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JW Custom Hats, SLC Utah

Messages
18,995
Location
Central California
Naw...hell no :cool: Most every hat got bought new prior to the Internet or Goodwill (1902). If you (or many of you) have hats you are still wearing or even own that you personally bought new 70 years ago, and you're running a computer today good on ya. I try to respect my elders . :rolleyes:


It was a misunderstanding. When you wrote “Or had access to a hat that was bought new 70 years ago” that confused me. I do have access to hats that were bought new 70+ years ago, but I wasn’t the one who bought them new, but that wasn’t how you wrote it.
 

Yahoody

One Too Many
Messages
1,111
Location
Great Basin
"I have/had custom western hats made by JW, Montechristi of New Mexico, Buch Dorer, Rand, Art Fawcett, Northwest Hats, The Phoenix Hat Co., The Last Best Western cowboy hats, O’Farrells, Shudde Bros., Peters Bros., The Rocky Mountain Hat Co., Greeley Hat Works, Az-Tex, and probably a few others. "

That is a lot of hats. But seemingly just over a dozen, call it 15 or 16 if you add a few more you have forgotten. All 100% beaver blanks made into cowboy hats, right? Just curious, as I mentioned the point previous, have you ever actually made a hat from scratch, using a 100% beaver blank supplied by any one? Not just reforming a hat but building a hat soup to nuts?

No offense taken and nothing personal, just trying to understand your comments better.
 
Messages
10,472
Location
vancouver, canada
"I have/had custom western hats made by JW, Montechristi of New Mexico, Buch Dorer, Rand, Art Fawcett, Northwest Hats, The Phoenix Hat Co., The Last Best Western cowboy hats, O’Farrells, Shudde Bros., Peters Bros., The Rocky Mountain Hat Co., Greeley Hat Works, Az-Tex, and probably a few others. "

That is a lot of hats. But seemingly just over a dozen, call it 15 or 16 if you add a few more you have forgotten. All 100% beaver blanks made into cowboy hats, right? Just curious, as I mentioned the point previous, have you ever actually made a hat from scratch, using a 100% beaver blank supplied by any one? Not just reforming a hat but building a hat soup to nuts?

No offense taken and nothing personal, just trying to understand your comments better.
I saw Greeley at a trunk show in Oregon. He had a great colour palette, where does he source his beaver felts?
 

Yahoody

One Too Many
Messages
1,111
Location
Great Basin
deadlyhandsome said:
I do have access to hats that were bought new 70+ years ago, but I wasn’t the one who bought them new.....

Sure we all do, that is my point. Unless you or someone you personally know bought the hat new and you have a good understanding of how the hat was used and stored you have no clue how the hat came out of the factory.

"They look pretty soft and not stiff."

I intentionally used that photo.

Big hat bodies for sure. Special order sizes these days if at all. Obviously resilient and soft felt. I have a recently finished hat on a Winchester beaver body here right now, not as big but just as resilient, soft and "floppy". And one that is a similar soft felt from a few years ago. Not that hard to get there.
 
Messages
18,995
Location
Central California
"I have/had custom western hats made by JW, Montechristi of New Mexico, Buch Dorer, Rand, Art Fawcett, Northwest Hats, The Phoenix Hat Co., The Last Best Western cowboy hats, O’Farrells, Shudde Bros., Peters Bros., The Rocky Mountain Hat Co., Greeley Hat Works, Az-Tex, and probably a few others. "

That is a lot of hats. But seemingly just over a dozen, call it 15 or 16 if you add a few more you have forgotten. All 100% beaver blanks made into cowboy hats, right? Just curious, as I mentioned the point previous, have you ever actually made a hat from scratch, using a 100% beaver blank supplied by any one? Not just reforming a hat but building a hat soup to nuts?

No offense taken and nothing personal, just trying to understand your comments better.


I’ve owned more than one hat many of those makers...I have a bit of a hat problem.

No, I’ve never made a hat from unfinished body to ready to wear. I acquiesce to your personal experience in that regard.
 
Messages
18,995
Location
Central California
Sure we all do, that is my point. Unless you or someone you personally know bought the hat new and you have a good understanding of how the hat was used and stored you have no clue how the hat came out of the factory.

"They look pretty soft and not stiff."

I intentionally used that photo.

Big hat bodies for sure. Special order sizes these days if at all. Obviously resilient and soft felt. I have a recently finished hat on a Winchester beaver body here right now, not as big but just as resilient, soft and "floppy". And one that is a similar soft felt from a few years ago. Not that hard to get there.


Now let me ask you: do you own a 7X Clear Beaver (CB) from the 1950s or earlier? A 5X CB? A 1950s Stetson or Dobbs One-Hundred? How about at 1920s No. 1 Quality? Have you made over 10,000 hats using Winchester’s beaver hat bodies? Have you gone to Tennessee and talked with the folks at Winchester and asked them about the felt as it compares to vintage?
 

Yahoody

One Too Many
Messages
1,111
Location
Great Basin
deadlyhandsome said:
I’ve owned more than one hat by many of those makers...I have a bit of a hat problem.

No, I’ve never made a hat from unfinished body to ready to wear.

I'm not going to tell you how many western hats I own. All but 3 of them full beaver. I'll tell you this..it is too many :confused:

Wasn't trying to insult you about collecting hats. You can't imagine what a good hat means to me. But I truly understand the desire to collect (hoard :eek:) them.

Anyway I think we differ in opinions because you collect and I on occasion have been lucky enough build and rebuild them. Lots of them. No big deal, I am still learning from the conversation. Good enough for me.

Owned a few of the better quality early '50s Stetsons. My Grandfather and father introduced me to them. Talked to the folks at Winchester many times. Never been there.
 
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Messages
18,995
Location
Central California
I'm not going to tell you how many western hats I own. All but 3 of them full beaver. I'll tell you this..it is too many :confused:

Wasn't trying to insult you about collecting hats. You can't imagine what a good hat means to me. But I truly understand the desire to collect (hoard :eek:) them.

Anyway I think we differ in opinions because you collect and I on occasion have been lucky enough build and rebuild them. Lots of them. No big deal, I am still learning from the conversation. Good enough for me.

Owned a few of the better quality early '50s Stetsons. My Grandfather and father introduced me to them. Talked to the folks at Winchester many times. Never been there.


That’s the first thing you’ve said that I just can’t abide....their is no such thing as owning too many hats! :)

It’s not just the “floppy brim.” It’s the whole feel of the hat. The malleability and the density...there is just something special about really good vintage felt. However, I also like a wide variety of hats and some (most?) of the best vintage dress hats are not 100% beaver. I don’t care so much what the fur content is as it’s the attributes I’m after. I do agree that westerns tend to be different and the more beaver content the better.
 
Messages
18,995
Location
Central California
Stopped in at JW Custom Hats in SLC today. The shop wasn’t quite what I was expecting as it’s more strip mall than 150 year old institution. The folks were nice and let me walk around. Their dress felt hats were thick and stiff, not western stiff, but not at all what I’d want in a fedora. Westerns make up a majority of their business and they had a couple nice ones on display, but it’s really a custom hat shop with very few readymade hats for sale.

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Yahoody

One Too Many
Messages
1,111
Location
Great Basin
the other thing is I am content with my modest hat block collection till I see pics like this with all those blocks on display and I weep!


I have it on good authority that their current block collection is just a tiny ( like a very tiny) percentage of the blocks JW had available when he was still alive. The vast majority of blocks became "quick cash" on the last change of ownership. They are rebuilding the collection now. In fact they asked to permission to copy my hat block while I was there.

Fedoras? Geeze Deadly, it is Utah after all, pretty much in any direction from SLC it is high desert for 300 miles :cool: I got the feeling building hats was a tiny part of their business today. I'd bet the majority of their business now is selling the hat making tools including new blocks that keeps them afloat. There wasn't a 100% beaver blank in the store while was there other than my own.
 
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ChicagoWayVito

Practically Family
Messages
699
Stopped in at JW Custom Hats in SLC today. The shop wasn’t quite what I was expecting as it’s more strip mall than 150 year old institution. The folks were nice and let me walk around. Their dress felt hats were thick and stiff, not western stiff, but not at all what I’d want in a fedora. Westerns make up a majority of their business and they had a couple nice ones on display, but it’s really a custom hat shop with very few readymade hats for sale.

View attachment 293658 View attachment 293659 View attachment 293660 View attachment 293662 View attachment 293663 View attachment 293664
JW bought the tools out of foreclosure back in the day, so yeah it is a strip mall. When I visited and spent a week with JW and had the run of his shop, working with all the vintage tools was amazing. I bet the folks still there are using gum tragacanth to stiffen the hats, including fedoras. That is what JW was having me do prior to shaping. Brushed in gum tragacanth that was mixed with water in a blender (makes a gel), brushed on the inside of the crown and then using a spray bottle wetting the outside of the crown and then shape it. I have since moved away from doing that entirely as I don't like the feel, it probably makes more sense to do it on a western hat.

Sadly, after the shop sold after JWs passing they started selling off blocks. I found them on eBay. In fact they are still selling them, although they seem like those that are not in great shape: Items for sale by jwrhats9 | eBay
They are selling in sets though and some contain multiple of the same size. For the prices I rather buy new blocks and flanges. Although I would like to learn how to use a sculpted flange.

If I am not mistaken, Chandler of Tatton Baird learned from JW many years ago. I would be curious how his dress hats feel.
 

Yahoody

One Too Many
Messages
1,111
Location
Great Basin
I'd never heard of Tatton Baird until this thread. Looks like a proper hat shop to me. And some really nice hats being made. Guess I should drop the sarcasm about Utah Fedoras :D I'll have to make that drive this Spring. Thanks!
 
Messages
18,995
Location
Central California
JW bought the tools out of foreclosure back in the day, so yeah it is a strip mall. When I visited and spent a week with JW and had the run of his shop, working with all the vintage tools was amazing. I bet the folks still there are using gum tragacanth to stiffen the hats, including fedoras. That is what JW was having me do prior to shaping. Brushed in gum tragacanth that was mixed with water in a blender (makes a gel), brushed on the inside of the crown and then using a spray bottle wetting the outside of the crown and then shape it. I have since moved away from doing that entirely as I don't like the feel, it probably makes more sense to do it on a western hat.

Sadly, after the shop sold after JWs passing they started selling off blocks. I found them on eBay. In fact they are still selling them, although they seem like those that are not in great shape: Items for sale by jwrhats9 | eBay
They are selling in sets though and some contain multiple of the same size. For the prices I rather buy new blocks and flanges. Although I would like to learn how to use a sculpted flange.

If I am not mistaken, Chandler of Tatton Baird learned from JW many years ago. I would be curious how his dress hats feel.


Chandler said he trained under JW, but I think there was some sort of falling out.

I’m much more excited to see Tatton Baird; I’m trying to limit myself to just one of his hats. The hatting world owes JW for teaching so many hatters and for making hat equipment available. After visiting the shop though I don’t feel any draw to order one.
 

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