Custom Beaver Felt Hats

Beaver felt hat

Regular 4" Beaver Fur Felt Custom Shaped Hat $125
Pastel Color (Pink, Red, Green, Blue) Beaver Custom Shaped Hat $135
(Braided hat band included with hat purchase, limited to choices available)
 
Additional Charges
Pencil Rolled Edge $30
Ribbon Hat Band $30
Horse Hair Hat Band (three-braid, double tassel, $10 off with hat purchase) $25
Horse Hair Hat Band (no tassel, $10 off with hat purchase) $25
Horse Hair Stampede String (double loop) $25
Horse Hair Stampede String (cotten pen) $25
Braided Hat Band (free with hat purchase) $10
Simulated Bald Eagle Feather $5


The custom shaped Geezer hat

Cowboy hats come in many different styles and are one of the most recognizable pieces of apparel in the world. The cowboy hat was invented by John Stetson in 1865. There's probably no article of clothing in the western wear industry as misunderstood as the western hat. A hat that doesn't fit stays in the closet, and a hat that fits gets worn. A perfect fit is impossible with a factory made hat. A factory made hat can get close but will never be prefect. It can also be true of the hats we make and ship by phone or e-mail order. A perfect fit is only achieved when the hatter custom fits the hat to the customer's head during a hatter-customer fitting session.

How long will it take to get a hat?

"Stage quality" hats are usually shaped and fit to the customer while they wait, and higher quality hats take as long as they take (one to two weeks). First the customer chooses quality, and then the style and color of hat they want shaped. In choosing the style the customer will choose the width of the brim and its shape, and then choose the crown shape. The circumference of the customer's head is measure to determine base size. I prefer to have the customer head measurement in inches as this tells me more exactly what size to make the hat. Using the "standard" hat size measurement can vary by 1/4" plus or minus, which is a half-inch difference. That is why some hats of the same size fit tighter or looser than other hats of the same size from a different maker. A hat blank is steamed and stretched over the correct size block. The hat brim is trimmed to size. The hat crown and brim are then shaped into the style of hat the customer has requested.

The hat is then fit to the customer's head. This stage is critical for achieving the perfect fit. The perfect fit is dependant upon the customer's feed back as to where the hat is too tight or loose, before the hat band is installed permanently. Once the hat band is installed, the customer will wear their warm custom fit hat away. Total process takes about a half hour on average, some longer and some less time. Higher quality hats take more time as they are pounced more (polished) and left on the shaping tools longer to create a memory in the felt to hold the shape longer.

What is fur felt?

Fur felt is a dense collection of short, single animal fibers pressed together with hot water and steam so they interlock. Fur felt is a fabric but it is much stronger than woven fabrics because with fur felt each individual fiber is interlocked with other fibers in several different directions. Fur felt is felt made from the underfur of the beaver and or rabbit. It is dense, water resistant, and it will last five to ten times longer than wool. Fur felt, unlike wool, can be reblocked and reshaped a number of times. Fur felt makes a superior fabric for a cowboy hat because it is light, smooth, much harder to tear or damage than other fabrics, and is naturally water resistant. Wool hats are less expensive than fur felt hats. Fur felt hats are more expensive but provide better rain protection, last longer, and keep their shape better. No hat is water repellant however and even the best beaver hat will lose its shape if kept out in the pouring rain enough. However, the fur felt hats can be blocked and shaped.

How is hat quality determined?

Ultimately the quality of a hat is determined by the user. A hat which fits you well, meets your individual requirements, and is appealing to you, is all you need.

Beaver fur is the gold standard for measuring a hat’s quality, the higher the percentage of beaver in a hat the better the hat quality. Beaver fur, felts tighter, which results in a dense, light weight, thin hat which holds its shape in the rain longer than a lesser quality hat. The more densely felted the hat is the better it resist rain penetrating into the felt. Even a 100% beaver fur hat will eventually loose its shape if left out in a pouring rain long enough. The goal is to construct a hat which will resist loosing shape in pouring rain long enough to get the hat wearer out of the rain, yet light enough that the wearer will scarily notice the weight, tough enough to withstand every day wear and abuse. Felted beaver fur has proven to meet this challenge the best. There is not an abundance of beaver fur which makes it a more expensive product for producing a hat body.

Wool is also used to make hat felt. However wool felt is a very porous felt and does not shed water well. Wool is a very affordable material which results in inexpensive hat making material which work well when not exposed to rain. Wool felt looses it shape easier than beaver or rabbit.

Rabbit fur can also be felted fairly tight and is more commonly available than beaver fur. Using rabbit fur for a hat body makes the hat more affordable and is soft to the touch. Rabbit fur does not felt as tightly (dense) as beaver fur, which makes thicker to obtain the needed stiffness for it to maintain its shape, it is also more susceptible to rain distortion than beaver but more resistant than wool. To construct an affordable hat body with good weather resistance properties felters experimented with combining beaver and rabbit fur to produce various blends of beaver-rabbit fur hat body. The blend combines the softness of rabbit but the stiffness of beaver. The beaver rabbit blend is thinner than the rabbit but thicker than the beaver. Eventually, hats were given an “X” rating to insinuate the quality of the hat. The difficulty in using the “X” quality to determine a hat’s quality is, there is no industry standard for an “X” value. The “X” can be what ever the manufacturer or the merchant choose to assign to the hat’s “X” value. The “X” rating was started by the merchant and later used by some fur manufacturers. The “X” rating was invented by the hat merchant to assist customers in determining hat qualities and to increase sales. Credible merchants would rate their poor hats without an “X” and up to as many “Xs” the merchant felt appropriate for the better quality hats or would best assist sales. It is believed in the beginning each “X” represented 10% beaver fur. A 10-X hat once represented 100% beaver fur was used to construct the hat body. However today some merchants have changed the scale again by listing their hats as 100-X or 1,000-X. The “X” rating only has value when it is known what the value of “X” represents for the amount of beaver fur used. Each manufacturer and merchant is free to label their hats with what ever “X” value they choose.

If there is no industry standard for a hat’s “X” value and the manufacturers and/or merchants can arbitrarily place what ever “X” value they choose will best market the product; how is the consumer to know they are getting the quality of a hat they are paying for? There is no easy positive way to determine how much beaver fur was used to make a particular hat body short of sending it some where for libratory analysis of the hairs in the felt. The consumer is forced to rely upon the word of the hatter. The consumer examines the hat; is it dense, light, finished smoothly (except for the “Grizzly” which is supposed to be shaggy). Not all 100% beaver fur felt hat bodies are created equal. Many beaver-rabbit fur blends and solely rabbit fur felt make very quality hats and are difficult at time to distinguish from 100% beaver fur. In the end does the hat meet the consumer’s quality expectation for the price being asked, only the consumer knows? One hatter’s 10-X may be another hatter’s 100 or 1000 X.

How do I care for my hat?

A good cowboy hat is an investment. So make sure you care for it properly. Weather you are wearing it on the range of in town, it is sure to collect dirt, dust and grime. A little regular care goes a long way in keeping your hat in tip-top shape. Use a soft bristled brush to dust your hat regularly. A damp terry-cloth bath towel will also remove dust. Rub the surface of the hat in a circular, counter clock wise motion. Stains too deep to remove with a brush or towel, try using a gum eraser. If sponging doesn't remove all the marks, try sanding with 600 or finer grip sandpaper. Move the sand paper, very gently, in a counterclockwise direction when sanding the top side and clockwise when sanding the bottom side. Never press into the hat, and never press the hat into the paper.

Do not take your hat on and off your head by handling the crown. Use the front and back of the brim next to the crown-brim bend instead. Do not set you cowboy hat down on its brim which causes it to flatten and loose its shape. Instead, turn it upside down and set it on the top of its crown. Put your hat up at night by placing it on a hat rack or in a cowboy hat bock. Don't leave your hat anywhere it can get very hot like in an enclosed vehicle, or near a stove or heater. Too much heat will shrink a leather sweat band and ruin the fit. Hot and humid conditions are especially bad for a fur felt hat unless you are shaping it.

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