What is Long Oval Blocking?

What is Long Oval Blocking?

Heads are not all the same shape. Most of us have heads that are described by hatters as being Regular Oval in shape. Most crown blocks and brim flanges are Regular Oval. When you order a hat, the default blocking is Regular Oval.

Some heads are what hatters call Long Ovals. What is the difference? Let’s say two people’s heads both measure 23 inches. They both need the same size hat, but the Long Oval head needs a hat that is longer front to back, and narrower side to side—a longer, narrower oval shape.

To make a Long Oval hat, I need to know in advance so I can use appropriate tools and techniques.

How would you know if you have a Long Oval head? If you put on a stiff Regular Oval hat that fits front to back and feels comfortable on your forehead and the back of your head, then you can probably stick your fingers in the space between your head and the sides of the hat. If you put on a soft Regular Oval hat (like mine) that fits you, it will conform to the shape of your head and will cause the brim to hump up on the sides. Sometimes with some hats, this can look fine, even great. Sometimes, it can look like something is wrong.

One client who did not know he had a Long Oval head, did not like the way his beautiful Gatsby looked when he put it on and the brim humped up. So he took it off and ironed the brim flat. (Do not attempt this at home.) When he put the hat back on, the brim humped up again. He repeated this several times with the same result. Just before hanging himself, he finally sent me an email (what you should do first, not last). I recognized the problem immediately, had him return the hat, re-blocked it as a Long Oval, and the client lived happily ever after.

Some people have heads that are described by hatters as being Extra Long Ovals. Extra Long Oval blocks and flanges are rare, but I do have a couple of ways to do it that usually work.

 
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