Custom Chair Mat Questions

Created by Noggin on July 29, 2019, 2:55 p.m.
  • Alright, so bear with me, I'm new to this whole maker thing, but I figured this would be the best place for answers. I recently had to do away with my old plastic chair mat because it had been decimated by years of use on the carpet, I replaced it with some MDF shelves that I cut and sanded to make for a more solid platform, works great but needs improvement.

    So, the next step that I want to take is to customize the mat entirely. I want to keep the cost relatively low, because I'm in university and saving money is the dream, but I'm not against paying for something I need, anyhow, I want to make a chair mat out of an easy to work with material, preferably wood, and I want to carve an image into it and then cover it with a clear and durable sheet. The image would then be lined or back-lit with led strips that can be powered independently or plugged into my PC (as the mat will be for my gaming/editing PC), and the sheet could either be screwed into place or have a frame built around it to hold it together depending on what it is. The questions I have are:

    1. If I use MDF again (a solid sheet this time instead of shelves), would I be able to carve an image into it? Or is there a better material to use for a base?
    2. I am not the most artistic of people and don't have access to chisels (but if I have plans to get a set eventually, so that can happen) so would a dremel work?
    3. What would be the strongest material to cover the wood with? I though about acrylic or another clear plastic sheet of some sort. It has to be able to support at least 200 lbs., since it will have my chair and myself sitting on it for extended periods of time, and I'm thinking about making some for friends if the first mat works out, so a material that holds the most weight possible or comes in varying thicknesses of some kind would be great.
    4. Would there be an ideal way for the led strips to be powered? I imagine not but I was curious about it.

    Like I said, I'm pretty new to all this, however, I always enjoy working with my hands and building things as well as taking things apart to learn how they work and this project is something I really want to have work out, something I can look at and be thoroughly proud of. Thank you in advance for all the help!

  • Sounds cool!

    1/2/3 - MDF should work - it will be nice and smooth and you should be able to carve/route it with a dremel. Maybe look into getting the 'router' attachment for it. I would be careful with how wide the carved gaps are as it will create a weak spot where the plastic topper will be mounted. A somewhat crazy idea may be to carve it then fill/cover the whole thing with epoxy you would use for bars/tables. Something like this:

    I randomly picked one - so do a bit of research on reviews.

    4 - you can get ribbon LEDs that have a remote and just plug into the wall for cheap. May need a bit of soldering skills if you need more than a roll. Something like this:

  • Thanks very much. I never thought of epoxy but there are some very cool things I could do with it so I'll certainly look into it. I did consider the mounting onto the MDF and would ensure that none of the carving I did was too intricate or caused an issue with that, but you've given me some very good places to start, so thank you.