Thursday, March 3, 2011

Where has THIS been all my life??

Well, OK, maybe not my whole life.  How bout - where has this been all the time that I've been making felt hats? This, my gentle readers, is my New Favorite Thing. It actually deserves a name, it is so awesome, but for now we will just call it "The Precious."

It is actually called a Rounding Jack and it is a custom made reproduction of a vintage hatmaker's brim cutting tool. Here is the etsy store link for the brilliant, BRILLIANT man who made it for me:

Up untill the arrival of The Precious, I had been using a bunch of cardboard templates of varying sizes to mark, and then hand cut the brims of my hats. These cardboard template have seen better days (years) as the felt is often still wet when I put the templates on them and cardboard templates no likey repeated exposure to dampness. That, combined with years of use has made the template edges not very consistent anymore, which really is the point of them. It was time to have them remade - and I thought to do them out of thin plywood with a handle on each one or something, but that was going to be pricey and a pain to store, and I could never find the one I wanted anyway, etc, etc, etc.


I found a video on one of the hat forums on which I lurk (or maybe it was ebay?) of one of these reproduction rounding jacks, and I could hardly sleep for the wanting of it. One tool - for meauring and cutting a perfect, smooth edge, adjustable to any brim width I could possibly need??? Run - do not walk!!
 Trouble is - they were pricey. Some of them REALLY pricey, and I've always got supplies that I need to order.  I hemmed and I hawed, and I looked at it daily with covetous lust. I sent the link to it to my husband with a note that said "Your wife really REALLY wants this."

Neither the birthday bear nor Santa delivered the goods. (they delivered other awesome goodies - just not THIS)

Then - I did well enough at the 12th night sales booth in January that I decided to bite the bullet and order the least expensive, no bells or whistles version of this tool - and just see if it could replace all my crummy cardboard templates.

Ordered it.
      Waited for it.
        Counted the days.
Then, this last Monday, The Precious arrived.

 A NEW tool - that uses easily purchaseable utility knife razor blades so that when it gets dull, I can put a new one in and keep working.
(blade can be raised and lowered!!)

It has a brass plate underneath the blade that goes under the brim of the hat - to protect my work surface from being cut by the blade.

I have one custom order hat and several spec hats on blocks right now, and I couldn't WAIT to try it out. I started with the Spec hats, just so I had some practice using it before I used it on the expensive custom cavalier hat. I needn't have worried - first time, it worked like an absolute DREAM:

 Second time great too - I lowered the blade a bit
Tried it on the third spec hat, and felt like I'd been using the thing for years. (sorry - no picture. It's an adorable little black perchy hat, soon to be making an appearance)

Finally - went to the Custom order.  I got kinda misty, it was so clean, easy, and awesome.

I'm absolutely in Love with my new toy tool. I would sleep with it like a teddy bear, but it DOES have a razor blade in it, so I've settled for just writing it this little blog post of eternal devotion. I may now need one of everything Mr DeCou makes.

I'll end with a gratuituous shot of my actually kinda clean workshop, which I hope get get back into over lunch today to wire and size all the newly trimmed (brimmed?) hats:

And that is all. I'm so thrilled!! No - I have to say it: Not thrilled, I'm Brimming over. :)


  1. Love it - the tool is really neat! Though the workshop pic does make me miss you.

  2. Awesome, awesome, awesome. I will be emailing you some neat equipment I just saw at the Cambridge (UK) Folk Museum. Hugs, H. :)

  3. I have an old one I purchased off Ebay several years ago, and I just love it.