Panama Hat Crown Block Restored Restoration Fixed Repaired with New Sculpted Tipper Top Press Making

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 04-09-2011 08:30 PM 5516 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project is a restoration of a Panama Hat Crown Block and the mating Top Tipper that I made new.


Project Story:
I have been making a lot of Hat Maker’s Tools, especially since the economy went down and the bigger flashy furniture commissions became few and far between. Thank God for Hat Makers, it’s how I’ve stayed in business since the Fall of 2008. I still get commissions to make a wide variety of things, but Hat Making Tools has been close to 40% of what I’ve been making lately.

This particular Crown Block, used to form the shape of a woven straw Panama Hat was purchased by the Hat Maker on eBay. The photos of course, like so often, on eBay didn’t disclose all of the problems. By the time he received it, it was broken into three pieces, and had serious gouges along the rim of the front of the top break. He was pretty concerned, as he paid a lot of money for it. So, he sent it to me to have the block restored. I glued it back together, used dowels to help secure it, and cut inset pieces of wood to fill the gouges along the front. Most of the time these old Crown Blocks are made from Poplar wood, and range from the 19th to early 20th Century in age.

The other problem that a hat maker has is finding a mating Tipper to fit the top of a block. I have made several matching Tippers lately for the different blocks that are sent to me for restoration and to have the Tipper made. The damp woven straw hat body is pulled down (with a Puller-Downer - see video) over the crown block, and then the tipper is put on top to push down the material into the grooves and valleys of the top of the block.

I also showed a couple of photos of a Hat that was recently made on this block, to give the reader an idea of the potential available for someone willing to use an old block like this to make a hat.


If you would like a hat like this made, you can contact Tom Gomez at Premier Panama Hats on eBay or you can go to Tom's Etsy Hat Shop


If you like hat tools, here’s a link to another Crown Block that has a bunch of links to other hat making tools I’ve posted the past two to three years.

thanks for reading,
Mark DeCou

(Note: All photos, text, and design is protected by Copyright 2011, by the Author. No unauthorized use of this material, in whole, or in part is allowed without expressed written permsslon form the Author.)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

3 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35149 posts in 4606 days

#1 posted 04-09-2011 10:46 PM

Mark: A great restoration and an addition to make it useful.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4520 days

#2 posted 04-10-2011 04:28 AM

Sure is a interesting technology. I’m glad to hear you have found a niche market for your skills. You are also preserving a bit of history. I used some of your cane making ideas on a cane I made for a fellow. Maybe I’ll get that posted one of these days. Thanks Mark.

View mpounders's profile


903 posts in 3101 days

#3 posted 04-10-2011 04:58 AM

Keep posting these, man! I am fascinated with unusual tools and how they are used. It’s good to see craftsmanship like this being preserved, and knowing that the tools you make or repair are enabling these artists to continue. Very educational for me!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

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