Disclaimer: When it comes to lubing, there are multiple schools of thought and differing opinions. What I’ll be displaying here today is by no means the end-all be-all method for everyone ever. After quite a bit of experimenting, this is the method that works best for me. Your mileage may vary! Furthermore, lube isn’t a cure. It makes good switches great, it does not make bad switches great.
Equipment you will need for this process:
- Your desired lube
- Your desired switches (This guide will be for MX-style switches)
- A small, clean fine-tipped brush (Here I am using size 5/0, but normally I prefer 10/0, which is a noticeably smaller size)
- A clean and open work space (don’t forget to wash your hands first, too!)
- Tweezers that are sized appropriately for handling springs and stems
- Something to open the switches with (depending on your tweezers, they might work.)
- Time to spare (this isn’t something to rush. Set aside more time than you think you’ll need for this.)
- (Optional, but helpful) Something to hold the switches steady during the lubing process
Let’s start with our items and work area. As you can see, I have everything I need, easily within reach, as well as a clean and open work space. It’s important your area and items are all clean, so you don’t accidentally get dust, dirt, pet hair, skin oils, etc. into the finished switches, which can cause issues. If you’re using a blend of lubes like I am here, you’ll want to give that container a vigorous shaking before we start, as the lubes can often separate after a while. I like to prop up the vial in something that holds it, like this open switch tester here, but anything that accomplishes this will be fine.
Once those conditions are met, we can start to lube our switches! The general thought is that thinner lubes/blends work better for linears, and thicker lubes/blends work better for tactile switches. While I do share this opinion, it doesn’t mean you have to. Thinner lubes will net you a slicker, more “glide-y” experience, which most people tend to prefer on linears, though it’s not as good at covering up imperfections in the switch, so there is a trade-off. Thicker lubes won’t make for as slick of a finished product, but it will cover up more imperfections in the switch. This is better for tactile switches, because you get the most friction during the tactility, where the slider legs meet with the metal leaf, so thicker lubes help hide that, while using less in those areas.
I prefer to work from starting from the base of the switch, so we’ll start with the base of the housing. As for the amount of lube to use, I use a very thin layer–like, seriously thin. About as thin as you can get it. Like salting food, it’s always easier to add a little more, than it is to subtract. With this in mind, I wipe off a lot of the excess lube on my brush back into the vial before applying to any part of the switch.
It will be even more obvious when you open your own switches, but there are two rails inside the bottom housing, which the slider moves up and down on–one to the left and one to the right. These are my first targets. Lube the entire length of both rails. Next, we head to the metal leaf itself. On each side of the leaf (left and right in the picture above), where our slider legs rubs against for actuation, those are the next targets. I lube the entire vertical length of each side, because the slider legs will touch a lot of it.
Moving in my preferred direction, the spring is next. If I’m being totally honest, I almost never lube the spring at all, as I don’t feel it provides enough of a benefit to me for the effort it takes. For the sake of this guide, I will touch on it, though. Using our tweezers gently, hold the spring with one hand and lube the entirety of it with the other, inside and out, as well as both ends. It’s worth noting that most experienced lubers prefer something much less thick for this, such as straight Krytox 103, 105, or even knife oil. If you have a bottle, some people go as far as to dip the entire spring in and let the excess drip off. Place the spring back into the bottom housing.
Now on to the slider. Like with the springs, you’ll definitely want the tweezers here. Grabbing it by the stem, you’re going to lube this side entirely, as well as the opposite side. Don’t forget those two legs that protrude outwards. Those touch that metal leaf that we lubed earlier, which is often where most of the “scratchiness” comes from in switches, due to the increased area of friction.
Once done, it should look something like this, or hopefully a little less, since I used a bigger brush than I normally do.
Carefully, using the tweezers, place the slider back into the housing, on top of the spring. The metal leaf in the bottom, legs of the slider, and logo on the top housing should all be aligned with each other, otherwise you risk damaging the metal leaf when you press them together for reassembly.
Now we have a super smooth linear switch! As far as tactile switches go, the process is the same for me, but I often use a little more lube than with the linears, and use less lube on the legs and metal leaf. Those two areas affect tactility the most, so the more lube applied to those spots, the less “bump” you will have once completed.
A couple additional tips:
- New/unused switches get smoother after a few weeks of daily use, so I suggest using them a bit before lubing, if you can, since it will result in a better finished product. This is sometimes referred to as a “break-in period”.
- Even if a lubed switch doesn’t feel quite as good as you wanted it to, consider using it for a while, anyways. After some use, the lube spreads out more evenly, making it a bit smoother. If it’s 95% to where you want it, that extra use will get you the final 5%.
- Be consistent! Use the same amount of lube for each switch and in the same spots. The more consistent you are, the more consistent the final product will be.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment! There really is no right or wrong here. I strongly encourage you to try different lubes, different lube locations, and different amounts of lube.
Thank you very much for checking out this guide. Happy lubing!