Maintaining the performance and feel of your mechanical keyboard is important, especially for those who spend long hours typing or gaming. One of the best ways to keep your keyboard in tip-top condition is by lubing the switches, which can enhance the smoothness of key presses and reduce noise. In this article, you’ll learn the process of lubing your keyboard switches in a safe and effective manner.
Before diving into the process, it’s essential to determine whether your switches are linear or tactile, as the lubing method can vary slightly between these two types. Additionally, you’ll need a few tools and supplies to get started, such as disposable gloves, a keycap puller, switch puller, switch opener or flathead screwdriver, small brush, and the appropriate lubricant for your switches.
Now that you’re acquainted with the importance of lubing your keyboard and have gathered your supplies, let’s proceed with the step-by-step instructions to ensure a smooth, efficient, and successful lubing experience. Remember, patience is key when handling delicate components and taking your time will yield the best results.
Understanding Mechanical Keyboards and Switches
If you’re using a mechanical keyboard, you may have noticed that the switches underneath your keys can greatly impact your typing experience, both in feel and sound. Understanding the different types of mechanical switches, as well as the importance of lubrication, can help you customize your keyboard and achieve an even smoother typing experience.
Types of Mechanical Switches
There are three main types of mechanical switches used in keyboards: linear, tactile, and clicky switches.
- Linear switches have a smooth, consistent keystroke with no tactile feedback or audible clicking. They offer a direct and responsive feel, ideal for fast typing or gaming.
- Tactile switches provide a small bump, or tactile feedback, halfway through the keystroke. This lets you know that the key has been activated, which can help reduce typing errors.
- Clicky switches produce a distinctive click sound along with tactile feedback when a key is pressed. They offer a satisfying typing experience for those who enjoy the audible feedback.
The choice of mechanical switch is largely a matter of personal preference, as each type offers different levels of tactile and auditory feedback.
Importance of Lubrication
Lubricating your mechanical switches can have several benefits, such as reducing friction between switch components, resulting in a smoother typing experience. It can also help to dampen the sound of your keystrokes, making for a quieter typing experience.
However, it’s important to note that lubrication is not recommended for clicky (blue) switches, as it may alter the intended sound and feel of the switch.
Proper lubrication can help extend the lifespan of your switches and reduce wear on the internal components, making it a worthwhile maintenance task for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.
Required Tools and Materials for Lubing
Before diving into lubing your keyboard, let’s gather all the necessary tools and materials to ensure a smooth process. Here’s a list of items you’ll need:
- Switch opener: This tool will help you open each switch with ease.
- Switch puller: Use this to remove the switch from the keyboard.
- Keycap puller: This tool lifts the keycaps from the keyboard.
- Lubing station: A dedicated space to keep all your switch components organized while you lube them.
- Tweezers: These come in handy to grab small switch parts.
- Small brush: You’ll need a paintbrush or a small brush for applying lubricant to the switch components.
- Lubricant: The most commonly recommended lubricants are Krytox 205g0, Tribosys 3203, and Krytox GPL 205.
When it comes to lubricants, the choice of viscosity varies based on your preferences. Krytox 205g0 is a thicker lubricant, offering a smoother feel and reduced switch noise. Tribosys 3203 is a thinner lubricant, providing a slightly more tactile feel while still reducing noise. Krytox GPL 205 is a thicker grease, best suited for stabilizers rather than individual switches.
Once you have gathered all the necessary tools and materials, you’re ready to start the lubing process. Don’t forget to work in a well-lit, organized space to keep track of all the components and ensure precision while lubing your keyboard switches.
Preparing Your Keyboard for Lubing
Before getting started with lubing your keyboard, you’ll need to prepare your mechanical keyboard properly. This process involves removing keycaps and taking out switches, ensuring you have a clean and safe workspace to apply lube effectively. Let’s walk you through these steps.
First, you’ll need to remove the keycaps from your mechanical keyboard. Don’t worry; it’s a simple task! You can use a keycap puller tool to help you do this. Gently insert the puller around a keycap, and with a slight upward motion, the keycap should come off. It’s crucial to be gentle during this process to avoid damaging the keycaps or the switches beneath them.
As you remove the keycaps, it’s a good idea to organize them to make it easier to reassemble your keyboard later. You can lay them out on a table or put them in separate containers based on their rows on the keyboard.
Taking Out Switches
Once the keycaps are removed, your next step is to remove the switches, specifically if you have a hot-swappable keyboard. To do this, you’ll need a switch puller. Start by positioning the puller on both sides of a switch, and gently squeeze to have the puller grip onto the switch. Next, pull upwards carefully to remove the switch from the keyboard.
Just like with the keycaps, make sure to keep your switches organized during the removal process, so you know where each one belongs once it’s time to reassemble your keyboard. Having a clean and organized workspace will help make the lubing process smoother and more efficient.
Now that you’ve removed the keycaps and switches, your keyboard is ready to be lubed. In the next sections, you’ll learn about the best types of lube to use and how to apply them to the bottom housing, stem, and springs of your mechanical keyboard switches.
Opening and Lubing Switches
Opening the Switch
To begin the lubing process, you’ll first want to open up the switches. You can use a switch opener for this, or if you have a small flathead screwdriver lying around, that will work too. Be gentle when prying open the switch, as you don’t want to damage the delicate components inside.
Lubing the Lower Housing and Stem
Once the switch is open, it’s time to start lubing the different parts. First, apply a thin layer of lube (such as Krytox 205g0 for linear switches or Tribosys 3203 for tactile switches) to the lower housing where the stem makes contact. This will help reduce any scratchiness or friction between the stem and housing. Next, move on to the stem itself. Be sure to apply an even layer of lube to all four sides, taking care not to overdo it, as too much lube can cause the switch to feel sluggish.
Don’t forget about the springs! Lubing the springs can help eliminate any unwanted noise and make the switch actuation feel smoother. To do this, apply a small amount of lube to the ends of the springs where they make contact with the stem and housing. For best results, use a lube with a lower viscosity, like Krytox GPL 105, to ensure proper performance.
Lubing the Top Housing
Although not always necessary, you can also choose to lube the top housing of the switch. Apply a thin layer of lube to the areas where the stem comes into contact with the top housing. Again, be careful not to use too much lube, as this can negatively affect switch performance.
Reassembling the Switch
With all the components lubed, it’s time to reassemble the switch. Start by placing the lubed stem and spring back into the lower housing. Next, carefully snap the top housing back onto the lower housing, ensuring that the tabs are properly aligned. Once the switch is reassembled, test its movement to ensure the lubing was successful and everything is functioning smoothly. Finally, reattach the switch to your keyboard and enjoy the newfound smoothness of your lubed switches!
Lubing your keyboard stabilizers is an essential step to improve their performance and reduce unwanted noise. In this section, we’ll walk you through the process of properly lubing your stabilizers using silicone, dielectric grease, or a small paintbrush. Remember, it’s always better to use less lubricant and add more gradually if needed.
First, you’ll need to disassemble your keyboard and carefully remove the stabilizers, which can typically be found beneath larger keys like the spacebar, Enter, and Ctrl. Once you have the stabilizers removed, disassemble them to expose the housing, posts, and wires. Be cautious during this step, as some stabilizers can be delicate.
Next, use a clean, lint-free cloth or a Q-tip to thoroughly clean all your stabilizer components with distilled water. Ensure that all parts are completely dry before proceeding further.
When your stabilizer components are clean and dry, it’s time to apply your chosen lubricant. You can use either silicone, dielectric grease, or a specific keyboard lube like Krytox. Using a small, fine paintbrush or a Q-tip, pick up a small quantity of lubricant and apply it sparingly to the stabilizer housings, being careful not to overdo it.
Now, apply the lubricant to the stabilizer wires. With the small paintbrush or Q-tip, gently coat the wires that come into contact with the post and housing. Again, try to avoid using too much lubricant, as this can make the stabilizers feel mushy and unresponsive.
Once all the stabilizer components are lubed, carefully reassemble your stabilizers and reattach them to your keyboard. Afterward, do a quick sound test to ensure that your stabilizers now feel and sound smoother. If necessary, you can always disassemble the stabilizers again to add more lubricant, but be mindful not to over-lubricate them.
Reassembling Your Keyboard
Now that you have lubed your keyboard switches, it’s time to put everything back together. This section will guide you through the process of reassembling your mechanical keyboard.
Begin by reinserting the lubed switches back into their respective positions on your keyboard’s PCB or plate. If you have a hot-swappable keyboard, the process is quite simple. Just align the contacts on the bottom of the switch with the holes in the socket and press gently until the switch securely clicks into place.
For keyboards that require soldering, carefully align the switch contacts with the holes in the PCB and hold the switch in place while you solder the contacts back onto the board. Ensure that you have a secure connection before moving on to the next switch.
Putting Keycaps Back
Once all your switches are back in place, it’s time to put the keycaps back on. To do this, just align the stem of the keycap with the corresponding stem on the switch, and gently press down until you feel the keycap click into place. Repeat this process for all your keycaps.
After all your keycaps are attached, it’s a good idea to do a quick test to ensure everything is functioning properly. Press each key to confirm that it registers and feels as smooth as you expected after lubing your keyboard switches. If any keys are sticking or not registering, double-check the switch installation and keycap alignment.
With everything reassembled and testing complete, you’re now ready to enjoy the improved feel and performance of your lubed mechanical keyboard! Remember, regular maintenance will ensure that your keyboard stays in tip-top condition for years to come.
Benefits and Tips for Lubing a Keyboard
Lubing your keyboard switches can bring numerous benefits to your typing experience. One of the most notable improvements you’ll observe is in sound. Your keyboard’s clacks and thocks will become deeper and smoother when properly lubed, creating a more satisfying and less annoying auditory experience.
Beyond sound, lubricating your switches can enhance the feel of your typing. By reducing internal scratchiness and friction, you’ll discover a smoother and more consistent actuation, making each keystroke more enjoyable. For some, this can even have therapeutic effects, as it results in a more comfortable and stress-reducing experience while typing for extended periods.
Moreover, lubing your keyboard can make it feel more high-end, even if you’re working with a budget model. By putting in the effort to maintain and improve your switches, you’re increasing the overall quality and longevity of your keyboard.
Now that you know the benefits, here are some tips to ensure the best lubing experience:
- Take your time: Lubing a keyboard is not a race. Be patient and thorough to maximize the results.
- Be gentle: Use a light touch during the process, making sure to avoid getting lube on unintended components or keycaps.
- Research the switch type: Certain switch brands can be challenging or impossible to disassemble and lube, so make sure you know what you’re working with before diving in.
- Use the right tools: A switch opener, SL1.5 screwdriver, and quality lube are essential for a smooth and successful process.
With these benefits and tips in mind, lubing your keyboard can lead to a significant improvement in both sound and feel while providing a more enjoyable overall typing experience.