Introduction: Quick and Dirty Das Keyboard (Blank Keyboard)

Picture of Quick and Dirty Das Keyboard (Blank Keyboard)

A Das Keyboard is the name of the most popular keyboard with no inscriptions on the keys (blank keyboard). The Das Keyboard retails for $89.95. This instructable will guide you though making one yourself with any old keyboard you have lying around. The process takes roughly 20 minutes to complete depending on how nice you want the end product to look.

The method chosen to use to remove the labels was with a Dremel and a grinding disc attachment. It may be possible to paint over the keys giving a smoother look, but this is messier and the keyboard will be out of action while drying..

There are two steps in this instructable:
1. sanding/grinding the lettering from the keys.
2. fine sanding/polishing the keyboard to make it more presentable

Step 1: Grinding the Lettering From the Keys.

Picture of Grinding the Lettering From the Keys.

A ball grinding head was chosen, ideally a larger ball than seen in the pictures should be used as a smaller head leaves more of an indent in the keys.

With the Dremel, grind all the desired lettering. In this step we are not concerned about the looks, but only that all the lettering is removed. However, don't grind more than needed as noticeable indents will be created.

Step 2: Finishing the Keyboard

Picture of Finishing the Keyboard

Give the keyboard a quick clean with compressed air to remove all the debris. An obvious pattern will emerge on the keys, which is rough patches on the keys where the letters existed. This can be left as is giving a more 'ghetto' look and requiring no further work. However, it was chosen to further clean the keys up.

To give the keys a more even look, simply grind lightly over the entire key. This will produce an even rough look to the keyboard. A soft sanding block was then used to further clean the keys.

If desired the keys could be further polished with finer grade sandpaper and then a soft polishing wheel. But I didn’t bother.

Step 3: Final Close-up of the Keyboard.

Picture of Final Close-up of the Keyboard.

Final picture shows a close-up of the keys. Yes, it is fairly unattractive looking, but that's a small price to pay for having such a cool looking keyboard.


foobear (author)2006-08-27

I should have done this. I actually bought a Das Keyboard for myself. I'm already a very fast typist, so I don't know if I've improved at all from using it - maybe I have - can't say. At any rate, their claim of "specially weighted keys" is completely bogus I think. It is an ordinary keyboard with the letters removed. It looks cool and have received some stunned reactions and subsequent awe from fellow co-workers who happen to notice it, but aside from that it's pretty ordinary. The touch of the keyboard is nice though, very clickety with no resistence.

metalshiflet (author)foobear2014-03-10

The keys aren't weighted special, they are mechanical instead of dome.

masterochicken (author)2007-11-10

Actually what makes a das keyboard great is the weighted keys. It makes pointer finger keys harder to push and pinkey finger keys easier. This actually prevents carpel tunnel, eliminating the need for a shitty natural keyboard.

I think you mean the switches rather than weighted keys.

metalshiflet (author)2014-03-10

The reason the Das is much more expensive is because it uses mechanical switches. This doesn't really solve that problem, so you may want to discard the misleading "Das Keyboard" in title and just leave it at blank keyboard. (author)2011-04-28

Agreed, it's (too) expensive. but the das keyboard is a great quality keyboard, extremely nice to type on. It's not just the blank keys that make it worth the price.

John Smith (author)2006-10-16

Couldn't you instead just (on a black keyboard) color in all the white symbols/letters/numbers with black sharpie?

crak-a-bottle (author)John Smith2010-02-28

you can, but from my experience that looks pretty sh!te. unfortunately.
having said that, paint works.

zachninme (author)2006-09-03

I popped out all my keys and re-arranged them into the Dvorak keyboard, however I never had the time to learn it, so I type with the QWERTY layout, on a Dvorak keyboard :P (You can pop them out using a screwdriver as a lever, careful, they go flying!)

Yerboogieman (author)zachninme2007-10-25

i did that to someone at school took off all the letters and replace them in that format...

zachninme (author)Yerboogieman2007-12-13

Heh... someone did that to someone @ my school: they couldn't touch-type, so they switched 2 letters... His name was Jay, you guess the 2 letters ;-)

crak-a-bottle (author)zachninme2010-02-28

i lol'd

my friends like to take the keys from several keyboards if they need more than one of a key, and then arrange them on a keyboard to say 'you smell' or similar.

maker12 (author)zachninme2007-12-13

they do!

Travis_Flepper (author)2008-09-25

I don't look at the keyboard much. I never got over using 2 fingers though. A blank keyboard would still be cool though. What's this "home row" thing, i never got that.

your homerow for your left hand is
index - f
middle - d
ring - s
pinky - a
and for your right hand homerow is
index - j
middle - k
ring - l
pinky - ;
your thumbs rest on the space bar, and the idea is that your fingers remain on the homerow, each finger reaches out to the button it needs to press and then returns to its homerow key. is very difficult to learn, but extremely efficient once you've got it. best way to learn touchtyping.

calamari (author)2010-01-19

I'd have just used white spirit...

Squid Tamer (author)2009-06-23

It would be fun to have/make one of these, but if you don't have the time, I recommend just swapping all of the letters around. That way looking won't help at all. In fact, I bet it messes you up more than just having blank keys! Great instructable!

WhyIsThisOpen (author)2009-01-06

I painted an old Apple keyboard I had to get the same effect. (The lettering on Apple Keyboards doesn't sand off.)

indivara (author)2008-12-23

I tried your method, but sanding off the labels turned out to be a pain in the you-know-what (I haven't got a dremel), and the result looked terrible anyway. In the end, I opted for blank labels, available online (just google for blank keyboard labels). See the result. Don't know yet how durable they are...

Fenwick (author)2007-05-17

I've always tried to type without looking, but I always get off of the home row somehow. It's hard to do it when you try to think about it, it usually works better if you try not to think about it. Ya know?

lopez8675 (author)Fenwick2008-07-04

kids typing software: Dance mat typing lol (google search)

monkeeeee001 (author)Fenwick2008-05-09

The key to typing without looking at the keys is knowing that your index fingers should be touching the bumps on the "F" and "J" keys.

JonDarkwood (author)2007-11-12

I already don't look at the keys at all. The only reason I would ever do this is to deter someone else from using my computer.

cheeseefungu (author)JonDarkwood2008-06-04

Heh, yeah i dont let anyone touch my computer. It's too cool for em.

jesirose (author)2008-04-27

For everyone asking why you'd do this besides it just looking cool: Some of us type in several layouts. I use colemak and qwerty, and I want a blank keyboard so the letters do not mess me up. I hardly look at the keyboard but it is true that keyboards like this speed up typing in any layout. An even more fun trick is to remove the backspace key. Then you'll really learn where the letters are.

cheeseefungu (author)jesirose2008-06-04

Yeah, just pop it right out of the socket. Really helped my little brother!

wperry1 (author)2006-08-27

Acetone might work well for some keyboards and leave a cleaner finish. I once worked in a computer store and accidentally cleaned the logos off of a few mice with the stuff. Also, with the right kb you can pop off the key caps and rearrange them. My broter did this years ago with a wireless kb. He spelled HACKERS across the middle row of keys.

maker12 (author)wperry12007-12-13


de-evolution (author)2007-12-07

look at my result (I sanded it off then painted)

BlackJack2k6 (author)2006-12-21

What about taking some sort of heavy-duty stain remover like GOOF-OFF and using that? If the keyboard is solid black plastic, it would take off only the letters. I'm not totally sure, but doesn't that make sense?

Kelani (author)BlackJack2k62007-06-24

That stuff is Xylene and will deform or decompose most plastics. Says so on the can.

fionaleigh (author)2007-04-26

cool idea, but i'm forced to wonder.....what's the point?

thydzik (author)fionaleigh2007-06-17

it is claimed that Das Keyboard can allow the user to "type up to 100% faster in a few weeks"

Toulouse (author)2007-06-10

i'm not saying what you did was bad, but why would you want one of these?

thydzik (author)Toulouse2007-06-17

Basically, having black keys, make you type faster, as it forces you to not look at the keys.

zachninme (author)2006-09-29

Someone posted about using sugar to remove lables on cell phones/PDAs, I wonder if it works on this? I find it ineresting looking at school computer keyboards, they are used so much, you can see letter frequencies !

Daykun (author)2006-09-10

Concerning some of the comments: Most white keyboards have the letters lasered in so you can't get them off with acetone or stuff like that. I would suggest first sanding and polishing, then use spray-colors. (remember that glossy finishes will require lots of cleaning...)

SurferGeek (author)2006-08-27

So... making a cheap knockoff of a stupid product, a parody of what is clearly a parody? Touch typing can be learned without having blank keys and computer keybards vary greatly by manufacturer so being proficient on one will only lead to confusion on another. QWERTY keyboards are also inefficient for speed and were designed to actually slow the typist.

trebuchet03 (author)SurferGeek2006-08-28

The Das keyboard is NOT a parody... if you believe it to be so -- what is it making fun of? Poor typing skills? Well, that would not work considering their product claims are better typing skills... Their product really is of high quality - checkout their website ;) For the most part, a qwerty keyboard is a qwerty keyboard. Yes, some mfr's will have slight key size differences... or ctrl and alt and delete buttons might be in different locations... but the qwert part (letters, numbers, pipe, etc.) is a standardized layout.... I would not say "confusion" when you switch to another keyboard -- its more of required adaptation to key sensitivity, size etc. In any case, the letter imprints are of no consequence. As for the inefficiency of the layout -- robo covered it nicely... I actually have an old steno machine that has no markings and it can easily be seen why the layout is as such.

Robotrix (author)SurferGeek2006-08-27

actually, they weren't designed to slow the typist. QWERTY places the most common letter pairs farther away from each other so that the typewriter key limbs wouldn't jam constantly. Of course, it became totally outmoded as soon as we stopped using typewriters, but that's the reason it exists.

iman (author)2006-08-28

hey theRIAA can you say deadly fumes :P LOL

theRIAA (author)2006-08-28

i would have 1st tried just mixing up all the deadlyest, most powerfull solvents and cleaners at you local hardware store, and giving the keyboard a good wipedown.

SurferGeek (author)2006-08-27

No really, what's the point? Really?

mikesty (author)SurferGeek2006-08-27

It's somewhat of a parody on the Das Keyboard linked in the original post. Basically, the Das Keyboard is a fancy all-black keyboard that has no inscriptions on the keys whatsoever, and the different keys have differently weighted springs. It claims to use high quality stuff. The manufacturers claim that because the keys are unmarked, your typing speed and accuracy will improve dramatically. The problem is, the keyboard is like $90 us, which leads people to say "well durrrrrrrrr I don't need to spend 90 bucks to have a keyboard with no letters." This person finally put their nose to the grinder (or keys to the grinder) and actually did this to prove a point I guess.

alexdcd (author)2006-08-27

The point is you can increase typing speeds and key location by error. As the thought process is longer if the key placement has to be experimented or researched and thus is better remembered by the user. It also makes you concentrate on the screen more for word documents because there is no need to look down at the keyboard, and you can type as fast as superman with little error. DAS keyboards do take a few days to get used to but in the end its well worth it. Good idea, but dirty execution, i would rather polish the keys off or make a semi perminant solution like vinyl stickers that can be removed if you want your normal keyboard back, i hate rough keys, so a sanded edge leaves much to be desired.

Neodudeman (author)2006-08-27

That's cool! I like that

Slavak (author)2006-08-26

whats the point?

trebuchet03 (author)Slavak2006-08-26

exactly! why do we need these labels :P memory > eyes

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