The Kowal Portable Typewriter & Adding Machine #4

You know how this sort of things goes. My keyboard was failing so I had to install a new one. Then, since the rest of my computer had been modified to be a sort of Art Deco steampunk, I needed to mod the new keyboard. And then it looked so shiny next to the rest of the computer that I needed to upgrade the modifications on the rest.

So…. Here is the Kowal Portable Typewriter & Adding Machine #4.

I’ve got to say that I was really not happy with the quality of the stickers that I used on the Kowal #2. 

The resolution was poor, and they tore and scuffed easily.  They also had a tendency to peel which was less than optimal.

This time, I decided that I would use the same technique I used on the #3 and on my folding keyboard. It seems lowbrow, but works suprisingly well. Decoupage.

That’s right. I printed stickers on my home printer, cut them out and pasted them on with ModgePodge. In really hot and humid weather, it will get slightly tacky to the touch, but the in that sort of weather, I’m slightly tacky as well. Sweat, bleagh.

I used a wood veneer for the space bar and enter key. I’m not yet happy with the enter key. It is such an odd shape that I’m having a little trouble getting the veneer to take some of the angles.

For the space bar, double-sided sticky tape is more than sufficient, but the enter key may require actual glue.

The bandaid on the side is because the side panel keeps popping off. I need a solution that’s a little more attractive, but I’ve lost two screws and once the entire panel so… bandaid. Maybe I’ll uncover our gaffer’s tape someday.

I also wish I could do something about the red dot in the middle, but I know from the last keyboard that there’s not much I can do to it.

The tutorial that I did for the first Kowal Portable applies mostly to this, with the obvious alterations in printing on sticker paper.

Here are the other things to know:

  1. Let the sticker paper dry thoroughly before applying it to the machine. It may be dry to the touch but still have residual moisture inside. On the front sticker, I put it on straight away and ModgePodged. I had some slight bleeding from the red. This is the only time I’ve had this happen. So, let it dry at least half an hour to be safe.
  2. Apply the ModgePodge in a thin coat with the softest brush possible. Brush strokes will show. Vertical strokes will catch the light less than horizontal. I use a gloss, but that’s personal preference. Wait half an hour, then apply a second coat.
  3. Clean the excess off before it dries.  After it’s dried, it can be scraped off like rubber cement, but it’s a pain.
  4. This is not an easily reversible modification. You can clean things off, but it’ll involve a lot of scrubbing and elbow grease. If you want to be able to undo it easily, use the method I did for the Kowal #1 and order from
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