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  1. #1
    Grizzled Grave Robber Knight of the Round Table Gunslinger's Avatar
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    How to Make an Accurate Indiana Jones Hat from Raiders

    The Indiana Jones fedora is one of the most iconic hats in film history, and in particular the hat that Indy wears in Raiders of the Lost Ark. This Indiana Jones hat is one of the most widely imitated styles of fedora, yet it is rarely available as a replica with an extremely high level of accuracy. This how-to guide is here to give you the opportunity to make one yourself. Doing so is actually quite possible for the amateur, and will give you a sense of achievement that you can’t get from buying one.

    Over time, the contents of this guide will be added to and details enhanced.


    Important Disclaimer - this info is for educational use ONLY. By reading on, you accept that this information is presented with no warranty, and any application of below is entirely at your own risk. Fortune and Glory and the author of this post take no responsibility or liability from the application of any text below.


    PART 1: The Indiana Jones Hat Block Shape.
    First, let’s talk block shape. This forms the shape of the hat before you “bash” it into shape, and is key to the look of the Raiders Indiana Jones hat. It’s quite achievable to either 1) buy a block in your size that’s roughly the right shape, 2) to tweak such a block to accurately reflect what’s seen in the film, or 3) to roll up your sleeves and make your own block from scratch. Doing so just requires some basic woodworking skills and a few basic power tools.

    A Confirmed Starting Point.
    Below is a front and side shot of what has been confirmed to be a very accurate replica of the original Raiders block by hundreds of screen comparisons and overlays. If you follow routes #1 or 2 above, simply use these pics to find a vintage block that matches this shape. Click images to enlarge.

    indiana-jones-hat-block-by-gunslinger-side-view.jpg indiana-jones-hat-block-by-gunslinger-front-view.jpg

    It should be a minimum of 5 ½ inches high. You can find them on Ebay.com, Etsy.com or a great vintage millinery supplies shop called Homegroan. Be sure to check that the block is in your size. Blocks are usually marked as a specific size, such as 7 1/4, but to be sure it will be right for you when buying, have the seller measure around the base, and confirm that the block is the size of your head PLUS 10mm. This is to allow for the leather sweatband that will fit in later. Also look for a hat flange. This is used to mold the brim later. These are often sold with the block as a set. You will need to get one that has a 3” brim. At the very least, it needs to be 3” front and back, and 2 5/8” at the sides. It should have a relatively shallow roll in the cross-section.

    For option #2, simply use your power tool of choice to hone the shape of the block to match the block seen above. I prefer a combination of electric planer and orbital sander, but whatever you’re comfortable with. If you block a hat on it, and it doesn’t look right, follow the methods outlined below for method #3 to get it right.

    Option #3: Creating the ultimate Indiana Jones hat block yourself from scratch. This actually isn’t as hard as you might imagine. It’s just a matter of having the right method. First – materials – the block pictured is made of Huon Pine. This is what Akubras have been blocked on for decades. In any event, don’t use a softwood like non structural pine, knotty stuff, or any timber that is prone to warping.

    First you may have to find timer to glue together to make up the full mass of the block. One way to do this is to work out how wide the block is to beand divide it into 4. Then clamp 4 pieces of timber together, with the joins running front to back. Once dry, you will need to create an oval that is exactly your head plus 10mm in circumference. (more details on how to do this later). Mark this out on the bottom and top of the block. I drew this in my computer and printed it out, measured the circumference to confirm, and glued it on.

    Break out the electric planer and create a LOT of woodchips. First, turn the cube into a cylinder. Second, get the cross-sections right, starting with the side view. I recommend you allow yourself an extra 10mm in height from the base. That way, if you screw up, you have some latitude to hone it back down. Again, you cause your computer here to help you. Print out the side view of the block at exact scale, glue it to cardboard and cut out the shape. You can slide this over the top, and use it as a visualisation tool to make sure you are sticking to the exact shape as you get closer and closer to the photo. Repeat this process for the front cross-section. The trickiest part is then the “corners”. You have to get the transitions right between the front and the side. By this stage, you will have a knack for shaping the block, and will be able to extrapolate what you need. Note that the curve at the back is much shallower than the front. In other words, you can hone it down MORE than the front. With the front, be really bloody careful. Keep it to a proper circular radius.
    Once you are happy with the shape, sand it down smooth using a circular sander and then varnish it twice before blocking a hat with it. This will protect the block and stop the glue from separating.

    The Overlay Method.
    As you hone down the block and are getting close to the desired shape, for best results, you may want to do some test runs with a hat body to check the shape. To do this, block an old hat body on the block and bash it into the Raiders shape (see instructions below). Then bring up a relevant screen grab from Raiders on your computer screen, and sit your test body in the same position to your eye. If it’s really off, you will see this straight away with your own eyes.

    If you’re really picky, grab your camera and set the focal length to 80mm. This is very important. It replicates the optics of the lenses used in the Indiana Jones films thus accurately matches the shape. Line up the hat and the angle so that it matches the grab you have, and take a photo. Then using Photoshop or similar program, overlay your photo at 40% opacity and resize it to try and match up the edge. For example, using the block above, the following was achieved:

    test-snake-comp.jpg wos19-comp.jpg r47-comp.jpg Idol-run-silhouette.jpg Idol-Grab-Sequence-comp.jpg indiana-jones-fedora-hat-block-by-gunslinger-temple-rear-comparisons.jpg

    If the hat is right, it will line up. If it doesn’t, note where it’s wrong in order to take a little more curve off the block. Repeat from different angles as necessary. Once you nail it, be proud. You will be one of a small handful of Indiana Jones fans in the world that know they have their own Raiders block, and you made it yourself! Now you have the ability to make your own Indy hats, and your own custom block that will fit you for the rest of your life. Cool, huh?

    PART 2: Sourcing the Indiana Jones hat body.
    You basically have three options when it comes to the hat body. You can buy a vintage hat on places like Ebay or Etsy, you could buy a new hat like an Akubra or Christys and reblock it, or you can buy a new hat body. Whichever route you choose, if you want accuracy to the real Indiana Jones Herbert Johnson fedora (which is no longer available in the “real” shape from Raiders, just Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom & Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade variations), you must use Rabbit felt. (furfelt) DO NOT use wool felt. It’s terrible, and not the material of choice of a “real” felt hat as seen in Indy. You could use beaver felt, but you will never get the true Raiders look from it as its too rigid and smooth.

    What size should you buy? Always get bigger than your actual size. The Raiders block is actually quite big in terms of its volume, so you actually can’t really trust even buying 2 sizes bigger than your actual size will always work. You don't want to end up with a stingy brim! So the method I use is to measure over your block along the felt, over the top from front to back, then add 6 inches for the brim. For example:

    IMG_0561.jpg

    Do the same side to side, allowing 2 5/8” x2 for the brim. Then when you are buying any hat, you just have to ask the seller to measure their hat in the same way. Always make sure the hat body is bigger than the measurement.

    In the case of Christys, always just order their biggest, size 62(?) with an untrimmed brim. These shrink like crazy as you block them, but you get a massive quality increase over a stock Christys. With Akubras, get a Camp Draft in a size 2-3 bigger than your own.

    Ideally, what you want to try and get is a vintage hat in the right colour with the amount of felt as noted above in a shade of brown that Herbert Johnson and many other English hatmakers traditionally call “Sable”. There are MANY vintage hats available on the web at any given time. You don’t need to get any particular style such as a fedora, though that’s a good search term. Other styles such as homburgs also work well – you just have to be careful with those that have trim on the brim. You may have to cut that part off as it is often ruined with fusing and/or stitch marks that attach the trim, so allow for that in the measurements.

    NEXT UP...! How to block, pounce, flange and shrinkage-protect your new Indiana Jones Raiders hat!
    "Go then, there are other worlds than these." ~ Jake Chambers

  2. #2
    Grizzled Grave Robber HENRY JONES JR.'s Avatar
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    Re: How to Make an Accurate Indiana Jones Hat from Raiders

    this thread is mega awesome!!!!!! Just what i need!

  3. #3
    Grizzled Grave Robber Knight of the Round Table Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Blocking the Indiana Jones Hat from Raiders

    Preparation for blocking your Indiana Jones fedora.

    Check outside to make sure it isn’t about to rain, and make sure the air doesn’t feel too humid. Grab yourself a few items. You need something to use as a stand for the block. It’s handy to get leverage on the body as you pull it onto the block. I just use an old baby formula tin that’s about 10” tall and about 6” across. Make sure you have a marked line at the centre front and back on the base of the block. This can be handy for confirming measurements later. I also like to coat my block in alfoil. It just offers a bit of extra protection from the moisture and heat.

    Get yourself some elastic, like that goes into pants. The stuff that’s about 10-12mm is good. This is used to tighten the body on the block at what’s called the brim break. There are a few ways to do this, but I like to prep the elastic by tightly wrapping it once then once again around the block, then tying it off in a double knot nice and tight (but not crazy-tight!) Then trim it off and put it aside. Then it will be ready to use on the hat body when it is on the block. Fill up your kettle and turn it on. You will also need a decent sized pot to go on your stove. Something about 2” smaller than your hat brim is about right, but you can use a bit smaller. You may want to use rubber gloves – the type people use for washing up, but the thinner tight type with the grip patterns. I have never really used them until I got a bit stubborn with a body that wasn’t stretching enough and kept pushing through the burning pain until I realised I had ripped a massive chunk of skin out of one of my hands. So gloves can be good – they dull the heat a little, but are actually most useful for the extra grip you get.

    Have a measuring tape onhand – the seamstress type. You need to be ready to measure how wide your brim at a few points, and be ready to stretch it if need be. You will also need to know how close to the base of your block you want to stretch the body. In other words, setting the height of the crown. Normally this is considered to be 5 ½” but now after some additional overlay experiments I actually think it’s 5 3/8”, but that will depend on the size of the hat and the shape of your head. So note where that is on your block. And finally, of course, you need a hat body. In these pics, I am blocking a Steele & Jones Indiana Jones hat body that Diego graciously sold me for this project.
    Ok, got all this on the kitchen bench? Stove on and water poured and boiling in the pot? Good. Let’s go.

    Blocking the Indiana Jones hat.
    Grab the hat body, crown popped, and shove it under the hot water tap in the sink. Massage it around, work the water through from both sides. We’re trying to break down any resistance here and wet through to the core. If you have an Akubra, you will have a shitload of colour coming out. That’s normal so don’t freak out. If you are reblocking an old hat, it may get sort of smelly. If that’s the case, try and massage it a bit more than you otherwise would and kind of wash it a bit.

    When it’s sorted, make sure the crown is still popped, and grab it by each side of the brim and whack it on the top of the boiling pot. Now the idea is you need to let the hat steam all the way through. It will get all kinda mossy lookin’. As the pot is smaller than the brim, what I like to do is push one edge of the brim right to the edge of the pot so the steam hits it all the way to the brim. It will sit unevenly, but rotate it a tiny bit to the next part of the brim every say 45secs or so. Crack open a beer and chill while you keep vague track of where you started so you know where to finish.

    steaming-indiana-jones-hat.jpg fluffy-indiana-jones-hat-on-stove.jpg

    To be honest, I’ve done this dozens of times but never timed it. It’s just sort of a vibe. It’s kind of hard to overdo, so don’t ~underdo~ it; should take about 5 mins or a bit more. Basically you will see the condensation doesn’t really increase any more at a certain point. At the time you notice that, give it another minute or so, and note where the longest points on the body are. They will be your front and back points. Sure you got all your stuff ready? Gloves on? OK. Deep breath. Don’t be scared. You’ve got to hammer this sucker into shape now so don’t feel you have to baby it. There is the possibility you MAY rip the body, but all you can do to prevent that is to 1) keep your grip kind of flat – don’t, say, use your thumb and index finger. Grip with all 4 of your fingers flatly pressing the meaty thumb pads on the palms of your hands; and 2) don’t stretch the brim any further than you have to. Be aware of how wide the brim needs to be and don’t go nuts.

    You will have to work FAST.

    Grab the body at the front and back and shove it firmly down onto the block. Pull it down holding as much of the front and back brim as you can. Pull straight down. Make sure that you’ve got the body centred. With the palms of your hands, FIRMLY push from the crown all down the sides – like you are stretching the felt as far down the sides as you can. Again, be aware of how much felt you have to work with. You don’t want to overstretch it any more than you have to, as it will leave you with a crown that’s much thinner than the brim, and make the hat more susceptible to tapering later on.

    Anyway, grab the sides of the brim again and pull firmly downwards. Then at 45 degrees to those points from the centre – basically keep grabbing the brim at every point around the hat, forcing it down. Don’t YANK it though. Firm but smooth. You should end up with very little in the way of the air pockety looking dome on the top of the crown. Don’t worry about that as long as it’s very shallow.

    indiana-jones-fedora-on-block.jpg

    Once it looks like you have enough brim all the way around, quickly through the elastic around the body, double looping it, and push it down to the brim break. Get it roughly even all the way around and grab the measuring tape. Check to see that you have enough brim – you want at least 3” front and back, and 2 5/8” at the sides. (though you could get away with as little as 2 7/8” front and back and 2 3/8” at the sides if need be, or if narrower sides are your preference, or if you are replicating the Raiders “Hawaii” hat from the famous opening scene by the waterfall.

    If you don’t have enough, keep pushing the sides of the crown down and pulling the brim down (you can leave the elastic on when doing so). If you have extra at the sides but not enough at the front or back, or vice versa, to a certain degree, you can pull the brim laterally to get it to where it needs to be. Get the elastic straight and level, then measure each point of the clock around the edge from brim break to make sure those distances are all good. You can trim excess later on. If any parts of the brim are too short, just pull them longer. If you see the body kind of pulling away from the block at any point under the elastic, stretch the brim laterally in front of that point and reset the elastic. That normally makes it settle down.

    indiana-jones-hat-looking-good.jpg

    Then try to get the brim as level as you can, and as much of a right angle at the brim break as you can manage. Again, pulling sideways can help iron out any kinks. If it isn’t quite flat, that’s ok. You can fix a lot with an iron later. Once you are happy, put it in a safe, bright, well ventilated place to dry for 48 hours; like a balcony or a nicely sunny open window. Bring it in or shut the window at night though.

    drying-indiana-jones-hat.jpg

    Next up! Shrinkage Protection / Pouncing / Setting the Brim Break!
    "Go then, there are other worlds than these." ~ Jake Chambers

  4. #4

    Re: How to Make an Accurate Indiana Jones Hat from Raiders

    VERY COOL.

    Thank you for your time and effort on this tutorial.

  5. #5
    Sultan of Shovels Knight of the Round Table Indiana Bugs's Avatar
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    Re: Blocking the Indiana Jones Hat from Raiders

    Kurt, this is one of the valuable threads I've ever seen. Thank you so much.
    'There is a fine line between art and fondling.'
    - JHP

  6. #6
    Grizzled Grave Robber Knight of the Round Table Gunslinger's Avatar
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    Re: Blocking the Indiana Jones Hat from Raiders

    No problem guys. If you have any questions just ask. I will be backfilling this with more info as people need it.
    "Go then, there are other worlds than these." ~ Jake Chambers

  7. #7
    Grizzled Grave Robber HENRY JONES JR.'s Avatar
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    Re: Blocking the Indiana Jones Hat from Raiders

    Quote Originally Posted by Indiana Bugs View Post
    Kurt, this is one of the valuable threads I've ever seen. Thank you so much.
    DITTO!

    Also, The pictures REALLY help to illustrate the point!
    Last edited by HENRY JONES JR.; 01-06-2013 at 03:15 AM.

  8. #8

    Re: Blocking the Indiana Jones Hat from Raiders

    Excelent tutorial!
    I've always believed there was no super-secret method to put together a hat, just following certain steps and a LOT of practice.
    And WILL.

    Great thread. Regards.-

  9. #9

    Re: How to Make an Accurate Indiana Jones Hat from Raiders

    We are in the process of rolling out more content and getting ready for the ability to interact with other social media. Check out our Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/fortuneandglory.org where one of our first posts is a link to this tutorial.

  10. #10
    Grizzled Grave Robber Knight of the Round Table crismans's Avatar
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    Re: How to Make an Accurate Indiana Jones Hat from Raiders

    Great thread!
    Out here not knowing a dang thing.

 

 
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