Steampunk Wood Burned Hat Rack

This is going to be my year for organization. It's going to be my family's year for organization too, if I have to drag them kicking and screaming through it. I love them to death, each and every one of them, but they are all a bunch of pack rats. I try to convince them to throw out one item and they act like I suggested throwing a pack of puppies in the dumpster, I swear. And yet I resist the urge to ninja -purge, as my kids are getting older and should have a say in what possessions have value to them. I am slowly succeeding though, with the donation box I keep in a corner to fill. The idea of their unwanted or unneeded possessions becoming beloved treasure to someone else is appealing to them, so we are making progress. S-L-O-W-L-Y.

Lately I have big plans for our bedroom closet. It's a basic closet with sliding doors, typical of cookie-cutter apartments. I am planning a blog post later of how I am getting it organized and maximizing storage without spending a small fortune and / or destroying any chance of getting back a security deposit for renters like us.

One of my problems were Michael's hats. They are everywhere. On the bookcase, on top of the dresser, somehow one ended up in my underwear drawer. I needed a way to keep them organized and a designated spot to keep them without taking up a lot of space since in our three bedroom apartment storage is at a premium, and of course on a budget. I came up with...
I love it. I can hang it on the inside wall of the closet, I can add to it as his hat collection grows, & I had most of the items needed for this project already.


1x4 trimmed to 22 inches

Wooden dowel, 3/4 inch

Minwax Wood Stain, Special Walnut

Minwax Polycrylic

Acrylic paint

Set of curtain clips

Cup hooks

Wood burner

I decided to use a wood burner with this project. I love the look and so does Michael, which was something to keep in mind. The bedroom is a space for both you and your significant other and the decor should reflect both of your tastes. So I sketched out this idea, a little steampunk with the Day of the Dead skull, which he loves.
I took yet another plank from my horde of IKEA Malm bed slats (which is really a 1x4) and trimmed it up to 22 inches. I also grabbed this wooden dowel that was from a DVD holder someone gave us that I dismantled for parts. If you don't have something similar a 3/4 inch dowel from the craft store will work great and is pretty affordable. I trimmed up the dowel to the same length, then sanded both pieces down, painted the dowel black with acrylic paint and set it aside to dry. I then transferred my sketch on to the 14 by rubbing a pencil all over the back of my drawing, laying it over the wood, and tracing the lines with a stylus or pencil. If you are new to wood burning (or pyrography) or not very confident in your free hand (like me) I would recommend this. This was my first time wood burning since I was a girl scout, so I thought I would pass along some pointers that I muddled out. The wood burner that I picked up is a basic craft burner that came with 4 different tips. I recommend that before you start on your piece you take a piece of scrap wood and test out each tip and get a feel for it. I was surprised at how much the tips would catch on the wood grain, so this was very helpful to me in figuring out how slow to go, how much pressure to use, and what tip I thought would work best for me. In fact, each time I changed tips or took a break, I would run a couple lines and swirls on my practice block when I came back to reacquaint myself with the feel for it since I was a newbie. Also, don't be afraid to make a mistake. Most of my lines aren't perfect, but that's part of the craft. And if you are really don't like it, you don't have to live with it. I began burning in the upper left corner and after a bit I wasn't happy with it at all, so I hit it with the sander and erased it and started again.
So after I finished burning my design, I decided to stain the plank, but I wanted some parts to stand out. So I decided to apply the stain with a brush, leaving the cogs and skull unstained, then carefully busted out with a rag. The channels made from the wood burner helped keep the stain from spreading where I didn't want it to go.

After the stain had dried, I liked it, but it was still missing something. So I watered down some acrylic paint and added a little color to the leaves, around the eyes, and of course his top hat. (You know, cuz he is a sophisticated little French skull, with that curly mustache and dashing top hat). You don't have to water down the paint to apply it, I decided to because I wanted the wood grain to still show through. After the paint dried I added two coats of polycrylic to protect it.
After everything was dry, I screwed in 2 cup hooks into the bottom, about 3 inches in on each side. I slid on the curtain clips onto the dowel and slid the dowel through the hooks. I lucked out with these curtain clips too. I was going to pick them up at Wal Mart, where they are around $6 - $8 for a set. But first I swung into my local Goodwill to check for any furniture suitable for a makeover, and guess what I found? They had about 10 sets of these curtain clips, each set $1.99. Score! It's something to check in your area if you are collecting supplies for a similar project.
I am super happy with this hat rack. Michael really likes the design- it works for both our style aesthetics, I can hang up all his hats without taking up valuable closet space, I can add hooks to it as needed, and it was a very inexpensive project. A win win win win! My boys each want one of their own now, a pokemon theme in a fishing theme, respectively. And I'm really digging the fact that it's one more small step towards getting us organized. Only 1,247,384 more steps to go!



Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Lockep88 Lockep88 on Feb 21, 2016
    I am not getting the curtain clips?!? Are they circular rings w/ the hanging clips? Is that what you found at the Goodwill store? I don't think I have seen these before. Maybe it's the angle of the photo could you please maybe take a photo of what a set looks like? Love your project I too have a hat problem... Was going to toss out several dozen hats I never wear.

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  • Sylvia Stallings Sylvia Stallings on Feb 22, 2016
    Love your idea and the outcome. Beautiful work! This would also work well with ever-popular neck scarves, too. I have a question about the wood burner. I got rid of the one I had because it was TOO hot to handle - even though it had a layer of cork around the grip. It that a common problem or was it just the one I had. If so, any work-arounds to help deal with it? Thanks for posting your ideas.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sylvia Stallings Sylvia Stallings on Feb 23, 2016
      @Caroline Thanks for your reply. It does help a lot. I'll be looking at this tool with a new eye now. :~)

  • Marc Erick Marc Erick on Aug 19, 2018

    This is fantastic! Love It! Will definitely be making one!!😊🖒🖒