Home » Projects » Ultimate Guide: DIY Keyboard Tray in Minutes (2022)
When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. Disclaimers.

Ultimate Guide: DIY Keyboard Tray in Minutes (2022)

While it seems simple at first a DIY keyboard tray actually takes a few unique tools and supplies to be done right. But, with a little planning (and the right drawer slides), the right finish and a few hours its a project just about any DIY’er can tackle.

In this article we’ll help you:

  • Keyboard tray slides to mount your try under a desk or table.
  • Pre-made or custom built options for the keyboard tray 
  • Steps to install and adjust your DIY keyboard tray
  • How to build a clamp on keyboard tray

And, if after all of that, you’d prefer to just purchase a ready to go keyboard tray we’ll show you a couple of options too.

Keyboard TrayProduct Desc.Shop
DIY Keyboard Tray - slidesBEST KEYBOARD SLIDES: Top mount drawer slidesCHECK PRICE
DIY Keyboard Tray - woodUNIQUE WOOD: Reclaimed wood planksCHECK PRICE
DIY Keyboard Tray - wrist restERGONOMICS: Padded wrist restCHECK PRICE
DIY Keyboard Tray - clamp on trayCLAMP ON TRAY: Pre-made clamp-on trayCHECK PRICE

DIY Keyboard Tray - Supplies You'll Need

Frmsaet Top Mount Drawer Slides for Keyboard Trays

Getting started, there are just a few things you’ll need to make and install your own tray:

  1. Top mount drawer slides
  2. Keyboard tray material
  3. Wood finish if you’re making your own tray

Last update on 2022-05-20 at 02:13 / Images from Amazon


DIY Keyboard Tray Drawer Slides

First up is drawer slides because no tray will slide without, well, drawer slides.

And while your first thought might be to make an L-shaped bracket and use standard side mount slides, I’ll highly recommend you just order top mount drawer slides if you don’t have sides to mount the tray to. It’s what they are made for, after all.

So, with that, here’s a quick guide to choosing slides:

  • Top mount slides should be used if you are mounting your keyboard tray to the underside of a wood desk or table. Either the 
  • Side mount slides are the drawer slide to use if you want to place your tray BETWEEN two pieces of wood.

DIY Keyboard Tray Material

So you have two choices when it comes to the tray. If you decide to buy the drawer slides AND the tray you MIGHT be better off just buying a pre-made tray for about the same cost.

But, if you’re building your own tray to match a desktop (say, a maple desk) then you’re on the right track. 

Here’s a few great ways to make a custom looking keyboard tray:

  • Buy a cutting board that’s at least 12″ by 24″ wide and attach it to the drawer slides you’ve picked out
  • Head to a big box store and pick out a piece of pre-glued wood OR grab a stair tread
  • Lookup a reclaimed wood dealer near you
  • Buy a pre-made melamine shelf material (pictured above)

My DIY Keyboard Tray Combination

Laminate Keyboard Tray With Drawer Slides Assembled

So what did I use on my keyboard tray?

Well, I was matching a black desktop and wanted a larger surface area. So, I went with a aminated black melamine shelf and 16″ partial-extension top mount slides.

Tools You’ll Need to Install A Keyboard Tray

Tools to Install Keyboard Tray
Depending on the style of tray you build, here’s a few tools you may need on hand.
Building the tray:
  • Miter saw, table saw or circular saw
  • Random orbit sander
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
Basic install:
  • Cordless screwdriver
  • Measuring tape
I’m a woodworker, and happened to have a cabinet jack around that made holding the tray during installation a piece of cake. If you’re into woodworking and could think of other uses for this device I’d highly recommend it.

4 Steps to Building a DIY Keyboard Tray

These are the basic steps to build a DIY keyboard tray:

  1. Determining the size of the tray
  2. Building the keyboard tray and mounting brackets
  3. Finishing the keyboard tray
  4. Installing drawer slides and attaching to desk

Step #1 - Determine the Size of the DIY Keyboard Tray

Measuring Cabinet Furniture

There are two things to consider in this step:

  • The minimum usable size of the tray
  • The maximum area you’ll have to install (including side clearance for the slides)

Measure: Desks With No Sides

If your tray won’t mount between two vertical surfaces you’ll have the freedom of picking the width of keyboard tray you’d like. And while most purchased trays are between 21-25″ (50-65cm) you can best determine your width by laying out your keyboard and mouse on a flat surface. 

After a bit of playing around and finding the maximum space you’ll need for moving the mouse (without picking it up!) you’ll have the width down.

Measure: Desks With Sides / Drawers

While it will be easier to install, if your keyboard tray fits between two vertical spaces you’ll need to accommodate side mount drawer slides in your measurements.

What’s special about the drawer slide width?

Well, almost all side mount drawer slides require a 1/2″ on each side for clearance. So if your opening is 24-1/2″ you’ll need to plan the finished width of your DIY keyboard tray at 23-1/2″. 

Determine keyboard tray Width and Depth

At this point you should have your trays drawer slides selected. The depth of the keyboard tray should allow the full keyboard to be accessible when the slides are extended.

So what should you watch out for? A few things:

  1. For partial extension slides you’ll want to make sure they extend enough for all areas of the keyboard to be accessed.
  2. And with full extension slides deduct the depth the drawer slides be mounted behind the front of the desk from the slide length. 

Lastly, the minimum depth of the keyboard tray should then be the overall depth of the keyboard PLUS 3″ for a wrist rest.

Step #2 - Building the DIY keyboard tray

DIY Keyboard Tray Cutting the Shelf

At the simplest, this step can involve cutting your plywood to width and length, sanding the edges and proceeding.

But there are a few ways to make the finished tray look better:

  • For slide-out shelves a great way to conceal the plywood edge is with either edge banding  or by wrapping the plywood with a 1/2″ x 1″ (or thicker) piece of solid wood
  • Then, use a router to round-over the wood edge for comfort

If your tools don’t include a table saw, then edge banding is the way to go.

Step #3 - Applying finish to your DIY keyboard tray

How to apply polycrylic

With any keyboard tray you’ll want to apply a finish to avoid the wood from soaking up oils from your hands. And to make the mouse move smoother over the surface. 

My recommendation? Check out one of the finishes in our guide to clear wood finishes (I prefer General Finishes wipe on). You’ll have a smooth finish in hours with no messy brushes.

Step #4 - Installing the keyboard tray

Driving Screw in Wood

When you’re working with cabinets and furniture it’s always worth asking whats the worst that can happen?

And the worst that can happen with this step of the project is poking a screw through the top of your future desk. 

So, to avoid this happening the first step is planning how you’ll mount the keyboard tray and the screws you’ll need. Not sure how thick the top is? One trick is pulling the desk away from the wall to review the top edge. 

And unless it’s an extremely low quality desk the top should be at least 1/2″ thick.

Side mount drawer slide installation

If you’ll be mounting the keyboard tray between two vertical surfaces you’ll be using side mount slides. While easier, in my opinion, to install than a top mount slide you’ll want to consider:

    • Find the height of the top of the keyboard tray in relation to the top of the drawer slide.
    • If handy, a drawer slide jig will be worth it’s cost (but not just for this type of drawer alone) if you are doing other remodeling projects
    • Mark the height of the slides and attach using supplied screws
    • Note: I used a cabinet jack with my standing desk tray to hold the assembled keyboard tray in place. If you use something similar, just be sure to use light pressure and test the drawer slides operate smoothly without binding.

Top mount drawer slide installation

DIY Keyboard Tray - Cabinet Jack Installation

If it’s possible, the easiest way to install a DIY keyboard tray to an existing surface is by turning it upside down. Literally.

By doing this you’ll have gravity working with you and not against you as you install and screw the slides to the underneath of the desk or table.

If that’s not an option, here’s a few tricks:

    • Fully assemble the keyboard tray and slides.
    • Then lift the assembly under the surface and mark with pencil or masking tape the location of the top mounts
    • Make any height adjustments as you do this step (as top mounts are adjustable)
    • Then disassemble the tray and install the slides

Adding a DIY Tray to a Standing Desk


Have a standing desk? Then simply make sure your keyboard tray and slides will clear the frame and mechanisms below the top.

However, quite a few desks WILL have a crossbar in the way.  Which makes your project switch from DIY to buying a clamp-on keyboard tray.

DIY Keyboard Tray Alternatives

If after all of this you’re realizing it might be easier to just buy a tray it’s NOT a bad idea.

With slides and material adding up to a basic pre-made unit that likely integrates a wrist wrest it’s a viable option.

Seville Classics Airlift Ergonomic Desk Keyboard...

Option 1: Skip the Build and Buy a Keyboard Tray...

Adding a sliding keyboard tray  under your desk is simple with this kit that requires just a few screws.

For standard desks and height adjustable desks this sliding tray will attach easily. Due to a tilt-adjustable +6-degrees to a -22-degree tilt it will bring ergonomic comfort as well.

Key features:

    • Swivels left-to-right for fit in corners
    • Tilts up/down for ergonomic adjustment
    • Integrated polyurethane cushion for comfort
    • Ample room for a mouse
    • Dimensions of 25″ wide by 9.8″ deep

ErgoActive Extra Wide Under Desk Keyboard Tray...

Option 2: Clamp on Keyboard Tray

For a glass top desk a simple clamp-on tray  will give you a drawer tray in just seconds.

And, this will also work for a wood top, kitchen tables and any other surface with a lip to hold the clamps. All with no need to use screws.

Key benefits:

    • Fits up to 1.5″ thick material
    • Sliding tray
    • Room for a mouse and keyboard

The only caution is this unit is overall 32.5″ wide and requires adequate mounting space.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make a sliding keyboard tray?

A keyboard tray can be made using top mount drawer slides and a home-made tray bottom.

How do I install a keyboard tray?

A keyboard tray is typically screwed into the bottom of a wood desk using #8 screws that are 1/2″ or 5/8″ long.

What is the best under desk keyboard tray?

The key features of a keyboard tray are adjustable tilt, left-to-right swivel and an integrated wrist rest for ergonomics.

Summary: DIY Keyboard Tray

While a DIY keyboard tray is basic when it comes to drawer slides and a piece of wood, there are a lot of options to consider as you assemble one. 

And, after factoring in time and investment in tray material (and wrist padding) it’s often not a bad choice to just buy one.

Last update on 2022-05-20 at 02:13 / Images from Amazon

Leave a Comment

Power Tool Brands for Woodworking
9 Unique Tool Brands For Serious Woodworkers

Makita vs. Dewalt. Milwaukee vs. Festool. Woodworkers are used to comparing tool brands to decide what their next tools should be. But what most woodworkers miss is the unique tool brands that make woodworking faster, easier and improve quality. For example, FastCap has a glue bottle that takes the hard squeeze out of that Titebond bottle your stressed hand is used to gripping. Or, Powertec has a huge line of high quality tools at a much discounted price vs. large

Read More »
Workbench Organization Storage
Easy Workbench Organization With These Unique Solutions

Workbench organization isn’t just important for looks. It makes projects easier to start (and finish) and reduces time spent hunting for tools and supplies. In this guide learn how a few minutes time will have your bench upgraded from messy to tidy with easy to use products like: PEGBOARD ORGANIZERS: will quickly organize tools and parts. And free up valuable bench space. PROFESSIONAL SCREW ORGANIZERS: is a see-through and portable solution for small part and screw organization. BENCHTOP TOOL ORGANIZERS:

Read More »
Best Router for Router Table
The Best Router for Router Tables and Lifts

The best router for router table use is always one that will fit a router lift. But, for woodworkers that will use larger router bits for raised panels or subject the router to continuous use then horsepower and machine durability are a key consideration. While sticking to mainstream routers that are compatible with lifts is generally easy, making sure the router has key features like electronic speed control, soft start and compatible bases for off-the-table use are just as important.

Read More »
Best Cabinet Hardware Jig
Cabinet Hardware Jigs, Templates and Guides for Better Accuracy

The best cabinet hardware jigs are designed to be used for jobs of any size, are made from all metal components and are easy to use. But, for budget minded projects or one-time use, a less expensive jig with a reputation for durability and precision is what DIY’ers or occasional woodworkers will choose.  But, most importantly, the top cabinet hardware jigs will work on all styles of doors, including shaker cabinets that have a challenging inset face. So what makes

Read More »
Best Benchtop Planers Thickness
The Best Benchtop Planers for Small Workshops In 2022

While some woodworkers get by without one, a benchtop planer is usually a must for any woodworker. But finding a quality wood planer that will put a great finish on both hardwoods and softwoods can be difficult. And, since there many types of planers, its worth noting that a benchtop planer typically features: Straight or helical blades Support for boards up to 13-inches (33 cm) Single phase 15-amp motors Adjustable height up to 6-inches (15.2 cm) Single or two speed

Read More »
Best Orbital Sander for Woodworking
Professional Grade Random Orbital Sanders

Until you’ve connected a random orbital sander to a dust extractor you don’t know what you’re missing. Which is why the best random orbital sanders are both great at removing wood but also have the features and power professionals turn to. After using every type of random orbit sander to build cabinets and furniture the simple answer to which random orbital sander is best comes down to owning two orbital sanders: Cordless. There’s no reason to drag a cord around the

Read More »
Wood Vise in Cabinetmakers Top
Best Woodworking Vises, Types and How To Mount Them

Adding a vise to your bench seems simple. But as experienced woodworkers know, buying the best vise for your bench isn’t as simple as buying on price. Serious woodworkers will opt for many vises but a mainstay is always a   for its versatility, compactness and all-wood jaws.  A vises number one job is hold onto your woodworking piece when you need it. And then disappear when you don’t so it doesn’t take up valuable space on top of the bench.  Which

Read More »

Need Help Finding Wood?

Everyone does. Signup for a FREE hardwood directory that organizes 300+ hardwood retailers across the USA.

Disclaimer: DIY projects can be dangerous, hire a professional (link to Home Advisor) if unsure.

free wood (knowledge)

All you need to do is sign-up and as a BONUS receive a guide to 300+ lumber retailers (with price lists).