If your flimsy plastic laptop looks like it could use a little style, then look no further. A leather touchpad is sure to turn a few heads, and it's a great way to recycle. I got my leather from an old couch about to be thrown away. For the vegans amongst us, feel free to use vinyl instead, but don't forget about all those poor innocent little hydrocarbons who gave their lives for your laptop.
First you need to disassemble the touchpad. Every laptop is different, so you'll have to figure out how to open it on your own. Once inside, the touchpad assembly should look something like this.
Next remove the metal shielding over the touchpad, then carefully unclip the ribbon cable from the circuit board. With the cable removed, the circuit board should pop out.
The circuit board is actually the entire touchpad. It's little more than a grid of traces with a plastic covering for the touch surface. Remove the plastic, and scrub off any underlying adhesives.
Now comes the hard part: prepping the leather. Most sources of leather are too thick to be used directly. The underside must be shaved down; a tedious task. I tried a multitude of tools, but the only thing which seemed to work reasonable fast was a belt sander. Of course, it's very easy to sand too far, and ruin the leather.
The proper tool is a leather shaver, which is similar to a wood planer. If you have a leather store nearby, I highly suggest asking for very thin scraps. Tell them it's for a touchpad, and there's a good chance they'll let you have it free just to see what you make out of it.
Once the leather is thin enough for the touchpad to work, glue it on. Leather is porous, so be very careful not to use excessive glue, less it seep through. I used a spray adhesive.
Once dry, trim the excess leather and reassemble the touchpad. It should fit together nicely, just like before.
Enjoy your new classy touchpad, with its rich colour and natural grain. Don't forget to show it off to all your rich corporate executive friends. Maybe they'll even ask you to make one for them.