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Author Topic: Reproduction Typewriter Keys  (Read 16789 times)
Spotteh
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United States United States


« on: November 29, 2009, 02:04:59 am »

Hello everyone!

I love steampunk and all of it's intricacies, but Its heart breaking to see all these wonderful typewriters get there most important parts sheered off! Its further heartbreaking to see that making the keys is almost extinct! I have perused patent after patent in search the process of making the keys, but i always come up short!

My biggest problem is that I dont truly know what I am trying to make!

I do not know any of the specs that come with a key, Things like diameter. gauge of the metal, depth of the rim, height of the key, or even what they completely look like!

I would prefer not to drop 50 dollars on a set of keys when i really only need one to determine what to do!

So, I beseech those here who may own a key, is it possible that i may ask for details on the apearance of a key?

Perhasps a few photos and measurements are all I need! If someone can give me these specifications i believe i can produce a method for the keys manufacture!
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von Corax
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Prof. Darwin Prætorius von Corax


« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2009, 07:07:12 am »

I seem to recall seeing someone (it may have been Mr. von Slatt, it may have been Mr. Nagy or it may have been someone on these fora) making typewriter-esque keycaps out of plumbing olives (the ovoid rings that go inside compression fittings) and epoxy.
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Spotteh
Deck Hand
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United States United States


« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2009, 05:12:01 pm »

And they look great, do not get me wrong, but I wish to be able to reproduce them almost spot on to the keys used on a Royal or Underwood. I have a metal press and if I can atleast get some dimensions i have no doubt I can make more!
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Der Tinkermann
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keeper of scapegoats,sitting ducks,and black sheep

brosiman
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2009, 06:39:15 pm »

http://www.flickr.com/photos/3fold/2639015114/#in/photostream/

Underwood keys!  Smiley

I don't own an Underwood or Royal but have three Remingtons,will those do?
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Spotteh
Deck Hand
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United States United States


« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2009, 06:50:45 pm »

If they are metal rimmed then yes! They would work marvelously! Please if you can describe them to me with shapes, color, pictures, numbers! Haha! I just need to know how deep does the lip fold in, the outside diameter of the keys, the height of the keys! Gauge of the metal if you can! If you cant then give me a rough estimate! Haha!

If i can just have this info, then Ill be able to produce all kinds of keys! Ill be able to produce a method of manufacture so that our colleagues wont have to drop 150 dollars to retrofit their keyboards! The thrifty crafter wont have to butcher a beatiful machine just to make a pair of cufflinks or earings!

(Can you tell I am excited?)
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Special_kaye
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United States United States


« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2009, 07:06:48 pm »



My biggest problem is that I dont truly know what I am trying to make!

I do not know any of the specs that come with a key, Things like diameter. gauge of the metal, depth of the rim, height of the key, or even what they completely look like!



While perusing a few crafts stores the other day, I saw letter stickers that look very much like the keys on my antique typewriter. I love the look and plan to add them to projects in the future but just can't bring myself to cut the keys off a working machine.

Check the crafts stores for:
http://www.acmoore.com/p-50132-tag-types-letternumber-stickers-heritage.aspx (found this with a quick search)
This is only one style. The black background with yellowish letters is what's on my typewriter.
In the same area, they have "button stickers" that you put the letter stickers on. Together, with the right letter stickers, will look just like the keys on my typewriter, though, I'm sure they're not as robust.

My actual keys are 9/16in across, and about 3/16in thick, consisting of a metal band around a glass(?) filled center over the printed letter paper. They attach in the center of the bottom side.

After seeing those stickers, my thoughts were to cut some brass tube into thin rings. Place the stickers on wax or parchment paper, place a brass ring over that, then pore resin into the ring. Allow to cure. Or, start as above but keep the stickers in reserve. Place a bit of resin in the ring, set sticker into the top of that, then cover with resin to the top of ring.

Second method is probably how I'll do it.

I would use epoxy resin because I've used that hundreds of times and I'm comfortable with it but clear polyester resin would probably work fine. And, you can probably find it at the same craft store you buy the letter stickers at. It the stuff you use to make paperweights with little doo-dads inside them. Which, you can also get at a marine supply house.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2009, 07:09:30 pm by Special_kaye » Logged
Spotteh
Deck Hand
*
United States United States


« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2009, 07:21:10 pm »

Again, while those sound like wonderful replicas, and I have been using epoxy resin for some time now to make fake keys out of buttons. But as i said, I wish to make as close as possible to the real deal!

No one is making typewriter keys, but the rate they're being consumed is frightening! Every hour a antique machine's keys are bought, and another typewriter is scrapped. If this was during the 1800s then i would not be as scared, but in today's technological world, typewriters are a curio at best! If I can coin the manner of reproducing these keys, then I hypothesis that I could produce 110 keys for less then 25 dollars!

But again, i need these specs, I need to see a dissembled key, I need measurements. I live in a town where my chances of finding a typing machine are zip. So I must rely on others assistance!

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Narsil
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2009, 07:38:12 pm »


If somone was able to tool up to cast keys in white metal or aluminium then they might be onto a winner Smiley
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Spotteh
Deck Hand
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United States United States


« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2009, 07:43:35 pm »


If somone was able to tool up to cast keys in white metal or aluminium then they might be onto a winner Smiley

My understanding is that the keys are made of tube that has a rim pressed into it, I have a pnumatic and a hand press, if someone can show me the info I require, i can make the dyes and produce the keys! Cheesy
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Special_kaye
Gunner
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United States United States


« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2009, 07:45:24 pm »

Again, while those sound like wonderful replicas, and I have been using epoxy resin for some time now to make fake keys out of buttons. But as i said, I wish to make as close as possible to the real deal!

No one is making typewriter keys, but the rate they're being consumed is frightening! Every hour a antique machine's keys are bought, and another typewriter is scrapped. If this was during the 1800s then i would not be as scared, but in today's technological world, typewriters are a curio at best! If I can coin the manner of reproducing these keys, then I hypothesis that I could produce 110 keys for less then 25 dollars!

But again, i need these specs, I need to see a dissembled key, I need measurements. I live in a town where my chances of finding a typing machine are zip. So I must rely on others assistance!



Then, perhaps, you should bite the bullet and pull out your wallet to foot the bill for some keys you can disassemble. You probably only need to take one apart, then you have the rest of the set for what ever project suits your fancy.
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alfa1
Zeppelin Captain
*****
Australia Australia



« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2009, 07:54:03 pm »

My method was to use snap fasteners.   
Cheap, easy to find and has the 'rim' at the top of the key.
Two years on, the keyboard is still going strong.

http://www.brasswings.com/steamkeys.html
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Special_kaye
Gunner
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United States United States


« Reply #11 on: November 29, 2009, 08:37:22 pm »

My method was to use snap fasteners.   
Cheap, easy to find and has the 'rim' at the top of the key.
Two years on, the keyboard is still going strong.

http://www.brasswings.com/steamkeys.html



Jolly good show. Very nice, in that certain steampunkish way.
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Der Tinkermann
Zeppelin Captain
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Netherlands Netherlands


keeper of scapegoats,sitting ducks,and black sheep

brosiman
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« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2009, 08:42:04 pm »

If they are metal rimmed then yes! They would work marvelously! Please if you can describe them to me with shapes, color, pictures, numbers! Haha! I just need to know how deep does the lip fold in, the outside diameter of the keys, the height of the keys! Gauge of the metal if you can! If you cant then give me a rough estimate! Haha!

If i can just have this info, then Ill be able to produce all kinds of keys! Ill be able to produce a method of manufacture so that our colleagues wont have to drop 150 dollars to retrofit their keyboards! The thrifty crafter wont have to butcher a beatiful machine just to make a pair of cufflinks or earings!

(Can you tell I am excited?)

Right,some numbers:

outside diameter of the key :14.5 mm
inside diameter of the key: 11 mm
height of key: 6 mm
thickness of lip :1.75 mm
height of lip: 1 mm(estimated)
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Spotteh
Deck Hand
*
United States United States


« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2009, 12:40:50 am »

Thank you thank you! Can you tell me the thickness of the metal in the key? on the bottom of the key there should be metal tabs that bind the key to the typewriter, if you can look at one of those and tell me the thickness? If not I can make guesses! But I think ill have a prototype made by sunday! Thank you Thank you!
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SPBrewer
Zeppelin Captain
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United States United States


Sky Pirate Brewer


« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2009, 03:04:31 am »

I don't have the answer to Spottehs question, however I do have a question under this same subject.
Has anyone here purchased the Reproduction Typewriter Keys that are being offered on ebay?
They are laser cut from a thin plywood, and look very good.  I want to know if they are a good as they look.

SPBrewer
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Dr Celsius
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« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2009, 04:20:19 am »

Here's another link to some replica typewriter keys:
http://www.createforless.com/K_and_Company+Stickers+Clearly+Yours+Lifes+Journey+Black+Alphabet/pid151045.aspx?SI=2fe5bf4d-2e6d-4840-ba32-305184cd4e35

Unfortunately, it looks like they are out of stock at the moment.

Dr Celsius
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Special_kaye
Gunner
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United States United States


« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2009, 04:26:19 am »

Here's another link to some replica typewriter keys:
http://www.createforless.com/K_and_Company+Stickers+Clearly+Yours+Lifes+Journey+Black+Alphabet/pid151045.aspx?SI=2fe5bf4d-2e6d-4840-ba32-305184cd4e35

Unfortunately, it looks like they are out of stock at the moment.

Dr Celsius


That looks like one of the sets I had in hand this past trip to the craft store. I actually had several different makes and put them back as the most current project changed while chatting with the wife.
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Spotteh
Deck Hand
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United States United States


« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2009, 04:27:09 am »

I don't have the answer to Spottehs question, however I do have a question under this same subject.
Has anyone here purchased the Reproduction Typewriter Keys that are being offered on ebay?
They are laser cut from a thin plywood, and look very good.  I want to know if they are a good as they look.

SPBrewer


Actually I have! They are made by Porkchop, They look pretty, and are well made, infact you can make some pretty good replicas out of them if you sand off the printed rims and glue some cut tube rings onto them, I have tried, and they look pretty good. But as far as using as reproductions, theres a little more metal working involved.

There well made, and they smell... interesting XD If you but them, the first thing you'll wonder is someone burning bacon?

How ever they are not perfect, if you plan to use them functionally, then you'll want to coat them with a lacquer or acrylic, becuase the typeface wears off after a few months of continuous use.
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pixlaw
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United States United States



« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2009, 05:32:13 pm »

I don't have the answer to Spottehs question, however I do have a question under this same subject.
Has anyone here purchased the Reproduction Typewriter Keys that are being offered on ebay?
They are laser cut from a thin plywood, and look very good.  I want to know if they are a good as they look.

SPBrewer


Actually I have! They are made by Porkchop, They look pretty, and are well made, in fact you can make some pretty good replicas out of them if you sand off the printed rims and glue some cut tube rings onto them, I have tried, and they look pretty good. But as far as using as reproductions, theres a little more metal working involved.

There well made, and they smell... interesting XD If you but them, the first thing you'll wonder is someone burning bacon?

How ever they are not perfect, if you plan to use them functionally, then you'll want to coat them with a lacquer or acrylic, becuase the typeface wears off after a few months of continuous use.

To follow up on the repro keys, I have to recommend Scott Porkchop's work.  I'll soon be posting updated pix of my keyboard, which has been substantially improved by a wood overlay/cover he laser cut to my design specs and by a special sets of keytops he cut for me, based on a TIFF file I sent him with the images of the keys as I wanted.  As noted, they do smell burnt a bit  for a while, since they they've been cut out of plywood with a laser, and they do require some kind of protective coating (I used a hard glaze "Triple Thick Glaze" that I picked up in a local craft store). 

I can't speak as to their longevity, since I've had them installed only a week or so, but so far so good.

I recommend Scott's  work to anyone in the States who needs some small custom laser cutting done.  He was quite accommodating, particularly since I was teaching myself how to work in Illustrator on the fly, in order to give him a clean vector file he could use to  program his cutter.
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Der Tinkermann
Zeppelin Captain
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Netherlands Netherlands


keeper of scapegoats,sitting ducks,and black sheep

brosiman
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« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2009, 09:24:14 pm »

First:pics,because they say more than words:

www.arnobrosi.com/electronics//30112009254.jpg
www.arnobrosi.com/electronics//30112009255.jpg
www.arnobrosi.com/electronics//30112009259.jpg
www.arnobrosi.com/electronics//30112009260.jpg
www.arnobrosi.com/electronics//30112009261.jpg
www.arnobrosi.com/electronics//30112009262.jpg

then, more measurements:
thickness of tab: 1 mm
width:       5 mm

 
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Spotteh
Deck Hand
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United States United States


« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2009, 12:42:59 am »

Okay Everyone! I have an idea of what I should do now! Well sort of! I tried earlier today to make a key, but the metal was too thick! I think it was 1/16th thick, so I am going to try to find a thinner gauge tube.

Also, I am going to start building blueprints to make a tap and dye set for making these keys, I have a theory that involves sheet metal and metal rods, so I am going to set forth on designing those!

Haha! I can almost taste it!

I know i am going to make these out of aluminum, but if it works I am going to make these out of Brass and maybe Copper too! Ill keep all of you guys posted!
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Wisconsin Platt
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United States United States



« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2009, 04:19:41 pm »

Very nice.  I'm looking forward to your efforts.
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Professor Damien Tremens
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« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2009, 07:21:37 am »

Might I suggest this:
http://www.metalliferous.com/pdf/Base_Metal/Brass_Mesh_Bezels_&_Hoops.pdf

Scroll down to the round rolled edge bezels on page 43. Various sizes and in both oval
and round shapes. I ordered a small assortment to inspect them when I ordered some
other supplies, and they seem like they would work quite well as simulated typewriter keys.

Some measurements for a specific size [13mm (BR5251)] as follows:
Outer diameter: 16mm
Inner diameter: 13mm
Bezel thickness: 1.5mm
Brass thickness: I can not get a measurement, but would estimate 0.1mm to 0.2mm
« Last Edit: December 08, 2009, 07:54:38 am by Professor Damien Tremens » Logged

Waterbug
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United States United States


« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2009, 07:55:33 pm »

Spotteh,

If you are still obsessed maybe I can help. In late 2008 I was on the same course as you, wanting to manufacture keys as part of a project to complete a working keyboard from the ground up, improving on current keyboards. My obsession took 3 months from me. I will relate what I experienced in the hopes of reducing your task.

I purchased a few dozen old typewriters and disassembled many. The dimension and manufacture of keys vary greatly. Older keys seem have a higher rim and flat glass. Later keys the glass was concaved and the rim height reduced. The odd thing is the top of rim to the center of the key kind of stayed the same.

I believe most key rims were punched out of sheet metal. I seem no reason why they would have used tube. Royal made some tombstone shaped keys, so for sure they were not from a tube. They were then plated. I do not believe the metal was hardened and perhaps may even been annealed after the pressing to give the tabs that bend to attach the rim to the base an increased life. Plus, I see no reason why hardened would be need since the base and glass give strength and the shape of the rim gives it strength.

However, I have also seen keys that were formed much differently. They are a strip of metal rolled into a circle and then welded. I noticed this when I saw a keyboard where the welds had come apart. I believe the rim was rolled on one side first, the proper length seared off and then the piece rolled into a circle.

As to my manufacturing attempts...I bought a hand press to try and punch some but stopped short of making a die. Metal working is new to me. I also got an estimate from a machine shop for turning keys so the rim had threads. $8 per key, so that idea was dropped although I'd be happy to share my design.

The closest I got was by starting with thin walled 1/2" copper pipe. Its diameter is in the ball park and it is the cheapest usable metal tubing available plus available as scrap. Turned on the lath so the wall of the end tapered into the center. Then spinning, as in how metal bowls are spun, that thinned wall over into the center. The back is cut on a saw to yield tabs.

However, I though it would have been easier to make a series of dies and just hammer over the rim. Prototypes did yield good results but I never made proper dies.

I did find a source for an actual glass crystal for the keys at about $1 each. The manufacturer can provide extremely close tolerances for a perfect fit. But of course punching out clear plastic is cheaper and easy enough. Of course crystal can remain an option for certain applications.

The base and stub under the base also varies and most interesting if you need that information.

I always wished I had access to a press, as I think that is the key (sorry), and maybe even some knowledge in its use. I would be honored to collaborate on this project if you like. I can provide any measurements for various keys and samples at no cost. There is simply no substitute for having these in hand.

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Narsil
Immortal
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United Kingdom United Kingdom



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« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2009, 08:57:52 pm »

Yeah I suspect tha the vast majority of typwriter keys were pressed/stamped  from sheet metal
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