Introduction: Crutch Hat Rack

About: Furniture hacker. Author of Guerilla Furniture Design, out now. Find me on Twitter and Instagram @objectguerilla.

Crutches are one of those things with one definable use that lasts a limited amount of time; after that, they sit in basements and attics and thrift stores waiting for someone else to break some bones. In and of themselves, they are actually quite beautiful objects with a nice sculptural quality to the bent wood and curved pieces. In an attempt to find new life for some crutches, I made a chair awhile back that can be seen here:

However, that chair didn't make great use of the inherent elements of a crutch; namely, the long, graceful taper and vertical nature of the form. This hat rack is an attempt to make better use of those qualities. It uses three crutches with very little leftover; they cost five dollars at a local flea market. This design could be adapted to metal crutches, but I find the wooden ones to be more beautiful.

I built this in an afternoon with basic hand tools. Depending on whether you want to refinish the wood, it could take a little longer. All in all, it is a quick, easy build.

Step 1: Standin'

Clean your crutches with household cleaners like 409 or Fantastik and some rags to remove basic grime and grit from previous lives. After a primary clean, use some wood polish like Pledge to clean and protect.

Disassemble the crutches completely. Set aside the bolts and fittings. Strip any foam or padding off of the armpit supports. Discard the handles. If you are planning to completely refinish the wood, sand now with 100 grit sandpaper. It is easier to do now, because after assembly, there will be a lot of awkward nooks and crannies that are difficult to get sanded well.

Measure the width of the armpit supports. Cut a piece out of the middle of one of the armpit supports at that length with a handsaw. Line up the pieces at ninety degrees to one another. Sand the finish away where the wood meets to ensure good adhesion. Apply some yellow wood glue and clamp the pieces together. Drill a pilot hole in from what will be the bottom of the stand and screw the pieces together with wood or coarse thread drywall screws.

Finish up by taking one of the "leg" pieces of the crutch (the long bottom piece with all the holes in it) and putting it between the four bent wood pieces. Reuse some of the bolts to attach it as shown; the existing holes can be used for the bolts in one direction, but the other axis will require new ones to be drilled right above or below the others.

Step 2: Base

Once the stand is complete and stable, you can make a base out of the remaining two leg pieces. Much the same as you made the stand by crossing the armpit pieces, make the base by crossing the two leg pieces. Cut one of the leg pieces in half; glue and screw it to the other through the bottom, using a clamp to keep everything aligned.

Line up the two crosses, the base and the stand, and screw together as shown. It should now stand evenly on its own.

Step 3: Hooks

The last step is to add hooks for your hats. Take the armpit support from the third crutch and drill a hole in the center of the underside that is the same diameter as the leg piece that forms the top of the stand. Fill the hole with glue and jam it on. If it doesn't fit tightly, add a screw. For the two other hooks, cut the bottom curved sections off of the remaining crutch and screw them onto the upright piece of the stand at ninety degrees to the armpit piece.

Toss some hats on there and pat yourself on the back . . . .