Shop Hats for You & the Apprentice


Headgear in the traditional shop was both practical (keep the dust out of your hair) and hierarchical (journeymen wore particular hats to separate themselves from the apprentices).

Paper hats were common in many trades, including printing and woodworking. Tools for Working Wood used to hand out paper hats and the instructions to make them at shows (Joel Moskowitz writes about them here).


Recently Jeff Burks dug up some vintage instructions for making paper hats, including this nicely illustrated example he cleaned up from Scientific American, Dec. 14, 1872. It’s a fun little exercise – and you can torture your cats with the result.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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17 Responses to Shop Hats for You & the Apprentice

  1. neitsdelf says:

    Love the meta-ness of making the cat’s hat out of the instructions for making the cat’s hat.


  2. Jon Jeswald says:

    My father was a pressman at the local newspaper and made one of these everyday at work. Thanks for bringing back good memories from long ago


    • wb8nbs says:

      Printers caps are a different, I think easier. Lots of instructions on the internet. I have two on my bedroom dresser folded from 8 x 11 bond paper for holding loose change, about 3 inches square.


  3. fitz says:

    Wally…the most malleable shop cat of all time.


  4. You need to provide the pattern for the ‘Dunce’ version…just sayin’. =D


  5. Now it does say shophats, and not Carpenter’s, Wood worker’s, joiner’s or cabinetmaker’s hat. That is where the main glitch in my picture was… Well that and a turn the third around the world. What I saw (absolutely my mistake!) before my eyes under that heading was this:

    …and yes. This is very much old school central/northern European journeyman tradition. It still exists, although is not the predominant way to finish off your apprenticeship. In earlier times you needed to have been further than 30miles away from home for at least 3 years and 1 day as a journeyman, to call yourself master, and to be able to set up shop for yourself professionally. Every little thing in the journeyman’s clothing points to certain rules, traditions and pride in the trade, when in the kluft.


  6. 2u55 says:

    As I was dutifully making my first “test” hat [for my cat] it hit me…

    Step 1. Buy all the books. (Done!)
    Step 2. Make my own coffin. (in progress)
    Step 3. Make my own [regime approved] hat. (also, in progress)


    Step 4. Apply to the “next level” by handing over my bank account and routing number. (Lucky for me the TV preacher is already keeping my money safe)

    Step 5. Climb in said coffin (with my cat in matching hat).

    Step 6. Drink Kool-Aid.


  7. tsstahl says:

    So, I got all the way to 9. Folding the bottom up didn’t go so well.

    I guess my cat is going to get made fun of at the bus stop. Sigh.

    At least now I know what the Limeys did with all the fish and chips wrappers. 🙂


    • skilledno says:

      Ha! No we didn’t.
      We made small boats that were temporarily water proof from the chip grease (“fries” for you colonials).



  8. maross1248 says:

    Last summer, I did a 2 day coopering experience at Genesee Country Village, an 18th century restoration village in western NY. I was given a period wardrobe, including a paper hat just like the one shown in this post. I shared this post with the cooper and he was happy to see the period prints. He said that the instruction sheet shown is the one he uses.


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