material will be wasted. So practice on beaters. Get the dirty, misshapen, moth-eaten ones for a few bucks and make at least minimally presentable hats out of them. That can be quite satisfying.

So, in a nutshell, it's practice, practice, practice. Be prepared to lose a fair amount of dough, so unless you are so blessed as to have other sources of income, don't quit the day job just yet.
 
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HatsEnough

Banned
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1,142
Location
Cincinnati, Ohio
Firstly, thanks for your service. Secondly, I suggest watching some of the videos on this forum of various hatmakers making hats and you'll get a hint of the physical requirements of the job. I would think that if you have major back problems, the physical requirements of hatmaking might (I say might) be a bit of a problem, though. It would require a lot of standing, the physical effort of forcing the felt down on a form, the bending over for the sewing, etc. etc.
 

tonyb

I'll Lock Up
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9,909
Location
My mother's basement
Another thing ...

You'll very likely be self-employed. Most custom hat shops are one-person operations, or family businesses. There are rare exceptions, but even if an apprenticeship were available somewhere, that somewhere is probably nowhere near where you are.

So you'd likely be running your own little enterprise. That's an education, too.
 

Hugh Beaumont

One of the Regulars
Messages
171
Location
Fort Wayne, Indy-ana
Thanks for the input thus far :)

I've nosed around a bit on the net and basically come to the conclusion that hat making, though quite physical, would be a lot easier than what I am doing now. Not looking to becoming rich, just doing something I would enjoy that would bring in a nice second income to supplement my disability and most importantly, keep my brain active. I am not a factory worker. I was a combat videographer in the Army and spent the last 25 years doing camera work for the film and television industry (self employed), but since my disabilities have gotten worse, I can no longer hold a camera for what is required on most jobs (minimum 10 hour day) and my anxiety and stress from my PTSD has started to become a problem.

I do love a good Indiana Jones fedora. They are a thing of beauty, a work of art. My new found inspiration is John from Penman Hats. He loved the Indy Fedora so much he learned the craft and has made a nice business for himself. Bravo to him! Working from home is my goal.
 
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MDphoto

One of the Regulars
Messages
165
Location
Western NC
practice on beaters. Get the dirty, misshapen, moth-eaten ones for a few bucks and make at least minimally presentable hats out of them. That can be quite satisfying.

This is what I do.
I've bought a couple of different blocks & flanges in my size, some ribbon and a few sweatbands to just have fun with old hats. Strip them down, clean them up, put a new sweat in,and then just have fun experimenting with different ribbons, bashes, etc.
To me, giving an old beater a new life is really satisfying.
If I remember correctly, there was a member here who started a post on making a new hat from a cape line. It was pretty informative. I believe the member was Stoney or something like that.
I'd try the beater method first, then maybe graduate to making a few hats for yourself. See where it goes. Maybe make a few hats for friends while you build your skills.
Just remember to have fun with it
 

bendingoak

Vendor
Messages
613
Location
www.Penmanhats.com
I don't know what to say to that comment but thank you. I was in the same boat as you. I suffer from chronic Neck and back pain. I had to give up being a firefighter because of it. I was lucky enough to have two very good friends Steve Delk and Marc Kitter from Adventurebilt to help me. It still took many other factors to get the company off the ground, move into my first work shop and then move into the hat shop Im now working in.

It took me a lot of trail and error because no matter what was told to me I had to experiment with anything` and everything. Cost more money than I thought it would and more than I would like to admit. It was never enough just to have one offering or just a few. It was never enough just to make hats. I wanted to have all the hat products like hat boxes, brushes, stands, jacks, and water repellant. All these things cost money. Sourcing materials such as vintage ribbon can be hard and costly to find. I was not happy with how some things were done so I came up with other ways and came up with my own tools.

I started out just wanting to have something to do that I liked and it turned into a full scale biz. I'm lucky to have a supportive family that I can lean on. If not for their support in every way I would not be where I am now.

Most of the big points of hat making you can find here and other forums but not all or the detailed stuff.

I agree, starting with beaters is a good way to start but there is a limit to them. Some where down the line you will need to work with good tools and good materials.

Heres my number 971-246-1832. feel free.
 
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Hugh Beaumont

One of the Regulars
Messages
171
Location
Fort Wayne, Indy-ana
Hi John

Thanks for responding. I appreciate it. Lots to consider. Not really looking to start a full fledged business, just something I can do that I would enjoy and if I made some extra income, that would be nice. I love making things and find spending time in my workshop very therapeutic. I love a nice hat..from the fur felt to the liner and ribbon. To me they are one of the best examples of human craftsmanship.
 

bendingoak

Vendor
Messages
613
Location
www.Penmanhats.com
Neither did I but after learning what it took to be really good at the craft. It took to much of an investment of time, hard work and money to do it just as a hobby. If I did it as a hobby , then my hats would show that. That wasn't good enough for me so it took a lot larger investment of those three.
 

Stoney

Practically Family
Messages
977
Location
Currently on the East Coast
This is what I do.
I've bought a couple of different blocks & flanges in my size, some ribbon and a few sweatbands to just have fun with old hats. Strip them down, clean them up, put a new sweat in,and then just have fun experimenting with different ribbons, bashes, etc.
To me, giving an old beater a new life is really satisfying.
If I remember correctly, there was a member here who started a post on making a new hat from a cape line. It was pretty informative. I believe the member was Stoney or something like that.
I'd try the beater method first, then maybe graduate to making a few hats for yourself. See where it goes. Maybe make a few hats for friends while you build your skills.
Just remember to have fun with it

Yep, that was me. I made three or four out of caplines. This is one of them:

http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?27662-My-second-home-made-hat-The-Speakeasy

Here is another: http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?28318-The-Chinatown-Hat

I gave the Speakeasy hat to my grandnephew, who likes to wear it out on the town.
I still wear the Chinatown hat. It's holding up pretty well.

Caplines are thinner than typical bodes used for men's fedoras, they are normally used for women's hats.
I used these to practice with when I started as I did not have access to the Winchester hat bodies at that time.
They are easy to work with, make a nice hat which is a lighter fedora.

You can buy them here http://www.hatsupply.com/furfelt.htm
Sandra Leko is a great lady to do business with. She also has men's hat making supplies here http://www.hatsupply.com/mens_supplies.htm

She also has men's hat bodies, I made a Indiana Jones hat from one of them.
http://www.hatsupply.com/beaver.htm

HatOnHead.jpg




I have a copy of the Cowboy hat making DVD, I did learn a little from it, but the book below covers much more material.

You'll want this book that is chock full of good info on making and renovating hats:
http://cgi.ebay.com/Scientific-Hat-...080?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5199fb57f8

e-Bay is also a great source for blocks, flanges and old beater hats to practice on.


You might want to try ordering a minimal amount of materials from Sandra to make two or three hats just to see if you like doing it.


I'm still making hats, although I haven't been on the board much lately. I plan on making and selling some hats after I retire in about 7 or 8 years, in the mean time I'm honing my skills.

Good Luck,

Stoney
 
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DRB

One Too Many
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1,621
Location
Florida
I have spent $11,000 so far, just so I can work at my own pace. I need lots more hat blocks and flanges. Be prepared for $20,000, just for the basics.

Read all the books you can get your hands on and you will know what you need. Creative thinking is a must, in order to save money. Are you prepared to become highly frustrated when something goes wrong, and it will, guaranteed!

Making hats is not a cure for PTSD, not working is. In most cases people would do better to just buy a custom hat than to make it. It's a lot cheaper in the long run.

But if you are just looking for a hobby and not a business. You can walk away from a hobby any time you want. A business would put your nerves over the top. Selling is hard on the nerves.

I am not trying to discourage you but rather enable you. It can be a fun hobby on a very small scale, making hats for yourself and friends. Friends are less likely to be critical of your work.

You ought to decide now, if you are going for hobby or business. How would an angry patron affect your PTSD?
Don't forget, one-third of the people in this world are not nice people.

$11,000 would buy a lot of enjoyable hats, probably more than the money you would make trying to sell them in this depressed economy.

LaMode make hat blocks and flanges. One size and style alone will cost, if I remember correctly, $400+
 
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Rats Riley

A-List Customer
Messages
365
Location
Whitewater WI
Hey Hugh!

If it hasn't been mentioned, thanks for your service to our country! As a serviceman and LEO, I know what it's like. On January 5th of this year I sustained a severe concussion and have been off of work dealing with PTSD. It's strange, I spent ten years as an infantryman and had no probs. I get my melon knocked around and I end up punchdrunk with a side order of PTSD.... Murphy's Law!

Well, sorry to hijack the thread....I hope you hang in there brother! We're proud of you for your service and thank you for the sacrifice you continue to give.

Take care!
 

DRB

One Too Many
Messages
1,621
Location
Florida
Hey Hugh!

If it hasn't been mentioned, thanks for your service to our country! As a serviceman and LEO, I know what it's like. On January 5th of this year I sustained a severe concussion and have been off of work dealing with PTSD. It's strange, I spent ten years as an infantryman and had no probs. I get my melon knocked around and I end up punchdrunk with a side order of PTSD.... Murphy's Law!

Well, sorry to hijack the thread....I hope you hang in there brother! We're proud of you for your service and thank you for the sacrifice you continue to give.

Take care!


Roger that!
 

Hugh Beaumont

One of the Regulars
Messages
171
Location
Fort Wayne, Indy-ana
I've decided to invest a little money in some starter equipment. Could someone be so kind in giving me a list of what is needed to make a simple Fedora with a high crown (I guess Indiana Jones style).

Thank you :)
 

tonyb

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,909
Location
My mother's basement
I know that people aren't born knowing how to search the 'net, but the answers to your questions are there for the reading, and viewing (yes, there are videos; check the stickies on this very forum, for starters).

Telling you that minimally you'll need a block and a flange and probably a rounding jack and a flange stand and a good heavy iron might be doing you a disservice without going into greater detail on those items, especially the first two.

Blocks come in varieties. Making the hat you want will require the right block.

And what's that?

A tall, relatively straight-sided one.

And how do you find one of those? Or know one when you see it?

Get a bit of an education first.
 
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