1845 Forage Cap

While not necessarily a woodworking subject, I will wear this hat so it is related to woodworking, I also varnished and sanded the hat which is like furniture.  This hat is based on a Daguerreotype taken shortly after the Mexican War 1847, this volunteer wears the standard forage cap used by the United States military during that time period.

I had a friend Tracy Mutter make me a black canvas hat to my head size.

I then covered it with several coats of Asphaltum Varnish [50% asphaltum, 50% spar varnish] and after 4 coats I lightly sanded the hat between coats.  This is the first time I have ever sanded a piece of clothing on purpose. I put more coats on the bill to make it into patent leather, like the original.  It is not easy painting a black hat black, the first coat was slightly darker [blacker] than the cloth and in color corrected lighting I could see the difference.  Subsequent coats were easier as the fresh varnish was shiny than the previous coats.

I used thin vegetable tanned leather to make the adjustable chin strap.  It was sewn with linen thread, dyed black and secured with two black horn buttons.  I thought about using some old brass Engineers buttons but used the horn instead.

The varnish greatly stiffened the hat and I think it is probably waterproof, will wait for a rain storm to give it a try.




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