I’m sharing my recent keyboard project and hopefully this sounds interesting or helpful to you. I’m a senior software engineer and a hobby keyboard builder. I built a prototype version of wooden keyboard and have used it for weeks:
The case and keycap are made of wood, made in wood of your choice
It’s probably the first open source three mode (USB, BLE and 2.4GHz), zmk-compatible keyboard!
(I have researched on lower than BLE latency, open source 2.4GHz keyboard firmware and haven’t found any. Please let me know if it’s not the case)
The open source firmware, PCB and hardware 3D model for the keyboard and the 2.4GHz dongle will be release when campaign ends, even if the group buy doesn’t succeed.
If you’re interested in a wooden customizable keyboard, or the open source 3 mode keyboard hardware/firmware, please keep an eye on my project. You can find this keyboard from Carpenter Tau Keyboard. I’m also happy to answer any question and hear feedback here. Thank you!
This is really cool! I’ve always been interested by the idea of a wooden keyboard, and have taken note of various approaches over the years.
I like the classic design, broad functionality, and of course material choice.
One consideration for wood that I’m not sure can be overcome or not is the material’s tendency to warp over time and/or with changing humidity levels. I’m not a wood expert by any means, but I do imagine some woods and/or treatments are more resilient than others.
A minor suggestion, perhaps for an optional inclusion or even just a note somewhere - wood filler paste might be a good option for those keycap legends. It can potentially provide some contrast, but it will also help smooth-out the surface.
Are you using a wooden plate? I’ve been planning to have one made out of curiosity, and this seems like an ideal place for one
Damn!! I was going to say those are either rather cheaply cut legends by a large manufacturer or done by someone who has some understanding of how to do it alone. It looks fantabulous. What is the mounting options? 2nd for wood plate! AND I WANNA THROW THIS IN THERE JUST CUZ! D:< Comes in wired to some day? Not a computer professional. Is the manufacturing a process you’re willing to detail here for me freely? Curious how the stems of the caps are. Sounds good? Cool keeb
Hi! Thank you for your interest and suggestions! This one is painted with oil paint. Great suggestion on using wood filler paste. I can imagine with it keys would look and feel better. Wood filler paste may require paint with additional wood filter paste every several year so maybe not suit for everyone. I plan to offer both options for users.
As for the consideration for wood, I’ll speak to some professional carpenters for advice
For plate I’m using a plastic one since I cannot make it from solid wood. Making it from plywood would be a cool option to consider!
I would love a wooden 60% HHKB-layout keyboard with keycaps that actually have legends on them. That looks very neat and well made there. I wonder how it would sound like if you were using a wooden mounting plate too.
Perhaps front-printing might be a good option for folks who prefer lower-maintenance legends.
I have one set of blank wooden caps, and while they are beautiful, that set in particular isn’t well-suited for actual use for one reason. The manufacturer applied some kind of non-porous, semi-gloss coating to the surface, and this coating does not resist skin oil well at all. The set looks great from the box, but starts to look inconsistent very quickly - especially the space bar. The coating becomes shiny and I assume that it eventually wears-through.
Again I’m no woodworker, but it seems like some kind of oil treatment that permeates the material would be better than a surface coating here. Either way, I think it’s worth experimenting with how the surfaces of your keys will look with use, and tune the initial look of the surface to work well with or even match it. Durable keys are nice, premium keys are nice - but durable premium keys are more valuable than both IMO.