Crafting a Leather Desk Pad with Integrated PowerPlay

Recently, I’ve been looking at adding a desk pad to my desk to protect the wood. One of my requirements was that I wanted genuine leather, not the PU crap or other synthetic materials that many sellers on Amazon try to pawn off as leather. Wading through the seemingly endless list of junk, I did find quite a few listings that claimed to be real leather. The next part was trying to find one that was the size that I needed. I wanted something at least 36in (914mm) x 13in (330mm). That narrowed down the pickings, but also upped the price with most units coming in at $80 or more. I thought to myself, I can make this cheaper. So I did… Sorta.

The starting point

The Requirements

Just like any proper project, I started out forming a list of requirements. If I was going to go the custom route, it had betted damn well check all of my boxes.

  • 14in (355mm) x 40in (1016mm)
  • Top Grain or Full Grain Leather (Black or Brown)
  • Integrated PowerPlay

The Supplies

Thankfully, the supplies list for this is pretty short. I just needed some leather, some foam backing, and something to glue the two together with. For the leather, I opted for a side of chrome tanned, black stoned oil finish leather from Tandy Leather. This ran me $150. Yes, it was more expensive than buying a desk pad off of Amazon, but I can get up to 4 desk pads out of one side and still have some leftover. My side came in right at 19sqft, which makes it about $7.90/sqft. At that price, it puts the cost of my pad at $30.63. Not bad. Next was the backing. Since I was going to be putting this on top of my PowerPlay pad, I needed something under the leather to keep things level. I didn’t want a bump or indication of where the charging pad was. First step was to measure the thickness of the charging pad. According to my calipers, it came in at 2.3mm. I opted to go with some 2mm thick EVA foam. My local craft store (Michaels) had a roll of 36″x60″ for $9. Close enough. I also needed a way to adhere the two together. Looking through their glue, my options were limited for something that indicated that it bonded leather and foam. I ended up going with Gorilla Spray Adhesive for $13 as it indicated on the label that it could bond both materials.

The Build

I started by laying out the leather and making my cut lines. I used a long level and framing square to make sure I was cutting a proper rectangle as opposed to a rhombus or un-named yet to be discovered shape.

A 14″ x 36″ leather rectangle.

I used an X-Acto knife and put a cutting board beneath the leather while making the cuts. I cut from the top side of the leather to ensure that I had a nice clean edge (and it’s easier to mark). Next, I rolled out the foam and placed the leather on top to begin marking stuff out and ensure I had a decent margin.

I left myself 1/2″ on all sides of the leather and marked the position on the foam with a sharpie.
Next, I placed the charging pad to make sure it was positioned where I wanted it. I wanted it to be 1/2″ from the bottom, and 1/2″ from the right side of my pad. Above, you can see that there is more than 1/2″ because I also have a 1/2″ margin around where the edge of the leather will be.
At the top of the PowerPlay pad is the connector for the USB cable that also houses the LightSpeed dongle. This portion will protrude through the leather. I flipped the pad upside down and traced the hosing portion and cut it out.
I wanted to mask off the underside of the leather that would come into contact with the PowerPlay pad as I wanted it to sit on top of it, not be permanently bonded to it. I cut out a couple piece of paper to mask this off.
I covered a table outside with plastic and sprayed both pieces with the Gorilla Glue. There was a bit of a breeze, so I weighed down the paper mask using some quality weights.
With some help from my daughter, I laid the leather onto the foam while being careful to ensure that my cutouts lined up where they should have. I used a rubber J Roller to make sure that the leather was completely bonded to the foam.
Success. The desk is adequately covered, and the mouse charges through the leather just fine.

Conclusion

If you consider only the amount of materials that I used to make this, the build cost comes in at about $40. Not bad at all. Timewise, it was a rather light project taking about an hour to craft, most of which was planning out cuts and such before actually cutting. You may notice that there are a few wrinkles in the above photo. These will smooth out over time, and after setting a hot cup of coffee on the left side this morning, it is pretty much completely flat. I have to say, I’m pretty happy with the result.

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