Step 4: Make the New Keys

At this step you should have a pile of keys all cut and trimmed that are waiting to be given a new look!

For mine I decided to paint the keys brass before putting on the stickers. However, now I think silver might have looked better.

The best way to start is to turn all the keys over and spray paint the bottoms first. After that you should find some styrofoam to hold the keys upright so you can paint the tops. Once the paint is dry you can begin to put the stickers on.

Since the stickers only come with A-Z and 0-9, I had to make labels for the rest of the keys. This can be a little tricky at first, but once you get the size down right, copy and paste becomes your friend. I then printed them out on regular paper, cut them out, and glued them on to the rest of the keys.

Since these are just stickers and paper, you should consider adding a coat of gloss or epoxy to protect them for long term use. I sprayed on a coat of clear gloss on mine. However, as a word of caution, I sprayed the gloss on too thick on one set of the keys and instead of becoming glossy and shiny, the got a little flat. Though the odd discoloration of the keys does add to the look

<p>Thanks, unfortunately many of the second hand, and antique, stores <br>around my area have mostly furniture and very little, brass or bronze <br>items. :-( <br>I do plan to add some hose covering over the wire, as soon as I can get my hands on some of decent length.</p>
<p>This article should also specify that you need a mechanical keyboard to really pull this off. A membrane keyboard won't make a good keyboard to mod.</p>
<p>Actually, I do mention that in step 1 where I talk about the keyboard I used, and why I chose it. To keep it simple for everyone to understand, I didn't specifically call it a mechanical keyboard. But I do make a note that it does make noise and other keyboards may not (membrane keyboards). However, noise aside, you can still do it with a membrane keyboard. I've been meaning to update this with images of a modern membrane keyboard. As I mentioned in the last paragraph of step 1, what matters more is how the keys are attached to the keyboard, ie is there space to do this or not? Some membranes do look exactly like the mechanical keyboard I used and have room to do this, and some don't. Hence, why the first step is all about choosing the right keyboard. </p>
Thank you for a great project. As a typewriter collector, it pains me to see keychoppers destroying typewriters for their keys. It's great to see projects that avoid this.
Thanks I kinda feel the same way. Though I imagine that there are many broken ones that are only useful for parts. <br>I should add I've found people on e-bay making laser cut keys out of wood that look just as great as well.
Were you on Tv, think i saw you and this design on g4
That's funny because I was watching that show too. But no, I am not a member of Abney Park, nor am I Jake Von Slatt. (I am a big fan of both btw) However, as I note in the beginning of the introduction, this was inspired by his designs, and I did follow some of his steps. And like all Steampunk ideas, I have seen some copy mine as well.<br><br>Though I have to add I thought it rather amusing for G4 to post on TV that Steampunk keyboards cost over $1200+ when this one can be made for under $100 and I've yet to see one &quot;sell&quot; for over $300 on ebay.
*ahem* Go look at the price of Datamancer's custom boards. <br>That's what they were referring to. <br>Sure, the ones on eBay are around 300 finishing bid, but custom craftsmanship costs a lot more. <br><br>The difference between handcrafted but sold as a finished product and custom is that when you pay to have it made for you it not only costs more, you get to specify how you want it to look. <br>And you aren't generally paying most of that for the materials. You're paying for things like the fact that Datamancer has heavy duty metalworking tools and has spent probably several hundred to a couple thousand hours work getting as good as he is with them. Which means making a bunch of stuff that used materials, and from experience with metalworking myself, you don't sell most of your learning pieces. You scrap them or give them to your mom. <br>And the tools themselves are expensive. Sure, if you're clever, you can DIY and make some of them less expensive, or do the legwork to find them used/cheap somewhere, but that's more hours of labor. <br><br>This design you came up with is excellent for someone with few tools who can't afford one of Datamancer's custom boards, and I applaud you not only on the design and execution, but also for sharing it. It's wonderful work and you are a generous soul for sharing it. <br><br>However, I would really appreciate it, as an artist myself, if you would not make comments that imply that the high-end steampunk board mods are overpriced or don't exist. <br>As someone who DOES have the skills (though not currently all the tools) to make the quality of work that Datamancer does, I can tell you that I would be charging in the over $1000 range myself for the same quality of work, and that well over $100 in materials goes into one of his boards. <br>(For one thing, he uses only mechanical buckling spring boards like the IBM Model M. I'm currently typing on an unmaintained 20 year old Model M I saved from my mother-in-law trying to throw it out. It works perfectly. I had to throw away 4 newer keyboards like the black one in one of your photos in the 3 years before I got lucky and found this baby. And it sounds wonderful. Yes, it will eventually get modded when I have the tools.)<br><br>I'm GLAD that they're not undervaluing the price of this kind of work on TV. <br>Way too many TV shows have done the &quot;You can buy this expensive crap from an artist, or get these cheap supplies and make it for like $5 instead&quot; already.
I should point out that I did not mean to imply that high end Steampunk stuff is overpriced. What I was commenting on was that the G4 show simply said &quot;Stempunk keyboards cost over XXX&quot; implying that all Steampunk keyboards, not just the ones they were showing, cost that much or more, when clearly that is not the case. <br><br>And while I can understand your reasons for not wanting to undervalue things on TV. The fact is, doing that does more harm then good as it then turns would be enthuses/buyers away thinking it's an expensive hobby when it doesn't have to be. And while there is always something good to be said about quality and craftsmanship, fact is most people don't care about that. Wal-Mart is proof of that :-P People who want to pay for quality and custom work know where to find it... but for the rest of us... there is this site!<br><br>And I feel I should also point out that this site undervalue's many things by teaching people how to make it themselves and make some things cheaper then buying it already made!<br><br>Please don't think I am attacking you, I just don't like the idea that just because something is custom means it has to be expensive. Many things truly are worth their price, but sometimes they are only expensive because the person/company making it doesn't know how/want to make it cheaper, when a way might exist!<br>
When you are talking about why things are expensive, the impulse that &quot;this should be cheaper&quot; is actually a symptom of the Wal-mart mentality, and a direct betrayal of some of the fundamental ideals of the Steampunk movement. <br><br>When you buy cheap stuff from Wal-mart, you bought stuff that often required the same amount of materials and labor as an item that was made in the USA and costs more. <br>The difference in the price? <br>LABOR, and the QUALITY of the materials.<br>Ok, the materials part is simple. Buy better stuff. Don't buy the item made with a cheap plastic, buy the longer lasting metal version. <br>The labor part is not so simple. The problem is that the less we pay our labor, the closer we get to some grand societal collapse. <br>Because the labor is &quot;the common man&quot;, the basic size of gear in the machine, and the less we pay, the less the labor has to spend back into the machinery. The cheaper stuff gets, the more the money actually ends up in banks, not in circulation. <br><br>Or, to put it another way: Every time one of my customers gets me to make something with less profit, I can't afford to buy from local produce growers or a locally owned meat cutter. I'm forced by lack of funds to buy cheaper goods from a corporation that leaves a lot of it's money in the bank. And the produce grower has less money to pay his employees, as does the meat cutter. It is the luxury item that funds this surplus that allows economic growth. <br><br>So, could I make stuff cheaper? Sure, if I sacrifice the money needed to eat something other than rice. If I never want to have money left over to grow the economy by buying from other artisans. <br><br>Here's the basic issue: Steampunk isn't just a &quot;look&quot; or &quot;style&quot;. If it was, it would be called Neo-Victorian Fantasy Style. <br>The &quot;punk&quot; in steampunk is a statement of willingness to CREATE social change. To move away from a cheap throwaway culture before our own world becomes a post-apocalyptic hell in which we scavenge materials in hopes of keeping a semi-solid roof over our head to keep out the rain. <br>Yes, it's about not wasting what we have, and the DIY movement is important to that, to learning to repair stuff instead of throwing it away. <br>But it's also about learning to properly value new items based of their construction, materials and source. Steampunk is about learning how to not only repair our own clothing, but also about learning to buy better clothing that will last longer instead of buying cheap stuff that profits only banks in the long run. <br>
Anybody else notice that the original keyboard was an awesome IBM style spring keyboard?
Yeah the springs make a better sound then most newer membrane keyboards. Also, it has it's own internal frame that makes this look much better.
This is way cool!<br>You could use some steel braided hose covering or spark plug wire dress coverings to cover up that cord.<br>Also, don't be bashful about hitting up second-hand stores for all kinds of Steampunk building materials on the cheap!<br>The craftsmanship and creativity really shows. The brass-work you've done shows that you have very good spatial acuity. The angles seem to be perfect as well. Nice re-tasking of the lid-support for this build.<br>Bravo!!! Keep it up!
Thanks, unfortunately many of the second hand, and antique, stores around my area have mostly furniture and very little, brass or bronze items. :-( <br>I do plan to add some hose covering over the wire, as soon as I can get my hands on some of decent length.
looks pretty cool
Now you need to replace that glaring white plastic covered cable with a vintage looking fabric covered one. http://www.oldphoneworks.com/antique-phone-parts/parts-and-pieces/cords?gclid=CLXOzfmh5KMCFcEz5wodMBW7aA
Hey, great instructable, in my search to collect items to make my own I came across a set of typewriter stickers with a few more than were in the set you mentioned. go to http://www.orientaltrading.com/ and search typewriter. Hope this helps!
That is interesting because Oriental Trading was one of the first places I looked for the stickers back when I made this. And at the time they did not sell any. However, those do look nice, and thanks for the tip, I'll add it to the steps.
Must be somewhat new, they weren't there the first time I looked either
&nbsp;instead of green or amber leds<br /> use crystals from this instuctable&nbsp;<a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Crystal-Nightlight/" rel="nofollow">www.instructables.com/id/Crystal-Nightlight/</a>
That is very cool looking, I might just do that if I can get the right size.
&nbsp;In place of the green LEDs you could use 3 volt &quot;grain of wheat&quot; lamps. &nbsp;They will pretty much interchange with no other circuit changes.
&nbsp;i just found vladutz2000's instructble on changing your keyboard led. &nbsp;I hope that it is what you want.<br /> <br /> BTW: Very nice instructable : )<br /> I think that i will try this!<br />
Anyone going to make a cyberpunk one?&nbsp;THAT would look really cool too! Nice work on the keyboard, and I&nbsp;have a suggestion for the lights - get some small light bulbs, such as used in grade school projects, and put a yellow LED in them or something.<br />
that is actaully something else I am considering. I just haven't found the right size yet.<br />
Something else you could look at are the tiny lens covers you can find at Newark.com or Alliedelec.com or possibly e-bay. They are usually clear lenses for indicator lights that are tinted red, amber or green. Often you can find them in plastic and the LED will work great in them. I remember having some that had a fluted design on the interior that looked really good for steampunk but I don't think I have them anymore. Either way they are less than $5 each for the new ones.&nbsp; Check surplus electrical places online as well!<br /> <br /> Great instructable, I may have to make one myself now. &lt;G&gt;<br />
Nice job!&nbsp; I especially love the leg supports, very innovative.&nbsp; Have you come up with anything for the LEDs yet?&nbsp; What about some kind of modified miniature lightbulb?
no not yet. I'm still trying to find something that will fit the &quot;cheap and easy&quot; part of this build. Found a lot of good ideas but they are either too $$$ or too much work.<br />
The perfect Ible has to be cheap enough to justify the madness that ensues after starting it.<br /> <br /> You sir made this project possible and I salute you for this :)<br />
Thank you very much! :-) Though to be honest I kinda feel it's now too cheap to justify all the time cutting the keys out. Not something I want to do again, but defiantly worth it when done.<br />
NIce Job ! I&nbsp;see there are two steampunk keyboards are ebay now. One is similar to your design with the brass support rails.<br />
thanks. And it's always nice to see how an idea inspires others<br />
Nicer than the otherones
&nbsp;Excellent job! I really liked the look of one I saw elsewhere, but that was a few hundred dollars! This one looks exactly the same as that one!
Thank you very much. I&nbsp;am considering selling some different models when I get a chance to make a few more<br />
i love the lid supportsas the sides, and its adjustable too!<br />
And the best thing is that they are more adjustable then your standard keyboard feet. :-D<br />
very nice stuff,i'll sure try this one on my old keyboard. :D thanks for doing this :)
damn this looks hot.<br />think it would look even more stylish if instead of that black fabric stuff under the keys, a thin shiny black piece of aluminium or something, and clear blank cobber keys etc.<br />
Perhaps, but then it' wouldn't be cheap and easy as not everyone can cut all the required holes in aluminum, or even get a sheet large enough.<br /><br />Thanks for the idea.<br />
you can buy a roll of aluminum flashing at any hardware store for like$5-10 and cut it with a knife or dremel, i wouldnt want to go throughthe trouble though<br />
not to mention copper flashing but that costs alot more<br />
Corrugated signboard I'm thinking would do the trick. use an exacto knife to cut it through. Or a hunk of scrap vinyl siding or something of the like, that would be free.<br />
yeah cutting the felt was annoying enough. But at least with the felt,mistakes aren't as noticeable as they would be on a sheet of metal.<br />
&nbsp;I love what you did.&nbsp; &nbsp;i got into&nbsp;Steampunk a yearago and did a keybouard&nbsp; fairly close.<br /><br />As to the LEDs, i relpaced mine with amber LEDs and took the shellson&nbsp;lamps from a string of Christmas lights.&nbsp;&nbsp; They looklike a candle flame and since the keys are slightly raised anyway theyfit well.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><br />Add a bit of Lexan to create the look of a small glass chiminey aroundthe LEDs&nbsp;and you have the Steampunk lights too.&nbsp;&nbsp; Trimwith a bit of gold paint and you have it.<br /><br />Keep on Steampunking
ooo I like the idea of using x-mess lights. That could look great.<br />
I just figure; 1890s look, candles seemed the way to go<br /> <br /> Keep on Steampunking
I love the inventive use of the brass drop-down flap brackets for thesupports - <br />
thanks, I actually spent an hour in Home Depot just looking for anythingthat could be useful before I stumbled onto them<br />
How OBVIOUS&nbsp;is that now I've seen it!&nbsp; I'm a huge fan ofDatamancer's site but there's no way I could justify spending thatamount on a keyboard.<br /><br />With regard to your keys, you don't appear to have added any protectionfor the stickers.&nbsp; Maybe I'm missing something but you can make avery nice &quot;Enameled&quot; effect with Two Part Epoxy Glue (Clear)just mix some up and gloop it over the top of the article so that itforms a kind of dome/bubble.<br /><br />And now I am having a rush of other ideas so I may just have to do oneof those &quot;inspired by&quot; instructables, watch this space.<br />

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Bio: I tinker, therefor I am!
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