New keyboard tray

Back in 2010 or so I was trying a bunch of different approaches to putting my keyboard and mouse close to my lap for better ergonomics. I looked at all the height-adjustable keyboard trays and was really annoyed by all of the ones on the market. Either they were flimsy or they were way overpriced and hard to adjust well, and usually not able to actually accommodate my various input devices due to having built-in molded wrist rests and so on, and of course the ones always provided by workplaces were the worst. So I bought an Ikea DAVE laptop table (since discontinued, but here’s an Amazon affiliate link) and that became my usual go-to for a bit of office furniture, and I bought a few of them, all red. I still have two of them (one being from the office when I worked at Sony), and have continued to use them (one as a generic putting-stuff-on table).

A few years ago I got annoyed at the unwieldiness of the actual desktop on it and replaced it with a chunk of wood, and later melamine, shelving1, which made it a bit more manageable, and also had the benefit of being able to put it into a standing configuration pretty easily (tilting my monitor back so I can look down at it). But I was getting progressively more annoyed with the stand itself, getting in the way of my legs and not having a way to put my feet flat on the ground and so on. Plus, it made it very easy for me to keep putting off vacuuming under my desk.

So, a few days ago I finally ordered a new keyboard tray from Mount-It (I bought it direct from the manufacturer but here’s the obligatory Amazon affiliate link). Today it arrived and I installed it and I have thoughts about it. It’s mostly positive, but there’s definitely some places it could be improved as well.

First off, installation was a bit of a hassle. The installation instructions are a bit weird, and all of the sizes of drill bits et al are in metric — except they do provide an imperial drill bit size, except it’s listed as being 3/20". Who the hell uses twentieths of an inch? Certainly not my drill bits! Anyway 6/32" was the closest size I had, so I went with that.

Another problem is that the rail that the tray sits on is 25" long, and my desk is only 24" deep. It was fine having it hang off the back a little bit.

There were also a couple of plastic “wings” in the box which weren’t attached to anything and the instructions didn’t say what to do with them. Eventually I figured out they were supposed to go on the coupling for the tray, which was otherwise too narrow to stay on the track.

Anyway once I got it all assembled, it’s pretty nice overall. It comes with some cable management clips, and I adapted my existing cable management solution to work with it. Now there’s a lot of blissful clear space underneath!

There’s a few things to watch out for:

  1. The back casing of the unit goes back pretty far, and if you keep your desk against the wall (as I do) you can’t slide the tray all the way in as it will bump against the wall. In fact there doesn’t seem to be any useful reason for the track to be as long as it is. Do they expect someone’s desk to be, like, in the middle of the room? I guess it makes sense for some people but if you have two desks facing each other (for example) then they’ll be butting up against each other. To protect my wall I attached some open-cell foam to the back (reusing some of the packing materials that came with the keyboard tray itself).

    Anyway I took the casing off to see why it needed to be so deep, and it’s there for the piston that assists with lifting it into standing mode. It’s hard to tell if it’s structurally necessary; it probably is.

  2. Adjusting the tilt of the shelf is a bit annoying. If you’ve ever had issues with quick-release mechanisms on bicycles, this is basically the same mechanism with the same problems.

  3. The tolerances on the sliding rail are very tight. As in, you need the screws to go in all the way and be perfectly flush. Why they used round-topped screws instead of countersunk flat-top screws is beyond me, but one of the screw holes I put in wasn’t quite perpendicular and so one of the screws sticks out just barely enough that the… shuttle? I have no idea what to call it. Anyway, it bumps against the screw and can be difficult to move in and out, as is necessary to put it into a standing configuration. I’ll probably end up removing that screw.

  4. It wobbles a little bit, just from flex in the arm.

  5. You pretty much need to figure out the exact horizontal position for it at the outset; while the thing turns left and right (which is useful for getting it out of the way when doing cable management or whatever under the desk) the tray itself doesn’t pivot, so you can’t, say, shift it left or right. Not a huge deal and not something I was expecting (heck, the fact it pivots at all was a nice surprise).

That said, the adjustment between sitting and standing is very easy and nice, and it feels so weird to have my feet not resting on the bottom of the laptop desk after around 10 years or it being ever-present.

Here’s some pictures of it installed amidst the incredible mess that is my home office. At least the floor is finally clean.


Anyway. If you want an ergonomic keyboard tray that accommodates your weird-ass ergonomic keyboard and lets you do sit-stand without getting a proper standing desk, this seems like a pretty good choice. I’m sure I’ll get annoyed with it soon enough, but my last annoying setup last me basically 10 years so this’ll probably be it for a long time.


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