Project Tutorials


Blank rough cone shaped

The blank roughly coned shaped now with the crown of the hat at the tailstock end of the lathe. I have aligned the grain, as I want it and checked for any defects in the wood I can see at this stage.

Cracks marked to be turned away

You can see a crack in the edge of this blank and a small knot that I will need to remove so it will not be in the finished piece. This can wait until after reversing the blank in the chuck.

Turning tenon for chuck

Now that I am satisfied with the blank orientation, I can turn a tenon to mount the blank in the chuck and start shaping the exterior of the hat.

I do not try to turn the finished profile of the hat until the blank is in the chuck. Some run out usually occurs when reversed, so I save the finish turning until then. Uniform thickness throughout this turning is important so true up the blank after reversing.

This blank is not close to the finished shape but I wanted to mention it at this point because many turners expect the blank to run perfectly when reversed. I expect some truing of the blank will be needed after reversing so I save finish cuts and sanding until then.

Blank reversed in chuck now

The blank reversed and the tenon secured in the chuck. A faceplate with screws will work in place of the chuck. Just remember the depth the screws go in so they do not end up through the top of the finished hat.

Tailstock supporting blank

The blank mounted in the chuck and the tailstock is supporting the outboard end. The wood grain could break in line with the chuck jaws since this is cross grain oriented. It is always best to keep the tailstock in contact until it is necessary to move out of the way for hollowing just as a precaution.

If you want your hat to actually fit the dimensions of your head so you can wear it you need to have those dimensions ready now, actually when the blank was selected.

You measure the diameter of your head from front to back with some type of caliper and from side to side in line where a hat would sit on your head. For example, my head measures 8" front to back in diameter and 6" side to side. Take these two dimensions, add them together and get the average, for me it is 7". Now you need to add 3/4" to this to get the outside diameter the hat should measure at the hatband. The extra 3/4" is for 1/2" wood shrinkage and a 1/4" for the thickness at the band area, 1/8" doubled. The thickness of the hat throughout is 5/64" to 3/32". I turn one for myself that is 7 3/4" diameter measured at the outside of the band. Different woods will have different shrinkage so you will have to experiment some with what you use to get it exactly right. You can also turn the hat slightly oversize and add a sweatband with padding to make a better fit.

A flexible curve ruler can also be used to measure around your head. This will give you a template of the exact shape of your head to go by while shaping the hat in the frame later. You can find flexible rulers in the drafting section of most art and office supply stores.

Roughing blank to finished profile

Shaping the profile. The side ground gouge held nearly horizontal can remove wood quickly. If the lathe has enough torque the gouge will remove shavings as wide as the sharpened side is long. This does not give the best finish cut on the wood but is a fast way to get down to where we want to start the finishing cuts.

Close up view of cutting edge at work

The gouge held with the flute facing the direction of cut. Rotate the gouge flute back enough to allow the bottom cutting edge to lead the cut.

View of overhand cutting grip

When taking heavy cuts the gouge needs controlled with a firm grip. An overhand grip pressing the tool down on the tool rest and the other hand holding the tool firmly against the side make it manageable.

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