1 Keyboard used
2 Keytops removed
3 Stages of process
4 Stages, detail
5 First magnet glued in
6 Finished keys, bottom
7 Finished keys, top
8 Final use
Old keys from deceased computer keyboards can live their second life as fridge magnets. I got an old keyboard killed by a faulty power supply, and a piece of magnetic rubber strip, and the idea was born. Because of lack of time and magnets, only a subset of the ABCD keys was done, as a proof-of-concept.
First, we have to pry the keys off the keyboard. A screwdriver is helpful here. We don't have to worry about breaking something under them, as the keyboard is dead anyway, but care should be taken to avoid damaging the upper part of the keytops itself. Be careful a bit. (See images 1, 2.)
The keytops usually have some structure under them, that latches into the rest of the key switches. As it gets into the way, we have to cut it off. Wire cutters with suitable tip help here. We have to remove enough of the structure to allow clearance for the magnet. In this case it was the entire bottom structure, but with higher keytops you may like to leave part of the plastic there. (See images 3, 4 for the keytops themselves, with the bottoms removed and intact.)
Then we have to fix a suitable magnet under the keytop. I used pieces cut off a strip of magnetic rubber; a ferrite magnet would do as well. I chose to use hot-melt glue, but epoxy or other suitable kind of glue may be used as well. The hot glue is excellent as you can put a melted blob into the keytop, then flip it over a magnet on the table, which automatically sets the magnet to have no space between the surface when the key is aligned. (See images 5, 6, 7 for the final assembly, 8 for the magnets in-place on a fridge.)
The hot glue on the images is brownish-colored because I used a soldering iron to melt it, as I didn't have the patience to wait for a glue gun to heat up, and the soldering iron tip was contaminated with residues of flux.
To my surprise, the magnets hold well even when the fridge door is slammed shut.
Could be a nice way to kill a rainy afternoon with kids.
A friend commented it could be a nice way for schools/parents to help children learning alphabet. Also good for adults to learn a language - "a little less infantile than colored childrens' blocks and takes up less space".
The rest of the keys. Neodymium magnets.