Instructables
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.
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nerd74731 month ago

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

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...

bronieblaze5 months ago

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

http://www.notcot.com/images/2009/07/warehouse133.jpg

bubblebut3 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 mhandy5 months 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....

DIY-Guy evindrews5 months ago

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 Samw5 months 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..
nerd74738 months ago
do you know where I can buy a steampunk keyboard?
memorris0272 years ago
Super cool!
Really nice work.
jballantyne2 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.
Sulfurite2 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
chadeau2 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.
gbredemeyer2 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 Guy3 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 Guy3 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
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Win Guy Win Guy3 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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Win Guy Win Guy3 years ago
I'm almost finished with all of the keys, and I'll be cutting the key shafts soon. I might just paint the keyboard copper-ish instead of making it look woody, because that's what I have on hand... I've probably only spent $4.00 on this project so far!
I'm sorry if I'm a bother, what with all of the commenting here, but I just want to show you the process through which I'm going to build this.
Win Guy
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Win Guy Win Guy3 years ago
Sorry, I was going to post an update sooner, but lost it due to a browser crash.
I'm almost finished with everything, and I'll post it in an Instructable when a good Steampunk or other conest comes along.
Cheers!
Win Guy
Win Guy Win Guy3 years ago
ryanmuller4 years ago
How do you attach the section of brass tubing with the serrated edge to your drill press or whatever you are using? I wouldn't think they'd have ready-made adapters for that...
phirzcol (author)  ryanmuller4 years ago
 The brass pipe is the tool. leave it long so you have something to hold.
wow... how long does it take to get the wood for one key? I'd think that would take forever
phirzcol (author)  ryanmuller4 years ago
 I used balsa, so the cutting went quick. I later strengthened it with thin ca.
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