Lubricating your mechanical keyboard switches is the right to enter the mechanical keyboard hobby. Lubricating the switch is an important part of ensuring that your electrical equipment works properly. Without proper lubrication, switches can become stuck and cease to function correctly. It’s not always easy to tell you what type of switch lube you need. There are different types, such as silicon and graphite, which vary in viscosity and consistency. In this article, we will discuss the best ways to lubricate switches in order to keep them running smoothly.
Why Should You Lube Your Switches?
As we have already mentioned, lubricating the switch is important. But why do we need a lubricated switch? Here are the top reasons you should lubricate switches:
Lubricated switches will make them easier to press, which will reduce the noise they produce. This is especially important in arcade games, where you want your game to make a good first impression.
Protected contact point
Lubricating switches will prevent dirt and other contaminants from accumulating on the contact points. This way, you can prevent the switch from not working properly because of accumulation.
In order to prolong the life
Lube your switches to help them last longer. This is especially true for arcades, as they are used frequently and are more exposed to dust and dirt than other electronics.
By lubricating your switches, you will prevent them from jamming and making noise. This will make your arcade look better for longer.
To help the switch work more consistently
Lubricating your switches will allow the contacts to slide smoothly, which will make them easier to press. This will minimize inconsistencies and make the switch work better.
Although it can be a time-consuming activity, lubricating your switches can improve your keyboard in many different ways. If you want the best sound, the smoothest feel, and the highest quality boards, lubricating your switches is the right way to go.
The Tools Required
You will need 6 tools to get the job done effectively. We’ll go over each one below.
Lubricants are not all the same. Different lubricants have different properties and are more suitable for different situations. Here are some of the most commonly used types of lubricants:
1. Rubber lubes
Rubber lubricants are the most popular type of lubricant for switches. That’s because they’re cheap, readily available, and work well. However, they tend to be less effective than other types of lubricants in preventing dirt buildup.
2. Oil-based lubes
Oil-based lubricants are more expensive than rubber lubricants, but they last longer and prevent corrosion. They usually come in a syringe or bottle with a needle in it. The oil-lubricated switch sticks more easily and has less resistance to the switch than the rubber-lubricated switch.
3. Silicone oil
Silicone oil is so versatile that it can be used with any type of switch. It can be used with rubber, metal, and plastic switches without any problems. However, silicone oil is not as good as other lubricants at preventing dirt buildup.
4. Water-based lubes
Water-based lubricants are the best way to prevent dirt buildup. They are also the most expensive type of switch lubricants and usually have a short shelf life (about 6 months). In addition, water-based lubricants are not compatible with silicone switches or rubber switches that have been boiled or chemically treated.
5. Hybrid lubricants
Hybrid lubricants combine the characteristics of both lubricants. They are still water-based, which prevents dirt from building up, but they also contain some silicone oil to prevent sticking together. Mixed lubricants are the best choice for use with other materials for switches and people with sensitive skin.
Which type of lubricant to use depends on the type of switch you are using. If you are using rubber or silicone switches, then silicone lube is the best choice. The silicone lubricant works well to prevent dust, dirt, and other debris from sticking to the surface of the switch and has a life of up to six months. If you have a metal or plastic switch, then water-based lube is the best choice. Water-based lubricants will keep your switches clean and prevent dirt buildup, and they will last longer than silicone.
Also, the type of switch will determine which type of lubricant is needed. Thinner or lower viscosity lubricants are best for tactile switches. We recommend the Krytox 105 if you are using it for the first time. If you want to tone down the touch, the Krytox 205G works just as well. Thicker or more viscous lubricants are most suitable for linear switches. If this is your first time, we recommend the Krytox 205G.
In general, it is recommended not to lubricate the click switches. Lubricating the click switch may cause your switch to convert to a quieter tactile sound. In addition, it may produce an inconsistent sound between each switch. It’s best not to lubricate a clattering switch.
To apply the lube to the switches precisely, you’ll need a tiny brush. To apply the lubricant, we suggest using a #2 or 5mm paintbrush (affiliate).
Switch Opener Or Flathead Screwdriver
To lubricate, the switch must first be turned on. If you don’t have a switch opener, a small flathead screwdriver will work, making it the easiest option.
Soldering Tools Or Switch Puller
You must solder or de-solder switches from the PCB in order to take them out and reattach them to the keyboard. Because no welding is required and only a switch puller is required, a hot swap keyboard is best for simple switch removal.
Tweezers make it easier to pick up small pieces and prevent grease from getting on your hands.
Clean Workspace Area
To lubricate the switch without causing a mess, you need a small workstation. To keep everything from getting greasy, I usually clear my desk and spread out some newspaper or paper towels.
Detailed Steps to Lube Switches
Step 1: Remove the switches from your keyboard
Unless you keep the switch in a separate bag, you’ll need to remove the switch from the keyboard. You need to remove your keycap, pull open your keyboard, and then remove the switch from the PCB.
If you have a hot-swappable keyboard, you simply remove the key cap and use the switch puller to remove the switch. This is the fastest way to remove a switch, so a hot-swappable keyboard can save you a lot of time.
Step 2: Open up the switches
Now that the switch has been removed from the keyboard, it’s time to pull the switch back. The easiest way to do this is to use a switch pull bar, which is a specialized tool you can find online or order from a 3d printing store.
You’re going to work the way around the switch to loosen the 4 clamps, keeping the upper housing and lower housing together. This may be a little difficult at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll quickly get the hang of it. The hardest part is making sure the switch doesn’t snap back once you release a clip. After releasing the clip, it is best to clamp the nail between the upper and lower shell.
Step 3: Clean and remove fluff
Now that you’ve removed all the plastic covers, it’s time to clean out any fluff that may have gotten stuck inside. Fluff can get in during transport, even before one of the switches has an accident. You can use a small screwdriver to pry the lid off and use a squeegee to remove any residual fluff.
Step 4: Lubrication
Lube the lower housing
You need to be slightly careful to lubricate the lower housing. If possible, it is best to avoid lubricating metal blades as it can damage the switch. We recommend lubricating the inner plate of the switch, the part where the stem rail hits, and the inside and outside of the cylinder.
Lube the spring
There are two main ways to lubricate the spring: With the brush, lubricate the whole spring. Best for first-time experience. Alternatively, remove the springs from each switch and lubricate them in a bag. Best for lubricating multiple springs at the same time. When you moisten the spool stem and upper housing, once that is done, you can set the spring on the lower housing. This will help prevent messes and lubricants from getting to your workspace.
Lubricate the stem
The legs need to be handled with care, but the lubricating rod is fairly simple. If you have a linear switch, then I only recommend lubricating the legs. The touch on the switch can be reduced by lubricating the switch legs, but this is not recommended. Regardless of the type of switch, a lubricated rail and cylindrical area where the spring meets the stem are required. If you want to take it a step further, there is the option of applying lube to other outside areas of the stem, but this does not significantly improve the smoothness.
Lube the upper housing
Lubrication of the upper housing is simple. Just lubricate the area where the rail rod meets the upper housing. The remaining upper floors are negligible.
Step 5: Reinstall the switch
After your lubrication, you can now install the switch. Simply line it up with the hole at the bottom of the guide rail and press down hard until you hear a click. You may feel some resistance when installing the switch, but this is normal.
Step 6: Install Switches into Keyboard
Now that the switches are lubricated, it’s time to install them back on the keyboard. If you have a hot swap keyboard, simply press them into an outlet and you’re ready to use them. If they are not, they need to be resolved by the PCB.
Step 7: Plug in the keyboard and test
The final step is to plug the keyboard back in and test to make sure the switch works. We love using this free online tester. Be sure to test the keyboard before putting the whole thing together. It sucks to put the whole keyboard together and then have to go back and take the cover off and disassemble the whole keyboard.
If the key is broken, it’s likely that the switch isn’t soldered properly or isn’t plugged into the socket properly. If it is not this problem, it is likely that the metal blade inside the switch is damaged, in which case you will most likely need a new switch.
1. Can I get switches pre-lubed
If you don’t want to go through the lengthy process of lubricating the switch yourself, it is possible to order the switch pre-lubricated.
2. Can I lube switches without desoldering
For many people, desoldering the switches is not feasible and you may not have the proper welding equipment on hand or the space to do it. You can lubricate your keyboard switches without damaging them, but it’s not that effective. We’ll link here to our complete guide on how to lubricate without breaking.
The cleaning method can be messy, so you need a lot of isopropyl alcohol to clean it up, and it’s not as effective as taking the switch apart and cleaning it with a lubricant. But for those who don’t have welding equipment handy, it’s definitely recommended.
3. What should I do if my switch stops working after lubrication?
If your switch stops working or sticks, then there are a few things you can do. First, make sure you have removed all excess lube from the switch. If you still have excess lube on your switch, it can interfere with the motion of the switch and cause it to stick.
Next, make sure you have cleaned off all the excess lube that is left on your switch. This is because if there are too many small clumps of lube left on your switch, they may cause the switch to jam and not work properly. For example, if you use a low-viscosity lubricant and you still have some residue on your switch, this will cause it to stop working properly, which could lead to stickiness. Finally, make sure you remove all excess lube from your switch. If there is still excess lube left on your switch, then it will interfere with the motion of the switch, causing it to stick.
A good way to refine and improve your keyboard is to lubricate the switch. We discuss the tools and procedures we recommend to use to successfully lubricate your switch and achieve a significantly improved sound and feel. We recommend that everyone lubricate their switches if they have the time and ability to do so, as the improvement is dramatic and you don’t want to go back to a non-lubricated switch. I hope this article would be helpful to you.