Maker challenge Monday - how would you create a derby hat for a truck - asking for a friend


Welcome to a new fun and exciting thing I’ve decided to call maker challenge Monday. Every Monday everyone gets to put wild ideas up and see how others would solve it. Ya I just came up with this while I was brushing my teeth.

I present to you this challenge.

I would like to create a massive derby hat for my truck for a parade in October.
How would YOU do it?

Considerations: must be able to last long enough for a parade - bonus points for it to last one year, will be painted, an actual 3D derby hat, consider the problem to be solved with the budget of a teacher, must be movable for one human, must be a dapper looking hat - my truck doesn’t just wear any hat.

Ready set go.





How big around are we talking?


Great question!
I would say the diameter of the hat interior would be around 5.5’ to make it seem as if the truck were wearing the hat - windshield would be eyes yadda yadda.

I’m giving up on my angler fish truck and moving onto something else more feasible.



Former DMS truck



This is a tough item.

I would go classic. Chicken wire mesh is a good start. Paper mache and black paint. Or a roll of black paper. DMS still has lots.

I would build the internal structure to match your car’s exterior so the hat “sits” correctly and securely on the car roof. You also need tie downs to get it between your house and the parade. Having a large chicken wire sculpture scrap down the good of your car would be a buzz kill.

Think about padding as it sits on your car too.

I have a small bit of help to offer. I have acquired a large quantity of dead tape measures. They might be really good for a light internal structure. Worth testing. How many do you want?


You said derby hat, and I envisioned this:



OMG enough to cover a wall??? OHHHHHHHHHHH seriously that could be fun!


How did you get that picture of me?
I should have said bowler hat right -


Plus This


Give me time. Yes.

I probably have 20 currently.

I am thinking about a 10x10 with them too.


Omg yes that sounds fantastic


How many do you want or how many feet? There are different lengths.


Heck I have no idea. Whatever you’re willing to spare I suppose.


You could design the bowler in a 3D CAD program (or find such a model - then “unfold” it using Pepakura. Paul W (@Hardsuit) might be able to help - he used a similar technique on is original (and excellent) Tachikoma R/C robot.

Once unfolded, you could scale as needed and cut the parts out of 1/4" plywood on the laser. Glue them together with Tightbond II wood glue (perhaps holding them in place with wire or ZipTies slipped through holes as the pieces dried). Once dry, you could leave flat for a low-poly look, or coat with Bondo and sand (and sand, and sand) until rounded and smooth. If you went low-poly, putting some fiberglass mesh/epoxy on the insides of the joints would strengthen it quite a bit without adding a LOT of weight.

A ring of pool noodles around the underside of the bowler’s brim would protect the paint on the roof of the truck. They are available this time of year for $1 each at DollarTree (but very seasonal availability).


I’d second the pepakura / mesh epoxy technique. It works really well, even on big items


Could also use Great Stuff expanding foam to build the structure over wire or pepakura skeleton. It’s easy to shape with a machete, or rasps, or a Surform plane. Shop-vac required for this step :smiley:


I would think that paper mache would be a bit fragile at those sizes. And using fiber and epoxy for something that size would probably be expensive (if you have experience with this medium and i’m wrong, let me know). My go to for this would be cardboard; maybe make a light internal frame from 1/4" plywood to help attach to the truck roof. You could go with the black paper route, or if the black paper route is unavailable for some reason, paint (both the brushed and spray kind) work wonders.


I have several ideas on the pepakura techniques that I could use, just need some time to hash out specifics if interested…


IF you made it more “geodesic” you might have an umbrella type unfolding that would be epic.

Ben has made large models from cardboard.

Laser cut panels. Plan the pieces and the combining puzzle. Light weight and relatively inexpensive. Some labor to figure the cuts. Some painting.

Would you want to felt the outside or just use black paint? Paint is far easier.

Great conversation.