Christened the Buccaneer , this is our take on a Steampunk Keyboard design - essentially a mechanical computer keyboard that has been modified to resemble an old world aesthetic. The project was inspired by the Steampunk Keyboard created by Jake Von Slatt .

A few more photos of the completed Buccaneer Keyboard can be found on rampkins.co.uk

And, just to show it is a fully functional keyboard, see it in action in the video below!


We hope you enjoy our build log!

Step 1: Making the Keys

The keyboard began as a Das Model S Ultimate , chosen for its distinctive sound and suitability for our design. The first part of its conversion was to make the brass keys. The plastic keys were popped off the Das , then snipped down with tin snips so that just the stem remained.

Next we cut brass tubing down to size with a chopsaw , while sanding a rim on the end after every cut. The rim was added so that the keys closer resembled that of a typewriter, and to get rid of the saw marks the chopsaw left.

Oak doweling was then cut to length, and the bottom drilled so that the key stems could be slotted into the dowels and glued in place. The doweling was adhered into the brass tubing, filling the hole.

The lettering was designed on the computer, printed off, and then punched out with a hole punch . Protective plastic end caps were also punched out. Both were then inserted to give a completed key.

Step 2: The Leather Faceplate

Plans for the keyboard were roughed out then designed to scale in a graphics program, and finally printed onto a large A3 template.

Next up was the faceplate. Measurements were transferred from the template to a panel of high quality birch plywood, and drilled with a drill press so that it would slot down neatly over the keys. There was not a lot of room for error here, as if the holes were out the keys would not slide up and down freely.

With that done, the hand-tooled genuine leather (made for us by a local craftsman) was attached to the birch ply and then punched through from the back using the drill holes as a guide, so that we had perfectly matching holes in both the leather and the ply underneath.

Step 3: Creating the Side Pieces

The sides were cut to shape with a scroll saw , with one of the sides needing a hole cut into it so the USB ports can be accessed. After cutting, the wood and brass were sanded and filed.

For the front and back supports a piece of wood was hand planed with a curve to match the shape of the side pieces. A sensible person would have bought, borrowed, or stolen a router for this one! After that all the wood was stained and waxed.

Step 4: Finishing Touches

A brass cover was cut and drilled to slot over the vintage rhinestones and hold them in place. The picture to the right is of an unused earlier design being cut with the scroll saw .

We wanted to include an engraved name plaque on the keyboard but lacked engraving tools , so we decided to make our own out of a screwdriver by angle grinding and filing it to shape. When the engraving was complete, the plaque was cut from the brass sheet and inlaid into a chiselled out space on the wooden front support.

The final stage was to make a wooden tray for the Das ' controller and main boards to sit inside, and secure it with brass screws to the front, back and side pieces, with the faceplate on top.

With this done the keyboard was complete!
<p>Really like this</p>
<p>Impressive dude</p>
<p>really nice</p>
<p>superb work.</p>
<p>nice work.</p>
<p>Super cool</p>
<p>Nice Work Great Job sir.</p>
<p>great spot</p>
<p>nice work.</p>
<p>great one.</p>
<p>good one.</p>
<p>good work.</p>
<p>awesome work </p>
<p>awesome work </p>
<p>nice keyword.</p>
<p>Awesome Keyboard.</p>
<p>beautiful keyword.</p>
<p>Fabulous work</p>
<p>Good job.</p>
<p>Great instrument.</p>
<p>good one.</p>
<p>Nice Work Great Job sir.</p>
<p>This is awesome</p>
<p>nice one work..</p>
<p>very nice..</p>
<p>nice collection;</p>
<p>i love with your job</p>
<p>Great collection</p>
<p>love this design</p>
<p>stylish product</p>
<p>I dont get how you turn the square shaped keys in to round ones ?</p>
<p>great keyboard mate.. </p>
<p>great classic collection</p>
<p>Nice collection bro :)!!!!!!!!</p>
<p>like your stuff !!!!!!!!</p>
<p>nice craftt</p>
Great craftsmanship and major kudos that you didn't destroy an authentic antique typewriter to &quot;harvest&quot; the keys. It pains me to see people ironically destroying real antiques in the name of a trend that purports to reflect and honor a bygone design ethic. The irony will surely hit them upside the head one day and they might even feel twinge of fanboy embarrassment if not true (un)maker guilt.
<p>I'm attempting to do the exact opposite in making a usb keyboard from a typerwriter.</p>
<p>That shouldn't be too hard, I say go for it. Back in the 80s I started turning an old Underwood into a printer but never got enough solenoids together. It was important to me that what ever mods I made would not permanently alter the typewriter. I decide early on that I'd be happy just controlling the keys and the CR/LF (funny how those terms actually make complete sense with a typewriter) and feed paper in by hand. Now you got me thinking about it all over again.</p>
<p>I haven't found any instructions yet on converting an electric typewriter, but I would like to do that. Nowhere near as pretty though.</p>
<p>I don't have instructions, but here would be my off the cuff approach:</p><p>Start with donor USB keyboard and electric typwriter.</p><p>Reverse engineer how the USB keys translate to what codes for feeding into the keyboard controller in the USB keyboard. This is likely row/col parallel digital data. Keep notes on what codes each key sends.</p><p>Then you'd need to create glue circuitry that took the outputs from the electric typewriter keys and translated to the proper logic going into the USB keyboard controller. A programmable logic array comes to mind.</p>
What keyboard did you start with?
Das Model S Ultimate its said in the 1st step
Simply beautiful. A warm Victorian-tech feel without the air of decay that some steampunk projects possess.
I believe a sensible person would use a plane in such a situation. No sense wasting all the time required to set up a router or router table for such a small part. As a craftsman myself, I would've used the plane. Great 'ible by the way!
Great keyboard, how did you put a lip on the brass pipe to hold the key letter?

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