I work from a home office situated in a carpeted room, where I sit for hours at a time next to a computer screen.
To protect the flooring and provide a smooth rolling surface, I acquired a plastic chair mat from an office store.
However, I soon found that I was extremely unsatisfied with the performance of my new chair mat. Despite buying a thicker version, my chair wheels still rested in "divots" in the mat. In the chair mat's defense, I am on the "huggable" side at 240-ish . . . But nonetheless, sitting in divots defeats one of the main benefits of the mat in the first place--the ability to roll and move the chair freely.
Also, my work table is about 6 feet long. My computer sits on one half of the table and the other half is left open for other tasks. This plastic mat wasn't big enough to allow me to roll my chair to the other side when working on non-computer things.
After a bit of searching I found that you can in fact purchase longer, thicker and more heavy-duty chair mats that would meet the needs I was trying to fill. These bamboo ones look like an excellent choice, but they are not cheap.
With that in mind, I decided to make my own. All said, I spent less than $75 USD on this mat and am perfectly happy with its performance. It is made from laminate flooring, particle board, and a bit of wood trim, all of which is available from any home improvement store.
If you find yourself in a similar predicament and don't want to shell out big bucks, here's how to make your own wooden chair mat. Thanks for taking a look!
The cheapest box of laminate flooring I could find was about $30 USD. One box covers an area roughly 4 feet by 5.5 feet, which is perfect in front of my 6-foot work table. A smaller mat can be made by simply not using all of the boards from the box.
For this use, the cheapest laminate is the best choice not only for price, but because it is perfectly smooth. The more expensive laminate flooring styles have slight waves, gouges and mars to imitate real wood. That looks nice in a dining area, but is the opposite of what a person would want in this application.
The boards are made with a tongue-and-groove system that allows them to snap together along both the longer sides, as well as the narrow ends. Both the tongue side and the groove side have portions that extend out past the upper finished surface of the board, which are generally hidden once the boards are installed. (The groove side has a 1/2" tab that extends out from the bottom of the board that locks onto the bottom of the tongue side of the opposing board.)
For this use, however, these extending portions must be removed from any areas that will become the perimeter of the assembled mat.
I began by trimming away the bits from the narrow ends of all boards using a cross-cut sled on my table saw.
Then, along the lengths of two boards I trimmed away the tongue from one board, and the locking tab below the groove from the other. These two boards will be the end pieces on the right and left sides of the assembled mat.
See photo notes for additional details.