My Steampunk Top Hat. It changed some from the original design, but will make a great topper for the costume I am making. I made it so that the top hat itself was undamaged since it was a gift and nicer than one I would want to damage. If you like the project or have any questions please comment.
Step 1: Top Hat: the Plan
The original plan called for coiling copper wire through the brim, and I may still do it if I can think of a non destructive way to do it. You could follow my plan or get a cheap costume top hat for around ten dollars. Moving on, I will list the supplies you will need. Some of the supplies are what I used and depending on what you can find you might want to go with a different look. I will not be listing the tools used in the supplies but will detail what I used and how I did it in the construction phase.
Supplies: brass sheet (I used two thicknesses), brass wire, copper pipe (used refrigerator piping), top hat, nut, bolts, 3 inch plasma disk, scrap wood, short wood screws, and something to use as a smoke stack.
Before you start any project take the time to plan out how you want things to go together. No matter your artistic talent try to draw it out to see if it has the look you are going for. Think about the things you will need to make the project. Having to put a hold on a project while you go across town to buy one screw, is one of the most annoying things in the world.
Step 2: Top Hat: the Construction
Ok, let’s build. I will describe the order that I did things when I built my hat. I started by making the miniature steam engine on the side of the hat.
I cut the neck off an old brass bud vase. I used an angle grinder to cut through the neck. *insert disclaimer* This project uses angle grinders, solder irons, and other sharp or pointy things. Always be careful and use the proper safety equipment. I cut some scrap wood into a block with a band saw, and bolted the block to the smoke stack. The bolt was too long so back to the angle grinder to cut off the excess. Next, I measured out a paper template to cover the wood block. After I got the fit right I traced the template onto some thin brass sheet, cut it out with scissors. I also cut out a heat shield to put behind the smoke stack.
Next I formed the brass case for the battery pack of the plasma disk. I wanted it to actually hold the pack so I cut it from heavier sheet brass. I used the depicted paper template taped where I was going to solder. Once I knew it fit well, I traced and cut out the brass. Used tin snips to cut the brass. In order to get sharp corners I used an Exacto knife to cut part way through the sheet. Then I used needle nosed pliers to bend the brass into the pictured case.
Next step was to cut thin sheet brass into three, two inch thick brass bands. The band lengths will depend on the circumference of the hat and the position of the objects on the brim. The band on the right side of the hat I cut a point in the back, drilled a hole to run a bolt through, and rounded the tip. This hole will be used later to give the band adjustable tension. *tip* To drill holes in thin pliable metal without wrapping the metal around the drill bit, You have to sandwich the metal between two pieces of wood. Drill a hole through one piece of wood as a window. Use the window to line up on the intended drill point. Use a small vise grip to hold the wood tight against the metal. Finally, drill your hole. I also used this method to drill two holes in the back of the short left band, two holes in the left front of the back band, and four holes in heat shield. I used four wood screws to join the items together in the following order from the center: heat shield, frond and back band, and back of the steam engine.
“To the soldering iron!” I am still teaching myself to solder so some of the joins look rough. It is a skill that takes practice. If it is your first time, I would recommend practicing on scrap pieces before working on the actual project. I soldered all the joining edges of the steam engine and the plasma disk cover. Next I joined each side of the band to the plasma disk case. I soldered the edges of the steam engine to the band even though it was screwed to the band. After I wrapped the band around the hat, I marked where the back half of the tension connection needed to be, and soldered that to the band. As a decorative addition I used to angle grinder to cut the copper pipe. Coiled the brass wire around the copper pipe, and then soldered the wire to the left side of the steam engine and the right side of the plasma disk.
Step 3: Top Hat: the Product
Congratulations, you made your Steampunk Top Hat. I have included a close up of the adjustable tension connection. By screwing the bolt and nut or changing the bolt for a longer or shorter one. I hope you enjoyed my Instructable. It was a fun project to make. If you enjoyed my project, have questions on the construction, want me to add other pictures, or have any suggestions for additions or future projects; please leave a comment. Best of luck on all your projects!