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belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,135
Location
vancouver, canada
Okay....I am here to report that I just 'fired' my first hat. I learned many many things in the doing......unfortunately, none of them good!

I guess I was too generous with the alcohol and putting out the flame proved difficult and I created brown singed areas all over the (grey) hat. The good news is I guess.....I now know how to make a distressed hat!!!! The burnt areas were very surface so was able to pounce it clean. The weird aspect is that I blocked the hat on a minimally tapered block. In the firing the hat tapered like crazy and now has a Mr Conehead quality to it. I think a reblock is now in order.
I could not see any real difference in the felt (other than the burnt areas!) after the firing. No improvement discernable to my eyes.

So I guess the real win is discovering that I won't bother doing this ever again unless I am terribly bored or drunk.
 

ChicagoWayVito

Practically Family
Messages
665
Okay....I am here to report that I just 'fired' my first hat. I learned many many things in the doing......unfortunately, none of them good!

I guess I was too generous with the alcohol and putting out the flame proved difficult and I created brown singed areas all over the (grey) hat. The good news is I guess.....I now know how to make a distressed hat!!!! The burnt areas were very surface so was able to pounce it clean. The weird aspect is that I blocked the hat on a minimally tapered block. In the firing the hat tapered like crazy and now has a Mr Conehead quality to it. I think a reblock is now in order.
I could not see any real difference in the felt (other than the burnt areas!) after the firing. No improvement discernable to my eyes.

So I guess the real win is discovering that I won't bother doing this ever again unless I am terribly bored or drunk.
What kind of alcohol did you use and what was the percentage? It should be Isopropyl alcohol that is 99%. In addition to that, you need to fire it while it is still on the block. It only takes a light misting of the alcohol, a cheap Walmart spray bottle for a dollar is excellent for this. After I fire, I always brush and since I have it still on the block and have my block spinner I go through a progression of different brushes (I use a small bathtub scrub brush and a clean shoe shine brush) then I move over to sponges used for cleaning hats. I would only fire it once, I did it twice and it really stiffened the felt more than I wanted.

Experimentation is the best learning though.
 
Messages
14,984
Location
Central California
Okay....I am here to report that I just 'fired' my first hat. I learned many many things in the doing......unfortunately, none of them good!

I guess I was too generous with the alcohol and putting out the flame proved difficult and I created brown singed areas all over the (grey) hat. The good news is I guess.....I now know how to make a distressed hat!!!! The burnt areas were very surface so was able to pounce it clean. The weird aspect is that I blocked the hat on a minimally tapered block. In the firing the hat tapered like crazy and now has a Mr Conehead quality to it. I think a reblock is now in order.
I could not see any real difference in the felt (other than the burnt areas!) after the firing. No improvement discernable to my eyes.

So I guess the real win is discovering that I won't bother doing this ever again unless I am terribly bored or drunk.


I’ve wondered about the usefulness of firing felt. Some hatters swear by it and others don’t even consider it. It’s not a step that I’ve ever asked for, but if it’s part of a hatters repertoire I wouldn’t ask for it not to be done.
 

ChicagoWayVito

Practically Family
Messages
665
I’ve wondered about the usefulness of firing felt. Some hatters swear by it and others don’t even consider it. It’s not a step that I’ve ever asked for, but if it’s part of a hatters repertoire I wouldn’t ask for it not to be done.
I find it useful in removing the little fur fragments that happen due to the pouncing process. It also burns away that stray fiber that might not have been picked up. Kind of like when you look in the mirror one day and see that you have a rogue 3 inch hair in your eyebrow, but instead of yanking it out it gets burned out. LMAO :)
 
Messages
14,984
Location
Central California
I find it useful in removing the little fur fragments that happen due to the pouncing process. It also burns away that stray fiber that might not have been picked up. Kind of like when you look in the mirror one day and see that you have a rogue 3 inch hair in your eyebrow, but instead of yanking it out it gets burned out. LMAO :)


I’m curious at how such low temperature for such a short time firms the felt. You’re not the first one to mention this result.

Now I’m off to the bathroom to spritz my eyebrows with some 200 proof…can I substitute gasoline if I can’t find the alcohol?
 

ChicagoWayVito

Practically Family
Messages
665
I’m curious at how such low temperature for such a short time firms the felt. You’re not the first one to mention this result.

Now I’m off to the bathroom to spritz my eyebrows with some 200 proof…can I substitute gasoline if I can’t find the alcohol?
My hypothesis is that the alcohol firing is reacting with the shellac and not so much the felt.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,135
Location
vancouver, canada
I find it useful in removing the little fur fragments that happen due to the pouncing process. It also burns away that stray fiber that might not have been picked up. Kind of like when you look in the mirror one day and see that you have a rogue 3 inch hair in your eyebrow, but instead of yanking it out it gets burned out. LMAO :)
Well, I can guarantee I will NOT be trying this step on my eyebrows.
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,135
Location
vancouver, canada
What kind of alcohol did you use and what was the percentage? It should be Isopropyl alcohol that is 99%. In addition to that, you need to fire it while it is still on the block. It only takes a light misting of the alcohol, a cheap Walmart spray bottle for a dollar is excellent for this. After I fire, I always brush and since I have it still on the block and have my block spinner I go through a progression of different brushes (I use a small bathtub scrub brush and a clean shoe shine brush) then I move over to sponges used for cleaning hats. I would only fire it once, I did it twice and it really stiffened the felt more than I wanted.

Experimentation is the best learning though.
I use the purest denatured alcohol available, it is about 95% pure grain alcohol with 5% methyl so I can't sip it while I work. I think the error was too much misting with the alcohol. The firing did stiffen the felt but a bit more pouncing with the 1200 grit softened it up quickly. The biggest surprise was the severe tapering of the crown so perhaps if I had kept it on the block it would have prevented that. But even so the finish on the hat was no better than it was prior to the firing. I think i get a better result using the white 3M non abrasive pads as a finishing polish to the felt.....plus it is safer!
 

T Jones

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,990
Location
Central Ohio
I think the proportions on this hat work really well. Not usually a fan of the tight front pinch but it looks great on this hat.
Thanks BB. I'm usually not a fan of those tight pinches either, but for darker colored hats I like them for definition. For lighter colored hats I like a "softer" and more fuller look, as with this Aztec Western conversion. My pinch is a little "looser" and my dents are more rounded rather than elongated...

Before @ 6 7/8. It's now a 7 1/4 LO...
IMG-20211110-054706138.jpg


Az-Tex-2-A.jpg


Az-Tex-15-A.jpg


Az-Tex-4-A.jpg
 
Last edited:

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,135
Location
vancouver, canada
Thanks BB. I'm usually not a fan of those tight pinches either, but for darker colored hats I like them for definition. For lighter colored hats I like a "softer" and more fuller look, as with this Aztec Western conversion. My pinch is a little "looser" and my dents are more rounded rather than elongated...

Before @ 6 7/8. It's now a 7 1/4 LO...
IMG-20211110-054706138.jpg


Az-Tex-2-A.jpg


Az-Tex-15-A.jpg


Az-Tex-4-A.jpg
Yes, I lean strongly towards that soft pinch and it looks perfect on this light colour.
 

Gobi

One of the Regulars
Messages
163
I finally got around to finishing my Sunrise medium weight felt. I used old stock cotton rayon for the ribbon. This is my 2nd or 3rd bow that I've ever done, it looks good enough for that. One trick I've been using is wetting the body and baking it in the oven on the block at a low setting until dry. Sometimes I do this a couple times. This seems to help stabalize the felt against shrinkage and taper. I wouldn't use a vintage block for this purpose as I wouldn't want to potentially damage an old block but my new block seems to take it fine for now.
20211127_122334.jpg


20211127_122327.jpg
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,135
Location
vancouver, canada
I finally got around to finishing my Sunrise medium weight felt. I used old stock cotton rayon for the ribbon. This is my 2nd or 3rd bow that I've ever done, it looks good enough for that. One trick I've been using is wetting the body and baking it in the oven on the block at a low setting until dry. Sometimes I do this a couple times. This seems to help stabalize the felt against shrinkage and taper. I wouldn't use a vintage block for this purpose as I wouldn't want to potentially damage an old block but my new block seems to take it fine for now.
View attachment 382809

View attachment 382810
I do a similar thing. After blocking the felt I place it in my 'drying room' which in reality is my laundry room that I have placed an incandescent spotlight in the socket that warms the room. I leave the block & felt in the room for 24 hours to fully dry in the somewhat heated room.
 

Art Fawcett

Sponsoring Affiliate
Messages
3,712
Location
Central Point, Or.
I use the purest denatured alcohol available, it is about 95% pure grain alcohol with 5% methyl so I can't sip it while I work. I think the error was too much misting with the alcohol. The firing did stiffen the felt but a bit more pouncing with the 1200 grit softened it up quickly. The biggest surprise was the severe tapering of the crown so perhaps if I had kept it on the block it would have prevented that. But even so the finish on the hat was no better than it was prior to the firing. I think i get a better result using the white 3M non abrasive pads as a finishing polish to the felt.....plus it is safer!


OK BBoy, first the term is "singing" not "firing" although I can see why you would coin that given your experience with it. :) CVW is correct in the alcohol you should use but the normal spray bottle will give mixed results. I always used an atomizer sprayer as the droplets are smaller and more consistent . Yes, it will stiffen the shelac but that is easily remedied with your approach. The big thing about it is that it gets rid of the tiny hairs left after pouncing. If they don't bother you, don't singe. Western hatters tend to use this method more as their finish is usually tighter than dress hats. Most of the reason for that is the amount of shelac in a western is such that the felt doesn't move as much under the sandpaper. My goal was always to try to get a western finish on my hats without the stiffness. Only occasionally successful. OK, I'm going back to my room now.:)
 
Messages
14,984
Location
Central California
OK BBoy, first the term is "singing" not "firing" although I can see why you would coin that given your experience with it. :) CVW is correct in the alcohol you should use but the normal spray bottle will give mixed results. I always used an atomizer sprayer as the droplets are smaller and more consistent . Yes, it will stiffen the shelac but that is easily remedied with your approach. The big thing about it is that it gets rid of the tiny hairs left after pouncing. If they don't bother you, don't singe. Western hatters tend to use this method more as their finish is usually tighter than dress hats. Most of the reason for that is the amount of shelac in a western is such that the felt doesn't move as much under the sandpaper. My goal was always to try to get a western finish on my hats without the stiffness. Only occasionally successful. OK, I'm going back to my room now.:)


Good to see you popping in for a visit, Art. We miss you around here: come often, stay long! :)
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,135
Location
vancouver, canada
OK BBoy, first the term is "singing" not "firing" although I can see why you would coin that given your experience with it. :) CVW is correct in the alcohol you should use but the normal spray bottle will give mixed results. I always used an atomizer sprayer as the droplets are smaller and more consistent . Yes, it will stiffen the shelac but that is easily remedied with your approach. The big thing about it is that it gets rid of the tiny hairs left after pouncing. If they don't bother you, don't singe. Western hatters tend to use this method more as their finish is usually tighter than dress hats. Most of the reason for that is the amount of shelac in a western is such that the felt doesn't move as much under the sandpaper. My goal was always to try to get a western finish on my hats without the stiffness. Only occasionally successful. OK, I'm going back to my room now.:)
Live & learn....the good news is that a reblock and some further pouncing restored the hat to its previous shape and finish.....and I am leaving it the hell alone! Thank you I always appreciate your learned input
 

ChicagoWayVito

Practically Family
Messages
665
OK BBoy, first the term is "singing" not "firing" although I can see why you would coin that given your experience with it. :) CVW is correct in the alcohol you should use but the normal spray bottle will give mixed results. I always used an atomizer sprayer as the droplets are smaller and more consistent .

I should have been more specific on the type of sprayer I use. I think it is the atomizer kind. I find them at Walmart in the beauty section and usually among travel-sized items and they cost around a dollar.

upload_2021-11-30_13-32-13.png
 

Darrell2688

Familiar Face
Messages
93
Hello Everyone,

I have been looking around the forum to see if anyone has or is
making their own hat. I maybe missing that section entirely, so
far I have not found any threads started about making hats.

So far I have made three of my own hats and I am currently
working on a fourth hat, the new project is in smoke grey and
I am finding out that I should have gone with a lighter weight,
this hat is 180g weight, I should have gone with a 160g weight.
So far it is a bear, but I don't give up easy.

I have made my own hat block and a hat brim cutter. I purchased
a collection of brim flanges off of Ebay and I do use one of those,
yesterday I cut a oval shaped hole in a piece of aluminum to use when
I iron out the brim. I am also using some circular pine boards that I
purchased at Home Depot, they still work, however water is not a
friend to bare wood. I tried coating the wood with Polyurethane, however
ironing anything on a piece of wood coated with Polyurethane is not
a good idea, the fabric gets a nice coating even if it is wet.

The new hat has a brim that is about 3.25" wide and the open crown
is about 6", I still have a lot of work to do on the hat.
If there is any interest, I can post some photos as I make the hat.

More Later,
Darrell
 

Mustang Mike's Hats

A-List Customer
Messages
399
Location
Southern California
Hi Darrell -

As you spend more time on the site, you'll note that 10 or more of us are hat makers. Several of us have our own custom hat business, as well.

It takes time to learn all the techniques but it's worth the effort. I even got my daughter making hats (stellarandsun.com) We have totally different hat making styles but she's really creative.

Hope you have nothing but success!!

Ride TALL,

Mike W.
www.mustangmikeshats.com
 

belfastboy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,135
Location
vancouver, canada
There are a few threads concerning the hat makers and those interested here in theForum. Use google, "The Fedora Lounge". two threads....Hat Making??/ Millinery and another on Hatters Tools. I too started slowly and added equipment as it became necessary or when I tired of using my 'work arounds'.

My poor man's brim press is made from plywood, 1/2" thick, 2'x2'. I have sheets for each size of block with holes cut for each block size, 57cm up to 62cm. I use a thick wooden cutting board 18" square to iron on, (Ikea). Then steam the brim and place the hat on a plywood table 2'x2', place the cut out 2'x2' plywood over the hat and then secure with clamps. Let it sit for 24 hours and it flattens the brim quite well with no harm to the plywood. I also iron with a heated dry iron that weighs in at 24lbs.

Eventually I will have to replace the plywood but I have been using it for 18 months and expect another 18. They cost me $20 each plus the time to cut the hole.
 
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