For those who truly care about owning the best keyboard should be asking themselves the question: When was the last time you lubed up? Knowing how to lube keyboard switches is a right of passage for anyone who wants to consider themself a true king of the keyboard. Because this process can be tricky, you should first possess a basic understanding of how to fix a keyboard.
So if this is a project has you burning with interest, read on.
It’s not entirely unreasonable to question why keyboard keys would need lubrication. The answer, though, is definitive: it enhances the mechanical typing sound and the smoothness of the keystrokes. Again, this might sound a little excessive, but a smooth keyboard can reduce a lot of stress for those who type a lot. It’s simply a more pleasant experience.
If you plan on doing a lot of keyboard modifications, it can be good to get a hot-swap keyboard, which allows you to take keys out without soldering.
The actual lubing process isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s also really fun. And if you know how to remove keyboard keys, you’re already one step closer to that beautiful, clicky sound. Of course, if your keyboard is broken, read our guide on how to fix a keyboard on a laptop.
Take off all the keycaps using a flathead screwdriver or key remover.
Remove the keyboard casing to access the switches and see the printed circuit board (PCB).
Some keyboards allow you to pull the switches directly out and don’t require soldering, so check for this before starting. If you can’t pull the switches, heat your soldering iron and de-solder each mechanical keyboard switch.
Once the keys are out, use a flathead screwdriver (or precision tool) to pull the keys apart by loosening the four clips around the sides of the switch.
There are four main switch components: Spring, Lower Housing, Upper Housing, and Stem.
Proceed to brush on a bit of lube to the lower switch housing. You’ll want to lube the floor, in and around the cylinder, and where the stem sits. There will likely be a little copper leaf (called a click leaf) within the lower housing. Try not to get any switch lubricant on this part.
Wipe off any excess lube.
Put all the switch springs into a bag with lube. Doing them all at once is the fastest and easiest way. Then place each spring in the cylinder of the lower housings.
Brush a bit of lube on the stems. Here, make sure to lube the cylindrical area, but avoid lubing the stem legs that poke out the bottom.
Brush on a bit of lube to the area of the upper housing where the stem sits.
Put the switch components back together. As you do this, make sure everything fits appropriately and nothing seems off.
Put each lubed switch back into the keyboard and then resolder into the PCB.
Test to make sure that all the keys work correctly.
The easiest part to damage during this process is the metal click leaf in the lower housing of each key. If you accidentally damage it, you’ll likely need a new key.
What are linear switches?
The linear switch type is known for not making any noise when making a keystroke. As a result, they are generally smoother and faster to use.
Do all mechanical switches need to be lubricated?
Not at all. Lubricating switches isn’t a necessary part of keyboard maintenance.
How often should you lubricate keyboard mechanical switches?
Consistent lubing isn’t necessary, but many recommend lubing a heavily-used keyboard every 6-8 months. Keyboards that don’t see much use can be done every few years.
STAT: The standard number of keys on an American keyboard is 104. (source)