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What Hat Are You Working On Today?

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,702
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
Thanks, Robert, for sharing your experiences, as I have always been one willing to share trade secrets with most anyone, both in the building trade or hattery. Not good for business, some would say, but I always figured there was plenty of work out there—even in my small, rural area.
I’ve always been happy to share any hat restoration processes that I’ve uncovered here on the FL. One thing I’ve yet to share is this: white talc and pencil lead are indispensable mediums for covering a multitude of vintage hat sins!
I somehow figured that out on my own about powders to cover dark stains in felt from medium browns to all lighter colors way before reading about it on the internet, or here. Pencil use for lighter than felt color stains or faded areas/spots is something that works absolute miracles as well and I have yet to read that anywhere.
I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about your dye and felt experiment yet to come.
I usually fully soak the felt in hot water before blocking then steam for 10+ minutes tented in a trash bag. I steam them until I have taken out the rudimentary brim break and it more resembles a cone. I find that works best in getting a really good stretch over the block. If I am working with the FEPSA 95gram beaver I can get away with just a really good water spritz as the felt is so light weight.
That is a good question. Not sure how many felting factories used to exist back in the hayday of hatting.
When I was at Winchester they had bales of fur fibre in white (bleached for dyeing pastels) and then natural for the other dyes.

I am about to spend a few days working with dyes/felts and will experiment with dyeing an already cut brim to see how exact I can get it.






Since I have yet to build or dye any custom hats from scratch using modern hat bodies, I wouldn’t know what I was in for, but with vintage hats, I’ve not had a problem with pulling the brims, bound or not, to exact measurements fully around. Is it difficult or different with new hat bodies?
 

T Jones

I'll Lock Up
Messages
6,583
Location
Central Ohio
Lookin great Terry! I hope to find some time to work on the 4 hat bodies I’ve recently purchased. Have no idea how that’s gonna go.
Thank you Randall! I've been finding that felts are different as far as working with them. The black Western in my picture was a bear to work with at first. That one I had to soak in hot water for a while and then I put it over a pot of boiling water sitting on a splatter screen for a few minutes until it got good and soft, and hot. After that, I stretched it on the block with no problem. Easy Peasy. The carbon gray Western felt was a piece of cake. A few minutes just over boiling water and I was practically able to stretch it over the block using only my hands. The blue felt in the background was another easy one. A few minutes over boiling water and it stretched nice and easy over the block. That one is rabbit, and one of the nicest felts I've handled. It all depends on the felt. Some work easy and some take a little more work to make them easy.
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,702
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
Sounds great! Thanks, Terry. Can’t wait to give it a shot. I’ll have to buy a splatter screen.
Thank you Randall! I've been finding that felts are different as far as working with them. The black Western in my picture was a bear to work with at first. That one I had to soak in hot water for a while and then I put it over a pot of boiling water sitting on a splatter screen for a few minutes until it got good and soft, and hot. After that, I stretched it on the block with no problem. Easy Peasy. The carbon gray Western felt was a piece of cake. A few minutes just over boiling water and I was practically able to stretch it over the block using only my hands. The blue felt in the background was another easy one. A few minutes over boiling water and it stretched nice and easy over the block. That one is rabbit, and one of the nicest felts I've handled. It all depends on the felt. Some work easy and some take a little more work to make them easy.
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,702
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
Working on an upsize from 7 to 7 1/8 on a Stetson 10X for Phil @hambone71.
He wants it converted to a fedora with a mid ribbon and a 2 3/4” bound brim.
I have it on a wood Block I built in the #52 style. I’d guess early 70s on this hat and it’s a 10X. I don’t know exactly what the beaver content was whenever this one was built but I can guarantee it is either all beaver or a bunch of beaver, since the felt was so tough, dense and tight! Was a really hard one to stretch over my block! The felt was thin for this time period, and way more pliable than most. It’ll make a great looking and feeling fedora. The silver color is nice, too.
5C890E76-32E0-404B-A002-7A63DEE553B0.jpeg
A0D759A1-1875-49F5-B787-F454130F249C.jpeg
 
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hambone71

Practically Family
Messages
644
Location
Roll Tide
Working on an upsize from 7 to 7 1/8 on a Stetson “25” for Phil @hambone71.
He wants it converted to a fedora with a mid ribbon and a 2 3/4” bound brim.
I have it on a wood Block I built in the #52 style. I’d guess early 70s on this hat and it’s a 10X. I don’t know exactly what the beaver content was whenever this one was built but I can guarantee it is either all beaver or a bunch of beaver, since the felt was so tough, dense and tight! Was a really hard one to stretch over my block! The felt was thin for this time period, and way more pliable than most. It’ll make a great looking and feeling fedora. The silver color is nice, too. View attachment 553569 View attachment 553568
Thank you, my friend! I can’t wait! It already looks better than it did before.
 
Messages
18,829
Location
Central California
Working on an upsize from 7 to 7 1/8 on a Stetson “25” for Phil @hambone71.
He wants it converted to a fedora with a mid ribbon and a 2 3/4” bound brim.
I have it on a wood Block I built in the #52 style. I’d guess early 70s on this hat and it’s a 10X. I don’t know exactly what the beaver content was whenever this one was built but I can guarantee it is either all beaver or a bunch of beaver, since the felt was so tough, dense and tight! Was a really hard one to stretch over my block! The felt was thin for this time period, and way more pliable than most. It’ll make a great looking and feeling fedora. The silver color is nice, too. View attachment 553569 View attachment 553568

Hmmm…do you have a 6”(+) #52 block in 7 ⅞ (7 ¾ or 62cm) finished size?
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,702
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
Next stage on the @hambone71 fedora.
I’ve re-pounced the felt and threw on some dry creases. Today Phil has chosen a gray/blue hatband ribbon color out of around 15 colors offered and after having choices of different gray bindings he opted to go with two rows of felt colored stitching around the brim edge. He decided there were too many different colors of gray and I agreed.
A burgundy bow keep accent will adorn the side along with the gray wind trolley.
68D068B5-99FC-4DE8-9D75-7549C822F766.jpeg
5FCEFD34-C792-4486-890A-EEA284BEC1B7.jpeg
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,702
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
A different silver/pearl gray vintage hat I’m working on and showing the difference in a well pounced fur felt as opposed to a factory pounce. I sanded just half the brim for this pic and later the entire hat with 1000 grit. The binding is factory but I added one row of decorative stitching, unfortunately, before I decided to pounce. Had to be careful.
I’ll post pics of this finished personal project when complete.
5DB295D3-2A38-4785-8C57-234427AE1511.jpeg
 
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hambone71

Practically Family
Messages
644
Location
Roll Tide
Next stage on the @hambone71 fedora.
I’ve re-pounced the felt and threw on some dry creases. Today Phil has chosen a gray/blue hatband ribbon color out of around 15 colors offered and after having choices of different gray bindings he opted to go with two rows of felt colored stitching around the brim edge. He decided there were too many different colors of gray and I agreed.
A burgundy bow keep accent will adorn the side along with the gray wind trolley. View attachment 554400 View attachment 554401
I certainly appreciate your input, detail, and communication! Second to none! And that bash!
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,702
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
I’m might just buy a block and ship it to you. I already have several flanges in my size.

Great! I’ll be ready. Be interesting to build one that size. Let’s see…when building a house it’s priced by the square foot.
So, your hat will be by the square inch probably, right? And then you’re from Cali so there’ll be EPA fees, impact fees, governmental fees, higher taxes and finally, an overall higher sale price…because it’s California.
Are you sure you can afford this hat? :)

Truly couldn’t resist sayin all that.
Wont be more than I’d charge my new Alabama neighbor friend; he’s a good guy, too.
 
Last edited:
Messages
18,829
Location
Central California
Great! I’ll be ready. Be interesting to build one that size. Let’s see…when building a house it’s priced by the square foot.
So, your hat will be by the square inch probably, right? And then you’re from Cali so there’ll be EPA fees, impact fees, governmental fees, higher taxes and finally, an overall higher sale price…because it’s California.
Are you sure you can afford this hat? :)

Truly couldn’t resist sayin all that.
Wont be more than I’d charge my new Alabama neighbor friend; he’s a good guy, too.


The problem is it isn’t a joke. I spent over $90 to fill my Honda Accord. Don’t let this happen to your state.

I’m serious about sending you a block. Are you happy with the RA 3-D blocks?
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,702
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
This will be a long answer.
I have two of his. The last one I bought was super straight sided in #52. I like it’s shape, but I had to put a belt sander to it, front and back, so my hat crowns would end up straight sided—since no taper on the block ends up making reverse taper on a hat with a single crease. Maybe not on crowns with C-crown creases, but definitely single creases, or diamonds. Physics. You can’t overcome it.
The first block from him was too tapered so I had to add bondo, sand smooth then paint and now it’s shaped to my liking.
Not Randal’s fault, but mine. I didn’t know how to order block dimensions/shapes correctly.
Now one thing about 3D blocks is they’re hard to reshape much and none of you need to go deep because you hit cavities made in the block—if you were to be so inclined to try it. It worked for me, but was not easy.
Another thing is, on my first and most used block the middle post hole started deteriorating. Plastic pieces kept falling out and the hole became deeper and deeper until the post almost came through the top. Had to pour bondo down the hole, which stopped that problem. Randal says he is using a different resin or plastic material for his blocks and assures this wouldn’t be happening anymore. Idk.
Making them myself insures I get exactly what I want and they last, but it’s hard work.
Recently, I’ve bought several well used vintage #52 blocks and flanges in several sizes and they are good ones, but I had to refinish them all with nitrocellulose.
Whew!
I’ve been through a lotta trouble with blocks and flanges, and have a lot more to share on this subject, but my thumbs are tired.
 
Last edited:
Messages
18,829
Location
Central California
This will be a long answer.
I have two of his. The last one I bought was super straight sided in #52. I like it’s shape, but I had to put a belt sander to it, front and back, so my hat crowns would end up straight sided—since no taper on the block ends up making reverse taper on a hat with a single crease. Maybe not on crowns with C-crown creases, but definitely single creases, or diamonds. Physics. You can’t overcome it.
The first block from him was too tapered so I had to add bondo, sand smooth then paint and now it’s shaped to my liking.
Not Randal’s fault, but mine. I didn’t know how to order block dimensions/shapes correctly.
Now one thing about 3D blocks is they’re hard to reshape much and none of you need to go deep because you hit cavities made in the block—if you were to be so inclined to try it. It worked for me, but was not easy.
Another thing is, on my first and most used block the middle post hole started deteriorating. Plastic pieces kept falling out and the hole became deeper and deeper until the post almost came through the top. Had to pour bondo down the hole, which stopped that problem. Randal says he is using a different resin or plastic material for his blocks and assures this wouldn’t be happening anymore. Idk.
Making them myself insures I get exactly what I want and they last, but it’s hard work.
Recently, I’ve bought several well used vintage #52 blocks and flanges in several sizes and they are good ones, but I had to refinish them all with nitrocellulose.
Whew!
I’ve been through a lotta trouble with blocks and flanges, and have a lot more to share on this subject, but my thumbs are tired.


I just ordered a solid wood 7 ⅞ (7 ¾ finished size) #52 block at 6 ¼” tall that I’ll send to you. I’d love to hat a custom from you someday.
 

Mighty44

One Too Many
Messages
1,620
Next stage on the @hambone71 fedora.
I’ve re-pounced the felt and threw on some dry creases. Today Phil has chosen a gray/blue hatband ribbon color out of around 15 colors offered and after having choices of different gray bindings he opted to go with two rows of felt colored stitching around the brim edge. He decided there were too many different colors of gray and I agreed.
A burgundy bow keep accent will adorn the side along with the gray wind trolley. View attachment 554400 View attachment 554401
Oh man that’s going to be nice!
 

Randall Renshaw

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,702
Location
Nahunta, Ga.
The Vita-Boy I got recently that didn’t have a bow keep, but now sporting one specially designed. I also went ahead and sewed one row of stitching on the edge like most Playboys. I’m not a fan of raw edged fedoras. Same hat but by these pics in different light you wouldn’t think so.
I absolutely love this hat!!
82E001F5-CF78-4D84-BFDE-A01CCB745053.jpeg

7B633F12-C3FA-4F30-ADE5-9A61EA740988.jpeg
 
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