Project Tutorials

Baseball Cap

Click image for enlarged view
Laying out the blank

Since I don’t live where maple grows wild for the taking I am using magnolia this cap. Magnolia warps and goes oval so it will work for the cap. This tree was cut about 6 months ago and left in the yard. The end grain has split some but the cracks only go about 1” deep on this unsealed piece.

I sawed the log section in half through the heart. A cap can be turned from a smaller log section than a cowboy style hat. It is still best if you can stay away from the heart section of wood so use something big enough to allow for that.

blank marked for cutting

I have marked a line that shows the heart of the log and made marks 5” either side of this line to make my chainsaw cuts.

The opening of the cap is toward the bark side of the blank unlike turning a cowboy where the opening is to the heart. That is why you can use a smaller piece of wood for the cap but it also means you will be turning a lot of air on the outer edges of the cap and can’t use a light to gage the bill thickness. The growth rings of the wood want to straighten themselves out so the bill of the cap is toward the bark side to assist bending it in the right direction. The wood is oriented from front to back parallel to the heart to make the cap go oval in shape.

cap blank sawn to shape

The blank cut to a rectangular section and the corners trimmed off. From here I will go straight to the lathe without having to cut any more wood off. The blank is about 18” long, 10” wide and 6” thick. I allow excess wood in the blank now so I have something to work with while I am trying to orient it on the lathe for best grain presentation and in case I find a defect that needs turned away.

blank center marked

I have marked the center of the blank and will seat the spur center before I put the blank between centers on the lathe. I am seating the spur in solid wood not bark. The bark and the soft wood underneath can allow the spur center to become loose and spin in the blank while turning. This can be dangerous by allowing the blank to fly off the lathe. I removed all the bark from the blank while I was cutting it out with the chainsaw.

spur center seated in blank

The spur center seated in the blank. Use a rubber mallet to prevent damage to the spur center.

blank between centers

The blank between centers. Rotate the blank by hand to make sure it clears the ways and tool rest before you turn the lathe on. Start the lathe at a slow speed and slowly bring the speed up to something you are comfortable with to start roughing at.

roughing blank on lathe

There will be a lot of air turned on the outer edges of this piece so be very careful where your hands are at all times.

checking tool rest clearance

Any time you move the tool rest, when turning an irregular piece like this one, stop the lathe and rotate the blank by hand to make sure it clears everything before starting the lathe back up.

gouge roughing cut

Roughing starts at the outer edge and proceeds toward the center in progressive steps. Start by cutting the tips of the wings off and working back toward the center, taking longer cuts each time.

gouge roughing cut side

The bowl gouge is presented with the flute in the direction of cut. Starting the cut toward the center and pulling toward the outer edge. Even though you can’t see the wood on the outer edge you continue the line of cut until clear of the wood and then go back in for another cut.

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