Stage 1: Gather your Materials and Resources
For this project, you will need the following
- Hand drill (i love my dewalt) and bits
- tape measure/ruler
- saw (I’m in an apartment, so hand saw it is. Jig, table, or band saws would work better)
- Leg materials (I used 1×3, four 6″ lengths, four 2″ lengths)
- Tray surface (I had a spare pressboard panel left over from a desk)
- Drawer slide pair
- Various screws
Stage 2: Height calculation, and trim it all
And here is the thing with ergonomics, your arms will shape a 90 degree angle when typing on a keyboard. The surface of your keyboard tray will exceed any height it is, no matter what the height of your desk. Consider the vertical parts of your legs one inch longer than the distance from the top of your tray to the bottom of your desk. The top of my tray had to be 5 “under the bottom of my desk for my setup. As such, I made my legs 6 “long. (Your distance may be shorter.) I made all my legs 4 ft long from 1×3 poplar. I chose poplar because I had it lying around my flat. It’s not a bad suggestion though, because Home Depot already had it sanded to a good finish. I just had to use a sanding block to sand the edges that I removed. Cut to the correct length of the arm. Out of the same sized piece of wood, cut the 2″ sections used to attach legs to the desk surface. Get your tray surface. I happened to have a 14.5″x29” pressboard left over from a section of a desk that I didn’t build. Any piece of wood that is sufficiently large for your keyboard / mouse and thick enough to accommodate 4 screws in its side should be good enough. But I would suggest that you stay away from MDF; it doesn’t handle the screws properly.
Stage 3: Bring tray and legs together
Connect the drawer slider’s inner race to the tray frame, ensuring they both point in the same direction, so that both sides slide in one direction. You may need to push down a tab to distinguish the inner race from the outer race.
Now to match the legs together.
- Drill a pilot hole (which helps avoid the wood splitting).
- Drive a screw into that hole.
- Drill the second pilot hole.
- Drive the second screw.
- Repeat for each leg.
- Lastly drill clearance holes for attaching legs to the underside of the desk.
Stage 4: Attach it to your Desk!
One admonition, my desk isn’t perfect. When I did the smart thing and put all the legs on the slide races before putting them under the desk, my tray wouldn’t be even as well and would eventually slip out. I had a hard way to do it.
- Attach one pair of legs, one on each side of the tray, preferably the front legs.
- Find a box or a person to hold the tray in the correct position.
- Attach the front legs to the underside of the box.
- You should now be able to slide the tray out to the point that it balances, or have a person hold it so that it’s even(with respect to gravity, not with respect to the desk)
- Connect the hind two legs. This isn’t easy, but as best you can, make sure its level when you fasten the slide to the second pair of legs on each side.
- If you end up messing up your wood too much to make screws hold, there’s superglue. Just don’t get it in the bearings.
Stage 5: Completed!
So now, it slides effortlessly in and out. Except that at an angle, it’s pulling back. That’s what I can deal with, as I intend to have a second monitor at an angle to the first. If you’re irritated by this, have a second person help you place the tray while you’re working under the desk. My desk now has three separate wood types, open drawer slides, unfinished wood, holes in the keyboard tray pre-existing, and the keyboard tray comes out at a strange angle. You may also try some ergonomic wise electric sit stand desk converter if your budget does allow.
But I now have a keyboard tray that’s pretty comfortable, and I made it all out of the spare things that I had lying around my apartment. And my mom will find something to nag about other than my horrid ergonomics. Should you wish to build your own gaming rig, there are stores out there that offers bang for the buck gaming equipment and peripherals.