How to Build a Keyboard

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Updated July 25, 2022

If you’re shopping for the best keyboard, you may wonder how to build a custom mechanical keyboard. Whether you’re a writer, gamer, or remote-working professional, DIY models can offer custom keyboard layouts for increased efficiency. While a regular keyboard is often cheaper, learning how to build a keyboard is an excellent option for those wanting a tailor-made typing experience.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Custom mechanical keyboards offer enhanced productivity and unique keyboard layouts to suit specific needs.
  • The type of switches you choose will heavily influence the sound and feel of your typing experience.
  • The most time-consuming part of the DIY keyboard process is waiting for custom parts to arrive.

How to Build a Custom Keyboard

You should do some planning before starting to get your keyboard ready. You can change almost every keyboard component on a custom mechanical keyboard, so have a clear vision before you get started. In addition, the quality of your mechanical switches and other parts will inform how long your keyboard lasts.

There are an array of options to supply the exact keyboard experience you prefer. If you’re unsure what type of keyboard design you want, look at the best ducky keyboards for inspiration.

Insider Tip

Every keyboard component will affect the sound and feel of the typing experience.

That said, experts recommend a hot-swappable PCB since it is easier to fix a keyboard key without soldering switches into place. In addition, choosing hot-swappable switches ensures that you can easily clean the mechanical keyboard.

So, if you want a custom keyboard to program, game, or write, follow the basic steps below. Note that, for this guide, we are using PCB-mounted stabilizers that are screwed into place as an example.

STEP 1

Choose which type of keyboard layout you want and purchase a PCB to match. For this guide, we recommend a hot-swappable PCB for a solder-free setup.

STEP 2

Pick a case that fits your PCB. A metal case is the most durable, but you can choose a case made of wood or plastic. It should also have a switch mount to make your keys more stable.

STEP 3

Choose which switch type you want. Clicky switches make more noise, tactile switches offer a “bump” when pressed, and linear switches deliver a smooth keypress.

STEP 4

Apply a bit of lube to the stabilizer housing, and install the stabilizers. The lube is an optional step, but it will make your space bar, shift, and enter keys smooth to press.

STEP 5

Place your switch mount over the PCB, and begin installing your switches. Be careful because you can bend your switch pins during the installation process.

STEP 6

Once your switches are installed, you can screw your PCB into the case. Be sure to slide the USB port in first before lining up the screw holes.

STEP 7

Place your keycaps onto the switches. They should be easy to install but look at a conventional keyboard layout if you need help with your cap placement.

STEP 8

Plug your new keyboard into your PC, and test it out.**

Warning

Use washers on screw-in stabilizers to prevent potential electrical issues with the keyboard.

F.A.Q.S

What is the most expensive keyboard in the world?

According to the Guinness World Records, the Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional HP Japan is the most expensive keyboard. This popular typing tool costs over $4,000 and features keycaps hand-coated in Urushi lacquer and dusted with gold.


Why Build A Custom Keyboard?

Most users in the mechanical keyboard community appreciate the near-limitless options that make their keyboard unique and optimized for their job or hobby. For example, a custom gaming keyboard might offer optimized key placements and shortcuts for specific titles.


Why are DIY keyboards so expensive?

Just like other hand-made goods, the cost of a custom keyboard kit will exceed a regular keyboard thanks to high-quality parts and a potentially time-consuming production process. In addition, parts like keycaps and custom layout PCBs require small-batch production, which heavily raises the price.


STAT: A 2022 Pew Research Center survey found that 59% of respondents work from home if the option is available. (source)

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