Building a Keyboard Tray for MIDI Controller

I recently ordered a Novation Launchkey 49 mk3 keyboard that coincidentally showed up at our local music store Bounty Music on my birthday.  (Happy birthday to me.) I knew I wasn’t going to have room on my studio desk for it, so I set out to build myself a keyboard drawer for my new MIDI controller.

I couldn’t find anything suitable ready-made, so I tried to build the simplest, cheapest keyboard tray I could with it still looking decent, and it had to be strong enough to hold my monitor, mixer, and assorted desk items.  The breakthrough was when I came across a butcherblock top at Home Depot for under $100.  It was 50″ x 25″ x 1.5″.  Checking the specs on Novation’s website, it looked like it would fit no problem.  (Originally, I was going to get the Launchkey 61.  More on that later.)

I ripped the board so that one side was 13″ and the other was 12″.  This would allow for 12″ drawer slides to be attached to the moving piece and leave room for the back and sides.  The Launchkeys are only about 10.25″ deep so that left plenty of room.  

Next, I cut the back and sides. I would have preferred to use birch like the butcher block top, but they only had popular at Home Depot.  I left about a 1/8″ overhang on the back and sides. I also had to cut the drawer board down to accommodate the slides, the vertical boards, and the 1/8″ overhang.

Now with everything cut, it was time to stain.  I would have preferred a natural stain/poly, but for whatever reason, since COVID-19, our Home Depot doesn’t have much a stain selection, so I ended up using a pecan color stain/poly.  I put on three coats of stain and sanded between coats.  This part took the longest of the whole project.

The next part was to drill the pocket holes to secure the vertical boards to the top.  I bought this Kreg Pocket Hole Jig that worked like a charm.  I didn’t get any pictures of me actually using it, because I was dodging rain showers during the whole project.  I had also cut a round hole in the back of the vertical board for USB cord going to the keyboard.

Now all the boards were cut, stained, glued, and assembled.  Now I all I needed to do was install the drawer slides.

Attaching the drawer slides was a snap.  All I needed to do was attach the drawer part to the smaller board.  No need to even measure since they were the exact size of the sides.  Then clamp the slides onto the vertical boards.

All there was to do now was insert the sliding shelf into the rails and voila!

Once I got the keyboard tray onto my desk, I realized that there wasn’t going to be room for my Ableton Push2 and the tray.  That’s when I decided to go with the Launchkey 49 instead of the 61.  Now there was room for the Push 2 and Launchkey 49 on the tray.  The only issue is the Push 2 is a solid 12″ deep, so I needed to cut another hole in the back for the cords.  I hastily did it before I went to pick up the Launchkey, but it’s not quite right.  I need to rout the hole a little higher and longer, but for now, it works well enough.

All in all the project took me half a day and under $150 for everything including the pocket hole jig.  Hopefully, you find this useful.  Let me know in the comments