Hat Making Tool: Foot Tolliker in Elk Antler and Birch Wood on a Walnut Display Stand

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 03-28-2008 04:58 AM 6809 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Hat Making Tool: Foot Tolliker in Elk Antler and Birch Wood on a Walnut Display Stand
Hat Making Tool: Foot Tolliker in Elk Antler and Birch Wood on a Walnut Display Stand No picture No picture No picture No picture No picture
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This one-of-a-kind Collector’s, Elk Antler & Birch Tolliker/Display Stand now lives on a shelf in the Spradley Hats shop in Alpine, Texas USA.


  1. Right Hand Maple Foot Tolliker
  2. Left Hand Maple Foot Tolliker
  3. Black Walnut Foot Tolliker (right or left hand)

ARE LISTED IN MY ETSY.COM ONLINE SHOP, click here to check inventory

email: [email protected]


What does this thing do? Watch this video by California Custom Hat Maker Tom Gomez from Premier Panama Hats using one of my Foot Tollikers on a straw body Panama Hat. Here is a link to Tom's ebay Store

If the Player screen doesn’t work, click here to go straight to the youtube page

If you like Hatmaking Tool Videos, click here to see Tom use one of my Kettle Curling Irons


I often take on unique and outdated craft projects in the midst of my other work with furniture, walking canes, knives, and scrimshaw artwork.

Tollikers are used to shape the hat for a customer during the process of making and forming a hat to a customer’s specification.

Almost always, these unique projects come as a request from someone who has gotten frustrated trying to find either antique examples, or merely someone capable and willing to craft them. I don’t do every project that someone proposes to me, but I evaluate it based on a set of criteria I have, and many times I agree to do the research and make the product. After the learning curve is over, I market the work to try and find other folks that might like the same thing.

Hatmaking tool crafting is a lost art, but hatmaking is gradually gaining a comeback. The problem is that there aren’t many antique tools to buy, and nobody making them. Two hatmakers told me that when they find the old tools, they are either worn out, or don’t work for the current size of the human head (guess they’ve gotten larger over the years). Hatmaking has been making a comeback with small hat shops where true craftsmanship is used to make artisan made custom hats.

Either Western, Fidora, or other historical hat styles, there appears to be more and more folks out there that are tired of dressing in ball caps with Nascar, or sports teams on them, being walking billboards for product brands. These discerning folks find it challenging to find hatmakers today, and hatmakers find it difficult to find tools. So, when they do meet, there is great excitment.

This all creates a niche for someone like me, willing to spend some time whittling, carving, shaping, sculpting, sanding, and polishing these tools. There isn’t enough business to worry about a manufacturing company seeing it as a good investment, but for fill work for a one-man shop, it works out nicely. The hat tools aren’t inexpensive, but compared to a gallon of gasoline, or a cup of fancy coffee, a handmade original product like this, that is useable for decades, really doesn’t seem so high priced.

If you find yourself in the position of collecting, or using Tollikers, or other hatmaking equipment, I would appreciate your business. Please email me for more information, pricing, and such.

Project Story:
What does a creative mind do during repetitious work of making multiple copies of the same thing? Answer: it comes up with a more artistic way to do the work. I’ve never seen anything like this in Tollikers, but I am hoping that a hatmaker somewhere will want to own it for their collection. I did two sets of custom steak knives with deer and elk antlers and turquoise a few months ago, and so I have lots of scraps laying around now, and they are finding their way into a several of my projects nowadays.

Elk Antler Steak Knife Set
Deer Antler Steak Knife Set

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I’m not actually using the tool in this photo, just showing the orientation for how it is used, demonstrating on my old Parson’s Hat that I wear when I’m giving an historical presentation on Scrimhaw Artwork

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Here are a couple of old drawings from Ermatinger’s book on how the Foot Tolliker used to be used.


Artisan Hat Tools by Mark DeCou Studio
(Do you want to see More? Just follow these links):

ARE LISTED IN MY ETSY.COM ONLINE SHOP, click here to check inventory

Rounding Jacks, Collector’s Editions:
  1. Ebonized Walnut Clockwise with Laser Engraving
  2. Walnut Counter Clockwise w/Laser Engraving
  3. Walnut Uni-Directional Cutter
Rounding Jacks, Deluxe Model:
  1. Maple Deluxe Model, Counter Clockwise Cutter
  2. Maple Deluxe Model, Clockwise Cutter
  3. Walnut Deluxe, Counter Clockwise Cutter
  4. Walnut Deluxe, Clockwise Cutter
Rounding Jacks, Hobbyist-Hatter Model:
  1. Walnut Hobbyist-Hatter Model, Counter Clockwise Cutter
  2. Walnut Hobbyist-Hatter Model, Clockwise Cutter
Bench-Top Display Stands for Rounding Jacks:
  1. Walnut Bench-Top Display Stand
  2. Oak Bench-Top Display Stand
    Click here to check inventory
Customized Rounding Jacks, Personalized for Specific Hatters:
  1. Spradley Hats in Apline, TX
  2. Rachel Pollock of La Bricoleuse
  3. Brainpan Hat Shop in Sumner, WA
  4. Steve Delk's Adventurebilt Hat Co.
  5. Marc Kitter's Adventurebilt Hat Co.
  6. Pyrate Trading Co.
  7. Hatman Jack at Wichita Hat Works
  8. Inaaya Hat Co.
  9. Penman Hat Co.
Formillons & Conformateurs:
  1. Complete Restoration of a Maillard Conformateur and Formillon
  2. New DeCou Formillion & Conformer, Prototypes #1 & #2
  3. Custom Designed Conformateur Carrying & Storage Case
  4. New Plot Base Board for the Maillard Allie Formillon
  5. Maple Wrench for Tightening Formillon Thumbnuts
Foot Tollikers:
  1. Left-Handed & Right-Handed Foot Tolliker
  2. Foot Tolliker: Elk Antler & Birch Wood, on a Display Stand
  3. Foot Tolliker: Walnut Wood, on a Display Stand
  4. Foot Tollikers: Three in White Birch Wood
  5. Foot Tollikers: Walnut Wood Set of Four
  6. Foot Tollikers, Birch Wood Double Set, on Display Stand
Brim Edge Curling Tools:
  1. Hinge-Shackle Curling Tool for the Homburg Hat
  2. Full Circle Shackle Curling Tool
  3. Half Circle Shacking Curling Tool
  4. Groove Tolliker Curing Tool
Band Blocks:
  1. Thick Poplar Wood, Various Sizes and Oval Shapes, with Tapered Sides
Crown Blocks
  1. Long Oval Crown Block Sculpting Work
Hat Block Spinners:
  1. Late Turned Hat Block Spinners
Flange Stands:
  1. Heavy Duty Flange Stands
Puller Downers:
  1. Puller Downers
Pusher Downers:
  1. Pusher Downers
Hat Racks, Hat Stands, & Cedar Band Blocks:
  1. Hat Racks to keep oval shapes
Stainless Steel Slip Stick:
  1. “Coming Soon”, please check back.

(Note:This project story, project design, and photos are protected by copyright in 2008-2010 by the Author, M.A.DeCou., all rights reserved, no use allowed without expressed written permission.)

use is allowed.)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

8 comments so far

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4415 days

#1 posted 03-28-2008 11:00 AM

Very cool. This time I had an idea of what I was looking at. You do display your artistry very well.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4362 days

#2 posted 03-28-2008 11:35 AM

Thanks again Mark. This tolliker is certainly unique. By the way your photographic skills are excellent. You have showcased these nicely.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4867 days

#3 posted 03-28-2008 01:17 PM

not only do you have the artistic talents to create these items, your photgraphy skills are top notch as well.
I like the approach of using mixed medium.

View dlcarver's profile


270 posts in 4271 days

#4 posted 03-28-2008 01:39 PM

Interesting…... Thanks


-- Dave Leitem,Butler,Pa.,

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4520 days

#5 posted 03-28-2008 04:55 PM

Wow Mark;

These are beautiful!!


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 4701 days

#6 posted 03-28-2008 06:32 PM

oh now look at that!!! A piece of art just waiting to start a conversation!! And then it’s useful as well.. cool

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4946 days

#7 posted 03-29-2008 10:51 PM

I had fun last night putting this Tolliker on a display stand at an art show I participated in last night. One guy almost bought it as a desk conversation piece, and nobody guessed what it was. I can tell you that all of the guesses I heard, none were any that I would have thought of, so it was interesting and something for people to talk to each other about.

thanks for looking,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View woodspar's profile


710 posts in 4640 days

#8 posted 07-18-2008 06:47 AM

Thanks for posting. I did not know that hat making was coming back. Interesting that the existing tools are worn out and it is great that you are enjoying making the tools.

-- John

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