Hillbilly Hat Rack: Bullets


Often an object carries more meaning than merely taking up space. I think this is why we get sentimental about the things that belonged to other family members or the things that we make. It’s often not about the object at all but about all the implications of the object—the intangibles that we cannot put a price on.

For my 36th birthday my stepfather gave me a rifle. But it wasn’t just any rifle. Sure, you could go out and purchase one exactly like it for yourself, but what makes this one different is the relationship. My stepfather never had any children of his own and when he married my mother, he also got a son and two grandsons. In a lot of ways, even though I am an adult, we have relived many of the moments that a father has with a son. This wasn’t a gun at all—it was a rite of passage; his way of recognizing that I am a man.


When I started making this hat rack, I knew that I had to incorporate that sentiment into the project. I started by scaling up the 35 Remington cartridge that the rifle is chambered for (he also loads his own ammunition). This would determine the size of the rest of the cabinet.

The glue up

If I were being picky instead of using reclaimed material, I would have chosen some solid rift sawn material for the legs. Most of this was plain sawn with distinct cathedral grain. I tried to make sure it pointed toward the top of the “bullet.”

Getting everything round
Taking shape. Probably one of the easiest shapes I’ve ever turned other than a rolling pin. 

I wanted the face frame and sides to fit into the “bullet” which meant I needed to cut a groove down two sides at ninety degree angles to each other. I probably could have made something to fit the lathe to accomplish this, but it was just as easy to build a box to use as a router jig.


To get the grooves ninety degrees to each other I fastened a piece inside the box that would fit the first groove. Since this piece was ninety degrees to the top I knew the two grooves would be ninety degrees as well.


Here you can see my clamping method to keep the turning from rotating while routing and the two screws to keep it centered. 

Once both “bullets” were made the rest was just building a box. But the hope is that once this is complete it will be more than a box taking up space.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Joe says:

    Looking forward to this. A 35 Rem is a great cartridge. You either were given a lever action rifle or a really old and nice semi auto hunting rifle. It was this semi auto hunting rifle (designed by John Moses Browning) that the cartridge was originally designed for but oddly enough the cartridge lives on in lever action rifles. Oh, I like woodworking as well. I think you can guess my two main hobbies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eric Key says:

    You nailed it. Mine is a lever action. It’s a fantastic gun and legal to hunt with in Indiana after shaving the casings down a little.


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