Greetings, my kind fellows, and Welcome to my brief (Sarcasm alert!) tutorial on how to construct a Steampunk Keyboard - Without having to completely demolish the board in the process! Even better, you probably have most of what you need at home.
This project cost me about $4.00 in the end. Thrifty! However, it also took me about 11/2 months to build, so only make this if you don't mind having a long-term project on your hands. This was my first large-scale Steampunk project, and boy, was it an adventure! I hope you wouldn't mind having 11/2 months' company with me as I tell you exactly how to duplicate my Steampunk Keyboard... Let's get started!
I also put this in the County Fair in my area... see the last step for pictures of the keyboard on display, and the 2nd place ribbon I got for it!
Step 1: Materials, Supplies, and Tools Needed:
To coin a popular phrase, ~~"YOU WILL NEED:"~~
- A Keyboard (Of Course). Make sure that it's boxy-looking for best results. - $3.00 at a thrift store.
- 1/2" Copper or Brass pipe - at least 26" long (I used Copper because that's what I had on hand)
- Gold or brassy paint
- Wood textured Con-Tact paper ($7.99 at my local OSH, but I only used about $1.00 worth of it)
- A good word program (Wordpad or Wordperfect should work - but NOT Notepad!)
- Some old-looking, maybe off-whitepaper
- At least 30 sticks of Hot Glue - I'll explain why later on.
- E-6000, also known as "Household Goop" More info here
- A tube of Super glue
- Shellac - and it has to be Shellac! Not Polyethylene or anything else.
- A Large Box to help contain your project (Optional)
- A Hand-operated Pipe-cutter
- Super-Heavy-Duty Scissors(Or regular scissors and a Hacksaw or, better yet, a Dremel)
- An Xacto knife
- A Hot Glue Gun
- A Printer
- A very small Paintbrush
- A Creative Mind
Step 2: Cut the Pipe
Now, using your pipe cutter, cut 104 1/4" pieces of pipe. This might take a few days by using the manual cutter, but you'll be much happier with how it turns out. It looks much cleaner when hand-cut.
Don't forget to save all of the "rings" in a bag or box. You'll need every one of them.
When you're (Finally) finished with this and your hands have recovered, move on to the next step.
Step 3: Building the Keys - 1 of 4
Allow about 10 minutes for the glue to cool, then use your scissors to Cut each piece from the paper in a square shape. If any of the rings refuse to stick to the glue and the paper, use the Super Glue to attach it. When the Super Glue is dry, Cut the paper PRECISELY around the edge of the "key-in-progress", so that no piece of paper is hanging off of the bottom of the pipe. (See pic for a better understanding of what I'm saying. I'll probably have to take some more for a more accurate description.)
Step 4: Building the Keys - 2 of 4
Type these letters, numbers, and figures into your word program:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 `
Tab Caps Sft Crtl Alt Menu List Back Insrt Dlte PrSc ScLk P/B
Esc Num End Home Pgup Pgdn Del _ + * / → 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 0 - = \ [ ] ; ‘ , . / F1 F2 F3 F4
F5 F6 F7 F8 F9 F10 F11 F12
A lot of typing, I know, but I suppose you could Copy and Paste the above text into the program. Once you have all of this typed in the correct sizes and font, Print the characters on two more sheets of off-white paper. Once you've done that, use one of the new keys to outline precisely where to cut - Basically, place the character sheets on a soft surface like carpet and press the key directly on top of the characters. Cut along the inner line.
Finished? OK, let's keep going! Next step, here we come. ->
Also, if any of the keys are broken, or "Dead", then substitute the appropriate paper key with a "Skull and Crossbones" key - Make it by using the "Wingdings" font and typing a capitol "N".
Step 5: Building the Keys - 3 of 4
All right, on to the next step!
Step 6: Building the Keys - 4 of 4
You are finished with the new keys - for now. Next, we move on to the keyboard.
Step 7: Modding the Keyboard - 1 of 3
~You have been warned.~
Start with the "Esc" key. Use the Pliers to pull out the key, then Use your Heavy-Duty Scissors, Hacksaw or (Best Option) Dremel to cut off the edges of the key. Push the key back into it's original slot and RECYCLE the plastic chips. (Love the environment and it will love you back! :D )
Continue to the next key in line, "F1", and repeat above instructions. Move on to "F2", etc. until all of the keys have been stripped and reduced to seemingly useless little nubs. (You'll use them later, so make sure that each one goes back into it's own hole!) Note: When you cut off the ends of the Space Bar, SAVE THEM. You'll need them later.
My Scissors snapped when I was about 95% finished with this step, so I finished the job with the Hacksaw. I couldn't find my Dremel during this step, so I'm sorry I don't have a demo. Special thanks to HighWing for reminding me about the Dremel!
You might want to use some canned air to blast the dust out of the key-wells, assuming that your keyboard is very old.
When you're finished, move on to the next step. (Naturally.)
Step 8: Modding the Keyboard - 2 of 3
Measure your keyboard in all directions. It will usually measure about 18" by 1" by 6" to 8". So however long your keyboard is (Up and down) Cut a piece of Con-Tact paper to match. For example, if your keyboard is 18" by 1" by 8", you'll need to cut a piece that's 18" by at least 16". (You should add a couple of extra inches to that just in case.) Once you have it cut, gently lay it over the key-wells and, using your Xacto knife, cut out the places where the Con-Tact paper is covering them. You need to cut just inside the edge of what's outlined, so as to not run out of material.
When you've done this, start VERY CAREFULLY sticking the paper to the keyboard - by first taping one end to the back base of the board, then slowly peeling off one or two inches of the backing at a time and smoothing it on. Continue around in this fashion until you're about two inches away from the cord. Make a small slit to fit around the cord and put down the last of the paper.
This has all been quite a bit of work, huh? Don't worry, we're closer than we've ever been to the end now! Let's keep going. ->
Step 9: Modding the Keyboard - 3 of 3
While you're at it, paint the key nubs as well.
That's it for this step. Continue.
Step 10: Building the Keys - 5 of 4 (?!?)
Get the new key-heads, the key nubs, and the E-6000 for this one. Grab a key-head and take note of what letter, number, or figure is on the front of it. Turn the key-head upside-down and put a dollop of E-6000 on the back of it. Now Press the matching key nub DEAD CENTER, CORRECT ROTATION onto the glue on the key-head. Make sure that it's perfectly matched up, because you'll only be able to do this once! Repeat this step 103 times with all of the other keys. Let them dry, then put them in their appropriate slot.
Stay with me, we're almost there!
Step 11: Modding the Keyboard - 4 of 3 (?!?)
You're pretty much finished with your new Steampunk Keyboard! Unless, however, you want to make that cord a little less industrial-looking.
Step 12: Wrapping It Up - Literally.
And you're finished! You now have bragging rights to your very own Steampunk Keyboard! This is a very modifiable project, so if you'd like to create your own variation, go ahead and make one - but please be sure to give me credit for the original idea. Actually, phirzcol's Keyboard was my original inspiration, so Thank You!
Enjoy your new keyboard! Don't forget to clean up after your project.
...And since this Instructable is entered in the 4th Epilog Laser Challenge, I'll give you a little bit of an idea of what I'm thinking about doing with it:
- I'm an expert at the Claw Machine, and I once won a very nice-looking pocket watch, which I'd love to engrave.
- I'm planning on making more Steampunk projects like this one, and the laser would be perfect to cut out little details that would be impossible to do by hand, such as tiny gears and little embellishments.
- I'd engrave all of my Altoids tin kits, for reasons not immediately apparent. Maybe if I ever go to an Altoids tin kit convention...?
- I have a lot of metal projects that I've made laying around, so I think I'd like to engrave my name on - or at least initial - all of them.
- Finally, I'd improve this keyboard by affixing a plaque somewhere at the top that has been engraved with some fancy text. Something like, "This Keyboard was Wrought by the Hands of Win Guy, this Day, the Twenty-Seventh of March, 1863.".
BONUS INFO: I entered this project into my local County Fair... I'm going to go see it on display this Sunday, August 28! I'll take pics if I can!
UPDATE: The photos are up! Check 'em out right here.