Picture of steampunk keyboard
This is how i built a steampunk keyboard. Tired of the ever present brass frame i wanted a wooden frame with hand made brass keys.
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Step 1: Select a keyboard

Picture of select a keyboard
Select a keyboard that will allow you to wrap the wood in one axis. More than one axis will complicate the process to an unbelievable level. Remove the top of the keyboard and all of the keys . Do not damage the key stems as yo will be reusing them later. Steam the wood to allow it to bend to shape. If you choose a very hard wood it will crack and splinter as you bend it around the keyboard frame. The next step is to use cyanoacrylate to adhere the wood to long edge of the keyboard. Leave some overlap on the sides of the keyboard , you will be cutting them off later. With a thin seam of thin quick dry glue adhere the wood to the plastic frame until the entire face is covered. Once the forward face is covered. Cut the side bars to cover the sides of the face of the plastic frame. Once the sides and top of the keyboard are covered with wood cut out the holes for the keys. some will be square and some round. square holes will require a great deal of extra care for the wood will split.

Step 2: Stylize the surface

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Here is the departure between a worn surface look and a new ready to be abused look. prep the keyholes and cut and additional feature holes and markers now to save yourself the headache of damaging the finish later. Use sandpaper that matches the hardness of the wood to finish the surface and take any blemishes out. The finer the wood grain the finer the sandpaper you want to finish with. Use a light poly spray to seal the wood . Repeat over and over with the finest sandpaper available until satisfied.

Step 3: Keys 1

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Wow 104 keys. Yeah but at 4 parts per key and 9 or so steps per key . First select a brass tube size that works with your keys. next get a metal yes metal plastic does not work! metal tube cuter to cut your keys with. cut 130 or so key tall sections of tubing. if you can use a table saw with a tube cutter attachment please save yourself the time and do so.

Step 4: Keys 2

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use a section of tube to make a blank cutter. use a rotary tool to cut sections out of the tube. again at 130 times you will appreciate the time spent. Use a small diameter wheel to sharpen the inside of the tube. this will create wood sections with a trapezoidal shape allowing them to slide into the cups.

Step 5: Keys 3

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take all 130 circles and insert wood blanks into one side. next print out the letters number and symbols you want on the face of the keys. use a permanent marker to darken the inside of the cup where it meets the brass. set all the cups on plastic wrap. Cut out the inserts and set them aside. Drop 1-2 drops of thin cyanoacrylate into the cup with the wood insert in the bottom. drop the paper insert into the still wet ca (cyanoacrylate). once the paper discolors from the glue drop one or more drops of ca on top of the paper to seal the paper to the wood.

Step 6: Keys 4

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Once the glue is dry take a polymer pour product (resin/hardener product) and fill the cups. use a stick to dribble the resin into the cups until just over the top of the cup (slight convex? shape to the liquid. as in out at the center in at the edges). sorry no photo just does not translate into still. even if it did you will have to get right down to the table and look across the top of the cups to judge the fill level.

Step 7: Keys 5

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cut the around the tops of the keys

Step 8: Keys 6

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cut the key head off at the seam between the surface and the empty center of the key. adjust the depth of the cut to match the key height and difference in each key head.

Step 9: Keys 7

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Allow 2 days for the filler product to dry. then attach the key head to the key post. Use gap filling ca. then wrap scotch style tape to the brass section of the key let the overhang section stick off the (top) bottom of the key. this when placing the key upside down will prevent paint from getting on the clear face of the key. paint bottom of key

Step 10: Keys 8

Remove paint and buff the brass round of the key. after buffing insert the key into the keyboard.

Step 11: Connect accent light

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in this case i removed the numb lock led and used a bright blue led inside of a brass tube i mad to create an accent light controlled by the numb lock key since almost always on it works out well.

Step 12: Finished at last

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By now you will have invested a lot of time and effort into your keyboard have fun!!!
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wow... i think my ADHD would stop me from starting this project but it's a neat one...
nope... it doesent has to stop you, i know a little about ADHS and i would say: lets try ! 'cause hyper-focussing is something only persons with ADHS could....
you could work on this project and " fade-out" the rest of the world.
? you just need a project that realy interests you ( sry for my cruel english.... )
Best greetings, Remy.
nerd747311 months ago

I want to buy one but I also want to make one...

you use a hole punch

I wasn't asking a question... that my friend was a statement about me wanting to make one... sorry for the confusion

I was trying to leave a comment for another commenter... lol... I'm new to the hood..

Welcome to instructables...

How did you go about cutting the holes in the wood for the keys. The wood does not look thin enough for a stylist of exact o knife to cut through...

you use a hole punch to make the key pads

Reminds me of the keyboard that Artie uses on Warehouse 13.


bubblebut4 years ago
hello phirzcol I think that this is such an amazing project that I think that you should try to produce more keyboards because i would really like to buy one and i'm sure a lot of other people would too. Please Respond Soon.
not to be mean, but there seems to be alot of people who would like to buy stuff on instructables...
Ya there does seem to be, but aside from overlooking the "D-i-Y" aspect of it...maybe with the great importance of economic values today..a person that finds out that their "Artwork" or project is valuable enough to catch another's eye..that they may finally find the way to become happy at doing what they love instead of working at a job that they hate
DIY-Guy mhandy1 year ago

I agree with your comments Mhandy, I feel the same way. Now if I could just clean the garage enough to start making one of these projects....

That's absolutely inspirational to hear people want to buy these projects!
Etsy, here I come! (Now if I would just settle down and make one of these...)

Although i have no projects on here...i can look for hours and hours and be fascinated at some peoples creativity and dedication...and i think im slowly becoming more of a fan of the "Steam Punk" Genre
phirzcol (author)  evindrews3 years ago
Artifact :Magic item, in fantasy, any object that has magical powers so powerful that it cannot be duplicated or destroyed by ordinary means
ok i know that a should'nt exspect him to mass produce them and also what if the materiels are to hard to find or order online and maybey some people don't have a month of free time so onistly would'nt you like to buy this because if you don't i say that you have no taste in steampunk art like this
phirzcol (author)  bubblebut3 years ago
Working on a solution. Could produce something nice for 45 usd retail.
There's somebody on ebay that sells these for 500 USD each.
Bluetooth???? that would e cool but I dont want to ruin a $200 Apple bluetooth keyboard.
You can pick up an Apple bluetooth keyboard for $70. Or even better, just a no-name for 20-50.
DIY-Guy Samw1 year ago

I think the no-name keyboards are the way to go. Or thrift stores. There's a possibility of using "dome decal" crafting technique to make semi-legitimate looking keys that look old fashioned.
This is nice, looks great in the finished photos!

couldn't you just salvage keys from an old typewriter? i know you'd have to come up with some of the keys because of the functions (del/home/etc) but wouldn't that save you a whole bunch of work?

I dig this fancy font on the homemade keys better than the plain fonts on actual typewriter keys.

Also, why not just learn to wire the typewriter itself if you have one? It's a waste in my opinion to ruin these beautiful things just for the sake of making something cool

That would work: others have done so to good effect. However, there exists a limited number of surviving, nifty-looking, antique typewriters, and any given artist has few, if any, available for salvage operations. This method allows those with common modern resources, but no historical samples, to create something awesome, too.
In my experience the type of typewriter with the old round keys, if you can find one with all of the keys in tact, are very expensive. An average of $75 and some upwards of $500 - $750

And even if you find the old typewriter keys, most of them only have 48 keys! Then you have the task of trying to match them for consistancy... or go with an ugly mis-matched keyboard. If you use a more modern keyboard you aren't going to have the steam punk look. Time is not always the enemy, and for me at least the satisfaction of building something myself far outweighs saving a whole bunch of work..
nerd74731 year ago
do you know where I can buy a steampunk keyboard?
memorris0272 years ago
Super cool!
Really nice work.
jballantyne3 years ago
Is there a way that I can buy an already built steampunk keyboard and how much would it cost?
If you buy the materials, I could build it.
Sulfurite3 years ago
nice tutorial there :)
surely i make one of these keyboards :D
Sorry if I missed it but could you possibly send a list of the supplies used.Thanks
chadeau3 years ago
..and somewhere between the SP genre and modernicity,I removed the keys from a nicotene-stained keyboard.The asset being that the key tops (letter surface) are permanently yellowed,and multi tone metallic spray bombs were available.Using strategic color placement,said keyboard looks like a metal salvage dream-Antique Gold,Brass and Bronze keys with a heavy -looking malleable housing.The key tops are reminiscent of ivory keys,and are prominent (but not bright) thamks to the metallic tones of their sides and housing.
gbredemeyer3 years ago
Very awesome, i hope i can catch someone at a maker faire sometime with similar stuff.

-Graham, www.pypline.com -The online community for makers
Win Guy4 years ago
This is cool! 5/5 I'm making my own version with real copper keys! I'll let you know how it turns out when I'm finished!
Win Guy
Win Guy Win Guy4 years ago
UPDATE: Resin is too expensive, so I put the copper rings (soon to be keys) on a piece of paper and filled them almost to the top with hot glue. I then cut out the keys (paper and all) and slipped the paper letters into the rings (the rings have a natural lip from being cut that holds the piece of paper in place). So far, the keys seem pretty solid and stable.
I'll keep you posted!
Win Guy
Win Guy Win Guy4 years ago
STATUS REPORT: About 2/5 of the keys are finished now! I purchased a keyboard at a thrift store for $3.00 ( ! ) and it looks pretty boxy - perfect for this project! I also discovered that the "Insert" key on the new keyboard doesn't work... So I made a "Skull And Crossbones" key (toward the right) to represent the "dead" key.
More in a few days!
Win Guy
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