Howard Dierking

Ergonomics Without the Office Furniture Look

In my last post I talked about my switch to a mechanical keyboard and in that expressed that one of my chief concerns (and reasons for not getting one earlier) was the fact that the keyboard was not ergonomic. On further inspection, I concluded that the bulk of the problems related to keyboards in general had less to do with their own ergonomic features and more to do with the fact that the typical desk is too high to type on top of. By that, I mean that, unless you are exceptionally tall, typing with the keyboard directly on top of a standard desk means that your wrists will not end up angled downward towards the keyboard, thereby putting unnecessary strain on wrists, arms, etc. In my case, I had grown very accustomed to using wrist rests, and negatively sloped ergonomic keyboards (the negative slope is actually a really good thing, btw) - but because keyboard was still sitting too high, all that did was cause me to stop touch typing and get lazy with my wrists.

So like I mentioned, I recently got this rockin’ new keyboard and decided that I wanted the best of both worlds - so I ordered this Humanscale keyboard tray and attached it to the underside of my desk. I had 2 goals for the keyboard tray: 1) that it was functional and added all of the ergonomic goodness that I was hoping for, and 2) that it would be aesthetically low profile enough so as to not take away from the non-office furniture look that I have in my room.

The tray is great on both fronts (although I think I’m going to order a longer rail - more on that in a second). On the ergonomic front, it not only enables me to position the keyboard in a variety of differing height positions, but it also has a negative tilt adjustment, which lets me set the angle of the keyboard to declining (just like those fancy ergonomic keyboards). On the aesthetic front, it’s also pretty unobtrusive as you can see from the picture.

My newly installed keyboard tray

Like I mentioned a second ago, the one thing that I plan to change is the size of the rail. When I initially measured my desk, I discovered that it had a lip (overhang) on both the front and the back - so I bought a shorter rail (the thing that the keyboard support mechanism slides in and out from under the desk on) thinking that I could just install the rail in the middle section of the desk. Once everything came in (and after a bit of digging) I concluded that rather than trying to fit the rail into the center of the desk, the right thing to do was to get a bit of plywood and make the section where I was to install the rail even with the front and back overhangs. After doing that, I realized that I had about 22” to work with rather than the 17” that I had originally calculated. This proved important because with the length of the current rail, I can’t slide the keyboard all the way under my desk - it sticks out about 3”. Not the end of the world, but a correctable issue. So, if you decide to order one of these, take a look at your desk, and if you don’t have an even surface on the underside, plan to even it up before installing the keyboard tray.

After typing for a little bit tonight, I think that this will be a nice addition to my overall setup. It adds just a bit of extra comfort to the clicky goodness of my mechanical keyboard - and hey, that’s always a good thing. Oh, and I should also mention that I now have this crazy amount of space in front of my monitor. Not sure what to do with that just yet, but I’m sure I’ll find something to put there :)