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I use an old harvest table as a desk. Most of the time it doesn't matter that its surface consists of four fairly rough planks because I use a keyboard and a trackball. I seldom use a pen. Still it would be nice to improve the appearance of this thing.

It would be nice if it had a resilient surface softer than high-carbon steel and harder than balsa wood.

Is there something that I can buy as a sheet that glues to wood? I do occasionally scribble notes on paper with a ballpoint. Is there some material that stands up to that?

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You can buy plastic deskmats. For example, I have some that are about 2-foot by three-foot. These are suitable for writing on unless the underlying surface is extremely uneven. The old-fashioned alternative was leather or blotting paper (in a "desk-blotter").

Otherwise I'd use a sheet of attractive wood of some kind, planed flat and edge-jointed to whatever size seems appropriate. Finished to taste (e.g. varnish). You'd still cover it for writing.

The cheapest is a pad of paper (e.g. 50 A4/Letter sheets with a cardboard back).

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