We've all got a cowboy hat and none of us know what to do with it once we get in the truck. It sucks. You throw it on the seat and somebody sits on it. You plop it on the headrest but it falls on the floor. The hat's always in the way and always in mortal danger.
Of course, we could go down to the nearest Western wear store and pick up a device that is specifically designed to solve this problem. I would argue against that for several reasons. First, it'll run you about $20. Second, it is akin to a spring-loaded bear trap that you're expected to screw into your truck's cardboard headliner. I would give these things about a week before they tore a chunk of your truck's ceiling out. Third, they press the brim of your hat into the ceiling. This is fine as long as no part of your brim rides lower than the sweatband of your hat. If your brim dips down, like mine does, using such a hat rack will misshape the hat.
To save money, the planet, and my hat brim, I designed a holder using an old aluminum tennis racket.
Step 1: Raw Materials
If you recall my earlier instructable, where we built a locking console, you know about the locking bar made of galvanized C-channel. You can see in the picture here where we left a bit sticking out to the rear. This was partly because I was already planning the current instructable and partly because I didn't want to cut it down at the time. It was hot.
Next, I went to Goodwill and got an aluminum junior tennis racket (or is it raquet?) for $3.99. I almost got a wooden one, which would have looked vintage and, arguably, cooler. However, as you'll see in steps to come, aluminum has its advantages.
Step 2: Off With Your Knob!
The only saw I could find was a crappy little coping saw, but this worked just fine for sawing off the knob-like swell at the end of the handle. I could see in the cross-section that some kind of plastic had been molded around the aluminum skeleton in order to create le raquette's grip. Discard with the bulbous base.
Step 3: Start Smashing!
Lay your racket's sawed-off handle on something hard and flat, like a brick. Now start whacking it with a hammer. The goal is to reshape the end of the handle so that it will slide into the end of the C-channel. You can see in the photos how my initial whacking dislodged the plastic filler, which is fine. In the second photo, you can see how I reshaped the handle. Note that it doesn't step down immediately from old-height to new-height. Rather, I tapered the handle so that it could be rammed into the C-channel in order to make it stay put.
Go kind of slow with this stage. If you just go to town on aluminum, it can fatigue and crack, which you don't want. You also don't want to get carried away and make the handle so thin that it simply falls out of the C-channel.
Step 4: Bend It Like Beckham!
I was still feeling destructive, so I used my superior strength to give the racket a slight bend.
Step 5: No Strings Attached
Now get some side-cutters, tin snips, nail clippers, scissors, or machete. Remove the string from the racket by first transforming it into stringS (plural).
Step 6: Now There's Something to Hang Your Hat On!
Now shove the reshaped racket handle into the back of the C-channel with the racket's new-found curvature pointing upward (or is it "upwards"?). Voila, you're done. Now your hat can ride in style, protected from bent brims, floor grime, and passenger rumps. Your headliner will thank you too.
I'm thinking of how to spruce this up a little. I was leaning toward black, rubberized engine spray paint, which gives a Rhino-Lining or Line-X appearance, but it gets hot here and I'd be afraid the paint would get gooey and stick to my hat. Electrical tape? Para-cord? I don't know. Something will come to mind.