To date, I've made one hat, a full size stetson turned under the supervison of "The Hat Man" my good friend Andrew Hall. Our friends Brian and Anita, having seen the hat decided to commission one of their own to display in their beautiful home in Devon.
I had a piece of Scotts Pine perfect for the bonnet which had been kept soaking in water for several weeks, but first I needed the essential tool for the job a lightbox. The lightbox allows topping out of the hat. An order on eBay resulted in 20 led torches and appropriate batteries for the princely sum of not a lot.
After a bit of sanding, the hat is reversed into the chuck, checking that the hat runs true before removing the faceplate.
Now comes the tricky bit...3mm from here on right through to the crown. Using LED lights which generally run cool gives a clear indication of the wall thickness but use callipers to double check the 3mm target thickness is being maintained.
I turned the outside of the hat, leaving a section 1" wide defined by beads where a ribbon will be tied in due course. Where the chucking point connects to the crown of the hat is kept thick to support hollowing process.
The heavy chunk of Scotts Pine was mounted on a faceplate and trued up. The next step was to set the dimensions for the hat and using a lance, remove the rings of surplus timber.
So far so good, the brim and inside of the hat are turned to 3mm. The hat can now be reversed onto the lightbox so that it can be 'topped out'. Topping out is removing the spigot mounting point, continuing the 3mm profile right through to the centre of the crown. Using the lightbox reduces the chance of turning the hat into a headband...just see how thin you dare go. Turning complete, now time to keep the hat cool while it dries ready for sanding and finishing.
Rick Dobney Woodturning