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DIY Custom Acrylic Music Keyboard Case

Posted on Tuesday 17 January 2012

My music keyboard is placed underneath my window, making it a great platform for my cats to walk on. They would constantly step on the keys or buttons, disrupting my Logic sessions by changing MIDI channels or programs. But the last straw was when one of my cats vomited on the keyboard. I decided to take steps to protect it.

After stopping at two hardware stores, I couldn’t find acrylic sheets thick enough to protect the keyboard, but got a referral to Gavrieli Plastics, who were helpful and had what I was looking for. For about $200 I got enough 1/4″ clear acrylic to encase the keyboard, acrylic hinges, Weld-On 16 Solvent Cement, cuts to the dimensions I wanted, and at the last minute, holes drilled in the back of the case for the cables to go in.

I peeled off the masking, assembled the box outside using bookends and books to create the right angles, and applied the adhesive. The adhesive stinks and is toxic so it’s good to do this outdoors, though I’ve seen youtube users touching the stuff. Most tutorials recommend using gloves to protect your hands.

Now that I know more about acrylic, I would have preferred Weld-On 4 and a syringe-type applicator. There are tutorials on youtube on how to weld acrylic, and using a syringe and capillary cementing looks easier and more secure if you have clean cuts in the plastic, which I did. The Weld-On 16 proved to be more difficult to work with because it poured out of the tube quickly, and you can’t wipe off the remaining residue, so I’m left with a few blotches. However, it did the job. I essentially applied the Weld-On like glue on the edges and let it set. The solvent cement actually melts the plastic and fuses it together, which is why it is more similar to welding than to gluing.

The hinges simply welded on as well; I just held them in place for 3 minutes each. You just have to be careful to apply the Weld-On away from the moving parts.

After a few hours, my roommate helped me move it indoors (I was worried the cold night temperatures would expand the plastic and interrupt its setting–some websites recommend welding at temperatures above 60°F), and after 24 hours I installed it with the keyboard.

The case has a hinged top and an open front for playing and accessing controls. Its dimensions are 55.5″ long x 8″ high x 16″ deep for my M-Audio Keystation Pro 88. Because the Acrylic is 1/4″ thick, I had the sides cut 15.75″ deep (instead of 16″) so that they would be flush with the front. The drilled holes for the cables are 2″ wide and 5″ apart centered in the back. I left extra room in the back for cable clearance, and extra height for playing. For the most part, aside from plugging in the cables, because the box is clear, I can play and access all controls without opening the top.

The case does its job nicely. It can handle light objects on top of it near the hinges. If you have irregular shaped objects and not a lot of space, this is one way to get more surface space. It does feel a little fragile – the bottom bended a lot when I put it on an X-style keyboard stand, so I reinforced it with wood underneath. The top bends a little too, because it is only attached by the hinges. If you don’t need it to be hinged, it would be a lot stronger. I might have gone with a thicker type of acrylic, but I didn’t want the thing to be too heavy. At 1/4″ it is pretty light (I can move it around myself).

So far, the cats have stayed away from it.

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