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Making a New Hat

Messages
107
Location
east side, WA state
Hello Fletch!

Nice to hear of a "local" lurking about, I mysef live in Clarkston a stones throw away. Greetings and welcome to the forum. I lived in Portland for some time not long ago but this was before my hat obsession, so I never visited Art but I am close enough I may yet. As for making a hat for one's self, it is not an easy chore, but very rewarding.
Cheers!
SoaP
 

fletch31

Familiar Face
Messages
73
Location
Rexburg, ID
Thanks Soap, I have family that lives in Vancouver, WA and work in Portland. Clarksburg is on the border of WA and ID isnt it? I'm on the north eastern side of Idaho in Rexburg, close to Wyoming and Montana. I've lurked forever, even before I registered and have just not had much to say, soaking info up like a sponge. Are you working on making your own hats as well? JW was more than happy to have me post up some more pictures of his operation so I will do so later today.
 

fletch31

Familiar Face
Messages
73
Location
Rexburg, ID
Here are some pics of my recent visit with Jim at JW Hats in the Salt Lake City area. Jim is a great guy and was very hospitable during my day spent with him.

Here he is at work cleaning a hat a customer brought in while I was there.

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This is a pic of his work table. It was pretty remarkable in that he has a one of a kind setup underneath from 1880 that spins his blocks on the spindle in the center at 500 rpm so he can sand them. I would think that you would get worn spots on the ends as blocks are not round but oval but it works for him. This was made specifically for hats and was acquired at a worlds fair in the late 1800's by the original owners of his store. You can see his puller down, hat brushes, felt pads, sandpaper and spinners on his work bench as well.

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fletch31

Familiar Face
Messages
73
Location
Rexburg, ID
Here are some of his automated crown irons. They are vintage equipment and Jim is quite handy at repairing them.

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This set of 4 crown irons has been acquired, repaired and modified by Jim for a well known palm leaf hat company. They are going to be making felt hats here shortly as well and will put this beast to use. Its monstrously heavy. Vintage as well of course.

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fletch31

Familiar Face
Messages
73
Location
Rexburg, ID
Jim makes his own sweatbands solely out of Goatskin. This is his hydraulic clicker that cuts the sweats out of the skins. Jim had a ton of goatskins in a variety of colors and provides sweats to many other custom hat manufacturers. He has machinery for putting their logo's on as well.

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This is one of his self designed sweat band cutters. Its calibrated to cut to specific head sizes of choice.

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fletch31

Familiar Face
Messages
73
Location
Rexburg, ID
This is a sewing machine set up to sew the reeding onto the sweat band leather blanks. You can see the reeding tape and the thick monofilament feeding into the machine here.

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Here is a pic of two sandbaggers used for flanging brims. The one on the right is complete. There was a nice panama under that flange cloth on the flange to the right.

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fletch31

Familiar Face
Messages
73
Location
Rexburg, ID
This is what felt looks like when it comes off the felting cone. This was so buttery soft and fluffy, I couldnt believe it. Unfortunately a kid of one of his customers put some holes in it a while ago. This thing was quite large, maybe 3 feet in size.

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After some hot water and being run through rollers you get this, its about half the size of the previous one.

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fletch31

Familiar Face
Messages
73
Location
Rexburg, ID
Lastly I will show some of JW's vintage grosgrain ribbon. He has a ton of this stuff with many boxes and reels not shown here. He provides this to other hatters as well.

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airforceindy

One of the Regulars
Messages
263
Location
Anchorage, AK
Great pics you've added here, Fletch! I spoke with Jim earlier last week about acquiring hatband and sweats; he sounds like a great fellow. If I'm ever in the Salt Lake region, I'll certainly be looking him up.

Regards, Andy
 

Dav3

New in Town
Messages
46
Location
Alberta, Canada
So I'm going to be taking pictures around Calgary's Smithbilt hat company tomorrow as part of a photography assignment for school. They mostly make cowboy hats, so they pictures may be mostly about that but depending on what they're working on, I might get some dress hat stuff.

I'll be sure to post the pictures here.
 

Dav3

New in Town
Messages
46
Location
Alberta, Canada
It already was for awhile, wasn't it? Too many stickies clutters up the board. I think it's fine being linked in the "Links to Important Hat Forum Threads" thread.
 

PabloElFlamenco

Practically Family
Messages
581
Location
near Brussels, Belgium
I just finished "leafing" thru these pages, which, once more, provide ample evidence in support of the thesis that, somewhere and everywhere throughout the United States, there remain truly outstanding craftsmen active and working, contrary to the general perception in such matters.
Congratulations. There is no doubt these hats are superb.
Paul
 

ScionPI2005

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,334
Location
Bremerton, Washington
I also just finished looking through this thread; the pictures of the entire hat building process are awesome! I knew the craft of hat building had to be somewhat complex, but never knew to what extreme. It's amazing to think that such skilled craftsmen can transform a rugged looking felt body into a stylish work of art.
 

Dav3

New in Town
Messages
46
Location
Alberta, Canada
Alright, my adventure into the world of smithblit hats:

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These are the felt hat bodies the smithbilt hat company uses. They don't make their own felt, so these are ordered in. These particular ones are the fur felt bodies.

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This is Gerald. He blocks the hats with the that machine, there.

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What The hat looks like when it comes out. At this point, the hat is put aside and left overnight to dry.

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This is Brian Hanson. He's the production manager/owner/whatever else. Here he is sanding down a hat

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Then to get rid of the excess fibres and to make things real smooth...

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yee haw

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Back to Gerald using this machine to get a crease in the cowboy hat. I forget what this machine was called, but it used a lot of pressure and heat.

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This is Larry Glasgow. He's creating a rim on a hat. I believe he told me that particular machine was built in the early 1920's. I think he also made too much of a rim and had to go fix it afterwards.

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Releasing a little steam to shape the brim of this top hat

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Again. He told me they don't really make dress hats a lot, mostly to order, with a few to sit in the show room. This one was for a theater company in Vancouver. Apparently their order is getting late and the company is getting a little annoyed.



...more in the next post
 

Dav3

New in Town
Messages
46
Location
Alberta, Canada
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This is Larry's dog and the company pet/mascot, Ninja. Super nice dog.

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The sweatbands are also ordered in, and are cut to size in this machine, here.

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This is Mui Luangphasi. She does all the sewing of the sweatbands, the ribbons and gluing of the liners.

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Part of their selection of ribbons. They had a whole wall of the stuff.

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And since it's primarily a cowboy hat company, they have a selection of about 200 styles like these.

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A stack of hat liners waiting for Mui to glue in.

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Mui gluing in a liner

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A wall of dress hats in their show room

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A coffee cup on a desk in front of the hat blocks.

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This is Bryce Nimmo, the owner and president of Smithbilt hats standing outside by the old sign they took with them from the original location of the factory.


their site, for those interested:
http://www.smithbilthats.com/default.htm
 

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