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danebhut 03-23-2012 12:41 PM

Cutting Ballistic Mats
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Does anyone have any experience working with "ballistic mats" ???

I'm doing a project a a gym where a floor surface is assembled by layering a 1.5" "ballistic mat" on a 3/4" plywood base. The idea is to preserve the bumper plates and barbells when large loads are dropped from overhead positions, or a lift is failed. The idea here is to add a couple spots where essentially large rubber bands can be anchored and looped over the ends of he barbell In use to provide graduated resistance the further the barbell is lifted or pushed from the floor. Ideally I'd like to be able to mount recessed D-ring-type anchors (pictured below) into the mat with screws or bolts holding to the plywood under the mat. What should I expect as far as trying to cut or chisel at the mat to make the space for the anchors to sit? The mats, as is my understanding, are designed to stop ammo at perhaps a firing range, and I'm told the screws go in very tight because of the mat's design to counteract the twist of a bullet when it strikes.

Has anyone cut into these? What's been your experience or tools of choice? The idea here is to get the anchors as flush as possible so that when they're. It in use the platform surface is essentially flat. I'd be more than happy to cut out nice squares, replace them with more plywood, secure those, and chisel out the mount spots for the anchors into those.

I have some spare pieces to try things on, but I figured before I start burn out motors and s snapping off bits I'd ask for any insights here first.


AtlanticWBConst. 03-23-2012 12:46 PM

IMHO - It sounds like you may have to send them (likely to the manufacturer) with your diagram and information - for the desired cut locations.

Could be wrong - I don't have much experience with the material/product.

hyunelan2 03-23-2012 02:37 PM

From what I can find, ballistic mats or ballistic tiles are made of a resilient rubber. It can be cut with something like a razor blade. To notch out for your D-rings, you may have to cut around the perimeter with a razor knife, then make some crosshatch cuts with the razor in the middle, pulling out little-piece by little-piece.

I found THIS COMPANY that has them for sale. Maybe you could email them and see what they recommend for cutting?

danebhut 03-23-2012 02:48 PM

Thanks for the input, I'm thinking a razor knife and chisels may work little by little, and just work away at it until I've got what I want.

If anyone has done something similar and has a tip or tool they recommend I'm all ears.

woodworkbykirk 03-24-2012 01:42 PM

ive done exactly what your looking to do. olfa 25mm blades work best, it requires a lot of pressure to cut through that stuff and sharp edges. your going to have to change blades frequantly so you should buy a 20 pack, depending on how much cutting you have to do you may need more.. bill the blades to the job tag

danebhut 03-24-2012 03:43 PM

Ok, it sounds like it'll take time, patience, and just a bunch of grunt work to cut out what I need. Not a problem.

Did you drill thru the mat as well?

Can I count on the mat itself to provide some hold on a screw that goes thru the mat and into the ply?

woodworkbykirk 03-24-2012 08:43 PM

honestly i cant remember if we drilled through it. it was about 6 or 7 years ago

joecaption 03-24-2012 08:59 PM

Think about this idea. Use 3/4 Advantec as a sort of subfloor. Use Tee nuts coming up through the Advantec from under it. Use Socket head cap screws with washers under the heads to bolt the D handles to the decking.
Cut the holes where the D rings are in the mat with an ossilating saw.

woodworkbykirk 03-25-2012 02:51 PM

joe has the right idea. but if your going to use a oscilating tool cut slowly and dont force the blade. reason being the blade heats up and will melt the rubber which in turn gums up the blade. you'll have to take your time and let the blade rest to cool down

ddawg16 03-25-2012 02:56 PM

How large are the mats?

How dense is the rubber?

I'm thinking a jig saw with a narrow fine tooth blade. A band saw would most likely be the ticket...but a little hard to get into place.

woodworkbykirk 03-25-2012 08:15 PM

a band saw would never work on ballistic mats. their 4'x 6' and very heavy.. jigsaw might work depending on the blade

joecaption 03-26-2012 01:31 AM

If you use a course tooth blade with your ossilating saw and rub some bar soap on the blade it stays cooler.

ddawg16 03-26-2012 09:34 AM


Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 885549)
If you use a course tooth blade with your ossilating saw and rub some bar soap on the blade it stays cooler.

What is a 'ossilating' saw? I have never seen one.

ddawg16 03-26-2012 09:35 AM


Originally Posted by woodworkbykirk (Post 885386)
a band saw would never work on ballistic mats. their 4'x 6' and very heavy.. jigsaw might work depending on the blade

You just need a 'really big' bandsaw....

woodworkbykirk 03-26-2012 03:00 PM

hate to say it but it still wont work.. the sheets are very heavy and flop around so you would need a large table on wheels so you can move the peice while cutting. a jigsaw is the best method

as for an oscilating tool. they are very common now in big box stores.. is also called a multi tool. fein originated it being called the "multi-master", bosch calls it a "multi-x" which they have both corded and cordless. rigid's is called the jobmax

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