DIY Laptop Keyboard Cover

by Michael Hintz

So the cat has determined that your open laptop is a warm bed on which to rest each time you go to refill your coffee. Maybe the toddler finds the keys particularly entertaining and previously unknown functions have been executed by the little one’s imaginative keystrokes. Maybe the keys just get a little dusty. Whatever the case, it’s easy to protect your laptop keyboard from such daily household elements with the addition of a simple homemade keyboard cover, customized for your unique needs.

Gather Materials

Decide how elaborate you want the keyboard cover to be. You can use as simple a material as cardboard or heavy paper to form the majority of the cover, or you can go all out by using acrylic, metal or wood sheeting or some other sturdy material. Make sure you have enough of the chosen material to cover the surface of the laptop, with some left over to make the side and front edges. You’ll also need something to secure the materials, such as tape, glue, staples or screws. The type of securing will depend on the material used. Staples and tape work for such lighter materials as paper and cardboard; screws are needed for Plexiglas, metal or wood. Glue is appropriate for most substances—if it is the right type of glue (e.g., wood glue for wood, white glue for paper).

Ready Materials

Measure the dimensions of the laptop surface (with the screen open). Mark and then cut the material of choice to the right dimensions. Measure twice, cut once. To make sure that the cover stays on, construct side and front edging for it, fastened with screws or glue, and possibly with tape or staples. Paper and cardboard can be folded to make the joints for the sides and front and then glued or taped together, but other substances likely require additional readying, such as drilling holes for screws. Alternatively, make only corner tabs, which will hold the cover on without blocking ports on the side or front of the laptop. Do the same as you would if you were making full length sides, but only use half an inch or so at each of the front corners.

Provide Padding

For rough surfaces—especially wood—some sort of padding protects the surface of the laptop from scratches. Choose soft fabrics and secure them to the underside of the cover, which will touch the laptop, with glue or double-sided tape.

Additions for Children

If you chose a sturdier surface for your keyboard cover and sometimes have a child on your lap while you’re chatting with a relative on the webcam, you could replace the child’s button-pressing fetish with a coloring one: Grab some paper and crayons and let the child draw on the surface of the cover.

Other Suggestions and Warnings

Maybe you’re only looking for something to protect the laptop screen from being scratched by the keyboard when the laptop is closed. A piece of fabric, such as a cut-up old T-shirt, works fine. Maybe you need the laptop’s side ports to remain functional while the keyboard cover is on. If this is the case, consider measuring and plotting out the right holes to keep those ports accessible. Also, never block the laptop’s fans. This can lead to overheating, which may damage your laptop.

About the Author

Michael Hintz is a technically inclined individual with a penchant for the English language. Having recently graduated from Eastern Michigan University, where he wrote for the school's newspaper, he is now looking for full-time writing and editing work while building his online writing portfolio at sites like eHow and Answerbag.

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