Greet guests with a welcoming rainbow of colors. You can build it using basic tools, inexpensive lumber and common hardware.
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Although mat parts can be prepared using simple tools, you’ll work faster and make fewer mistakes using a drill press to bore the 76 holes. If you don’t have access to a drill press, increase the hole sizes to 3/8" and add washers beneath each nut on the ends. Also, cut extra pieces in case you make mistakes.
Cutting all the parts to identical lengths is essential for this project to go together correctly. To easily cut identical-length parts, mount a stop block on your miter saw or miter box and keep it clear of sawdust.
Cut the 1"x2" boards into 4' pieces for easier handling. Sand the faces and edges of each board with 120-grit sandpaper followed by 180-grit sandpaper. Then cut the boards into 9"-long pieces and sand the ends smooth.
Install a 5/16" bit in a drill press. Mark an edge of one board along its center and 1-1/8" from the end. Use this piece to either set a stop block on a fence attached to the drill press or as a guide to mark the remaining pieces. Place a piece of scrap wood beneath the boards to keep the undersides from tearing out when the bit emerges, and drill holes on both ends of each piece.
Don't have a drill press, but you know someone who does? Ask your friend to make a half-dozen 5/16" diameter holes in a scrap 2"x4". Use the holes as a guide for your handheld drill to start holes through the mat pieces. Once started, the bit will guide itself within the hole. To provide a stable surface for your drilling jig, tape six mat pieces together on edge and drill all of them at once. No friend with the right tool? Saw a notch in a 2"x4" with edges 90 degrees to the surface and use that to guide the bit.
If you decide to paint your mat, first apply a coat of primer and let dry. Lightly sand smooth and apply two coats of paint. If you want the look of natural wood instead, apply at least two coats of a clear outdoor finish, such as a spar or marine varnish. Plan to sand and refinish the wood each year.
Lay out 15 pieces and measure the width of your mat. Then cut the threaded rods about 5/8" longer than the mat width and file the cut end smooth.
Sawing can damage the threads at the cut end, making it hard to attach the stop nuts. As a precaution before cutting and filing, screw a regular 1/4"-20 nut on the rod far enough from the end to clamp the rod for cutting. After cutting and filing the end, reverse the nut direction to remove it. As it passes over the threads at the end, it will straighten any that were pushed out of shape by the saw.
Insert a threaded rod through 15 pieces. Hold the rod steady with pliers while turning a stop nut onto each end to hold the rod in place. Continue adding groups of seven or eight pieces, as shown in the Project Diagram, to lengthen the mat. On the end rows, you'll leave spaces between the mat pieces, so avoid fastening the nuts too tightly.