Inexpensive Hat Blocks

Discussion in 'Hats' started by moehawk, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. moehawk

    moehawk I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,931
    Location:
    Northern California
    I was looking for a good cheap hat block the other day and came across this site: http://www.franksupply.com/raffia/hatmaking-supplies.html
    I called them to inquire about the material the blocks were made from, and it turns out to be a polyurethane foam that is much better than the home-made gap-sealing foam block that I have been using. So, I ordered one of the 23" high dome ones Thursday and it arrived on my doorstep yesterday. It is nice and sturdy, well shaped and lightweight. I put it to quick use re-stretching an old Jackson by Bailey fur felt that I had laying around to experiment on. It works great, easy to pin to, more than sturdy enough for stretching felt on.
    The only bummer is the limited sizes available. When I spoke to the gentleman at the shop, he told me that they make them at their facility, the molds are rather pricey but the owner might consider increasing the size range if there was more demand. So, maybe we can create some demand.
     
    Scooterz, Tukwila and J. Adams like this.
  2. T Jones

    T Jones I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,916
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    Worth keeping in mind. The last block I got from hat shapers was pretty messed up. I can't use it. Hat Shapers said they would refund my money but I'd be out the cost for shipping the bad block back. If wooden blocks weren't so expensive to buy, that would be the best way to go. But, I wrote this guy's number down so I may give him a call and see what he can come up with.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
  3. pbekkerh

    pbekkerh New in Town

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    Denmark
    Hello moehawk, have you made your own hat blocks? Can we have more details please?
     
  4. moehawk

    moehawk I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,931
    Location:
    Northern California
    Well, the only hat block I have made is the kind where you use a cheap hat of the right size and shape, fill it with gap-sealing foam and let it cure. It works for a very basic thing to get a crude shape with, but I've never gotten one to come out nice and smooth and without odd lumps and other deformities in the shape. This block that I purchased from Franks has a nice hard finish that can be pinned to, and a good height and taper. Best of all, no lumps. I'll post a pic of the old Bailey that I reshaped on it later, after the shellac dries. It now has a nice high crown that is more versatile to try different creases.
    Would I like to eventually get or carve a wooden block or two? Heck yeah, but in the meantime I'm happy with this one for only 20 bucks plus tax and shipping.
     
  5. RTM

    RTM New in Town

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I would buy a 24-inch high dome.
     
  6. humanshoes

    humanshoes Vendor

    Messages:
    1,074
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Thought I'd add my couple of cents worth here. Purchasing a suitable hat block for $30 or so that will stand up to repeated use sounds like a good deal to me. If you're just going to do hats for yourself, and have a particular shape and style that you're going to stick with, then shelling out the big money that the good blocks are fetching on eBay or Etsy will definitely be worth it if you just need one or two. I made a convertable long oval block for my personal hats that I'm able to change out height and crown tip style, but it cost much more than $30 to make and it was really way too much work for a lazy guy like me to want to do it again. IMG_2025.jpg IMG_2029.jpg
     
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  7. moehawk

    moehawk I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,931
    Location:
    Northern California
    That block is just about identical to what I'm planning on making for myself. I was planning on using poplar, as it seems to be one of the easier hardwoods to carve and shape.
    I am enjoying my poly block, I have already re-blocked my Young's to a high enough crown to get my favorite center crease, my old Lagomarsino is much less battered looking and my Akubra Snowy River is drying to open crown on it now. I'm not sure if I want to go back to the Aussie telescope or do a Gus on it...The block seems to be holding up as advertised so I'm happy with the performance for the price. I just wish that they had a bigger selection of sizes and tapers.
     
  8. T Jones

    T Jones I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,916
    Location:
    Central Ohio
    I'm looking for a tall straight sided Long Oval wood block and also a brim flange. I'm having no luck on ebay.
     
  9. humanshoes

    humanshoes Vendor

    Messages:
    1,074
    Location:
    Tennessee
    Precisely why I broke down and made my own long oval block T Jones. Scoured the auction sites for a long time with no luck. I did luck out and find a long oval brim flange block in my size locally, but it's the only one I've come across. I believe one could make a long oval flange block by modifying a regular block. Should be fairly easy to enlongate the oval with a drum sanding drill attachment that can be purchased at Harbor Freight.
     
  10. milandro

    milandro New in Town

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    I am planning to buy a PVC hat block is 57 cm size, which is a couple of cm shy of the size I would need for myself.

    I can still use this block as is, I believe, to shape my hats on but I have a couple of questions.

    Do you think that one could add something stretchy ( say a finely knitted woolen hat) on the dome to make it bigger to my size? Alternatively I could cover with some material of some sort to beef it up to size.

    Another possibility to use this dome is to cut it in two halves and add it to a 2 way stretcher jack and in order to get a domed hat stretcher ( I understand this is a bit of an adventurous idea).
     
  11. Woodtroll

    Woodtroll Practically Family

    Messages:
    667
    Location:
    Mtns. of SW Virginia
    For what it's worth, I too bought a plastic hat form that was not quite my size (the next size up was too big). I took a sheet of craft foam (a relatively dense but flexible foam that is 2-3mm thick) and cut it carefully to length so that it encircled the block once and just touched (not overlapped) on the ends. Then I wrapped the foam completely with a plastic tape to make the surface slick, as Iwas afraid the felt might stick to the foam.

    I left the top edge sticking up above the curve of the dome, so that when I push the hat down over it, the foam conforms to the shape of the form. It looks horrible, but it gave me the option of having a block exactly the diameter I needed it, and it works pretty well. You may have to experiment with the thickness of the foam, or even use two layers, to get the circumference you need.

    Good luck!
    Regan
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019 at 11:12 PM
    Tukwila and deadlyhandsome like this.
  12. Hat and Rehat

    Hat and Rehat One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,263
    Location:
    Denver
    I was holding this secret close to my chest, hoping to cash in. I already went semi public to Terry.
    Plastic blocks and even construction foam blocks can be made much more serviceable with the use of fiberglass resin.
    Please don't beat me to the patent office!

    Sent from my LM-X410(FG) using Tapatalk
     
  13. Hat and Rehat

    Hat and Rehat One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,263
    Location:
    Denver
    Traditionally hatters would stretch an old felt over a block to increase it one size. Steam it on, bind it with cord, then cut the brim off.
    I always forget what it was called, but it was very common.

    Sent from my LM-X410(FG) using Tapatalk
     
  14. milandro

    milandro New in Town

    Messages:
    34
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    well, fortunately I was able to buy a this hat stretcher so I abandoned the other project involving modifying a too small hat block .
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Hat and Rehat

    Hat and Rehat One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,263
    Location:
    Denver
    I've been using a mini chainsaw wheel on an angle grinder to rough out, then going to a belt sander, followed by random orbital. A contour guage will keep you symmetrical.

    I'm giving up all my proprietary work guys!
    Be kind to me in the future.

    Sent from my LM-X410(FG) using Tapatalk
     
  16. Just Jim

    Just Jim One of the Regulars

    Seems a bit easier (if you want a convertible block such as Humanshoes showed) to make one exact perfect block about an inch thick. Start with a plank of hard maple, cut it close to the line with a bandsaw, and shape with files and a square (or a belt sander, or whatever you have). Drill a couple holes, put in pins that project about an inch. There's your pattern.

    Glue up your blocks of poplar, drill the blocks for the pins, and press the pattern to the first block. Trace the pattern, cut it close with a bandsaw, and press the maple pattern on flush. Then use a pattern bit in a router to trim it to match the maple block. Repeat til all your poplar blocks are the same. Install pins in the holes to allow you to stack and align the blocks. Top block gets the crown treatment you want--an open crown is easy.

    Sand and seal the blocks (or don't seal, depending on your religious beliefs in regard to this). There's your convertible block. Brim flanges take a bit more work but are doable.
     

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