Back in 2003 I purchased a product made of recycled rubber tires and cut it to fit inside my Jeep Liberty’s cargo area. It was one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. When Rockler announced their Rockler Rubber Bench Mat I immediately knew that this excellent product had more or less made its way into the world of woodworking shops everywhere. What’s unique about it is the simplicity of design. There’s nothing fancy about it – it’s just rubber, but it’s the perfect texture and protection for any surface. Let’s face it, if your idea of the perfect worktop surface is linoleum, plywood or tile – this is going to revolutionize your life… or at least add a level of convenience and flexibility you hadn’t thought of before.
Rockler Rubber Bench Mat Features
I’d love to wax on about how great the material is made and how it felt like newborn puppy hair in my fingers. Truth is – it’s rubber. Recycled rubber. There just isn’t much to say. If you’ve ever worked with a rubber mat, you’ll appreciate the recycled kind – it’s far easier to cut and it’s easily pliable and shapable to any amorphously diverse application you can think of. In fact, this mat could be easily cut into any hideous shape or around any irregular corner with a simple carpet knife. On top of that we liked the blue overtones that lifted it out of the typical black color associated with rubber. The Recycled Rubber Mat is just 3mm thick – that’s thick enough to be very protective as a surface, and thin enough to be maneuverable and not weigh a ton. The rubber mat I used in my Jeep Liberty was thicker by a millimeter or two, but it also included a bit more air. This mat is more dense – and the entire roll, which measures 24″ x 60″ weighs a considerable amount. That’s actually kind of good since it will withstand more as a result.
Testing and Use
We tested the Rockler Rubber Bench Mat by framing out a work bench with 1×2 material that we mitered to form a central area that we intended to fill with the mat. We elevated the trim to 3mm above the plywood surface to give us the perfect match to the thickness of the Rockler Rubber Bench Mat:
When we were done we’d have a perfectly flat, but well-protected work surface. Here’s what the lower cabinet/bench looked like after we framed out the sides:
Next, we measured the area – which, luckily for us, was a near-perfect rectangle. Marking it, we used a 4-foot level as an edge and ran a Milwaukee Folding Razor Knife along it to make our cut:
Satisfied that our piece was perfectly cut to our specs, we placed the mat, refastened our vice, and added some additional trim pieces to finish everything off nicely. Note that you can add some glue to keep it in place permanently (3M has some excellent products suitable for fastening rubber to wood). Here is what the completed cabinet/workbench looks like:
Overall, this is a very simple, but exceedingly handy product. I could see it being used in a way that allows it to be removable, or permanently installed as we did here. Rockler may really have a popular product here and our only negative was that they didn’t include a backing to be able to declare it water or spill-proof. This would be a nice feature and a definite enhancement to an already excellent product. In terms of Performance, we gave the Rockler Rubber Bench Mat an 8/10 – it’s great, there just isn’t much to it and it’s only available in one size. For Value, we dinged it a little – I mean, it’s just recycled rubber, why is it $40? Still, We feel an average Value rating of 5/10 is more than fair and isn’t going to detract anyone from picking up this excellent product from a company that is continuing to build an excellent reputation for creative and well-thought-out solutions.
Celebrating its 56th anniversary as a family-run business, Rockler Woodworking and Hardware is the nation’s premier supplier of specialty hardware, tools, lumber and other high quality woodworking products. Rockler has 29 retail locations in AZ, CA, CO, GA, IL, IN, MA, MI, MN, MO, NH, NY, OH, OR, PA, TX, WA, and WI – plus 60 independent reseller locations nationwide, as well as extensive catalog and internet operations.