Introduction: Your Double Keyboard Setup
This 'ible is intended to help create more space on a desk for anyone who uses more than one computer simultaneously and therefore needs two keyboards. It's not intended for three or more keyboards, a separate number keypad or really wide types of keyboards, like a Logitech G19s. This 'ible may be especially useful for anyone who has to move their desk with any frequency or has a small space in which to work. This 'ible requires no formal tools, you may even have these materials at home! It was originally built as a short-term DIY that has proven so useful that I've found no need to change it or create a more unified piece, such as a wooden version. I use a Jerker desk from IKEA, which was discontinued in 2008 or so, but may be available on Craigslist. The counter (top desk space) is about four feet in depth and six or seven feet in width, which is a tremendous amount of space, but I still wanted to make my keyboard placement more efficient. The side-by-side method simply left me too little space for anything else (like the two mice, game peripheral, etc). I highly recommend wireless keyboards for this setup to reduce cord clutter. The bottom keyboard is not able to be wired unless you're able to tuck it under the top keyboard. This can be done with a bit of fiddling. Wired mice are not affected by this 'ible.
After you've read the steps, you can probably recreate this 'ible in twenty minutes or so.
Step 1: Materials You Will Need
To create this 'ible, you will need:
Two keyboards, preferably identical.
I use two Logitech K800 wireless keyboards which are also backlit. These use a unifying receiver which can be very nice if you have other wireless items like mice. This 'ible will not work nearly as well with two different types of keyboards. They must be able to lay flush with each other in a level fashion and many keyboards have permanently attached wrist supports. This is fine on the bottom keyboard, but cannot be situated at the top. Unfortunately, ergonomic keyboards should not be used because most have a curved edge at the bottom.
Two binders with 1" and 1.5" rings respectively, circle or D-type.
These are used as the base of the setup. You will need the cardboard type, they do not require anything inside. In fact, filling them with paper will disrupt the slope of the setup. I have some leftover sheet protectors in mine and they don't interfere at all.
Two dish towels.
I have used shop towels for this 'ible, and any dish or hand towels you have should work fine. It doesn't really matter if the towels are the same size at the binders, you'll be folding the edges in on one of them anyway.
One non-slide mat.
This is intended to help "anchor" the keyboards to prevent them from sliding. It's best to use a place mat sized version, but since these can be trimmed to fit, it doesn't matter.
Step 2: Staging the Binders
Before you can progress with the 'ible, you will need to determine the best location for the binder setup. Spend some time staging them to find the placement that best suits your seating habits, so you should be seated in your chair when you do this part, and tuck it under your desk like you do usually. Setting them too close to the edge of the desk (towards you) may encourage you to lean back or slouch. Setting them too far from you may encourage you to lean forward too far to reach the top keyboard, which can strain the back, shoulders and wrists.
Don't worry if you can't find just the right position. You can still adjust it all later.
Step 3: Placing the Towels
After you have found the ideal placement for the binders, take your towels and lay one flat on the desk with the bottom edge (facing you) rolled over two or three times to help support the base of the bottom binder. Fold in the sides one time to make the width the same as the binders. Most of the setup's weight is there, so you may have some "overlap". This is normal and may take a few hours to get used to.
Fold the second towel into a flat roll, about two inches in width. Place this a few inches from the top of the first towel. You will need to adjust them in just a moment.
Step 4: Place Binders
When you've set your towels down, lay the binders on top of them. Try to keep the bottom towel width flush with the binders' side edges. There will be a few inches of towel at the bottom. This is where you will set the bottom edge of the lower keyboard, about halfway on the small roll on the bottom towel. Adjust the top towel (now folded into a flat roll) under the top edge of the top binder to encourage them to stay in place. It's a good idea to adjust this towel as needed to that a bit stick out on either side. This helps keep the bottom binder in place on the towel and not slide around much.
Step 5: Laying the Non-stick Mat
Once your towels and binders are placed, lay the non-stick mat over the top of the binders. Because of how they sit, it should be a smooth plane. Keep the mat flush on all edges across the tops of the binders if you can. The mat will likely be longer than the binders, you can tuck the extra under the top of the binder if that's the case. You can also trim the edges if you like, though I didn't bother.
Step 6: Place Your Keyboards
Now you're ready to situate your keyboards. Lay down the top one first, making sure to center it on the binders. It should not budge much if you need to nudge it a bit to test the non-stick mat. Do the same with the second keyboard, lay it on the bottom below that first one. Its bottom edge should be flush with the bottom edge of the lower binder. You do not need to have the keyboards' "legs" extended, they serve no purpose in the setup's design.
If the binders seem really tall at first, you can try it with small ring sized binders and reuse the larger ring size later if you like.
Step 7: Testing the Setup
Your setup should look like a waterfall of keys and taller than you might have expected. The slant of the top keyboard is meant to make it easier to reach without overextending your arms. To make sure this works for you, shift the entire setup around a bit until it seems like it's in a good spot. If it's not, you can move it around just as easily. If you do need to move it, nudge it by the outer edges of the binders under the keyboards to make sure nothing gets out of alignment. Removing the keyboards is the easiest way to do this, but if you're very particular about their placement, you may just want to nudge the whole setup at one time. You can take a wooden tray with short sides to put it on if you have one that will fit. If you're the carpenter type, creating something to suit should be simple. If you use the wooden tray idea, I suggest you put another towel underneath it to protect your desk from any scratches.
Once you've gotten it in the ideal spot, open a Word document or similar and start typing whatever comes to mind using the top keyboard. This is to test its distance from you, so you can make further location adjustments as necessary. If you feel like you have to overextend, it's not in the right place. Don't be afraid to keep it closer to you until you get used to it, once you've done that, you may find that nudging it back works better over time.
Step 8: The Finish
The setup is now ready for use. There is ideally sufficient space on their side of it for your mice or booze or whatever else you keep on your desk. Having a monitor with a base that makes a little tray could be helpful too in reducing small pieces of clutter you must have close at hand.
I don't advise permanent placement of this setup because you may need to make adjustments over time. But if you're pretty certain you like it and will use it forever, a permanent mounting system may be a good idea. As I don't have mine permanently situated, I have no tested method in how to do, so that's your decision (and therefore on you) if it turns out terrible. You may also want to consider a wooden or mesh/metal version.
If you do try this 'ible, I hope it works for you! Thanks for reading!