I have an extremely large head--my head size plus big hair equals extremely large head. All I'll say is that my largest utility hat block is a size 24. I pad this 24 with felt to increase its size, or I'll stretch the finished hat with a hat stretcher. I wanted a block specifically dedicated to my head size; so, I decided to carve one. I prefer to save my money for more exciting purchases like the block below, my latest acquisition. Now that's a hat block! Sorry, I'll get back to the purpose of this post--teaching you how I carve a utility hat block.
Carving a hat block is pretty simple. Many times you will be concerned with creating curves. In order to create a curve, you would cut your foam or wood edges diagonally; at least that's how I start. When one edge is cut, you are left with two edges, these two edges are also diagonally cut, forming more edges and those edges are cut, and so on and on. This is demonstrated in the image above.
I purchased a large Styrofoam cube and scored an "X" on the top and bottom of it (a line from corner to corner), dividing the foam into equal sections. I traced my size 24 head size plate onto paper and added 1/8" inch to the traced pattern. Adding 1/8" to your pattern equals 1/2" to your head size; 1/4" equals one inch, and so on. Unfortunately, this 17" x 17" cube was not large enough for my head size. I'll get back to this fact later. The pattern is moved to the bottom of the cube without turning the pattern over. So, under the bottom of the cube, after moving the pattern down, you will not see the pencil markings on the pattern, but you will be able to see them slightly through the paper because you did not flip the paper over. These two tracings should be in the same position on top of the cube, as well as on the bottom side.
Try carving other shapes and other materials. To your right is a block I carved in wood with three interchangeable tip. I learned a big lesson when I carved this block. I learned not to carve the block on the trace line, but to carve outside of the line. Sawing or carving on the line reduces the head size, and sanding further reduces it.
Two notes concerning this finished block:
1. If you click on the image to your left to enlarge the image, you will notice that the block is in profile. There is actually a bump on the back of the block, as on the back of the head.
2. In order to get a finer grain on your block, use better sandpaper than I did. I used old sandpaper because I didn't want to go out to purchase more.
Don't forget to mark the front and back of your block; there is a difference unless you use a round headsize collar rather than an oval as I did.
Always use a dust respirator when sanding wood and foam.
Always measure your block from top to bottom when carving and sanding to maintain consistent measurements.
Don't forget to coat the bottom of the block with a sealer also.
A more economical material to use for block carving is the sheet foam house insulation. However, I personally prefer the regular craft Styrofoam, not the soft flower foam.
Remember that an extra one fourth of an inch will add one half of an inch to the head size of a block.
Also, try carving fancier shapes; doing so could mean that your hats would not look like all the others'. It's really easy. Enjoy!!
Check out the two videos below.
Styrofoam Hat block from Al Ojeda on Vimeo.