Cheap Steampunk Keyboard




Introduction: Cheap Steampunk Keyboard

About: I am just a kid that enjoys building things and sharing them with the world.

***40% complete, bear with me***

Hey guys let me begin with saying sorry, this is my first instructable and I have no idea if I am doing this correctly. Oh well I'm trying my best! This project is not for the faint of heart, because even after 50 hours of work it isn't done! Ye have been warned.

Great you kept reading! This is a work in progress and I will be putting steps as I get to each stage of the keyboard. Go onto step 1 to see a materials list.

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Step 1: Jigs

You can make this project without jigs but trust me it will take more than twice as long to complete this project. These will help you cut the pipe and the wooden dowel.

Cutting pipe:

This is very ghetto but super simple. You need a drill, vice, metal pipe cutter, metal block, zip tie, and some way to attach your pipe to your drill.

Step 1: put metal chunk into vice.
Step 2: zip tie pipe cutter onto vice.
Step 3: Attach pipe to drill

My method of attaching the pipe to the drill was a grinding stone covered in duck tape shoved into one side of the pipe. Like I said, ghetto but effective.

Cutting wood:
Step 1: Find a good right angle that you can use. (Mine is a chop saw)
Step 2: Get a 2x4 and drill a 5/8 inch hole in it about a little over a centimeter deep, doesn't have to be accurate.
Step 3: Drill smaller hole for a screwdriver, you need it to pop the wood out.

If the directions weren't clear post your questions in the comments section.

Step 2: Keys: Cutting the Pipe

Please only buy the materials that you need, conserve your money unless you are sure you want to spend it making this project!

This is just a detailed version of cutting the pipe.

The pipe cutter when pressed up against the metal plate should make all of the keys the same size. At this size they are perfect for eventually building a faceplate that is to your liking. This keyboard's keys are all circles except for the space bar, so you need to cut out 103 pieces of keys. Using the jig will help so much trust me.

When cutting the keys, hold the drill up so that the pipe is perfectly level, place pipe into cutter and tighten it just a little, get the drill to cut a guide line, and slowly build up speed and pressure.

I have only cut 56 pieces of pipe but they only took me 1 hour to cut! Since this is steampunk and it is supposed to look used I decided that no sanding was necessary. Off to the next step we go!!!

Step 3: Keys: Cutting / Sanding Wood

Please, please, please, tell me if this is confusing I always get very low grades when writing stories, but I don't know if stories translates to directions!

Step 1: line up the right angle with the hole you drilled

Step 2: place dowel into the corner of the right angle and slide it into the hole in the wood.

Step 3: take jig saw and cut piece of wood.

Step 4: Check using a piece of pipe whether or not it is about the same size.

Step 5: If wood is level with the pipe then your hole was drilled the correct depth

Step 6: Take a piece of the plastic from the cake container (salvaged), and cut it into a rough circle that fits into the top of one of the pipes.

Step 7: Put plastic into top, should have a lip from cutting, then put your piece of wood into thee pipe with the plastic.

Step 8: You need to then sand the wood down so the bottom is level.

Step 9: Repeat until you get bored xD

If you need help I can make a quick video of this step that should eliminate any confusion! Just tell me!

Step 4: Keys: Gluing Keys

Now that you have your metal pipe and sanded wood, you need to get those two together! I will be explaining how to do some of the assembly of the key.

Step 1: Take a hot glue gun and a piece of parchment paper.

Step 2: Put a thin line of glue all the way around the center of a piece of pipe (Use VERY sparingly it will be explained later).

Step 3: Place pipe onto parchment paper, and push a piece of wood into the middle. Keep pressure onto the piece of wood and pipe until it cools down making a flat surface.

Step 4: Repeat with all of your keys. Make about three keys start to finish so that you know how to do it, and so you know you are up to the task of making 103 keys.

Step 5: Keys: Cutting Paper and Plastic

Here is where things get really annoying for me, I cannot stand mess-ups. I am a perfectionist with major OCD, let's just say I get in my own way more than other people. I bought a 5/8 inch hole punch without thinking cause I was like yay now it can have perfect little circles!!! I was wrong. The pipe is 5/8 inch on the outside. I guess it still worked out because it speeds up the progress and all I have to do is cut about 1 mm off of every side of the circle. Oh well.

Step 1: Go onto Microsoft word and make a new document. Choose a font you like, and type the alphabet (just to start)

Step 2: If I make a template I will put it up for download on here, otherwise you are on your own.

Step 3: Once you have your letters printed out as the right size you can begin cutting, make sure the letter is centered or else it will look trashy.

Step 4: Cut a piece of the plastic to act as a cover, way cheaper than plexiglass or resin.

Step 5: Put both the paper and plastic into the top of the key, the plastic should be a tight squeeze so it doesn't fall out.

Step 6: Keys: Getting Key Ready

Here is where it gets a little complicated, remember when you had to take a ton of time to glue all of the pieces of wood into the pipe? Well if you used too much glue this step is going to suck pretty bad.

Step 1: Take your key with all of it put together so far.

Step 2: Turn key upside down and push the wood until the plastic prevents the wood from moving more.

Step 3: This will make the top of all of the keys the same height.

Step 4: Using a piece of pipe as a guide, cut out a piece of plastic that goes over the bottom of the key. This will make a flat surface on the bottom of the key as well as the top.

Step 6: Glue plastic onto bottom using hot glue, this should seal everything up all nice!

A 5/8 inch hole punch really comes in handy when making the plastic on the bottom, but it is not a necessity.

Step 7: Keys: Finishing Off

Now here is the part where you get to decide how yours wants to be done, do you want it over with and not have to make a faceplate? If you want to make a faceplate use these instructions, if not do the extra steps.

Step 1: Pop out a key from your keyboard

Step 2: Take some wire cutters, and cut the entire skirt off of the key.

Step 3: Take one of your finished keys, put some glue on it, and attach it onto the post of the original key. Make sure you put it on right or else it will just look silly.

The extra steps involve being very careful while cutting the original keys, sanding the edges, and using a nice clear glue rather than hot glue like I use. I would also like to say that whenever you take the key out of the keyboard to cut it off put it back where it came from. Most keyboards have the same connectors, but for the few that have different this is important.

Step 8: Making a Faceplate (Optional)

This is an optional feature, if you did your keys nicely then it could just end there. But for the adventerous few that want the whole package the faceplate is for you. I am using one of the standard HP USB keyboards, I chose this because of it being in use EVERYWHERE. I felt like I needed to one up HP, and I hope to meet that goal. These steps are now just plans, I haven't made it here myself! Whenever I do make the faceplate I am going to design a template on where to drill the holes. You are on your own if you aren't using the same keyboard. So good luck with the making of the keys, and I will add instructions while I work!

Step 9: Updates

I wI'll be putting stuff here as I complete it. This will serve as a way for you guys to know what is getting done!

4/3 Just finished making all of the letter keys. About to install them.

4/4 Finally the letters are completed and installed! I am actually typing these sentences using the keyboard, granted it is a little weird with using shift and all of those keys! Going to be working on the numbers soon though.

5/1/17 Wow, forgot I even had this instructable... Been on the back burner for a while, might finish it sometime soon, but I've been making rings lately

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    10 Discussions


    3 years ago

    How is the instructable coming along? I'm anxious to know if it's good for a first try.


    3 years ago

    Just a suggestion for a faster and much easier way to produce the keys. If it's possible try to shove as much of the rod as you may think you need into the copper pipe, so all you'd have to do is cut, cut ,cut. Then all you'd have to do is sand each piece


    3 years ago

    My buttons on attached photo (on hand new buttons what i made today)

    external D15high 3mm, internal D13 high 2mm (will be assembled from 2 parts, button+leg)

    on second photo - one solid button.

    my advice for your buttons:

    1. use pipe, cut in on 3-4mm

    2. on bottom aprt use sheet of brass and solder it to pipe (or as variation - 1.5mm wood and brass ink)

    3. drill on center your button M4 hole and add there screw-leg....

    and it will be really nice button that can be used to any type of keyboards and mouse


    Reply 3 years ago

    I was debating doing this, but since I am too young to work, spending money is hard to come by. This method costs too much.


    Reply 3 years ago

    as idea only. you can use yor idea with some modification:1. cut pipe on 3-4mm 2. cut wood on 1-2 mm. 3.wood-to-pipe 4. drill M3 hole inside wood. 5 insert into hole M4 screw
    this will cost 10$
    then like in photos
    1. cut or lasercut overlay upper with holes.
    2. cut your donor keys like in photos
    3. place overlay to keyboard and drill M3 holes
    4. insert buttons and fix it using glue

    how to do perfect letters
    youll need "resin" epoxy polimer. when it will be polimerized it loock like piace of class....

    i'll wait with impatitience the completion of your project. i think that youll build remarkable keyboard


    Reply 3 years ago

    Good idea, I have done something very close to that. I have uploaded a new picture that includes more of the keys. It should look like the Buccaneer Keyboard (From this site) when it is done.

    P.S what language do you originally speak?


    3 years ago

    Can't wait to see it all finished! (My previous message got deleted!) ;)


    Reply 3 years ago

    I was wondering what happened to it! Just finished making M key! Very close!