November 14, 2007

Making a hat block out of cork – Step 5 (and final): shaping the block

Filed under: Making a cork block,millinery techniques and cheats — Cristina de Prada @ 9:48 am

Because I did such a lousy job with the sawing, I’ve had to do some extra work and some rethinking on the shape.

Getting to this…

Finished block...

…from this…

The pyramids of Egypt... almost...

… has not been easy at all. I’ve had to do some serious sanding down just to eliminate the steps. Honestly even a one armed blind folded person would have done a better work with the sawing… but hey, it didn’t turn out that bad so I’m not going to beat myself over it.

These are the steps to follow:1. First file down the headsize area until you get to the correct headsize, making sure you file evenly as not to change the oval shape. The last steps of these have to be done with sand paper or the metal rasp to leave a smooth finish.

2. Use the side of the metal rasp to make an indentation around the base of the block to form the string groove. This will be useful when blocking because you will be able to tighten a string or special spring around it to keep the felt in place.

3. Follow your plans to shape the rest of the block, using the different tools.

4. If you need to have a groove or difficult shape that cannot be made with just the rasp, the variable speed rotary tool with a large round bit will be of enormous help. But beware, it is easy to make irreparable damage because the bit will be turning at really high speeds, so be very careful and remove material little by little. Finish with some sanding to even out.

And there you have it! A finished crown block!… still to come of course, is the crown block.

Some pictures (click to enlarge):


  1. WoW! Kuk looks amazing! Incredible! I have no words…

    Comment by Joaco — November 14, 2007 @ 9:59 am

  2. I’ll say Wow and double wow! The block looks terrific! Are you going to seal the cork with anything special? Or did I miss that step?

    Comment by jill — November 14, 2007 @ 8:04 pm

  3. Fantastic! Can’t wait to see the hat. K Q:-)

    Comment by Kate — November 14, 2007 @ 8:35 pm

  4. I hadn’t thought about using varnish because I will be covering it with shrink wrap when blocking… but then again it might help to make it stronger so I will give it some thought.
    And thanks for the kind words, I hope the hat comes out ok!… but first the brim block has to be made, yikes!

    Comment by cristinadeprada — November 14, 2007 @ 8:42 pm

  5. Maybe even just use the paste furniture wax? The kind that hardens, we used to use it on our cork floors. Just a thought. Shrink wrap should be plenty for protection anyway.
    I’ve got a new hat up on my blog. I had so much fun making it, I am tempted to whip up another; I had no idea top hats were so ridiculously easy to make. And why didn’t somebody tell me to just go ahead and cut straw edges years ago???

    The crown block…I’m bug eyed. Way advanced stuff there. You go Wonder Woman!

    Comment by jill — November 15, 2007 @ 3:28 pm

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