Spray Painting a Mechanical Keyboard!


With the Sydney Mechanical Keyboard Meetup
just gone actually, I needed something to contribute to the raffle. And not too long ago, I gave this painted
board in the Bunnings colours for the Melbourne meet. So I thought that I might as well update my
painting a mechanical keyboard video. I’m no expert or anything, but I have painted
quite a few boards over the years, and this is just the way I do it. So the stuff you need. Wet and dry sandpaper. I have 400, 600, and 800 grit here. You can go higher, but probably not too much
lower. And the higher the number is, the smoother
it is. Then we have our spray cans. Optional, but I do recommend it, is primer. I have primer filler here, because I didn’t
have the normal stuff. And this is just a bit thicker than like surfacer
primer or something. But it’s just what I had left. And basically what this does is promote adhesion. Sometimes paint doesn’t stick the best on
some surfaces, and primer kind of bridges that gap. Also, it has the filling properties where
we can spray over light scratches and stuff, and it dries very fast, and it sands down
really easily. Next up we have our colour paints. And like on these cans, it says paint and
prime. All spray cans are different. Some stick better than others. Apparently there’s some sort of primer component
to these, so it even says no primer required. So yep, you can just spray straight on if
you really wanted to. And finally the clear top coat. And this just gives that layer of protection
over the paint. Although it will still scratch. Alright so, you do have to take your keyboard
apart. I guess if you really wanted to, you could
just take off the keycaps and mask everything off. But, I always disassemble. And more than likely, it will void your warranty. So keep that in mind. Again, all keyboards are different. Some easier to take apart than others. I have 3 main keys for a solid paint job. Painting in the right conditions. Preparation. And the biggest of all, patience. Having good conditions makes a world of difference. So temperature. I’d say like between 15 to 30 degrees Celsius
is fine. Going below and above just makes it a little
harder, in particular really cold conditions. Paint takes longer to dry, it doesn’t stick
as well, and you often get the orange peel effect. So if it is really cold, try and do light
coats. Sometimes I even warm up the object and spray
can with a heat gun a bit. And of course allow for long drying times. Secondly, painting outside is fine, and is
great for ventilation, but if it’s too windy, it becomes really difficult. When I was painting, there was slight a breeze,
so it was workable. Ideally, you would paint indoors, but with
good ventilation. A garage is perfect for this. But keep in mind that the excess paint does
have to go somewhere, so be careful indoors. Now to preparation. Personally, I do like to give the case a little
bit of a sand, just to scuff up the surface a bit and remove any sort of coating or whatever,
and the idea is that the spray will adhere better. I’m using 400 grit wet and dry sandpaper,
and soapy water to aid that, otherwise the sandpaper will just get clogged up straight
away. Depending on your case, you may want to tape
some areas off, especially if you have two pieces that join together, as the paint will
add thickness. For this, that isn’t the case, so I didn’t
bother. Here’s an example with another case where
I did have to tape some bits off. I like to start with the flat surface facing
down, so that when we flip it, we won’t have anything touching the paint. I’m painting from maybe 20ish cm away. Obviously the closer and slower go, the heavier
it will be. I prefer going with lighter coats, so I’m
actually kind of fast here. With lighter coats it dries faster, and you’re
less likely to make mistakes. So this is after that one coat. Again, primer dries very fast, so I gave it
like 5 minutes to dry. If there is unevenness, you can just sand
it down with something smooth like 600 grit or higher. If you want a really smooth finish, then you
can sand after every coat with higher grits. This is after 2 solid coats. It’s just enough coverage. I don’t want it too thick as it does add
physical thickness. And I used 800 grit sandpaper and sanded very
lightly, and the finish is pretty smooth to the touch. And the colour spraying is just the same thing. So there’s 3 main kinds of finishes. Glossy, satin, and matte. In my experience, matte paint sticks and goes
on very well. And is pretty easy to use, but will show imperfections. Satin is kinda the same case, but a bit more
forgiving. Metallic paints have been very easy to work
with as well because the sparkles also hide imperfections. But glossy is the most difficult to achieve,
as imperfections show quite clearly. For this, I’m doing a satin-ish textured
finish, which I would say is beginner friendly. So light coats. And basically don’t overspray. Take your time. Let it dry. Patience is the number one key in painting. Because if you touch it or overspray, it’s
just gonna add more time to the whole process, where you have to let it dry, and sand it
back, and so on. Every can is different, some go on harder
and thicker, and have better coverage. And even different colours take different
times. So when I sprayed with yellow, it took several
extra coats to get good coverage. So really, there isn’t a set number of coats
that you should do. Just keep going until you have that solid
opaque finish, and then another light coat on top of that for good measure. If you make any mistakes, if there’s heavy
spots from painting too heavy in particular areas, drips, or even dust. Let it dry, and then sand it back. And you can see that I’m turning it around
constantly. This is just because there was a slight breeze,
and you don’t want to go against the wind. And to give it some protection, I gave it 4 coats
of clear coat. Since this goes on top, this has a big impact
on the finish. I used satin clear coat, and just like the
previous spraying, I did light coats, and this gives a textured finish. And here it is after several hours of drying. And we can clearly see that it’s textured,
but it is even. And that’s the main thing. Whatever finish you go with, if it’s even,
then it should look pretty good. But we’ll have a closer look later, because
now to the keycaps. It’s essentially the same process. Of course if you’re looking for pure durability,
then it’s probably not a great idea as you will wear it down overtime. I didn’t bother to sand them or anything
since that takes a good amount of time. And also, if you want to still see the legends
just a bit, then you don’t want to sand at all. Because the surface area is so small on keycaps,
you can afford to be a bit less careful as unevenness and imperfections are less noticeable. So really, you can spray on heavier than what
I did, which were pretty fast and light coats. And you still should be okay. Now to put it back together. Just make sure that it’s all dry. Trust me, it’s worth the wait. And then you should end up with something
like this. We have the red, green / teal, and white for
the Bunnings colourway. Not perfectly accurate, just what was available
at Bunnings actually. And then green and gold for the classic Aussie
colours. As said before, I did these boards for the
meetup, so it’s more for the novelty of it, and like a momento, so perfection and
durability weren’t a huge concern. But it is pretty strong, and should last decently
well, especially if you went through the steps. So good preparation with sanding and primer,
while it isn’t necessary, it will create a stronger bond. Then you have several layers of colour on
top of that. And finally the clear coat for some protection. But they look pretty sweet. The green and gold one is the Keychron K2,
so the sides are aluminium, and it works just fine. I did scuff up the aluminium before the primer
as well. Here’s a reminder that paint does add thickness,
and things can be difficult to put together. So keep that in mind, especially with many
2 part plastic cases that clip together, you have to tape up the insides. And yeh it’s just a pretty fun look, and
is something you might do to one of your spare keyboards, if you have that luxury. You could tape off the top of the keycaps,
and I have done that before, but I wanted that full colour experience. And I forgot to film it, but the backlighting
does shine through on the green and gold one. Anyway, I hope these keyboards are enjoyed
by their recipients. Funnily enough, my friend Don from The Board
Podcast won one, I’ll link his video in the description. But he’ll be giving his away in one of his
future videos, so make sure you check him out. And lastly, the Syd Meet was amazing, and
we had a crazy turn out. Big thanks to everyone who came! And I’ll have a video on that soon.

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