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What does taper mean?

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Winkydink, Mar 18, 2005.

  1. Winkydink

    Winkydink Familiar Face

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    Brattleboro, Vermont
    what does the term taper mean?

    winky
     
  2. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action

    Taper reffers to the shrinking of a hats crown into a more tapered appearance. A modern hat that may have had a stove pipe figure when it was first blocked and shaped, after exposure to the elements tends to revert back toward a cone shape.

    I preffer my hats to have this vertical untapered look. All modern hats lose their untapered appearance over time.

    Without taper front to back.
    [​IMG]

    The debate is still on to whether or not one of the modern hatters (Optimo) has figured out a way to keep the hats from tapering by using a technique called pre-blocking.
     
  3. Matt is exactly right. Taper can happen in two different ways. You can have taper in the crown like this: / . Then again in early 30s hats you can have the opposite kind of taper. Looking at the crown from the side it looks like this: /. No taper would have a crown looking like this: l l or exactly like the hat in Matt's picture above.
    I have a picture of a 1930s stetson featherweight I own as an example of what I call "reverse taper." It looks like this:

    [​IMG]

    Now the crown can be reformed to have no taper at all but this is what was original and the hat came to me like this.
    I hope I have not confounded your understanding. ;)

    Regards to all,

    J

    P.S. Sorry for the picture quality but the hat is black and I had to lightent he photo quite a bit so you could even tell it was a hat in the first place. :p
     
  4. gandydancer

    gandydancer Familiar Face

    Messages:
    95
    Location:
    Blue Ridge Mountains of NC
    Well, you are talking about two possibilities with the term taper.

    The first is blocked in taper where the hat is intended to be smaller at the top of the crown. That kind of taper kind of looks like the edges are straight and crisp.

    The second is caused by shrinkage. and looks lumpy and rounded. Not a good thing. Most modern hats do that overtime, and quickly if the hat gets soaked. In fact the worst of it is in hats made in the past 10 years. I bought a Stetson Royal grade hat in about '92 that did not have the problem. The same grade of Stetson I bought about '95 did it the first time I wore it in the rain.

    Hat felt starts out as a very big piece of felt about the same tecture as the felt you see in fabric stores (much better quality however). It is worked and steamed and dried several times shrinking each time until it is a dense hat body called a cape or cone. That goes to the hatter. In modern factory hats the cape goes into a mold and is formed into a hat in one step shrinking it some more.

    The hand made hat is formed, traditionally, on a wooden hat block. It is worked and stretched by the hatter and finally allowed to shrink onto the block. The more it is worked the more it shinks. Ideally the felt should be shrunk to the maximum where it can not shrink any more. That makes for a stable hat. In the old, old days hats were hand made on an open crown block. And finally formed on a crown shaped block that extra step seems to have taken out any remaining shrink and even after decades they do not shink much.

    The old felt is thin, super dense, ridgid yet flexible, and soft to the touch which is why vintage hats are so much nicer. But I think the real difference is the the new hats are thought of by the manufacturer as ornimental, while in the old days they were thought of primarily as weather protection. Those contrary views make the difference between a wearable long lasting hat and what normally is available factory made today.
     
  5. Winkydink

    Winkydink Familiar Face

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    Brattleboro, Vermont
    ok so how do you

    either attach a photo or put a photo in the body of a post. i don't see a browse button at the bottom of this.

    thank you all

    winky.
     
  6. Winkydink

    Winkydink Familiar Face

    Messages:
    64
    Location:
    Brattleboro, Vermont
    thank you

    you are wise beyond your years and my mind wanders.

    winky
     
  7. DBLIII

    DBLIII One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    229
    Location:
    Hill City, SD
    Following along on Biltmore Bob's comment -- while I do not have a great deal of experience with fedoras, I do with cowboy hats, having worn one every day for the past 20+ years until I got into fedoras a short while ago.
    I've found that a high crown without a lot of dents (creases) tends to stay stovepipe straight. But, a hat with a lot of creases will taper in toward the top over a couple years. I'm comparing the same levels of felt over about half a dozen hats, just using the style of block as a comparitor (if that's a word). I have no idea if this is coincidental or if the type of crease would accelerate the hat's tendency to taper. Interesting...
     
  8. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action

    Here, I updated this thread.

    No taper | |
    Taper / \
    Reverse taper \ /

    Taper
    [​IMG]

    No taper
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Reverse taper
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Rick Blaine

    Rick Blaine My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,948
    Location:
    Hillbilly Heaven
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action

    You know their natural enemies are tigers.
     
  11. jimmy the lid

    jimmy the lid I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    5,647
    Location:
    USA
    I think that the concept of taper is much more relevant in terms of looking at the hat from the front -- not the side...
     
  12. daizawaguy

    daizawaguy Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,525
    Location:
    Tokyo
    Sorry, I`m not very clued up on taper, but does the above really have taper?
     
  13. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action


    Yes. / \


    If you pushed the center sent down more, perhaps not. But the front taper would be more prominant.
     
  14. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    Messages:
    10,562
    Location:
    Bozeman, MT
    A fedora can be blocked with a tapered crown or with a straight sided crown.


    The coveted "reverse taper" comes from creasing a straight sided crown with a deep(ish) crease. If you are giving a hat a center crease, the deeper you make the crease the more you see reverse taper from the side of the hat, and the more you see taper from the front. Reverse taper generally only refers to what you see from the side of a hat.

    I feel when describing taper of a hat, it should really only refer to the blocked in taper (open crown), as the visible taper from front and side can change dramatically when alterations are made in the crease.
     
  15. Blackthorn

    Blackthorn My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Oroville
    That's how I think of it.
     
  16. handlebar bart

    handlebar bart Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,623
    Location:
    at work
    No, I don't think the IJ hats had taper and there is an army of guys with whips and satchels who would be offended by the mention of taper in Indiana Jones hats and would frantically be posting their displeasure on Club Obi Wan from command headquarters in their parents basement. lol lol
    Like Jimmy stated when people refer to taper it is usually as seen from the front as it is usually a product of the original blocking and not the result of creasing.
     
  17. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action

    I like COW. COW is a fun forum. I go back and forth on COW subjects all the time. Scroll down and check out the last stuff I debated out regarding Indy's gray hat.

    http://www.indygear.com/cow/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=46932&start=50

    I assure you, front to back taper counts. Verticality given by the block is the first thing to go when a modern hat shrinks... regardless of whether it's front to back or side to side... it's taper.

    [​IMG]

    And Indy has a rep for side to side taper as well.
    Temple of Doom
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Matt Deckard

    Matt Deckard Man of Action

    Yes... and I do hate it when a new hat loses it's reverse taper from a hit of rain. Makes me stick to my vintage too much since they tend to hold their ground much much better.
     
  19. Maj.Nick Danger

    Maj.Nick Danger I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,469
    Location:
    Behind the 8 ball,..
    No matter which direction it's in,...it just isn't flattering. :(
    But is there a point at which it stops? And could one expect a reverse tapered hat to eventually end up pretty much straight? [huh]
     
  20. thunderw21

    thunderw21 I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    4,044
    Location:
    Iowa
    Taper:
    [​IMG]

    No taper:
    [​IMG]

    As others have said, a hat can taper from side to side or front to back.
     

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