Meterial for casing


06 Jan 2020, 12:30

Well, I have been trying to create a keyboard on and off (mostly off) for years now and after much headache I have not decided on the casing material for the keyboard. As you can see when I created the design for the plate, I tried to go with a keys-edge-to-edge approach:
overview.jpg (89.59 KiB) Viewed 486 times

However, this has led to the issue that the outer lip of the plate, where on other designs that I have seen you can connect the casing, I have only 2 mm left for the case. I have tried some materials with the latest being MDF, but nothing was both rigid enough to use as a case as well as soft enough in order to manipulate it using hand tools. I would prefer to use hand tools if someone has a valid material that I could use but if not, I would try using a CNC machine.

So, the question. What would be the best material to use in each scenario? What have you used for custom casing for your keyboards?


06 Jan 2020, 17:42

Lots of people have built "cases" that just consisted of a plate for the switches and a bottom plate, bolted together with standoffs in-between ("floating keys" and open to the sides). A "tray case" is similar but with walls rising from the bottom around the keyboard innards.
You can find colourful standoffs in several online stores that cater to DIY keyboards enthusiasts, or you could just get plain ones from a hardware store.

For one case build, I was able to find an aluminium bar profile that had a 1.5 mm lip. I cut that into lengths for the case walls, and glued it with strong epoxy to the plate itself. (When wall and case are together this is called a "integrated plate" case design)
I also glued pieces of L-profile in corners and between walls and plate in a few places where there are no switches for extra reinforcement, and glued partitions between key groups on top of the plate. I used putty, primer and paint to hide the small gaps between pieces. Hand tools and Dremel.

I would suggest building a tray case like a picture frame out of wood staves, top and bottom. Be sure to get staves that are perfectly straight. Maybe even cut the staves to interlock in the corners for better rigidity. You could maybe order the top made out of laser-cut acrylic or plywood from some laser-cutting place.

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07 Jan 2020, 00:53

Here I used pieces of of 1/4" maple and a mini plough plane to create slots for the plate to slide into. (the dovetail corners were cut with a small dovetail saw and chisels, and I used a small block plane to square up and finish the edges)

In I set the edge padding to 2mm. I think the slots ended up about 3mm deep top/bottom and only ~1mm deep on the sides.


07 Jan 2020, 21:52

Wow, you both gave me interesting ideas. When I manage to pull it off I will post here :)

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