I’ve had some extra time on my hands the past few weeks, as can be said of many of you I’m sure, and I’ve spent it doing some small woodworking projects. I’ve got a pretty limited tool selection in my
workshop college apartment, so I haven’t done anything too crazy, but I thought I’d share this fun Twins-related project I just finished.
The idea was to make something that could be used as a bar rail drip mat, which are usually made of rubber. I wanted to incorporate some baseball cards, covered in a hard, clear coating that could be wiped down (so as to be a functional “mat”). Here’s what I came up with:
1 x sheet of 1⁄4 inch hardboard
1 x 8-foot trim, 1⁄2 inch by 3⁄4 inch
Envirotex Lite Pour-On High Gloss Finish (Epoxy Resin)
9 Baseball Cards
Jigsaw (I recommend using a Miter Saw or Table Saw if you have one)
Dremel Rotary Tool
Four Red Solo Cups (Any plastic containers with measurements on them will do)
1- Pick out your baseball cards and decide what size your mat will be
The most enjoyable step is definitely picking through your old collection and figuring out which cards you want to immortalize on your mat. The standard size for baseball cards since the mid-1950’s has been 2.5” by 3.5”, so keep this in mind as you pick them out and decide on a size. 9 cards conveniently filled out a full lineup and landed right around the size of many of the mats you find on Amazon, so that’s what I settled on. I picked out Twins cards of some of my favorite players from my lifetime, and avoided using two cards of the same design. Here’s what I came up with (and yes, I cheated by putting Mauer at first. Sue me):
2- Measure and cut your wood pieces
Now that you have your size picked out, you can make your measurements and cuts. My baseball cards add up to a length of 22.5 inches and a height of 3.5 inches, but I also used a frame on mine (optional), so I had to figure the width of the frame into my measurements as well. My base piece (the 1⁄4 inch hardboard) would be 24 inches x 5 inches. I decided that I wanted to try to do 45 degree angles at each corner with the frame, so I cut two 24” pieces and two 5” pieces out of my 8-foot piece of trim. I used a compass and ruler to construct the angles on each end of each piece. This was where using a jigsaw really came back to bite me, as I was unable to make the highly accurate cuts needed for nice, flush 45 degree corners. They turned out passable, but not pretty.
3- Seal all wood pieces
Before you glue anything together, you need to seal all of the wood components. By doing this, you protect the wood from any liquids that will be spilled on it in the future. Furthermore, the epoxy resin will work better on sealed wood, because then no air from inside of the wood can leak into the resin and create bubbles. Finally, I picked a sealant that had a nice dark tint for a clean look.
4- Glue the baseball cards on
This is where it starts to get real. I placed two of the frame pieces on the base temporarily to find the starting point for the first card. It is important to measure the distance from the edge of each side of the bottom of the card so that it will appear straight and level. You will want to continue to do this with subsequent cards, keeping it the same as the first card. To glue the cards on, I dumped a bunch of Elmer’s glue in a dixie cup and painted it on to the back of the cards. When placing each card. I’d then make sure to squeeze out any excess and dab it up with a paper towel. After all of the cards are glued on to the board, I then used a mixture of 3 parts glue, 1 part water to paint over the surface of the cards. Using two coats, this protects the cards from discoloration once the epoxy is poured on. You may think, at first, that this harms the appearance of the cards, but you can barely tell once it all dries on unless you look very closely.
5- Glue the frame on
If you are using a frame, this is the time to glue it on. You’ll want to be completely done with any card attachment/protection before placing the frame. Since my cuts were less than ideal, I also used my Dremel tool to do some sanding for fit prior to attaching the pieces. I painted wood glue onto the bottom side of each piece and then attached them. Afterwards, I placed a piece of plywood on top of the project, with some heavy items on top of that. This ensured that the glue would create a solid bond as it dried. Here’s the final construction, prior to epoxy application:
6- Apply the epoxy
This was the most daunting step for me, as I have had very little experience working with epoxy before. I won’t go through all the directions I had to use, since that will be specific for the product you use. The main takeaway here is that it is important to have the mat on a level surface, so that the resin settles evenly. It is also important to follow the directions that come with the epoxy to the letter, as this will ensure that you don’t get a bubbly, cloudy finish.
Once all the epoxy has completely dried, mix yourself up something good, kick up your feet, and catch a Twins replay on FSN.