Turning a wooden hat is not a complicated operation since it is really just a deep bowl with a wide rim. It does take a fair amount of turning finesse since even a small mistake that could be easily tolerated and corrected when turning a bowl can be the destruction of a hat.
Since the hat must be formed and bent after it is turned it is imperative that you start with freshly cut green/wet wood that will remain flexible through the process. A light colored wood such as maple is easiest to use since it is translucent when wet and a light can be used to judge the thickness. If a dark wood is used the turning is a much slower process since you must stop and measure more frequently.
For the best results and look the blank should be cut well away from the pith of the tree and the growth rings balanced on the center of the hat. A nicely figured wood will add to the beauty of the hat. One of my favorite woods is Ambrosia Maple as the brown streaks show off nicely on the brim and crown of the hat.
Following is a step by step photo essay of the turning process. Hopefully it is not too confusing. In order to fully illustrate the process there are pictures from several different hat projects.
For a better view click on any picture and step through the process. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.
The Turned Wood Hat
Flexible curve for measuring head size and shape
Flex Curve ready for measurment
Measuring head where hat should fit
Transfer measurement to paper
Calculate round size at hat band. Length minus width divide by two add width plus factor for thickness of wood at band and schrinkage factor
Prepared blank. About 60-80 pounds
Mount between centers
Prepare tenon for chucking on top of hat
Chuck on tenon and prepare recess for chucking on bottome of hat blank
Round and rough shape the blank
Begin sizing crown of hat
Begin removing picture frame ring of excess wood
Picture frame separated from blank
This blank producced two picture frame blanks
Crown begins to take shape
Finishing top of brim
Shoot for .090 inch ideal thickness. I'm still learning.
Thicknesses on a scrapped hat.
Approximate dimentions for cowboy and outback hats
Begin shaping brim to final thickness. Notice glow of light
Checking brim thickness
Brim progressing. Note how glow changes with thickness about mid brim
Removing excess wood in crown. This piece will be used for a mini-hat.
Mini-hat blank removed
Begin hollowing crown of hat
Crown thicknessing progressing using light glow to judge thickness
Creating grove inside top of crown. This is tricky and an easy place to have a disaster
Crown thicknessing complete
Design of lighted jam chuck
Lighted jam chuck on lathe
Hat installed on jam chuck with tailstock for safety. Note light glow
Beginning the removal of tenon on top of crown
Tennon removal progressing
Almost done with top of crown
Time to remove tailstock and finish top of crown
Sanding top of crown
Hat in bending jig. Rubber bands shape brim and clamp creates ovel at hat band
Another hat in bending jig
Mini-hat in bending jig
Logo to put on hat
Hat with logo. Wood burned outline permanent marker colors
Another logo for hat
Cherry outback hat with logo
Some more hats
Plain wood made into derby hat.
Cowboy style hat
Some more hats. Thanks for watching