Well, I finally got fed up enough with the pain in my right shoulder to take the time and effort to cut off my keyboard’s number pad. I’ve never understood why an “ergonomic” keyboard would dedicate so much physical real estate to a number pad, when that’s obviously where the mouse needs to be used. Ideally, the number pad would be on the left side, or moveable and attached by a flexible cord.
By cutting off the number pad, you can bring the mouse closer in to your body and avoid the strain of holding your arm and hand out to the right side. This will greatly reduce the amount of stress incurred over the course of a day in front of the computer.
The process of removing the number pad is quite simple, and rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ll point you to this webpage outlining the process. The only real difference between the older keyboard on that page and the newer 4000 series is that there are a couple more screws to deal with on the top side of the keyboard, and the “faceplate” of the keyboard is built to hold onto all the keys so they don’t fall out. Because of the way the keys are incorporated into the top side of the keyboard, it’s actually an easier process. As to the extra screws, there is one screw (like the coarse-threaded black ones on the back of the keyboard) under each palm pad, and then two small silver screws under the space bar (you just have to pop off the space bar to unscrew these very obvious silver screws). Once you do that, it’s as easy as lifting the top off the bottom.
I have run into some issues with the right “ctrl” button being permanently active when wrapping the number pad membrane around the back of the board, so for now I’ve just placed a mouse pad over the membrane and it works fine. Don’t forget to put tape over the exposed metal areas in between the three sheets of plastic.
I’m sure anyone with some soldering skillz could figure out how to actually solder wire to the circuit-board-like membrane that would allow you to keep using the number pad, separated from the keyboard with a cord. Maybe some day I’ll get ambitious and give it a shot.
For now, the mouse is closer to the keyboard and my shoulder is thanking me.