How to Lube Mechanical Keyboard Switches
You might be asking ‘what the heck is a lubed mechanical keyboard’ or ‘why do we lube mechanical switches’?
Lubing your mechanical switches mainly provides a unique typing experience that is not common on your typical mechanical keyboard. This tutorial on how to lube your mechanical switches or keyboard will allow you to get the best experience you can and personalise your keyboard.
A lubed keyboard sound a bit like this:
BEAUTIFUL ain’t it? You can get a keyboard that sounds similar or even BETTER than this! Some like a buttery sound an feel and others like a sharp clack! You decide how it sounds, feels and looks to your preference!
What is switch lubing and is it necessary?
Lubing a mechanical keyboard switch is the application of an oil or grease to different components of a switch in order to alter the way a switch feels and/or sounds.
There are three types of mechanical switches:
Each individual person has their own subjective and objective views as to why one switch is better in terms of feel or sound. In some cases, stock switches do have bad qualities that you may not like such as:
- Loud spring ping or loud crunching noise
- Scratchy or bumpy texture when pressing
- Bottom out or upstroke is to loud
Lubrication of the switch helps to reduce these objectively ‘bad’ and inherent qualities of a switch to improve your typing experience.
Switch lubing is not necessary (much like many things in the mechanical keyboard hobby) and it is preferential. People in the community like to modify their switches to adjust the feel and/or sound of a stock switch to their tastes.
Of course, we will DEFINITELY recommend you try a lubed switch because it is a different typing experience all together! You may like it, or you may not!
Are you liking this explanation?
Be sure to watch our video tutorial! It shows you how to lube switches and gets in depth about the process and procedure!
Lubed keyboards are amazing because it is completely different to a standard mechanical switch or any typical keyboard you have typed on! A definite experience to try if you love improving your keyboard or gaming/desk setup!
If you want to lube your switches it can make the operation smoother and change the sound signature of a switch, typically by reducing the noise or damping it.
In the case of tactile switches, lubing can help to accentuate or emphasize the bump more by reducing the feel of other imperfections or reduce the tactile bump to one’s taste.
Where clicky switches are concerned, whilst lubing them can increase their smoothness it is generally advised that you avoid lubing these as lube can get in between the click jacket and the stem and create a wet slapping noise or no click at all when the switch actuates. The sound and feeling this produces is typically undesirable.
Contact points between moving parts and impact points in a switch are where lubing is most beneficial, which will help either make operation smoother/faster and butterier or sharper (depending on the type of lube used), as well as provide cushioning to reduce impact noise.
We will only be looking at the brush lubing technique for this tutorial. Brush lubing provides the best switch consistency for optimal feeling and sound, however it does take time and practice. If you are interested in other methods feel free to contact us on the contact form about your request!
|Linear||Increased Smoothness, Sound Dampening|
|Tactile||Increased Smoothness, Sound Dampening, Optional Tactility Reduction|
Below are some of our favourite switches that we suggest that you buy and lube:
|Gateron Yellows||Halo Trues|
|Cherry MX Blacks||Holy Pandas|
|Gateron Black Inks||Koalas|
|Healios (Silent Stems)||T1’s|
|Tealios||Zilents (Silent Stems)|
Types of Switch Lube
The most used and more readily available lubricants in the Mechanical Keyboards community are manufactured by Tribosys and Krytox as of the time of writing in May 2020. These are machine grade lubricants used in airlines and other gear.
There are potentially more lubricants out there that are applicable, which we only recommend you use with due diligence, research and testing. Chemicals used in those lubricants may damage or hinder components of switches (eg. plastics or metals).
NOTE: We do not recommend using typical lubricants used for cars and general housework such as WD40, lithium grease and any variants. These are typically too thick for smooth switch operation, or react with the plastics or metals inside the switch.
Some of these lubes you may come across in your research. Here is a table of common and more unique lubes:
What tools do you require?
- Lubricant of your choice (listed above)
- We recommend:
- Krytox 205g0 Buttery Lube; or
- VPF1506 Thin Lube.
- We recommend:
- A small 2mm – 4mm Paint Brush with soft bristles
- A tool to open your mechanical switches:
- A flat head screwdriver
- An aluminium or 3D printed MX or Kailh Switch Opener
Optional tools that may make your life easier but are not necessities:
- Trays for separating switch components
- Lube station, great for when you want to do many switches at a time, or just want that organization, or want that aesthetics
- Lube Vial holders, again great for organization or aesthetics
- Stem holder, such as the TX Stem Picker or a jewel holder
- Spring tray kit, like the TX spring tray kit which allows you to oil springs in an organized and efficient manner, otherwise you could forego this and still brush lube either grease or oil onto springs by hand.
- Pin and/or tweezers for moving parts and springs
When lubing your switches, it is important to avoid contact to skin or ingesting any of the lube. Please make sure you wear gloves or at the very least wash your hands immediately afterwards with soap. Some lubricants contain ‘PTFE’ which there are personal health concerns with improper use.
How to Lube Your Switches
Here are some general steps on how to lube your mechanical switch. We recommend watching my video first because it shows you exactly where you need to put the lube for each of the switch parts:
- Get 4 clean dust free bowls for each of the switch parts.
- Open switches using your switch opener/ screwdriver / etc and organise the 4 components into the 4 bowls:
- Top Casing
- Bottom Casing
- Apply a very small amount of lube to your brush.
- Dip it into your vial or lube and scrape it against the side of the vial to remove excess. A less than a drop of this lube is enough to lube 1 or two switches very easily.
- The key with lubing switches is to lube VERY evenly across all friction surfaces where the switch parts move.
- Bottom Casing – Starting with the bottom casing of the switch. Lube the rails on both sides as well as the interior and exterior of the stem well (where the spring sits on).
- If you desire to decrease the bottom out sound (when the stem hits the bottom casing) of the switch here is where you can also lightly lube the bottom of the housing.
- Spring – Next step is lubing the spring and there are a number of methods to doing this.
- You can lube them each by hand ensuring that you apply an even coating to the entirety of its length.
- You can bag lube them by placing into a bag, adding lube to the bag (works better with thinner lubes) and shake around the bag ensuring all switches are coated. This method is slightly faster however it uses up more lube as a decent amount of it will remain in the bag. But you can use a brush to get the remaining lube out of the bag.
- If you have a spring tray kit you can place your springs into the channels and using an eye dropper or in the case of the TX Spring kit the included dropper bottle drop a droplet or 2 of lube into each channel and leave to sit for a few minutes to ensure that each spring is sufficiently coated.
- Switch Stem – Lubing the switch stem can be messy if you don’t have a tool to hold your stems so be careful not to get any on your hands.
- When lubing your switch stem lube:
- front and back faces of the stem
- both of the side rails; and
- the stem pole and the internal spring channel.
- For linear switches it is also recommended that you always lube the stem legs as well however for tactile switches this will lead to tactility loss, so it is up to your own personal preference as to whether you wish lube them or not.
- When lubing your switch stem lube:
- Top Casing – The final component to lube is the top casing. You will want to lube the inside of the casing channels where the stem hits and the surrounding walls where the stem sits.
- If you wish to decrease the upstroke noise further you can also lube the top of the stem rails.
- Now all that is left to do is to reassemble the switch.
- Bottom Housing + Spring – Take the bottom housing and place a spring on the stem well.
- Stem – Add your stem ensuring that the stem legs are facing the metal contact leaf; and
- Top Housing – Finally take the top housing making sure it is orientated correctly (so it does not bend the switch leaf) and press down until you hear the clips click into place.
YOU HAVE JUST ASSEMBLED AND LUBED A MECHANICAL SWITCH!
NICE JOB! I HOPE THIS TUTORIAL HELPED!
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Need help on how to lube or other mechanical keyboard tips and tricks? Be sure to join our discord with 100s of valuable members willing to help! Be sure to include photos and other details so we can help you out! Most importantly come join us to share your wonderful mechanical keyboard!
A big thank you to C.A.Z from our Discord for helping putting this guide together!