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The Rambling DBA: Jonathan Kehayias

The random ramblings and rantings of frazzled SQL Server DBA

My latest NoSQL project

This blog post has nothing to do with databases, data storage, or even computers.  If you are interested in learning more about NoSQL solutions take a look at Brent Ozars (Blog |Twitter) blog post  NoSQL Basics for Database Administrators.  The NoSQL in this post means it has nothing to do with SQL at all, but I’ve been working on a fun side project at home the last few nights and thought I’d share some pictures of it.

Military Campaign Drill Instructor HatsMost people know that along with being a database geek, I am also a Drill Sergeant in the Army Reserves.  Becoming a Drill Sergeant became goal of mine eleven years ago after I first joined the Army.  The thing that stood out the most to me about Drill Sergeants I knew in the Army was their level of professionalism, knowledge, and methods of handling things, and I wanted to be amongst the best.  One of the things that comes with being a Drill Sergeant is having the Campaign Hat that everyone associates with the Drill Sergeant image.

The Campaign Hat always looks nice and stiff in pictures, movies, however, nothing could be further from the truth.  The hat is actually made of a soft felt material that likes to curl up like a bowl in the Florida heat and humidity.  To keep the hat in its appropriate shape it is stored inside of a hat press.  The Army issues you the Campaign Hat, but they don’t issue out, nor do they even sell a press to keep it in shape (I am sure this makes sense to someone somewhere).  Most of the civilian military supply stores outside of the Army Posts sell some form of a hat press, but I decided to build my own.  In its simplest form a hat press is just two pieces of wood, one with a hole cut out to go over the top of the hat.

I decided to use a pine end panel available at any hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot to build the hat press.  I cut it out 16x16 for the top, and then the same size for the bottom, but with a three inch handle to carry it by.  It all started out simple, and then I got carried away.  I decided to transfer the image of the Drill Sergeant Badge onto the bottom of the hat press and then carve it out of the wood using my Dremel tool, and then carve my name onto the top.  It took me a lot amount of time to do the carving, but it turned out pretty decent.

PICT0008  PICT0005

So there is my latest NoSQL project.  I am quite happy with the results, and it happens to be functional as well.

Published Wednesday, June 30, 2010 1:55 PM by Jonathan Kehayias



Robert L Davis said:

Nice craftsmanship!! If you had simply said you were making a hat press, I would have had no idea what you meant. The best posts are the ones where I learn something!!

June 30, 2010 1:11 PM

Chuck Rummel said:

Did you put hinges on it, or is there some other way to keep the two pieces together to make it press? Or do you lay it flat and let the weight of the wood do the work? My dad had a campaign had for scouts that had a thin frame you slid the brim into, might have been made of particle board though, it's been a while.

June 30, 2010 1:45 PM

Ted Krueger said:

Impressive, Jonathan!  I know who to call now when I want something engraved in wood :-)

June 30, 2010 2:08 PM

Brent Ozar said:

Wow, that's cool. I'm guessing this is how State Troopers store their hats too - I'm always amazed at how they look like they could throw the hat and decapitate somebody.

June 30, 2010 2:19 PM

Steve Jones said:

Very, very cool. I am impressed with the carving. Looks fantastic.

June 30, 2010 4:24 PM

Michael K. Campbell said:


Thanks for making me question my dislike of NoSQL.

June 30, 2010 5:17 PM

Jonathan Kehayias said:


I actually have a piano hinge that is 12 inches long that secures the two pieces together along the edge that is sitting on the floor in the picture above, allowing it to flip open and closed.  Then at the top, either an eye bolt is screwed down into a Tee Nut secured in the back of the piece with the handle on it, or two bolts are counter sunk into the piece that has the handle from the back and covered up that accept a wingnut from the top to press the hat between the two pieces.  I haven't really decided how I am going to do that yet, but there are plenty of ways to do it.

The hat press you mention is a pretty common one that people use.  It would be similar to the one on this link:

I could have bought one of those, but where is the fun in that?  

July 1, 2010 9:07 AM

Zack Jones said:

That's awesome. I always wondered how they kept those smokey the bear hats looking so crisp. From one vet to another, thank you for your service to our great nation.

July 1, 2010 11:52 AM

no offense said:

Don't take this the wrong way, I like what you've done.

But I first saw the pictures, and it looked like hand crafted toilet seat.  I thought your "NOSQL" project was to poop on the NOSQL Movement.   HAHA.

Anyway, good story.

July 1, 2010 1:25 PM

jill said:

My husband is a drill instructor in the marine corps so this makes PERFECT sense to me! I'm looking for someone to make him a custom one (similar to this) in my area and can't find anyone! There used to be one man in our town who custom made them and engraved them, but he passed away.

December 1, 2010 4:31 PM
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