Project Tutorials

Hat

 
Light shining through finished brim

The brim turned to final thickness. You can see the differences in the light shining through the lighter wood and the dark spalted wood. This can make it harder to get a true sense of thickness using the light as a gauge alone. Measure with calipers to make sure the thickness is consistent.

Starting to hollow

I start hollowing on the inside with the lathe rotation reversed. I can cut down the side without having to lean over the lathe bed this way and keep the gouge handle close to my body for control. I can put the light behind the hat now to see the hollowing progress. I use an Oneway chuck and it has set screws that lock down on the spindle to prevent unscrewing it. I am using a side ground gouge to remove the bulk of the wood.

Inside the band area

The hat turned to final thickness past the hatband area; we can now burnish the band. You can use an air compressor to blow moisture out now. Make sure the band has a finished surface before the burnishing starts.

The light will shine through the hat differently from the brim to the crown. The brim is flat grain and the light does not shine through it as easy. In addition, at this stage it will be drier and not allow the light to penetrate as well. The crown of the hat is endgrain (like looking into the end of a straw) and lets the light pass through easily. This means that you have to keep turning until the glow of the light is much brighter than it was on the brim. Measure the crown thickness until it is right and then use the glow through that area as a guide to proceed.

Power sanding the exterior

Sand the exterior of the hat around the band now. This also helps to dry the surface in preparation for burnishing.

Burnishing the hat band

Use a thin strip of rosewood or ebony held with the narrow edge vertical rubbing against the wood to shade the band. A lathe speed between 1200 RPM and 1800 RPM will work to burnish. The brim will be pretty dry and warped now so a real high speed with it unsupported might break it. Small surface checks may appear in the endgrain areas because of the heat generate. Do not worry too much about this; the checks close back up as the wood has a chance to dry.

Close up of the burnished band

The band burnished and the inside hollowed to thickness where you can see the glow of light. Now hollowing can be finished.

Inside hollowing cut

Now we can proceed with removing the rest of the interior. I have my lathe rotation reversed so I can turn without leaning over the bed and I have the light out of the way on the backside of the lathe. This is not necessary just more comfortable. You could always stand on the backside of the lathe and do your cutting if your lathe does not reverse, accomplishing the same thing, I am doing. I am using my bowl gouge with the spindle gouge grind on the inside here.

View of inside hollowing completed

The interior is finished but I have a dark ring at the top and it is not the wood. I usually cut a relief of about 1/4" wide and 1/2" deep between the chuck jaws and the top of the hat once I have hollowed a ways in so I can see the light and know when I have reached the top. I neglected to cut that relief this time and almost turned through the top of the hat.

Here you can see that thin ring I was talking a of. It happens to all of us at one time or another, if you take chances and do not do everything perfect you will turn through the bottom of a bowl or the top of a hat. If it were easy, though it would take the challenge out of it and not be near as great a feeling on those rare occasions when everything does work out just right.

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