New Old Bowler Hat Block Repair

I acquired an vintage hat block this week at Victoria Grant‘s millinery supply sale. She was having a bit of a clear out.

image2 I spotted a lovely old hat block, a modified bowler and I was hooked. However there was tape along the front. I ran my finger over the edge, to see if I could feel any chips. The outside edge felt sound, so I decided to take a chance. All the way home I was envisioning hats I could make with this new block.

However once I got it home and took the tape off, I realized just what bad shape it was in. A chunk of the front brim fell off. Not only that but there was a hole clear through at the transition point between the crown and the brim where the wood was fairly thin. It had obviously been used extensively.

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I looked online for some repair tips and was encouraged by Judith M.’s repairing vintage blocks blog post.

I made a 1 minute movie of the process. See show notes below.

I started by dusting the piece off and removing the loose fragments of wood. Then I glued the large piece on with Evo-Stik Wood Adhesive. I held it in place until the glue set.image4

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Once the glue dried I used Ronseal Multipurpose Wood Filler to fill the hole. Several smaller layers is better than one really thick globby one.

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The wood filler did not expand, I just managed to push it through the hole, and finally just figured I would sand off the excess.

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Here are my supplies.

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This is after the second layer of wood filler. But before the first rough sanding. The wood was so pin marked and splintery that I decided that the filler may help give it some support as well as smooth out the rough wood surface.

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Then I sanded took a break, and sanded some more.

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It looks dramatically better. It is not perfect, but I am hoping that it will at least be useful.

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At least there is no longer a hole and the broken piece is attached.

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I have never tried to repair a hat block before. At least nothing beyond, wiping them down and putting on a bit of oil for the wood. I am pleased with the results and since I just finished the repairs a couple hours ago, I will let it set a bit longer before putting it to work.

Have you ever repaired a vintage hat block? What tools and materials did you use and was it successful?

And remember, interesting people wear hats.

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Leanne

Hatter, Milliner, Adventurer, Mother, Wife, and maker of many things including this blog and podcast.

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