How To Make A Keyboard Tray


Materials Needed

To make a keyboard tray, you will need the following materials:

  • 1/2-inch thick plywood sheet
  • Drawer slides
  • Screws
  • Wood glue
  • Sandpaper (medium and fine grit)
  • Measuring tape
  • Saw (circular, table, or jigsaw)
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Clamps
  • Keyboard stopper (optional)
  • Stain or paint (optional)
  • Paintbrush or roller (if staining or painting)

These materials can be easily found at your local hardware store. Make sure to choose high-quality materials to ensure the durability and stability of your keyboard tray.

Step 1: Measure and Plan

The first step in making a keyboard tray is to measure your desk or workspace and plan the dimensions of the tray. This will ensure that the tray fits perfectly and accommodates your keyboard and other accessories.

Start by measuring the width and depth of your desk. Determine the ideal location for your keyboard tray, keeping in mind factors such as comfort, ergonomics, and accessibility. Consider the height at which you want the tray to be installed, ensuring that it allows you to type comfortably without straining your arms or wrists.

Once you have decided on the location, use a pencil and ruler to mark the dimensions of the tray on the plywood sheet. Remember to leave space for the drawer slides and any additional accessories you might want to include, such as a mouse pad or a pencil holder.

If you are unsure about the dimensions, it is always a good idea to reference standard keyboard tray sizes or seek inspiration from pre-made trays available in the market.

Before finalizing the plan, visualize how the tray will look and function on your desk. Consider any modifications you might need, such as rounded edges or extra compartments. Taking the time to plan and measure accurately will save you from unnecessary revisions or errors during the construction process.

Remember, precision is key when it comes to measurements and planning, as it will determine the overall fit and functionality of your keyboard tray.

Step 2: Select the Wood

Choosing the right type of wood is crucial for the durability and aesthetics of your keyboard tray. Selecting a high-quality wood will ensure that your tray can withstand the weight of the keyboard and provide a sturdy surface for long-term use.

There are various options to consider when selecting wood for your keyboard tray. Hardwoods like oak, maple, or birch are popular choices due to their strength and durability. These types of wood are less prone to warping or bending over time, ensuring stability for your keyboard.

You may also opt for plywood, which is a budget-friendly option and readily available at most hardware stores. Plywood is made by layering thin sheets of wood and gluing them together, resulting in a sturdy and versatile material for your tray.

When selecting the wood, pay attention to its smoothness, texture, and grain pattern. If you prefer a natural wood appearance, choose a material with an attractive grain pattern that complements your desk or room decor. Alternatively, you can also consider painting or staining the wood to match your personal style.

Before purchasing the wood, ensure that it is free from any defects or damages. Inspect for cracks, knots, or uneven surfaces that may affect the overall quality of your tray. It’s also helpful to consider the thickness of the wood, depending on the weight of your keyboard and the desired sturdiness of the tray.

Lastly, consider the environmental impact of the wood you choose. Look for wood that is sustainably sourced or certified by organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

By carefully selecting the right type of wood, you can create a keyboard tray that not only functions well but also adds a touch of elegance to your workspace.

Step 3: Cut the Wood

Once you have selected the wood for your keyboard tray, it’s time to cut it to the appropriate dimensions. This step is essential to ensure that the tray fits perfectly and aligns with your initial measurements and plans.

Begin by measuring and marking the specific dimensions of the tray on the wood surface. Use a pencil and ruler to create clear and accurate lines for cutting.

Next, set up your saw (whether it’s a circular, table, or jigsaw) and make sure it is properly adjusted and secured. This will help you achieve clean and precise cuts.

Carefully follow the marked lines and begin cutting the wood according to your measurements. Take your time to maintain a steady hand and apply even pressure while feeding the wood through the saw. If you are new to cutting wood, it’s a good idea to practice on a scrap piece before working on the final piece.

Remember to wear safety goggles and protective gloves to prevent any accidents during the cutting process. Keeping a firm grip on the wood and staying alert can go a long way in ensuring safety.

Once you have finished cutting the main piece of the tray, you may need to make additional cuts for any compartments or accessories you planned for. Use the same careful approach to create accurate cuts for these elements.

After cutting the wood, inspect the edges for any roughness or splintering. Use sandpaper to smooth out the edges, ensuring a clean and professional finish.

Throughout the cutting process, be mindful of the dimensions and angles you have marked and take extra care to maintain accuracy. This will result in a precise and well-fitting keyboard tray that meets your requirements.

Step 4: Sand the Wood

After cutting the wood for your keyboard tray, it’s important to sand it to create a smooth and polished surface. Sanding not only enhances the appearance but also helps to remove any rough edges or imperfections.

Start by using medium-grit sandpaper to sand the entire surface of the wood. This will help to remove any splinters or uneven areas caused by the cutting process. Sand in the direction of the wood grain to achieve the best results.

Pay extra attention to the edges and corners of the tray, as they are more likely to have rough spots. Use the sandpaper to round off the edges slightly, creating a more comfortable and visually appealing shape.

Once the initial sanding is complete, switch to a finer-grit sandpaper to achieve a smoother finish. Sand the wood again, focusing on eliminating any remaining roughness or unevenness. This step will give your tray a professional and refined look.

During the sanding process, periodically wipe away the dust with a clean cloth or brush. This will allow you to better see the progress and ensure that you are achieving a consistent smoothness across the entire surface.

If you plan on staining or painting the wood, it’s crucial to sand it thoroughly. This will help the stain or paint adhere properly and result in a more even and polished final appearance.

Remember, take your time and be patient when sanding the wood. It’s better to spend a little extra time on this step to achieve a high-quality finish.

Once you are satisfied with the smoothness of the wood, wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove any leftover dust. This will prepare the surface for the next steps in the construction process.

Step 5: Assemble the Tray Base

With the wood cut and sanded, it’s time to assemble the base of your keyboard tray. This step involves putting together the main structure that will support the sliding mechanism and hold the tray in place.

Start by laying out the cut pieces of wood according to your design and measurements. Use wood glue to attach the pieces together, ensuring a secure bond. Apply the glue evenly and use clamps to hold the pieces in place while the glue dries.

Next, reinforce the joints by adding screws. Pre-drill pilot holes to prevent the wood from splitting and then insert screws through the holes. This will provide additional stability to the tray base.

Make sure to double-check that the base is level and square before proceeding. Use a level and measuring tape to confirm that the angles and dimensions are correct.

If your tray design includes compartments or dividers, now is the time to attach them. Use wood glue and screws to secure these elements to the base, ensuring they are properly aligned and centered.

Once the base assembly is complete, allow the glue to dry completely before moving on to the next step. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for drying time, as it can vary depending on the type of glue used.

Taking the time to assemble the tray base carefully will ensure a sturdy and reliable foundation for the rest of the keyboard tray construction.

Step 6: Attach the Drawer Slides

Attaching the drawer slides is an important step in the construction of your keyboard tray, as they will allow the tray to smoothly slide in and out. Drawer slides are typically made up of two parts: the stationary outer slides and the inner slides that attach to the sliding tray.

Start by measuring and marking the appropriate placement for the drawer slides on both sides of the tray base. Make sure the slides are aligned and level with each other.

Next, align the outer slides along the marked lines and attach them to the sides of the tray base using the provided screws. Ensure that the outer slides are securely fastened and properly aligned.

Once the outer slides are attached, it’s time to install the inner slides onto the sliding tray itself. Measure and mark the appropriate placement on the sides of the tray, ensuring that they align with the outer slides on the base.

Attach the inner slides to the sides of the sliding tray using the provided screws. Make sure the slides are securely fastened and level with each other.

Once the drawer slides are installed, test the sliding mechanism by gently sliding the tray in and out. Ensure that it moves smoothly without any obstructions or sticking points. Make any necessary adjustments to the alignment or position of the slides to achieve a smooth sliding motion.

It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing the drawer slides to ensure proper functionality. Different types and brands of drawer slides may have specific installation requirements.

By properly attaching the drawer slides, you will ensure that your keyboard tray moves effortlessly and functions as intended, providing you with a convenient and accessible workspace.

Step 7: Attach the Sliding Tray

Now that the drawer slides are securely in place, it’s time to attach the sliding tray to the base. This step will complete the main structure of your keyboard tray and allow it to smoothly slide in and out.

Start by positioning the sliding tray onto the installed drawer slides. Ensure that it fits snugly and aligns properly with the base.

Once the tray is in position, use screws to attach the inner slides on the sides of the tray to the outer slides on the base. Make sure to insert the screws through the provided holes in the slides.

As you attach the sliding tray, double-check that it moves smoothly along the slides without any obstructions or sticking points. If you encounter any difficulties, adjust the alignment or tighten the screws as necessary to achieve a smooth sliding motion.

Test the sliding tray multiple times to ensure that it operates correctly and that it remains stable when fully extended. If you notice any wobbling or instability, reinforce the connection points by adding additional screws or adjusting the alignment of the slides.

Once you are satisfied with the functionality and stability of the sliding tray, ensure that all screws are tightened securely.

At this stage, the main structure of your keyboard tray is completed, and you can begin to enjoy the convenience of a sliding surface for your keyboard and other accessories.

Keep in mind that depending on your design and preferences, you can also choose to add additional features or accessories to further enhance the functionality of your keyboard tray. This could include features like a built-in mouse pad, cable management system, or a drawer for storage.

By properly attaching the sliding tray to the base, you will have a reliable and versatile keyboard tray that enhances your workspace and provides ease of use.

Step 8: Test the Sliding Mechanism

Once the sliding tray is attached to the base, it’s important to thoroughly test the sliding mechanism to ensure that it functions smoothly and meets your expectations. This step will help identify any potential issues and allow you to make any necessary adjustments before completing the construction of your keyboard tray.

Begin by sliding the tray in and out multiple times, paying attention to the ease of movement. It should glide effortlessly along the drawer slides without any resistance or sticking points. If you encounter any difficulties, take note of the specific areas or points where the sliding motion is not smooth.

If the tray does not slide smoothly, it may be due to misalignment or improper installation of the drawer slides. Check the alignment of the slides and make any necessary adjustments. This may involve loosening and readjusting the screws or realigning the slides to ensure proper movement.

While testing the sliding mechanism, also check the stability of the tray when fully extended. It should remain sturdy, without any wobbling or instability. If you notice any issues, reinforce the connection points or adjust the alignment of the slides as needed to enhance stability.

During the testing phase, take note of any noise or squeaking that may occur when sliding the tray. This may indicate friction or misalignment between the slides. To address this, consider applying a lubricant or making small adjustments to achieve a smoother sliding motion.

Remember to test the full range of motion of the sliding tray, ensuring that it extends and retracts completely without any blockages or gaps. This will help you assess the overall functionality and usability of the keyboard tray.

By thoroughly testing the sliding mechanism, you can make any necessary adjustments and ensure that your keyboard tray operates smoothly, providing you with a seamless and convenient user experience.

Step 9: Add a Keyboard Stopper

In order to prevent your keyboard from sliding off the keyboard tray when in use, it’s recommended to add a keyboard stopper. This simple yet effective addition will help secure your keyboard in place, providing a stable and ergonomic typing experience.

Start by measuring and marking the appropriate location for the keyboard stopper on the backside of the sliding tray. Consider the size and placement of your keyboard to determine the optimal position.

Next, use a drill to create pilot holes at the marked location. This will make it easier to attach the stopper securely without splitting the wood.

Choose a suitable stopper for your keyboard tray. This can be a small piece of wood, a metal plate, or even a rubber stopper. Ensure it is sturdy and wide enough to hold the keyboard in place.

Align the stopper with the pilot holes and use screws or nails to attach it securely to the tray. Make sure it is firmly in place and does not obstruct the sliding motion of the tray.

Once the stopper is attached, test the functionality by placing your keyboard on the tray and sliding it in and out. The stopper should prevent the keyboard from sliding off the tray, keeping it securely positioned during use.

It’s important to note that the stopper should not interfere with your ability to comfortably use the keyboard. Ensure that it is positioned in a way that allows your hands and wrists to rest comfortably on the keyboard without obstruction.

Additionally, consider adding any additional features or accessories that can enhance the functionality of your keyboard tray. This could include a wrist rest, cable management system, or a mouse pad.

By adding a keyboard stopper, you can ensure a stable and secure placement for your keyboard on the tray, allowing for a more comfortable and efficient typing experience.

Step 10: Finish the Tray

Once the main construction of your keyboard tray is complete, it’s time to add the finishing touches that will enhance its appearance and protect the wood from wear and tear.

If you want to maintain the natural beauty of the wood, consider applying a wood stain. Choose a stain color that complements your workspace or matches other furniture pieces. Apply the stain evenly using a paintbrush or roller, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the stain to dry completely before proceeding.

If you prefer a painted finish, select a paint color that suits your personal style and complements your workspace. Apply multiple coats of paint, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next. Sand the wood lightly between coats for a smooth and even finish.

After the stain or paint has dried, protect the wood with a clear sealant or varnish. This will provide a protective layer that guards against spills, scratches, and UV damage. Apply the sealant using a paintbrush or roller, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the sealant to dry thoroughly before using the keyboard tray.

If desired, you can add additional features like a non-slip mat, adhesive cable clips for cable management, or a wrist rest for added comfort during typing.

Finally, take a moment to clean the entire keyboard tray, inside and out, to remove any dust or debris that may have accumulated during the construction process.

By finishing the tray, you not only protect the wood but also elevate its appearance, creating a polished and aesthetically pleasing addition to your workspace.

Once the finishing touches are complete, your keyboard tray is ready to be installed and used. Place it on your desk, slide in your keyboard, and enjoy the convenience and comfort it provides while working or gaming.