A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921.
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409.—Hat—Formers, Plankers, Stiffeners

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blocker, covered
places velvet, silk, satin, etc. on damped foundation of buckram, etc. and lays both on shape block; presses gas heated aluminium pan over material so that buckram takes required shape and outside covering of velvet etc. adheres to foundation by reason of dressing in buckram; sometimes specifically designated, e.g. velvet blocker.
blocker, hand (cloth hats) ; presser, shaper
(i) shapes hat or cap by drawing it over a wooden block; moulds and presses it with a wet pad and hot iron, by hand, and puts it in steam box or oven to set shape; sometimes steams hat in oven before pressing;
(ii) inserts finished hat in block, and presses brim with iron.
blocker, hand (straw hats) ; hand ironer (straw hats)
covers straw hat with piece of damp cloth and places it inside block; presses and shapes hat with a shell iron, i.e., wedge-shaped shell of metal, into which is fitted a red hot iron block to give required heat.
blocker, hat
general term covering various classes of workers engaged in blocking or shaping hats, including hand blocker, machine blocker, hydraulic blocker q.v.
blocker, hydraulic; hydraulic hat blocker
a machine blocker q.v. who attends to hydraulic blocking machine, in which hats, placed on moulds or dishes, are subjected to great pressure.
blocker (job dyeing, etc.)
a hand blocker q.v. who re-blocks or reshapes hats, after they have been cleaned or dyed, using a wooden mould.
blocker, leghorn
a machine blocker (straw hats) q.v. who blocks into shape "leghorns," i.e., imported plaited hoods.
blocker, machine; blocking machinist
(i) (felt hats) pulls felt hood by hand on to block, places heated pan over hood and sets in position in press, usually hydraulic; controls press by means of levers; (n) (straw hats) presses hat, after it has been stiffened, in a gas-heated machine consisting of a spelter block over which hat is placed and then raised by foot treadle to fit into second spelter block, pressure being applied by a hand manipulated flywheel.
see body maker (silk hats).
bodymaker (cloth hats)
makes bodies of stiff uniform caps, of gossamer, by shaping them by hand, on a block.
bodymaker (felt hats)
general term for various classes of workers engaged in making bodies of felt hats, including fur former, wool former, hardener, planker, stumper q.v.
bodymaker (silk hats) ; bodier, calico framer, crown maker
makes foundation of hat by joining edges of three or four ply pieces of gossamer (calico dipped in shellac and ammonia) with a narrow strip of the same material, ironed down on to the block or shape; may also do dipping, see dipper.
brim rounder, brim cutter ; brim parer, cutter, felt hat cutter, hood cutter, purer, rounder
(i) takes hood of felt or other hat, etc., after it has been blocked, sets width of brim on a hand gauge, fits a hard block into crown, and runs gauge and knife round brim, by hand, to reduce it to required width;
(ii) brim rounding machinist; trims hood with a small rounding machine, the knife of which is set according to size required; hat is placed to come into contact with revolving knife.
brim rounding machinist
see brim rounder.
a planker q.v. who operates a bumping machine; places felt forms in a sort of trough, sets machine in motion, so that forms are bumped about against arms of machine, and removes forms when operation of felting is complete.
calico cutter ; crown cutter
cuts calico by hand, with shears, for body, crown, and brim of silk hats.
calico framer
see bodymaker (silk hate).
crown cutter
see calico cutter.
crown maker
see bodymaker (silk hats).
puts curl on brim of felt hat by moulding in hydraulic press after steaming, or by using steam and curling hand iron.
cutter, felt hat cutter, hood cutter
see brim rounder.
cutter, fur cutter, velour cutter (hats)
cuts nap of fur used for fur hats, evenly, by power-driven machine; sets hats on block in machine and adjusts knives; may cut nap by hand with specially shaped shaving knives.
dipper (felt hats)
dips fur hats into water, by hand, after forming.
dipper (silk hats), calico dipper, calico frame dipper ; proofer, proofing maker
dips, by hand, pieces of calico into solution of shellac and ammonia (proof); stretches on an iron frame; stretches three or four layers in this way on top of one another to form gossamer, from which body is cut; presses layers together by smoothing with the hand.
see veneerer.
former, fur
feeds and attends machine which blows fur on to single perforated revolving copper cone, to which it adheres by suction, to make "form" of felt hats; places weighed quantity of fur on feed frame and/or carefully removes formed fur from cone.
former, wool
winds carded wool, by machine, on double revolving cone, to make "form" of wool hats; guides wool on to cone, ensures that wool is wound evenly and removes from cone when formed.
hardener, form hardener
a planker (hand or machine) q.v. engaged in first process of hardening or felting woollen form as removed from cone; may harden by hand (see hand planker) or in "jigger " or humping machine (see machine planker); sometimes specifically designated, e.g. jigger hardener, wool hardener.
hatter, journeyman hatter
general terms for any skilled worker engaged in making hats, including blocker, planker, etc. q.v.
ironer (felt hats)
irons hat brim, i by hand, using various sorts of irons, to set shape after curling; cf. curler.
ironer, hand (straw hats)
see blocker, hand (straw hats).
machine hand, Belgian
see twister.
miller (felt hats)
(i) see planker (hand);
(ii) see planker (machine).
miller (straw hats)
softens hard plait, e.g., pedal canton plait, by passing plait of straw between rollers of wooden or iron mill, generally operating mill by hand.
opera hat maker
sews together, in silk or merino, parts of opera hat and attaches to metal frame, by hand.
parer, brim parer
see brim rounder.
fixes hat in position and dips, usually by hand, edges only of hat brim into proofing solution to strengthen it.
planker, hand planker ; miller
wraps in linen doth and dips form of wool or fur into weak acid solution; rubs, rolls, and manipulates it, by hand, reducing size and thickening material into a homogeneous cone of felt.
planker (machine) ; miller
general term for workers who feed and operate, by means of a lever, any one of a series of planking machines, which, in sequence, gradually shrink and consolidate hat "form" to "body" or hood; includes bumper, hardener, settler, stumper, twister q.v. presser, brim; presses brims of straw hats between two heated blocks of press and operates machine with foot treadle.
presser (cloth hats)
see blocker, hand (cloth hats).
presser (felt hats)
places hat on block and places mould over hat; operates hydraulic press. by means of lever, to produce finer shaping.
proofer (felt hats)
proofs hat, by hand or machine, by coating it with an alcoholic solution of shellac or similar substance.
proofer, proofing maker (silk hats)
see dipper (silk hats).
setter (felt hats)
see shaper (felt hats).
a planker (machine) q.v. who passes several forms, wrapped in doth, through rollers of machine to fix or consolidate felted condition of wool.
shaper, brim (cloth hats)
puts damped cloth hat on brim-shaped block and irons it by hand.
shaper (cloth hats)
see blocker, hand (cloth hats).
shaper (felt, hats) ; setter
places felt hat on brim shape and arches brim by steaming and holding in position until it sets; cf. shaper (other hats) (410).
steamer (felt hats)
places hat in steam chest, which fixes the proof, and removes when process is completed.
steamer (straw hats)
steams straw bats over copper pans with perforated bottoms, and removes hats when they are pliable.
stiffener, fur (hats)
dips hats into a special stiffening solution and sets on rack to dry.
stiffener (straw hats)
stiffens hat with solution of gum, by hand with a sponge, and dries on a rack, in preparation for shaping.
stretcher, tip stretcher
a hand blocker q.v. who carefully stretches tip (point of felt cone) of body or hood of felt hat in first stage of blocking; obsolescent.
a planker (machine) q.v. engaged on a stumping machine, which gently bumps and hammers forms in trough of steam-driven machine, to assist in felting process.
sweater (straw hats)
(i) softens hat to make it pliable, by holding it over steam, or receives hat from steamer q.v. and shapes form, by hand, to specified head size, ready for hat blocker q.v.;
(ii) restores shape of hats, bent during storage, by placing on an ordinary blocking machine and steaming.
turner-up, machine turner-up
turns up edge of brim of felt hat in a power press, operated by means of a lever, preparatory to curling.
twister, machine twister ; Belgian machine hand
a planker (machine) q.v. engaged on a "twister," a steam-driven machine, operated by a lever, having special attachments which come into contact with terms and twist them to help with the felting process.
veneerer (hats) ; duster
puts layer of fur dust on to a wool body, by machine; places body on block in position in machine and controls motion by means of levers.

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From: A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921,
Ministry of Labour, 1927. Digitised by Peter Christian, August, 2016.   This text is in the Public Domain.