How to Lubricate a Mechanical Keyboard with Linear or Tactile Switches?
Welcome to a new tutorial where today we will see how to lubricate a mechanical keyboard with linear or tactile switches in “pro mode”. Since we will go step by step, switch by switch, lubricating each of the parts of the switches. Even below you have a video on how the whole process is done step by step in case you don’t feel like reading.
Lubricate linear, tactile, and clicky switches
Each switch is lubricated differently, but keep in mind that depending on the type of switch, it is lubricated differently, or as happens with clicks, even most people do not recommend lubricating them:
Lubricate a linear switch?
Without problems, you can lubricate and it is 100% recommended since you will have a much smoother writing experience perhaps it is the type of switch where the before and after lubrication is most noticeable.
Lubricate a touch switch?
Also highly recommended lubricating. Although we must be careful that in the stem, as we will see below, we do not have to lubricate the legs that together with the metal leaf (which will not have to be lubricated either) will make the tactile effect on our fingers. So if you don’t want to kill your touch switches, pay attention to the recommendations in this tutorial.
Lubricating the Gateron Yellow Optical Switches on my MK61
In my case, I am going to lubricate the Gateron Yellow Optical switches of my Gamakay MK61 which is a hot swap keyboard, although this process will also work for any type of switch, as long as they are linear or tactile. So if you have a hot-swappable keyboard, or you are going to change the switches to your keyboard, soldering and desoldering to assemble new switches. Get comfortable we’re going to the mess!
Parts of a Switch
Before starting I would like to make a short introduction that will help us to better understand the video. I wanted to explain very quickly what the parts of a switch would be:
- If starting at the bottom, we have the “Bottom housing” which would be something like the bottom cover
- The next thing we are going to talk about is “Spring” which is the spring
- Next, we have the “Stem”, which we could translate as the stem
- And finally the “Top housing”, which would be the top cover that is usually transparent to let the RGB through.
And by the way, these 4 parts would be those of the linear switches, since in the tactile and clicky switches they also have the “metal leaf” or metal sheet, which is what adds the tactility effect of the switches and the sound respectively.
Once the parts of a switch have been introduced, it’s time to get to the point and the first thing I would like to tell you about is the tools you will need to lubricate a mechanical keyboard:
- The first and most important thing is the lubricant, which in my case I have chosen the Krytox GPL-205 G0, one of the most popular lubes to lubricate linear and tactile switches.
- Of course, to apply the lube we will need a brush, preferably a finite one.
- A keycap extractor, if it is made of wire better to avoid scratching the keycaps
- We will also need a switch extractor
- And as an extra, and this is optional, a switch opener, which will make our work a lot easier, although I will also teach you how to open the switches with a knife or screwdriver.
How to lubricate a mechanical keyboard in “pro mode”
To begin with, I would like to say that there is no single way to lubricate a mechanical keyboard and you have brutal niche channels on keyboards such as Taeha Types, Wildcat, or SquashyBoy in case you want to go deeper I lubricated my Ducky One 2 SF with Super Lube a few months ago in a video and post that I recommend.
Although in that video, we lubricate very simply and quickly, the best thing is to do it as we are going to do today, lubricating each of the parts of the switch in its proper measure so as not to burden the writing experience.
How to open a Switch
The first thing we are going to do to lubricate the switches is to open them, and as I told you before, here you can use a switch opener that costs about 10 euros, although if you want to save money, you can also do it with a knife or screwdriver.
Simply, you have to lift the 4 tabs on the sides, although be careful and do not be gross because although they are quite flexible, you can load them. Once the tabs are raised, with your nails you can easily open the switch and separate the different parts of it
Before lubricating the switches
I would like to give you a recommendation. Do not over lubricate as they can do two things:
- That the switch after its activation takes too long to go up and return to its normal state
- That the switch directly stops working
Although in both cases, “no worries”, since it will be enough to open the switch again and remove the extra lube. But I recommend that every time you wet the brush, remove the excess part to avoid making this mistake.
How to Lubricate the Bottom Housing of a Switch
That said, let’s get down to business, and the first task to lubricate a mechanical keyboard is to lubricate the bottom housing, the lower cover of the switch. And to clarify, obviously in each part of the switch we are going to lubricate certain places. The mechanical parts intervene in the movement of the switch since it would not make sense to lubricate the outside of the switch.
In the bottom housing, we are going to lubricate the lateral columns, which will act as stem rails, we will also lubricate the inside of the cylinder where the stem will be inserted and we will also lubricate it on the outside, which will be the part where the spring will be inserted. And we would already have the lubrication of the bottom housing ready
How to Lubricate the Spring of a Switch
The next thing to lubricate, and probably the fastest, is the Spring, which we will simply dip on one side in the lubricant as if it were a chocolate churro. By the way, don’t get scratched by the side of the dock, since it is symmetrical.
Then, with the brush itself, remove the excess part of the lubricant from the spring itself. After this, we will place the Spring in the bottom housing and finally, we will lubricate the other end of the Spring both inside and outside.
How to Lubricate the Stem of a Switch
Time to lubricate the stem, and beware that here comes one of the keys of the video, since although in the linear switches, we will have to lubricate the entire outer surface of the stem, excluding the part of the crosshead that will be where the keycaps will be fitted. That is to say, we will lubricate the outer square on all its sides, which would be the column and even the two little legs that you can see in the images.
But beware! In the case of tactile switches, under no circumstances should you lubricate these two legs, since they are the ones in charge, together with the metal leaf, the metal sheet that I taught you before, of generating that tactile sensation in our fingers.
After lubricating the stem we will insert it into the spring and the bottom housing and we will leave it almost ready. By the way, keep in mind that the legs of the stem must go to the opposite side of the RGB.
Finally, it is time to lubricate the upper cover, better known as top housing, something very simple since we will only put a little bit of lube on the inner faces of the cover.
And that’s it, we would already have the 4 well-lubricated parts. Now it would be time to assemble the switch, which as you can see is something very simple, and if you see that when closing it something fails, you will have to open it again because you have probably put the stem upside down…
Lubricating chain switches
In any case, I do not recommend that you go one by one but apply the secret of the Industrial Revolution and lubricate it as in a mass production system. Although there are lubrication stations like the following, unless you are going to dedicate yourself to this professionally, I recommend that you follow my steps:
- In my case, I took 4 cups, and I was putting each of the parts of the switch in each of them.
- Then I lubricated all the bottom housing, I remind you that you only have to lubricate the columns and the cylinder inside and out
- Then I did the same with all the springs, which I was placing after lubrication in the bottom housing
- Then it was the turn of all the stems, and remember the legs are prohibited in the tactile switches. Everything else except the crosshead is well lubricated.
- And after this, we lubricate all the bottom housings, only inside.
- Once this is done, mount all the switches.
Final recommendations when lubricating your mechanical keyboard
As final recommendations:
- Test the switches before declaring victory, since it is likely that some other switch does not work correctly, if this happens to you, open it, check that there is no excess lubricant, and assemble it correctly.
- It can also be good practice after finishing lubricating, to turn the keyboard over for at least an hour so that the lube is well distributed.
If after this everything works correctly, all that remains is to enjoy the new typing experience of your keyboard. Lubricating your keyboard switch by switch correctly can be a bit of work, but the result is 100% worth it. So that you can see the difference yourself, you can take a look at the video above where you have an audio test of before and after lubrication.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I lubricate my mechanical keyboard with linear or tactile switches?
Lubricating your mechanical keyboard switches can greatly enhance your typing or gaming experience. It reduces friction between key components, leading to smoother keypresses, reduced key wobble, and a quieter typing sound. Lubrication also helps prolong the lifespan of your switches by reducing wear and tear.
What lubricant should I use for my mechanical keyboard switches?
It’s essential to use a proper keyboard switch lubricant, such as a synthetic grease or oil designed specifically for mechanical switches. Popular options include Krytox, Tribosys, and Super Lube. Avoid using household oils or greases as they can damage your switches over time.
How often should I lubricate my keyboard switches?
The frequency of lubrication depends on your usage and personal preference. In general, it’s recommended to lubricate your switches every 6-12 months, but some enthusiasts may do it more frequently. If you notice a decrease in typing smoothness or an increase in noise, it’s a good time to reapply lubricant.
Do I need to disassemble my keyboard to lubricate the switches?
Yes, to properly lubricate mechanical keyboard switches, you’ll need to disassemble the keyboard. This typically involves removing the keycaps and opening the keyboard case to access the switches. Lubricating without disassembly may lead to uneven coverage and may not yield the desired results.
Can I over-lubricate my switches, and what are the consequences?
Yes, over-lubrication can be problematic. Applying too much lubricant can lead to a sluggish or mushy feel when typing, potentially reducing the tactile feedback and keypress responsiveness. It can also attract dust and debris, causing long-term issues. It’s important to apply a thin, even coat of lubricant to avoid over-lubrication.
In conclusion, proper lubrication is essential for maintaining the performance and longevity of mechanical keyboards equipped with linear or tactile switches. By following the steps outlined in this guide, enthusiasts can effectively enhance key smoothness, reduce friction, and minimize noise. Regular maintenance ensures consistent typing experience and preserves the tactile feel of the switches. Embracing these lubrication techniques not only enhances keyboard performance but also prolongs its lifespan, offering a satisfying typing experience for enthusiasts.