October 30, 2007

Making a hat block out of a 40 mm cork sheet – Step 1: planning

Filed under: Making a cork block,millinery techniques and cheats — Cristina de Prada @ 2:45 pm

Planning the blockIt’s been a while, but on my defense I will say that I’ve been very busy, so I have many things to tell you.

I’ve been (and still am) busy making a hat block out of cork (the way my friend Nina makes them). First step, I bought myself this jigsaw which had a reasonable price (99.95 euro) along with the fine cutting blades (2.45 euro), some drilling stuff and sanding tools and it total I pocketed 145 euro, which I thought was reasonable.

I bought the cork sheet at a local specialized shop called Surotecnia. There you can buy all things cork, and for our purpose you can buy sheets of 30 and 40 millimeters of what they call Industrial agglomerated cork. Each sheet measures 915 x 610mm and has these specs:

density: 120 – 140 – 150 Kg/m3

weight resistance: 2.000 – 2.300 Kg/m2

The idea is to make a homburg style hat (block) for Peter, and so I spent some time looking at pictures to get an idea of the shape of the hat. The little book you can see in the picture is Italian (with text in Italian and English) and has been out of print for ages -my edition is from 1988!- (this one seems to be a reprint, available second hand). There’s a MEN’S HATS (IL CAPPELLO DA UOMO) book, and a WOMEN’S HATS (IL CAPPELLO DA DONNA) book on the same series.

A homburg traditionally has a central indentation on the top and a rolled up rim (usually edged with a grosgrain ribbon). In other parts of Europe it’s known as a “chapeau diplomate” (France) or “cappello alla diplomatica” (Italy).

Front and profile drawings - click to enlarge To get the right size and shape, first I measured Peter’s head size and I also measured front to back and side to side to make the oval shape as close to his actual head shape as possible. It’s not easy to get an oval shape, but I used a flexible ruler (see top picture), which helped a lot. Using a tape I made sure the size was (more or less) correct, in any case bigger than necessary, so later on I can trace the block onto paper for the right oval. I first cut one half (right side) of the oval, and traced it on the other side to make sure it was symmetrical.

I also used brown paper to do front and profile life size drawings of the homburg shape that I wanted, and that I can later use as reference when shaping the block.

To be continued…


  1. Millinery with power tools…the grrrl is gonna have fun.
    I am entralled. If you can pull this off, look out world, it’s going to be open season on hat block making.

    Girls look good in homburgs too, in my humble opinion.

    Comment by jill — October 31, 2007 @ 12:17 am

  2. I cannot wait to see how this turns out! How exciting. I will definitely be making some blocks with this method in the near future if you like the results of yours!

    Comment by LaBricoleuse — October 31, 2007 @ 5:22 pm

  3. How is the hat block coming on? I am dying to see the finished product, it would be great to be able to make my own hat blocks. Looking forward to the next part! Cath

    Comment by Cath — November 5, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

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