Thursday, October 2, 2008

Building the Steampunk Keyboard II

Building the Steampunk Keyboard II
Making the Keys

Here's the second part, as promised, showing the process I used to make the individual keys. Keep in mind, each key was made this way, and there are a total of 104 keys on the board (not including the space bar, which I have left alone for the time being sans a little paint around the sides). I refined the process a lot while working on it, and if (or more appropraitly, when) I make another one of these, there are somethings I will absolutly do differently. This method is by no means the only way to do this.

A key, the ESC key in this case, removed and showing the underside. Note the exacto saw ominously lurking off to the side...

To expose just the key 'stalk' (as I called it), the 'flanges' on the four sides of the key must be cut away. I suppose you could just glue the key touches to the keys un-modified, it would certainly save work. However, I like the look more, and it will make a difference later...

The stalk is visible with one flange removed. 3 more to go...

The stalk alone, and the four flanges cut away...

In order to get the key touches to sit level, I had to grind the backs of the touches flat. I also hand sanded the top edges of the stalk (created by cutting) smooth and round. Sanding the tops of the stalks is a bad idea, as it will later cause some keys to be at different heights, and since not all key touches sit perfectly parallel to the floor when on the baord, this contour is important. I also drilled a small hole in the top of each stalk, to allow the epoxy used to attach the touches a better chance to grip.

A finished stalk, with a finished touch.

The opening on the keyboard where the key sits in. The key will press into this square. You get somewhat of an idea of the brass painted recievers, and the felt backing (although, really, it looks pretty bad around the ESC key, it was the first one I tried)

I first pressed the stalk into the reviever, to make sure it sat right. Because rows of keys are leveled to have their tops all lay flat in uniform, I then glued the touch onto the stalk, and could use the other touches as a guide to get it leveled.

I used a quick setting '5 minute' two part epoxy to bond the key touches to the stalks. This has proven very durable and easy to work with; I put a good 3 or more hours typing on this keyboard a day since I finished it in late August, and its still solid as a rock. As always, I'm happy to answer any other questions you may have about this, or any of my other projects.


Anonymous said...

Would you consider building another one?
How much you think it would cost?


Victor Ian Esq said...


I would certainly build another one. Please contact me through email to discuss the details.