Custom Hat Rack, Shape Keeping Band Block Design, Wall Mounted Hat Storage, Aromatic Cedar Wood

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 08-21-2010 09:08 PM 21186 views 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Custom Made, Hat Size Holding Hat Rack, by Mark DeCou Studio

If you are looking for Hat Racks, here is another Molesworth Style Hat Rack that I designed recently

The Hat Collection (From Top):
  1. Custom Straw Porkpie: by Tom Gomez
  2. Custom Western Beaver Felt: by Jim Spradley
  3. Custom Beaver Felt Porkpie: by Tom Gomez
  4. Custom Beaver Felt Porkpie: by Tom Gomez

there are many more hats, but this is all I could fit into the first photo.


Project Story:
Wooden Shop Solutions to Three Problems:
1) Place to put Custom Made Hats, several of them
2) Way to keep custom head shape and size
3) Way to ward off felt eating Moths

The problem I haven’t yet solved
4) Keeping the dust off of them.

So, what’s a guy to do when he has more custom hats than he has place for?

Build a Hat Rack, of Course.

This isn’t all of the hats, but all I could fit in the corner of my bedroom above the clothes dresser, hanging beside the closet. So, the Wall Rack holds just four hats.

I’m working on a Horizontal Hanging version to go above the closet door, or the window, whichever the wife agrees to the most, and I can get 4-6 more hung in that configuration. She was gone this morning, and so she hasn’t yet had a chance to complain about this new wall hanging version I put up this morning. If you saw my bedroom, you’d understand her complaints…..since I started working on guitars, we are tripping over them, and the safest place to store them in the a/c has been in the bedroom…..but that’s another story for another time.

Hat Racks:
I have made quite a few hat racks for people in the past, and in that process I’ve been trying to solve several problems. For some folks, a nifty hook will work just fine. I’ve made a lot of those, and included one photo of a cedar wood Molesworth Inspired router-carved one with Antler Hooks. They work great for ball caps, and coats, and scarves. But, not for MY Hats!

Why, what’s wrong with just using a hook? First off, when a guy buys a custom “conformed” hat, it’s a big investment. If I don’t wear it every day, the shape of the “conforming” can shrink, or move making wearing the hat uncomfortable until it stretches out again.

I also included an old photo of Custom Rack I built that holds 4 Hats, 4 walking canes, and a sports jacket. I built that rack to display my Granddad’s Hats and Canes at his funeral a few years back. I had planned to keep the Rack after the funeral for my own hats and cane collection (I make lots of canes, so that’s another story for another time….cane racks). But, after the furneral, the Preacher that did the service wanted to buy it for his church, so we made a deal, and I put a brass plate on it to memorialize my granddad. It was a nifty design, but still it had one problem I hadn’t yet solved…...holding the size and shape of a custom hat while storing it.

I’ve also been working a lot on Hat Making Tools this past couple of years (it’s why I have so many cool hats).

Why Custom Made Hats?
One my commonly sold products is a “Band Block”. I normally sell these in sets for hat makers, so they can fit a variety of head shapes and sizes when making a hat. I on the other hand, only need one size and shape…..mine. But, how do I get the right shape, size, and taper for my strangely shaped head?

One of my local cowboy friends named Rex gets his custom hats from New Mexico. He gave me the idea for the wood band block to keep the shape, since each of his custom hats comes with a wood block in the box. I naively asked him at the time, why anyone would need a conformed custom hat (they are expensive)? He told me, ”Oh, Mark, once you wear a custom made hat, everything else fits like a cardboard box.”

I didn’t understand until I had my first custom made hat….now I’m hooked also.

Hats for Odd Shaped Heads?
So a couple of years back, I designed and built a Conformer to measure my head shape and size (you can see that project here )

In the research & design for the building of the Conformer/Formillon set, I discovered that my head isn’t symmetrical….and later learned that NOBODY has a smooth head.

My head is bigger on the right side, and not a smooth elliptical shape. To make matters worse, my head circumference fits right in between the standard sized hats. If I buy a boxed hat, I have to settle for “too tight” or “too loose”, and just live with the fact that my hat will twist to the left off center after wearing it for awhile. Additionally my head is considered a “long-oval”, so when I try on a store shelf hat the brim gets wavy stretching to fit my longer than normal oval shape. You might have the same problem, but you just didn’t know why. Most factory hats are built to a “regular-oval” shape, which leaves a lot of us odd-shaped guys out in the sun.

Now, that I’ve discovered why hats never have fit me in the past, I simply build a Band Block and send it to the Hat Maker. This allows them to build me a hat that shows up in the box perfect in shape, circumference, and looks however I wanted it to look.

Keep The Hat Shape:
So, my new hat rack design keeps the shape of my own hats, because I built a cedar wood band block with my size for each hat. I just take it off of the hook, and put it in the hat, lining up the carved marking at the back of the block with the sewn seam in the leather sweat band, and place it back on the wall rack pin. Next time I wear it, my hat will fit. I’d show you all more photos of the system, but you’d just try and copy it.

Away You Moths!
Another common problem that hat collectors are aware of is the damage caused by hole chewing moths. I prefer beaver-hair felt. Moths just love the stuff.

I never see the little rascals, but have found their damage, it just makes me sooooo angry! So, in one model I designed I put a small hole for a moth ball, with a small flat turning lid to cover up the ball and moderate the amount of smell. Works great for protecting hats, but the wife was tired of the house smelling like moth balls, and I was also.

Why Cedar?
So, then I came up with using the aromatic nature of cedar wood (Juniper), and it’s ability to drive away moths as well. I just love the smell of cedar, and so I built my new band blocks from some wood a custom lumber mill operator had that I discovered in his barn last month.

What About The Dust?
The only problem I have left to fix now… the collection of dust on my hats. Sure it brushes right off (another project to build some day….custom badger hair hat brushes).

I’ve figured out what to do, I’m going to build a glass case from floor to ceiling with a rack of hats inside of it, and a nice light on the inside. The hats are truly works of art in themselves, might as well display them and protect them at the same time.

But, we don’t have room for a glass case in the house now, so that project is on hold. I’m in the process of building on a master bedroom on the end of our Ranch style house, and one day when that project is ready to move into, I’m planning on a glass front hat rack, and also a glass front guitar cabinet with humidity controls. Now, just have to get the bedroom finished.

Oh, I almost forgot…...the wall rack with the four hats is made from spalted sycamore and I used spent 9mm bullet casings for the screw mounting hole covers. I’m planning on building some custom silver and brass hat pins with .45 ACP casing ends, and so it made me think about using the 9mm casings for screw covers.

After hanging this 4-Hat Rack and loading it with the hats, I came up with a better idea for the design of the “hook”, so I’ll make that change on the next one I build. Always something more to do….....

Who Built the Hats Shown?
1) Three Hats by Tom Gomez of Perris, CA
2) One hat by Jim Spradley of Alpine, TX
3) I have other hats (not in the picture) by Hatman Jack

All three of these guys are exceptional in ability and character, and I can vouch for them.

Thanks for reading along,
Mark DeCou

(This project title, text, project designs, and that photos are protected by copyright 2010 by the Author, M.A. DeCou. No unauthorized use of this material is permitted.)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

11 comments so far

View janice's profile


1121 posts in 3962 days

#1 posted 08-21-2010 09:44 PM

Wow! That’s all I can say after reading all that. Do what my husband does. He just wears a dew rag. Just joking. But I do have to say, very clever design. I like it. You put alot of thought into this. I love the last picture too. The hat rack on cedar. Great design. I need to get my butt back in gear and start doing something again. You just got me motivated. Thanks for sharing.

-- Janice

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4942 days

#2 posted 08-21-2010 10:07 PM

Thanks Janice, I used to wear ball caps exclusively, but after I started seeing dark spots show up on my checks and ears from too much sun, I started to get more concerned about wearing a hat for protection of my skin, and a brim became more important to me. Both of my granddads fought skin problems on their face from too much sun, so I decided to try a different path and see if the end results will be better.

Besides, everyone wears a dew rag or a ball cap, and I just want to be different. No offense to either party meant.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 4064 days

#3 posted 08-21-2010 10:15 PM

Gotcha’ on the hat thing. Your stuff is always cool, the little things count….............

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View Karson's profile


35207 posts in 4937 days

#4 posted 08-21-2010 10:18 PM

Mark: A nice job on the hat rack

I’m coming to KC on Labor day weekend and will stay for 10 days. I don’t know what my schedule is going to be like but what is your schedule.

David is coming with me.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3555 days

#5 posted 08-21-2010 10:35 PM

I don’t wear hats except when I’m welding or fishing but I can appreciate the thought and effort that went into your project and I do know some hats go for thousands. Those hats need protections. To keep dust off, slip a clear plastic bag over it? Tacky? Yes, but it works!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3840 days

#6 posted 08-21-2010 10:57 PM

this is a great idea mark..realy enjoyed the whole article…i think this could have been a totaly success if you would have modles each hat..just so we could see how wonderful you look besides the dew rag…ive modeled things on jocks before and got raving reviews

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4516 days

#7 posted 08-22-2010 12:15 AM

Nice job Mark.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 3547 days

#8 posted 08-22-2010 01:35 AM

A great idea, just wish I had thought about it before my Upper Downer shrank on me years ago. A great project and a great collection of hats!

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4499 days

#9 posted 08-25-2010 01:13 AM

Mark, I think you are becoming the hat maker’s wood worker!! Great work!!

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3840 days

#10 posted 08-25-2010 04:33 AM

thos…when are we going to see a woodenmasterpiece from you again…get on over to todds shop and to a collaboration…...something that would make our eyes just cry…......its doable…....come on….tell me you will…grizzman

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View abbydoodle's profile


1 post in 3351 days

#11 posted 09-12-2010 03:59 AM

So, I am new to this site as I entered hat rack into a search engine and found this project. Do you ever make them in order to sell?

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