How to Make your own Close-up Card Mat + Benefits!

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Nov 18, 2012
20
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Hiya guys,

As mentioned in a previous forum post, I wanted to make my own card mat, and therefore also decided to make a tutorial on how to make one, in case anybody else was interested in making their own instead of buying one.
Also, as a note, please leave me notes with what else you would like to see in the tutorial, and I will keep editing this post until it is the best it can be.

Now, if you just want to move on to the tutorial, just scroll down, but I also wanted to talk about the Pro's and Con's of making one yourself:

Pro's
- Cheaper than store bought.
- Can be made custom (size, color, material).
- Is more rewarding and personal than just buying a card mat.
- If made correctly, last longer than store bought.

Con's
- You can get hurt if careless.
- This design doesn't allow mat to be folded.
- Takes time to make.

You may wonder just how much money it costs to make your own mat. Well, to buy all of the materials AND tools, it took a bit over $35. And with those $35 you can make 2 32'' x 20'' mats, and 2 30'' x 28''.

That's pretty freakin' awesome in my personal opinion.

The reason you can make so many mats, is because the hardware and fabric store that I bought the materials from sold fabric that was at least 1 meter in length, and the plywood sheet was 1.5 x 1.5 meters.

As of yet I have only made one 32'' x 20'' mat, and it is my first card mat, so I don't exactly have too much to compare it to, however, it does make ribbon spreads ridiculously easy, and table work (mostly cuts and shuffles) much easier than on a hard surface.

But enough chitter-chatter-talking, let's get to the tutorial!


How to make a card mat:

This is going to show you how to make a mat the same way I did, the dimensions being 32'' x 20'' (or 80cm x 50cm)

Materials:
Materials Used.jpg

-4mm Plywood base 32'' x 20'' (you want this the size of your card mat to act as the backing).
-2 Plywood planks 32'' x 2'' (you want these to run along the edges at the bottom of the mat to cover up the fabric).
-2 Plywood planks 16'' x 2'' (these are running along the other 2 edges).
-Polyester batting 32'' x 20''.
-Synthetic suede 33.5'' x 21.5''.

Tools:
Tools list.jpg

-Industrial/vertical stapler.
-Regular Stapler.
-Glue gun.
-PVA glue.
-Exacto knife (or box cutter).
-Scissors.
-Sandpaper.

Start:

1) Either when buying the plywood, or once home, cut it into the size that you need (in this case 32'' x 20'' + the planks to go around the edges)

2) Get your sandpaper and start sanding.
NOTE: you only need to sand the edges of the planks and one side, since the other is going to be attached to the main board. Same thing goes for the board, since one side is going to be covered by fabric, there's no reason to sand it.

3) Cover you big board with PVA glue (generic liquid glue), and spread it around with a brush or a piece of newspaper.
NOTE: be sure to cover the working surface with newspaper, as you don't want it to stick to your working surface. Same thing with sanding and getting sawdust everywhere.
Gluing the board.jpg

4) Get your polyester batting, and place it on the glue covered board (1 layer of the fabric should do, but that depends on what kind you got, and how soft you want your mat to be). Now cut around the board to make sure the batting fits the board perfectly.
covering with batting.jpg

5) Now flip that, put it on a clean surface, and weigh it down with your favorite magic books to let it compress a bit.

6) Once that is done, cut out the amount of fabric that you need. This is what's going on top of your mat. I chose synthetic suede, which feels a bit like the top of a pool table, except really thin, and a lot cheaper.

7) Now stretch the fabric around all the edges, and hold it in place with some staples.
Stapling the fabric.jpg

8) Now, to cover that fabric at the bottom. Take your boards (if you're making it in the same dimensions as myself, they should be 32'' x 2'' and 16'' x 2''), and use your vertical stapler to attach the planks to the board.
NOTE: Make sure the staples are no more that 8 mm deep, since the thickness of the plywood is 4 mm, and you don't want the staples to stick out on the other side.
stapling the boards.jpg

9) You're almost done! All that's left to do is attach the rubber corners, to keep the mat from sliding around on your table. Just cut out 2 squares, and cut them with a box cutter across the middle to make 4 triangles. Now use your glue gun to attach them to each corner.
rubber feet.jpg

10) And that's it!
final mat.jpg


Now, if you have any questions, or feel like this tutorial is missing something, don't hesitate to let me know!
I will most likely EDIT it after a week or so, and try to make it as good as possible.
For now I hope you enjoyed that, and hope you have a nice day!

CYA.
 
Aug 31, 2012
15
1
Exeter, UK
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: RickyA
Nov 18, 2012
20
4
That's a pretty good idea :D. I also love the pattern on the fabric that you used, really makes it stand out!
 
Nov 18, 2012
20
4
quite classy, and you can make your own by purchasing a sheet of leather, velvet, something cheap between them to give it shape, and a lot of glue!
 

RickEverhart

forum moderator / t11
Moderator
Sep 14, 2008
3,655
465
43
Louisville, OH
As Draven, said...that was mighty nice of you to post your instructions. Well done. I have a funny close up pad story to share.
This was about 4 or 5 years ago and I purchased a nice brand new blue close up pad for about $30 or so. I had a formal gig in a clients home for a group of guests. It was a parlor style show with everyone seated out in front of me while I was standing with a table and close up pad. I opened up with Kostya Kimlat's Warning effect which uses the flash label off of a bic lighter. I light the flash label and toss it up into the air and failed to time it correctly as it came down smack in the center of my less than 5 hour old close up pad and made a big burnt singe mark. Yikeeeeeeees....and thus my show started. Needless to say I was mumbling a few choice words in my head as I proceeded to go into my next effect. The guests were all like, "OH man, you just burnt your table top." I was like, "Oh...its fine...no big deal..." Ha Ha.
 
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Reactions: GavHern
Sep 26, 2007
592
5
Tokyo, Japan
Question for all you homemade close-up pad craftsman. Are the pads you create one-way pads or can coins slide smoothly in all directions? One of the biggest draw backs of getting the lower end close-up pads is that the are all one-way pads and not ideal for coin matrix work.
 
Nov 18, 2012
20
4
this all depends from the fabric that you choose to cover the top with. When buying the fabric, just run your hand along the top of it to see whether it feels rougher in one directions, or if it's all the same. The fabric I used, for example, makes for a two way mat.
 

GavHern

Elite Member
Nov 24, 2015
41
3
Thanks a lot! I am building my own table top and was searching for the right padding. :)
I did have a hard time finding cheap padding (Also I couldent help but to notice that you posted this on my birthday)
 
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