Bench mats, while not necessarily an essential tool, are a worthy investment for a few reasons.
First, they offer protection to the parts you are working on by providing a surface with a little give and no abrasions that could cause damage. Second, they will ideally be a light colour, which will be easier on the eye and make seeing/finding smaller parts easier. They are usually pale green and made from rubber-coated foam.
Very early on in my watchmaking journey, I researched and purchased the Bergeon 6808-V bench mat, which seemed to be fairly standard. Although this is still something I use regularly, I would perhaps make a different choice if I knew then what I know now. What I didn’t realise at the time was this model has a self-adhesive backing which didn’t really suit my needs, as I’ve moved desks a few times. So I’ve left the adhesive cover in place and had to add a little blu tack in each corner to stop it slipping around everywhere. It’s also quite expensive when you take into consideration how thin and small it is – 32 x 24cm.
You could in theory use any plastic anti-static/rubber mat and cut it to suit your needs, which is likely to be much more durable and better value. In this case make sure you go for a light colour and take into consideration that something made of rubber will likely allow dropped parts to bounce away into oblivion.
I also use my mat for zoning purposes, so only what I am working on at that time should be on the mat.
- Basic Variety = from £4
- Branded Variety = from £15
I would source a large piece of plastic with a little give and then cut this to the right size and shape to suit your desk. The minimum size you should go for is 32 x 24cm.
If you think I’ve missed anything or have anything to add, please comment below.