Mahogany Keyboard Cover

So this was a quick project I thought would be fun late on a friday. The premise here is simple: take some wood veneer and cutout key covers for a usb keyboard we had around to give it a nice wood finish look. There are a few examples out there for macbook keyboards that I’ve seen (I think there was a kickstarter for one recently). The keyboard we had in house is VERY similar to the Apple wireless keyboard, though seems like they changed it just enough to avoid a lawsuit (it was built for PC use). Anyway, I had to model up this keyboard for an unrelated project and figured it would be an easy/fun project to take a dxf off of that print and cutout the keys. The key to this is mostly in getting a good model of the keyboard. Obviously, key spacing isn’t as important here but the key size is. The other important part is getting the kerf of your machine correct (which I missed on a bit).

Now for materials and setup, I used some PSA-backed Mahogany veneer that I had picked up from Rockler some time ago. This provides a good adhesive for sticking to the keys and makes layout a lot easier. In terms of putting this together I was working quickly and wanted to see how well this came out without any additional finishing steps to the wood. I was wrong about that bit, and will certainly use some type of finish when I make one of these again. So I’ve got my model of the keys in solidworks (or whichever cad you’re comfortable with) and before exporting I offset each of the key outlines by half of the kerf on my machine. Again, make sure you get this right with some test cuts. I overcompensated on mine and the wood was a bit too large for the keys. The dxf that I had exported looks like this: [gview file=”” profile=”4″ save=”1″]

After uploading the dxf, the next step was simply to add in the text to the keys for etching. As this was quick, I kept fonts the same size and tried not to overcomplicate it. Once I had the text etched, I simply cut out the keys (without moving the stock) and pulled the letters off for application.

As I mentioned above, there are a few errors on this that need some quick fixes. The two main things are that I overestimated the kerf and didn’t sand and finish the veneer before cutting. Both of these can be addressed pretty quickly, though, and I should have an update in the next few days with a better looking revision.



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