False drawer front for keyboard tray

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Forum topic by Marcus posted 02-04-2013 07:20 PM 20023 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1163 posts in 1983 days

02-04-2013 07:20 PM

It seems that slide questions are all the rage right now, so I thought I would throw mine into the mix. I would like to make what looks like a standard table into a desk. I’m picturing one of the aprons folding down and allowing a keyboard tray to slide out. I see a few options, none are extremely appealing to me at this point so I am hoping for some input from the amazing designers here:

Option 1:
Use the pre made slide/hinge combo from Rocker:

These look extremely cheap for me, and the desk/table will be pretty substantial. I am guessing the keyboard tray will be 36” or so. These would look tiny/cheap on this piece, and not sure it would hold up.

Option 2:
Use a metal down on either side of the apron and drill a hole into each leg for the apron to pivot down from. Then either make wood drawer slides or use appropriate slides for the tray to slide out on. This is my leading idea at the moment. I worry about having a 4.5”x36” piece of lumber only being supported by two dowels. Chances are I would be fine, but seeing where the joints/dowels would be, I would about it break from an accidental smack of the keyboard tray or something.

Option 3:
Use a regular face frame cabinet hinge to attach the drawer front to the keyboard tray. This would probably work well, but I would have a very (VERY) ugly hinge that I would have to look at. Also, with a 36” length, I am guessing I would want to look at 3 hinges which would put one right in the middle of the tray…not good.

Option 4:
Similar to Option 3, use a concealed flap hinge:

this is better than option 3, but I really dont like that there will be a 1/8” or so reveal of the keyboard tray underneath the drawer front. Hopefully what I am saying there makes sense. If you look at the tech docs for the hings, you’ll see what I mean.

Option 5:
I really like the idea of using a flapper drawer to push the cabinet front out of the way. I think it would end up taking up too much internal real estate though. Also, most of the hardware I’ve see is meant for 3/4 doors and I will be using 15/16.

so any thoughts?

10 replies so far

View Woodbum's profile


806 posts in 3029 days

#1 posted 02-04-2013 07:40 PM

For what its worth, I used Option 1 when I built a desk for my wife and liked it so well, that I used it again on my computer desk. Both are very substantial and I have had no problems with this hardware solution. My wife uses the wrist rest more than I, ‘cause she types better than I. I grain matched the false front with the apron on my desk, and it blends in quite well. I don’t usually make things any harder than I need to, providing the faster and easier solution is adequate for the rest of the construction. This combo slide was.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

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997 posts in 1916 days

#2 posted 02-04-2013 07:57 PM

I built a computer desk following plans from Woodsmith (issue 56) quite a few years back. The drawer slides out and the drawer front actually folds back towards the desk creating a wrist rest. It is attached with a simple piano hinge.

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2933 days

#3 posted 02-04-2013 08:05 PM

Hafele have a 90 degree pivot hinge that you might be able to modify (This one is 6”)

If you went option 3 the keyboard shelf would have to have a big clearance to pull out past the hinges.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2074 days

#4 posted 02-04-2013 08:09 PM

When I built my last computer desk, I used Horton Brasses’ Butler’s Tray hinges on the keyboard drawer. They positively latch up and down, and are built to outlast us.

The H-64 product:

View Marcus's profile


1163 posts in 1983 days

#5 posted 02-04-2013 09:12 PM

Cessna -

I’m not quite seeing in my head how you used these for the front drawer. Do you happen to have a picture? Any way that I am seeing using them either shows a lot of hinge or a big reveal.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2074 days

#6 posted 02-05-2013 01:22 AM

They’re mounted on the bottom of the bottom, and the lower inside face of the front. The lower rear edge of the bottom of the front is chamfered to clear the bottom when the face is lowered.

If that still isn’t clear, I’ll get some pics.

View oldnovice's profile


6759 posts in 3332 days

#7 posted 02-05-2013 06:19 AM

My daughter was the receptionist for a law firm and the lawyers wanted the keyboard to be in a drawer with a hinged front. As this was an existing drawer I really didn’t have any choice about rebuilding any of it so I used piano hinge which worked out fine.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2495 days

#8 posted 02-05-2013 06:45 AM

I’ve done this using Soss invisible hinges, available at among other places.

I’ve used two basic designs:
1) The drawer “front” is separate from the keyboard tray. It hinges down and a keyboard tray on a slide is revealed. Pull the tray out to get at the keyboard
2) The drawer “front” is attached to the keyboard tray. Hinge it down and pull out the tray in one step.

The drawback to (1) is that you lose some space by having the keyboard tray mounted an inch or so above the apparent bottom of the desk drawer. However, when the tray pulls out, the keyboard is at the front.

The drawback to (2) is that the user needs to move the keyboard before and after using. Pull it forward after the front is dropped, and push it back before putting the front up again.

Also, the hinges won’t support a lot of weight. I worry that users will lean on the leading edge of the tray or drawer, even if it is only resting their forearms as they type, so for that reason I’ve tended to use design #1.

In order to conceal the hinge when the drawer front is in vertical position, the drawer front needs to be built in two pieces, like a false front design. The inner piece is what the hinge attaches to, and the outer piece is taller, dropping down to cover the part of the hinge that is exposed when it is in vertical position.

The hinges also do not positively lock into position, open or closed. In hinge closed position – which is actually when the drawer front is open – that is not a problem. However in hinge open (drawer front closed), you will need to use some kind of catch to keep the drawer front up. I use magnets and it works well.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

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997 posts in 1916 days

#9 posted 02-05-2013 02:09 PM

The problem of the keeping the drawer front up is one issue that is nicely solved by the design I mentioned above. The drawer folds inward. When the drawer is shut the face butts against the frame of the desk. Also, snce it folds inward and ends up resting on the bottom of the drawer (and the sliding side pieces, it is very strong. I could probably stand on mine.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2074 days

#10 posted 02-05-2013 09:52 PM

Apologies for the terrible photos… The desk is in a dimly lit room, and it’s getting dark. The flash makes the wood look really weird, but you can see how the butler’s tray hinges work in this application.

The desk itself is a cross between a classic library table and a skinny hall or sofa table. It’s got a wide center drawer, and one narrower drawer on each side.

This drawer is flush when pushed in. The front positively snaps in either position. The drawer sides set angle of the “up” position, to keep the front aligned with the other drawers.

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