Keyboard Refrigerator Magnets - New Method




Introduction: Keyboard Refrigerator Magnets - New Method

Set free your inner geek! Make fridge magnets from old keyboard keys!

My first instructable! The inspiration for this came after I discovered the keyboard wallet instructable. I thought it was cool but... what about all the other parts of the keyboard? Being a person who hates to see anything go to waste, I pondered the fate of the rest of the keyboard. Then it came to me: magnets! I could turn the keys into magnets! And what perfect timing, with the fridge magnet contest just beginning....

EDIT: A few hours after posting this, I found llama13's keyboard fridge magnets. This instructable was not inspired by his, it is just coincidence that we both had the same idea. However, my fridge magnets use slightly different supplies and methods.

And, since this instructable is competing in the fridge magnet challenge, please give it a + rating if you liked it!

Step 1: Obtain the Necessary Tools and Supplies

Here are the things you'll need...

-Keyboard x 1
-Flat Magnet (Comes in strips or a roll)
-Screwdrivers (1 Phillips required, a jeweler's sized flathead is also handy.)
-Glue (Hot glue, tacky glue, whatever you like)
-Cutting Pliers

Flat magnets are fairly easy to obtain. Law firms and dentist's offices just love to stick them in your phonebooks, mailboxes, and anywhere else where you might be annoyed to find them. It doesn't matter what kind of picture is on the back, because we're not going to see that part anyway. However, if you don't want to reuse these magnets (I didn't have a bunch lying around) you can purchase them at craft stores, or other places (I got mine at Wal-Mart.)

As for the keyboard... most geeks will have no problem with this step. You might even have one gathering dust in a closet somewhere...

For those of you who are NOT geeks, go search goodwill or your local thrift stores (or dumpsters). You'll probably be able to get one for less than a couple bucks (or maybe even free).

Keep in mind that it doesn't have to work, it just has to have keys in decent enough shape that you'd be okay with having them on your fridge.

Step 2: Disassemble Your Keyboard

To begin, flip your 'board over. You'll likely find at least two screws. Remove them and set them aside. (You won't be needing them, unless you like to save them) Now try to pull the top and bottom of your keyboard apart. If it's like mine, it'll probably open by a sort of hinge at the top, which slides out once the case opens. If it seems to be stuck, make sure you got _all_ of the screws out. Sometimes manufactures like to hide them under little rubber feet or stickers. If it still doesn't want to come open, you can always try using brute strength... We won't be needing the case later anyway.

Inside, you'll probably find a small circuit board in one corner (probably the corner where the cord comes out) and the rest will be concealed by a large metal sheet, held in place by one or more screws. Again, remove them and set them aside. Then lift off the metal sheet. (Your keyboard might not have a metal sheet, I've only tried this on one keyboard which used the sheet as a ground.) You should see one or more layers of plastic with circuit traces on them, and some kind of rubber sheet with little bumps on it. Either that, or there will be little rubber buttons on the sheet itself. The rubber things are what make your keys springy! None of this is important, unless you want to save the sheets to make a cool wallet. Anyway, you should now be looking at the back of the keys. On to the next step!

Step 3: Removing the Keys

The keys consist of: a) the actual key and, b) a little plastic plunger thing. The best way I've found to remove the keys from the keyboard is to take a small flathead screwdriver, insert it into the key, then lift the keyboard and push. The key should pop away from the plunger and onto your desk. As of yet, I haven't found a use for the plungers... They look kinda cool though. Remove all of the keys from the board using this method, or any other methods that might be more suited to your individual board. Note that removing the larger keys, such as return (enter) and the spacebar is exactly the same as removing the smaller ones, because they still only have one actual contact point. Note that they may have little guiding tabs that also stick through the board. Be sure you're pushing on the point that actually connects the key to the plunger, because you might risk damaging the key if you push anywhere else.

Step 4: Cleaning the Keys

Since the keyboard keys are one of the dirtiest surfaces in your home, and your kitchen should be one of the cleanest surfaces in your home, I think it's a good idea to clean the keyboard keys before putting them on your fridge.

I just soaked them in warm soapy water and scrubbed the dirtiest ones with a toothbrush. Boiling them would probably be easier, but I didn't feel like using the stove.

Step 5: Making the Magnets

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for.... Now we get to make the magnets!!!

Alright, I know you're psyched, but first we have to let your hot glue gun warm up. (Or if you're really patient, you can use other glue.) Start by picking the key you're going to back with magnet. Cut a strip (or a chunk if you're not using the stuff on a roll like me) a little bigger than the key you're going to back. Then, apply glue all around the edge of the key, and stick it onto the magnet. (If you're using the store bought stuff, be sure to peel off the backing first if you're using the stick on kind. Don't just stick the magnet on to the key because the glue that they back the magnet with isn't worth beans.) Wait for the glue to fully dry and cure, and then trim off the excess magnet around the edge. Congratulations! Your first key is done. (Don't celebrate too much, because you've still got a lot more to do.)

One little tip: If you want to do the keyboard the same way I did, try grouping the keys into sections. This way, your kitchen won't be filled with keyboard keys that fall off the fridge and trip you up. The one downside to this is that the keys tend to fall off the magnet backing if you grab them the wrong way. The solution? I think you could just use stronger glue....

The enter and spacebar (and possibly other) keys are different than the rest. They have little plastic tabs that get in the way of the magnet strip...

Step 6: The Tricky Keys

For the enter and spacebar keys, you'll first need to remove a few little plastic tabs before you can glue the magnet on. To do this, you'll need your cutting pliers. Simply snip off the extruding tabs using brute strength. For this step, wear safety goggles (or shield your eyes.) I had one plastic tab that ricocheted off of several objects in my kitchen before coming to rest on the floor. Then just sand off any little bits of the tab that are left. Then you can glue the magnet on.

Also, if you're grouping the arrow keys like I did, make sure you got them into the correct configuration or they'll look odd. To make sure that they're in the correct alignment, make sure that all of the pictures on the keys are in the same place (all arrows in upper-left corner.) Also, make sure that all of the keys slant the same direction. If you are using a standard desktop keyboard, this usually means that the keys have a lower top than bottom when lying flat.

If you are making a group of keys that has more than one row, and the keys stick off of the magnetic strip a bit, make sure you glue them really well so that they don't fall off. Some of my arrow keys came off the strip after I was finished, so I had to use a stronger glue to repair them.

Step 7: Finishing Up

Yep, you're done. How long did it take you to glue all the keys? It took me two and a half hours. Yeesh. Anyway, if the keys start to fall off of the magnet base over time, it's probably time to re-glue with something stronger. You wouldn't want to throw them away after all that hard work you did....

That's it! Enjoy your new magnets. Stick em' to your fridge, or anything else that they'll stick to.... And have fun!

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    Why not fill the keys with plaster of Paris, Bondo, clay or some other moldable stuff to give the key more heft and more gluing surface area?


    13 years ago on Step 4

    I used a quicker, easier method for cleaning when I made the keyboard thumb tacks. Put the keyboard in the dish washer before you remove the keys. Clean as new.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 4

    I second this method. I often use it to clean my desktop's keyboard after removing the electronics. Put it in the top rack and it will look like new when it's done. Takes a while to dry fully but well worth it.


    13 years ago on Step 7

    Great instructions! I'll have to make sure I make some time to do this... my 2 year old will love having these on the fridge! (so will my rude friends... i think i'll separate most of the keys to have some fun.. i've got a couple of spare keyboards hanging around :) +++

    Rist Rocket
    Rist Rocket

    13 years ago on Introduction

    What brand/make of keyboards are you guys/gals using? I ask because I have opened up 4 different brands of keyboards and none of them have a separate plunger and key. All of the keys are molded with the plunger as one piece. Thanks for your help.


    15 years ago on Introduction

    I guess this isn't a new idea... I didn't see this before I wrote mine... Ugh, there goes an entire day of making magnets. I feel dumb. Oh well, my way of doing it is a bit different than his, so technically it's a project with different methods and ideas.


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Echoing what other posts are saying, ideas don't exist in a vacuum. We create things based on what we've seen and our experiences. Truly original and unique ideas are very rare. New methods, different methods , or even just improved methods can often move whole industries forward. Sharing your methods and ideas may inspire others. So please share!


    Reply 15 years ago on Introduction

    There are multiple ways to do the same thing, and they are all valid Instructables.


    Reply 15 years ago on Introduction

    No worries - there's always room for more than one ;)


    14 years ago on Introduction

    After seeing the two related instructables I made my own keyboard fridge magnets. There were minor differences in the method I used.
    magnets were 3mm x 1mm neodymium magnets from E-magnets UK held in with hot melt glue.
    The only real wrinkle in the method was to embed the tiny magnets within the hot glue using a steel wire to push them into place, then whilst the glue was still molten put the key down on a cold steel plate.
    The magnet pulls itself to the steel plate and cools the glue around it leaving a very thin layer of glue between the magnet and the steel.
    This means the magnets don't fall out and also ensures that they are at exactly the right height to stick the keys flush to the fridge.
    the hot glue I used did not stick well to the steel so removing the keys was just a matter of knocking them loose once the entire glue blob had cooled.