Well, maybe I´m a little picky regarding the surface to mouse around on, but I´m surely not the only one on this planet.
My mouse preferences are normally set to "relatively high speed" so I can reach everything on a dual 24" monitor setup with only a little movement of my wrist for efficiency, but I also do sensitive work.
At home I can switch DPI settings with one click (theoretically), but I don´t really like it (as it´s confusing me sometimes) and at work I´m not able to do so anyway. The bare desktop surface is fine for high speed, but bad for accurate work due to it´s "stick´n´slip" tendencies. "Old school" mousepads with textile surface work fine, but are too bulky (height) and too small (surface area).
So I made a custom mousepad out of adhesive tape for airtightness layers and a sheet of cardboard (I used the back of a college block) a while ago. The textile(ish) surface of the adhesive tape seemed to have just the right amount of friction for sensitive mouse movements for gaming or using CAD or DTP programs. The resulting mousepad was very thin (less than 1.5 mm, almost perfect) and about A4 size so a little bigger than average mousepads.
It happened to work like a charm, the only problem was that it slipped around on my desktop a little. Tried to fix that with "fixogum", a glue wich stays a little sticky once dried, but not sticky enough to permanently adhere to the surface its placed on. Maybe kinda like a post-it note. Basically this solution also worked fine, but the fixogum traces tended to collect all kinds of gunk from the desktop surface and form little knots from that. You don´t want a ultrathin mousepad with irregular bumps beneath it.
So I decided to give my now favourite mousepad a proper anti-slip layer made out of bicycle innertube sections. I´m using this mousepad for about three month now and I´m pretty satisfied. Also made a second one for work.
It´s just 2 mm thin, so no strain on my wrist or bulky-foamy annoying things on my desktop anymore. It´s slip-proof due to it´s weight (~120 g/A4 size) and the rubber underside. Easily to store away if not in heavy use and you prefer a clean desktop for certain situations, too.
You can easily make custom sizes and shapes and with a custom surface which has that "just-right" friction for your needs. Instead of my cardboard and textile adhesive tape solution you might use as well a sheet of thin plastic, double sided tape and some sheet of fabric or maybe even veneer as a surface, if you prefer low-friction.
Be creative ;) This `ible only covers the lamination process of the rubber non-slip underside.
Step 1: Materials N Tools:
- pre-made custom mousepad (see above)
- contact glue which is suitable for rubber (I used Pattex)
- bicycle inner tube(s) preferably with large diameter
- screw clamps
- flat surface
- board or plank for compressing
- spreading knife, old creditcard or little sheet of plastic for spreading the glue and applying the rubbersheets evenly without air bubbles
Step 2: Cutting and Preparing Inner Tubes
Cut inner tube sections a little longer than the width of your mouse pad, cut as many as are needed to cover the whole surface.
Cut them open lengthwise, try to cut as straight as possible.
Thoroughly wash off the talcum powder from the inside of the bike inner tubes and let them dry afterwards. (Warm water with a little dish washing detergent works fine.)
Step 3: Prepare for Bonding
Cover the inside of the inner tubes with a thin(!) and even layer of contact glue. Avoid them rolling up and sticking to itself or another.
Cover the back of your pre-made mousepad as well. Let it all dry for a few minutes until it doesn´t feel sticky anymore.
Step 4: Applying the Rubber Layer
Now apply the rubber sheets to the mousepad. Align them in a way which makes sure to leave a little offcut area, about 1/4 inch.
Start sweeping with gentle pressure from the middle to the outer edges with a spreading knife or sheet of plastic. This will avoid air bubbles between the rubber layer and the pad. See picture.
Align the edge of the second (third, fourth,...) sheet of rubber and apply as described before until you´ve covered the complete surface.
Step 5: Generous Trimming of Excess Material
Generously cut off excess rubber, but make sure to leave a little offcut area for the final four-side-trim.
Step 6: Apply Some Pressure
Here comes the important part; applying pressure.
The degree of firmness and durability of bondings with contact glues directly corresponds to the amount of pressure applied, not the duration of pressure or amount of glue applied.
Place your mousepad blank on a flat surface and use a board or plank to cover different sections of it. Use screw clamps to apply even pressure. Tigthen as firmly as you can, but only as firm as you are able to loosen again ;)
Pay most attention to the sides and edges as those are the areas which are stressed most when in use. I recommend using a large board for compressing the complete pad first and a narrow plank for treating the sides and edges afterwards. (Smaller area -> more pressure)
Step 7: Quality Management
After compression it should look somehow like depicted above.
If you discover larger air bubbles, you can use a needle or exacto knife to punkture them and your thumbs to squeeze out the air. Compress the area with removed bubbles again afterwards until you are satisfied with the result.
You won´t get rid of the slightly visible glue tracks, but those have no impact on the usability afterwards. You will not notice them from my experiences.
Step 8: Final Cut
Cut off the excess material and you´re done.
Enjoy your homegrown ultrathin custom-surface mousepad, like I still enjoy mine.
For questions & suggestions just leave a comment.
If you like it, please take the 2-10 seconds to vote for it, really appreciated! :)
See next step for some hints on cleaning and improving stickiness.
Step 9: Cleaning and Maximizing Non-slip Ability
Pour some (cleaning) petrol / lighter fluid on a cloth and gently rub the rubber surface with it.
This will remove dust, greases etc. and will also react with the rubber surface to make it super-anti-slippy almost like gecco feet.
Used this on my mousepads and an USB-Hub wich I equipped with a rubber base and which has literally no weight.
If you now try to move them horizontally, they stick in place on my desktop like they were glued to it, but don´t stick at all if you lift them up.
Just try, you will be amazed ;)
(Image credits: Author "Spidergecko", via wikimedia commons, CC-licensed)