How Qlavier Started Making Custom Cases


Qlavier from Qlavier Keyboard Designs

Introducing Qlavier

Many of you within the mechanical keyboard community have probably heard of Qlavier. If not, he was first discovered in the r/mk mechanical keyboards subreddit on Reddit. In this article, we’ve gotten the great opportunity to interview a young up-and-coming entrepreneur who went from not knowing what mechanical keyboards even were to making custom-cut acrylic cases for other people.

We will link to his link landing page right here, so you all can check him out as well. He’s made very creative designs such as the Keeblade and the Quasi among many others. His clean designs and sleek, colorful cases might be just the thing for your special custom build.

His name is Quen, and he lives in Flanders, Belgium, Europe. He is an industrial design student that runs his entire business by himself from taking the order to building the case and then shipping it off.

Let’s move on to the interview.

Questions and Answers

Question: How did you find out about mechanical keyboard world?

Answer: I found that there is more to mechanical keyboards through randomly stumbling onto TaeKeyboards, a YouTube account where he was building budget mechanical keyboards. After that, I stumbled into the r/mechanicalkeyboards subreddit and it all snowballed from there.

Question: When did you start making custom cases?

Answer: I started out making cases 2 years ago. They were TERRIBLE in quality and design, but I kept making more cases for mostly the Planck PCB, since it was the only PCB I could afford as a student back then. I kept making cases and breaking them.

Question: Did you ever have a breakout moment and how did that happen?

Answer: I never really had a breakout moment. Everything was slow and steady growth, BUT when I made the Keeblade I went from having nothing to suddenly a few 500 followers that followed me and were urging me to go a group buy. If anything, that was my “breakout” moment, I think.

Question: How long was it before you started seeing popularity with the things you were making?

Answer: I feel like I mostly hung closely to already existing things, since most of my cases are based on existing PCBs. The hype already existed over the existing builds; I just gave my own spin to it.

Question: What materials and supplies do you use to make the cases?

Answer: I’m mostly working with Cast GS Acrylic from several brands, constantly find new sources and comparing quality. From cut lines, engravings, actual strength, and how the cases hold up over time. I hope I can do some more full aluminum designs in the near future.

Question: Can anyone in your audience try and make the cases that you do for themselves or is it too difficult?

Answer: For me, case design was a little bit of the perfect storm since I was already proficient in several CAD software and Illustrator, and I had experience with laser cutters. I think the biggest bump is collecting all resources to start out with.

Question: How many custom keyboards do you have?

Answer: I only own 1 Varmilo keyboard (VA69) that I bought just when I found out about keyboards and all the rest are just unfinished builds of my own. I own around seven working keyboards (I only use three of them actively) and like another 20 that are heavy prototypes and barely function as they should.

Side note: The Varmila VA69 cannot be bought from most vendors now, but there is the Varmilo VA68M for anyone that wants to check that out. It’s also a very popular 65% keyboard as well.

Question: What is your favorite keyboard layout and why?

Answer: My favorite layout is the 65% AZERTY ISO with a breakout arrow cluster. I need my arrow cluster for most editing and computer-aided designing and drafting (CADDing) purposes, so I’d never be able to work with a keyboard that lacked a dedicated arrow cluster.

Question: Favorite switches and why?

Answer: I have to go with Orange Alps for now. I ordered Brown Alps recently from Mechmarket since they are the best tactile Alps switch out there (as they say). But I have yet to try it. I’m hoping for the best. Alps switches in general are so much better than anything MX variant out there.

Question: Where do you see your future going, how long will you continue to make cases and keyboards?

Answer: I have ABSOLUTELY no clue at the moment. I hope I can finish up and start a group buy soon to see how many people are actually interested in my work, when I try to go a bit more widespread and become easier availably. I’m trying to go step by step since I’m still very un-experienced.

Question: How do you come up with the designs and how does that process work?

Answer: Most of my work is iterative It starts with a rough idea: a shape, PCB, or layout. After cutting and reviewing the case, I will fix the errors. I’ll repeat this process until I gets a case I am happy with. Most cases get made 4-7 times before they are useful. Some take a few days; some never see the light of day.

Question: How did you first get into making custom cases?

Answer: I started by cutting some bad acrylic boards for myself and then those did well on mechanical keyboards subreddit. Some people started asking to buy them, and it all spiraled out of control from there.

Summary

As you can see, Qlavier is a normal, everyday dude who happens to be doing something super cool that he loves. He was very enjoyable to talk to, and he plans on expanding his business soon for more group buys of different products. He continues to work hard in his field and create innovative keyboard cases with interesting twists to them.

We’ll continue to reach out to people that have made a difference within the mechanical keyboard community to learn more about them and their story.

If you think there are other questions that we should’ve asked, comment down below and we’ll ask Qlavier to see if he can answer it!

If there are other people you would like us to interview or write a feature on, let us know in the comments section down below! This has been a fun, yet new experience for us and probably for him as well.

Happy typing!

Jake Harrington

Jake has been an avid mechanical keyboard user for the past six years. He has a background in Mechanical Engineering and wants to apply his expertise to break down how mechanical keyboards work and show the world all of the cool aspects of the mechanical keyboard hobby.

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