A fun project: Hardwood chair mat

I’ve had one of those really serviceable plastic mats for my office desk chair for years, and was never really happy with it. It looks like a plastic mat, it grows dents after a few minutes with the chair in the same place, etc (the same reasons you don’t like yours).

Fortuitously, my sister in law is in the flooring biz, had some discontinued engineered hardwood samples to get rid of, and the light came on in my head: make my own chair mat!

Procrastination followed, but here’s how I did it:

  • measured the size it needs to be
  • got Home Depot to cut down my 3/4 inch 4×8 plywood to my needed 4×5 (they have a nice rip saw)
  • bought trim to finish the outer edges (doesn’t match perfectly but is close)
  • got some PL premium decking and flooring glue, and some Elmer’s Wood glue

I took all this home, put the bare plywood on sawhorses, laid out the flooring to make sure it’d fit (and wouldn’t have a noticeable pattern). I probably did this wrong (but it worked out) and attached the edging first, then started putting on the flooring, gluing the planks to the plywood with the PL, gluing the tongue and groove with the Elmers’ (and stapling every row down with an air-nailer and 3/4 inch brads on an angle, hidden). Yes, it’s probably over-secured, but I’ve never built a floor before.

When all was done, I flipped it over (the eye-rolling teen helped here) and the hanging-over bits were trimmed off with a circular saw.


a nice hardwood chair mat

It’s sturdy, not bad looking, and much better than the plastic.

The thing I didn’t think would matter (it does) is that the floor is now 1 1/4 inches higher relative to the desk, so now I need to raise the rest of the desk about that much (probably really only an inch would be fine) so my legs fit under the keyboard tray better.

I figure I’ll get around to raising the desk in another 5 years; sooner if I get tired of taking off my shoes when I sit down.