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Taking you to the mat!

May 23rd, 2009
Semi-close up of mat

Semi-close up of mat

I saw that the good people over at Popular Woodworking took my suggestion to give horse stall mats a try to battle hard-floor fatigue. I think these mats are one of the best secrets out there. I became aware of these back in the day when lifting was the current obsession (there are two laws that govern my life… one, I’m always obsessed with something and two, I will research the subject of that obsession to death). So, deep down in the lifting forums people talked of actually getting gym flooring thicker than a 1/4 inch and costing less than a million dollars a square foot as is the case in any sporting goods store. The stall mats, at 3/4″ thickness, are so far superior in both quality and value it’s not even funny.

You’ll most likely find these mats in tractor/farm supply stores. Expect to call around a bit as these stores may not have an online storefront.  I purchased mine in 2006 for $40/mat from a local Agway. The store owner had a wry smile as she looked me up and down and said “you don’t have horses do you.” I was impressed by her profiling ability and wondered if she had previously served in law enforcement.

I guess I was perhaps a bit luckier than the Popular Woodworking folks as the mats supplied at my Agway were of the non-stinky variety. While all of these mats come from recycled tires, apparently the manufacturing processes vary… some involve adding sulfer while others do not as noted here in the faq of this stall mat manufacter. I have mine inside my home and no aroma issues to mention. So this may be the one thing to be mindful of if you look to purchase.

Getting these mats to their final destination from the store will undoubtedly rank as my greatest achievement in life. My spacious Neon could not accommodate the mats in the flat position so I had to roll them up which is not something they like to do naturally. I expected to have to make two trips but with some manipulation I was able to get all 4 in the car. My car turned into a true low rider with the extra weight.

When I got home I carried all 4 up a flight of stairs to the gym. A hundred pounds and much more awkward than a dead body, each mat was a real test of determination. I then cut them to fit the room. Started with a box cutter and found that a linoleum knife did the best job. You can get one 4’x6′ mat and cut it into pieces for several stationary woodworking machines.

The mats have since been repurposed to my woodworking shop as I sold my power rack which I believe was defective as the weights rarely moved themselves while I watched TV. Using these mats has definitely reduced fatigue and joint discomfort that I used to experience during longer hours on the feet and thus have made woodworking more enjoyable. No more aching feet, knees, and back for me! You don’t have to take my word for it… it seems to be working out for Chris Schwarz and that means go buy it in my book!

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  1. September 12th, 2009 at 21:37 | #1

    Those mats are a heck of an idea! i’ll pass the info around! I’ve suffered for too many years from aching legs. Now that I’m away from concrete floors, my problems have gone.


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