Make your own falconry hood
Making your own falconry hood can be a lot of fun and save you money as well. You can tailor it to fit your bird perfectly and add your own embellishments.
This hood is so easy to make and doesn’t need to be blocked. I really like how they fit my birds and they seem very comfortable on them. I have two female Harris Hawks. The younger bird took to the hood the very day I picked her up, but my older bird never took to the hood very well. I bought a very nice Arab style hood for her which I used off and on for 5 years. Until my dog ate it. I needed a hood right away so looked into making one. I found this hood to be so easy to make. I can make one in a day. And, it turns out, fits my bird better than the Arab hood did. She is much calmer when she wears this hood.
Exacto knife and extra blades
Waxed dental floss
Large eye needles
Awl or small drill for the sewing holes
Forceps or very small needle nose pliers
If you plan on tooling your leather:
A firm surface such as X-ray film
The first thing you need to do is measure your bird. This might require the help of another falconer. Measure the widest part of your bird across the head from eye to eye in centimeters.
Open the Hood Pattern Creator. Down at the bottom is a small box that you put in the size of the hood you want. Click on the top left button to calculate the hood pattern. Print the pattern on heavy card stock. You may want to keep the pattern for future use.
All the measurements you see here are for my tooling border, braces slits and top knot slits. If you don’t plan on tooling your hood, you just need the braces slits and top knot slits. You might want to make a plain hood for the first try. This way you don’t spend a lot of time on the tooling only to find out it doesn’t fit your bird.
Brace Slits – The width of your braces plus 1/16 to 1/8″. You don’t want the slits to be tight. Make these slits 1/4″ apart.
Top Knot Slits – Using the third largest hole punch, punch a hole in the center of where your top knot will go. The slits are the width of the top knot strips. These slits should be tight. Make these slits 3/16″ apart from the center hole.
Tip when cutting your leather
Transfer your pattern
I’m going to be tooling this hood and will show you as I go. I cut the slits for the braces and top knot before I start tooling. I then ignore them as I do the stamping.
If you don’t plan on tooling your hood, skip down to drilling the holes. If you plan on dying your hood, do that now and allow it to dry.
Preparing your hood for tooling
Glue your hood to a firm surface
TIP: Use fresh rubber cement and only apply it to the X-ray film. If you use old glue and apply it to both the X-ray film and the hood, it will be very difficult to remove the hood when your done tooling.
Before any tooling can be done, the leather must be damp. Wipe the entire surface with a damp sponge and allow to sit for a few minutes. The leather may not look wet, but it will feel cold.
Tooling the leather
The swivel knife is invaluable when tooling leather. It’s used to cut the border lines for a crisp edge. When using the knife, be sure not to cut more than half way through. An Exacto knife just won’t work here because it’s too thin and wont’ give you the proper cut.Using the swivel knife, cut all the way around the hood.
Next comes the beveling. My beveler is pretty small so it takes me a little longer to go all the way around. Some day I’ll buy a larger one. But it’s good for getting into the small corners. It’s important to every now and again apply more water lightly. You don’t want to flood it, just keep it moist.
Stamping the leather
Piping and Top Knot pieces
Top Knot – Kangaroo – 1/16″ x 9″ – make two
1. Cut two strips from the tooling kip or kangaroo 1/4″ x 9″
2. Roll a knot at one end the same way you make jesses.
3. Left Brace – Measuring from the knot, mark 1-½” and 1 3/4″. Using the smallest hole punch, punch at the 1-½” mark. Using an exacto knife, cut a slit from the 1 3/4″ mark into the hole.
4. Right Brace – Measuring from the knot, mark 1 ½”, 1 3/4″ and 3 1/4″. Cut the hole and slit same as the left brace. At the 3 1/4″ mark punch a hole using the 3rd largest hole and cut a slit on either side 1/8″
Now you need to make the stitching holes. The left picture shows me using an awl. When using the awl, be careful not to go too far, you don’t want the holes to be too large.
The picture below shows how I drill the holes. The device is like a Dremel with a very tiny drill bit. I got a box of various tiny bits from Harbor Freight many years ago for only about $10.00. Place a scrap piece of wood under the leather and drill straight down into the wood.
Sewing the hood
Up 1, Down 2 – even the ends
A – up 1
B – up 2
A – Down 4
B – down 3
A – up 3
B – up 4
A – Down 6
B – Down 5
Just remember when you come up to the front, use a hole that already has thread in it. Be careful that you don’t go through the thread already there.
Going down to the back – use a new hole
Smoothing the stitching
Finish the edge
The piping glued and trimed.
Lacing The Braces
Your almost done
Lacing the braces is a bit complicated at first, so follow each step slowly.
1. Go down 2 until A is at 2
2. Come back up at 1
3. Insert forceps down 3, up 2, through A , grab brace end and pull through.
1. Follow the steps for the left brace going through B
2. Insert forceps on Left side of hood through A, down 2, up 3, grap right brace and pull.
Back to the Left Side –
1. Insert forceps through B, down 5, through C up 4, grap the Left brace and pull through. This side will be very tight so work carefully.
Work the braces open and closed several times to get them working smoothly. Your hood is complete!
The finished hood
Fitting the hood and Final Adjustments
Before you put the hood on your bird, wet the beak opening with some water to make the edges soft. Now place the hood on your bird and close the braces. Notice how the opening sits on your bird. It’s important the the edge does not touch the birds mouth. Take note of where it’s touching and remove the hood. With sharp scissors, remove that area. Careful, just remove a tiny little bit at a time. Each time place it back on the bird and check it again.