That is exactly why we set out to a huge task, and it is indeed a huge task in its entirety. We will make an attempt at finding how the mechanical key switches work, why do they need lubrication, and the tools needed in efficient lubrication.
Is it Necessary to Lube the Key Switches?
Lubricating a keyboard is not a necessity, and your keyboard keeps working even without it. But, if you are looking for one of the excellent workings of your mechanical keyboard, you should be willing to lube your keyboard. The key switches that have been well lubricated will ensure that your key switch is far easier to use and responsive to the best possible extent.
It should be noticed that if you have a bad switch, lubricating it will not convert it into a good switch. But, if you have a keyboard with good switches – you will end up finding them working to a greater degree of extent.
What happens if you do not lube your key switches? The keyboard will keep working, but it will not work to its optimum level. In other words, it will not work well. One of the best advantages of lubricating your mechanical key switches would be that it will make your keyboard quieter. To understand that, you need to check an unlubricated mechanical keyboard and find how louder they can be.
What Tools Do You Need for Lubricating Your Mechanical Keyboard?
You will need a few specific set of tools for an efficient lubrication of mechanical key switches. Of course, there may be a few differences depending on the keyboard you are using and the type of key switches.
Some major tools required for an efficient key switch lubrication can include:
That should be quite obvious. Make sure that you have picked the right lubricant based on the type of the switches and keyboard. You can pick the lubricant depending on the key switch type.
As we are aware already, there are three major types of key switches viz Linear, Tactile, and Clicky. Each of these key switches needs a specific type of lubricant.
Best Lube for Linear Switches
Linear switches would need a little thicker keyboard lube. The lubricant with a higher viscosity would better suit a linear key switch. One of the highly recommended keyboard lube for linear key switches can be Krytox 205G.
Best Lube for Tactile switches
In sharp contrast to the linear switches, you will need to use lube with low viscosity on a tactile switch. These switches would ideally need a keyboard lube that is thinner in construction. The Krypton 105 would be one of the excellent options for the best experience. If you want to reduce the tactility further, it may be recommended to use Krytox 205G.
Best Lube for clicky switches
Under ideal conditions, you should never lubricate the clicky switches. Lubricating them can make them tactile or even linear. We recommend not to lube any clicky switch to avoid an inconsistent performance.
If you want to lube the switches, it is extremely important to have access to the switch. This will need you to use a switch opener. You can pick a few good options for the best switch opener and make use of the ones that best meet your needs. If you have the requisite experience, you can even use a flat head screwdriver to open the switches.
Applying the lube to the switches appropriately is of prime importance. This will need you to opt for a small brush that can easily help you apply the lube. Ideally, a 2 or 5 mm brush is much preferred. You can buy some good options for the 2 or 5 mm brush that suit your switches.
If you have a keyboard with the key switches that are soldered, you would need a desoldering tool. You would also need a soldering tool for fixing the switch back in its place. If you have a hot-swappable keyboard, there would be no need for a soldering or desoldering tool. A simple switch puller should be able to do the task.
Tweezers would be one of the excellent options to ensure that your fingers are not smudged with lube or grease. It can also be useful in picking the smaller components.
How to Lube Keyboard Switches – The Step by Step Guide
The steps involved in lubricating your keyboard switches would involve a few simple steps. However, while the steps appear to be simple, it is essential to follow a few precautions to avoid ending up with a damaged key switch. You need to be more careful if you are into for the first time.
If you have a keyboard with the key switches that are not hot-swappable, you would need to remove the switches from your keyboard. You will need to remove the keycaps first and then remove the key switches by desoldering them. That is precisely why we recommend opting for a keyboard that has hot-swappable key switches as it will save a lot of time.
You can use the switch opener for opening the switch apart. If you have a proper experience in the task, you can use a flathead screwdriver. Take absolute care when loosening them or pulling off the switch, else you may end up damaging the switch.
First of all, loosen the four clips that hold the upper and lower casing. It may appear to be a tough task, but you can master the task. Make sure that the switch does not snap back in place as soon as you loosen one of the clips.
You need to follow precautions when lubing the lower case. Never lube the metal leaf as you are likely to end up with a damage to the switch. You should ideally lubricate the inside and outside of the cylinder and inside floor of the switch.
This is where a tweezer proves to be helpful. You can hold the spring with a tweezer and lube it properly. In fact, you can even lube all the springs together in a bag. This can be useful for lubing a large batch of springs.
Lubing the stem can also be done in a better way with the help of tweezers and then lube it properly. There are the three major components of a stem that you can lube – legs, spring contact area and the rails. It is recommended to lube the legs only if you are using a linear switch. On a tactile switch, it can reduce the tactile bump, which reduces the very reason for using a tactile switch.
Lubricating the upper housing should not be a huge task. Lube the sections that come in contact with the lower housing. You do not need to lube the other parts of the upper housing.
That does it. You have successfully lubed your switches. You can now move ahead to put everything back in place. Line up everything in place carefully. Make sure that the switch is working properly. If you find it is not working properly, you can pull them back and reassemble them in the right manner.
Installing the switches back into the keyboard will be easier and simpler if you have a hot-swappable keyboard. You can simply press them into the sockets, and the switches are installed. If you don’t, you will need to resolder the switches.
Once everything is back in place, you can check if the keyboard is working perfectly.
As they say, images speak louder than words, and the video below should be a great option to understand the mechanism of how to lube keyboard switches:
How to Lube Keyboard Switches Without Desoldering?
One of the huge issues with lubing the keyboard key switches is that it may require desoldering and resoldering. Desoldering and resoldering can be a concern for most of you as it is not something feasible for everyone. You may not have the necessary expertise or the proper equipment.
In such cases, you may be looking ahead to find if you can lube switches without desoldering. Yes, you can lube a switch without desoldering, but it may not be as effective as you would do it with it.
There are primarily two methods you can use to lubricate a keyboard without desoldering. You can either use the Push-Stem-Lube method and Spray Lube Method.
It involves using a small piece of plastic and applying lube to this plastic piece. You can then slide the plastic between the stem and housing of the switch. It can be a good technique and has been preferred by most of the users.
However, since it involves repeating the procedure for each of the switches, it will take considerable time.
This method does take a lot less time than the first method. However, it can get quite messy. It involves using spray lube to apply the lube to all the switches.
You simply need to remove the keycaps and spray the lube onto switch stem and housing. It would be advisable to keep pressing the stem while doing so. It will get your keyboard messy and get the lube even on your hands.
While these can be a great option to help you in how to lube keyboard switches without desoldering, we would not consider it to be offering thee decent functionality.
Should You Lube Your Switches?
Having understood that lubricating your key switches are much important for most of your ideal requirements of trouble-free functionality. If you have enough time and support, and the right equipment, it is recommended to keep lubing your switches.
Do note that some switch types do not need lubrication, while a few others specifically need specific keyboard lube types. There are a few prime consideration you need to pay specific attention to when picking the right lubricants for specific switch types.
- If you have a clicky switch, it is never recommended to lube the switch. You need to be extremely careful in lubing the clicky switches if you decide to do that. You may end up producing inconsistent clicking and noises. If at all you want to lube the clicky switches, apply a very smooth coat to avoid damaging the switch. If you are a newbie, we do not recommend lubing clicky switches. You can opt for the option only if you are an experienced keyboard expert.
- Tactile switches definitely benefit from an effective lubing. A thin lube is better placed to provide you with a better experience in lubricating a tactile switch. You should ensure very little lubing for the best possible experience. You may use thicker lube, but it can remove the much-needed characteristic of the tactile key switches. Make sure you are retaining the tactile bump on the switch. Make use of the right Krytox thin switch lube for tactile switches.
- The linear switches do benefit a lot from lubing. You can use any thick lube for lubricating your linear switches. The proper lubing can be helpful in improving the smoother and consistent way. The right type of lube will reduce friction and scratchiness to an effective degree.
Lubing the switches can be helpful in improving the sound and feel of the key switches. In essence, lubricating is one of the best practices to help keep your mechanical keyboards in good shape and condition.
There are a few key switches you should never lube. You should avoid lubing certain types of switches. These key switch types are difficult to dismantle and lubricate. One prime brand you should not lubricate would be the Kailh Box Switches. The Kailh Box switches are designed in such a way that they cannot be removed. They are also likely to leak, and this will damage the keyboard further.
Well, lubricating a mechanical keyboard is of utmost importance. You can assure a perfect performance with the right feel and sound if you opt for proper lubrication. If you have the ability and efficiency to do it, we would recommend lubing your keyboard as and when time and equipment permit.