Contemplating softening the edge of my MBP

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by meistervu, Oct 29, 2015.

  1. meistervu macrumors 65816

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    #1
    I love my Macbook Pro, but ultimately it's a tool to me. As such, it has a terrible flaw. I can't stand the the sharp edge.

    Before you start telling me about how to be ergonomically correct, one should not rest his forearms on the edge. I know all about that. I have been programming for a long time and never suffer CTS, so I must be doing it right.

    I do wood working for a hobby, and I would always soften the edges of my creation if it's going to be touched by a human being. It's just feel better that way. I am sure Apple considered it, but decided not to for whatever reason. Personally, I think it's a terrible design flaw. Just like the iPhone designs, the old ones are so uncomfortable compared to the 6 with its soft edges.

    I looked at all the add ons solution, but found none that I like.

    So, I am contemplating going down the road of no return. The responses I have read to people who have done it included: ruin resales value, warranty, oxidation. I don't really care about resales value or warranty: this is a tool for for me and I would rather enjoy it while I have it. I am not one to put plastic on my couch. I don't think oxidation is a big deal either. I have aluminum boat in bay water and without anodization, they do wear out eventually over a couple of decades. I doubt that I will keep by MBP for that long, and in any case, I doubt that the sweat on my forearm is as corrosive as salt water. So oxidation is a non issue.

    So it comes down to doing it right. From my experience with wood working, it doesn't take much softening to
    make a huge different. If it were wood, all I have to do is run some may be 200-400 grit sand paper on the edge a few times and I am done. But anodized aluminum is much harder, so perhaps some filing and then buffing is required. Unlike wood, I don't want to touch the rest of the surface because that would leave visible mark that would be hard to blend in again.

    Any suggestion? I have an external Apple keyboard to practice on.

    Thanks.
     
  2. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #2
    Personally, I'd not do it, but you seem to know your way around tools. I can't imagine if I did it, that it would come out good.

    You're correct about the possible downsides of such an operation and you seemed to have thought through the process. I vote against such a move, but then its not my computer. Sounds like you already have your mind made up and are looking for some level of edification :)
     
  3. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 603

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    #3
    I wouldn't do it and your assumptions about sweat and corrosion are wrong it is more corrosive due to some acidity (and the corrosive effects of sweat seem to vary wildly between people). I have seen MBPs with corrosion on the edge due to sweat without filing it down. Just google aluminium and sweat corrosion and it's seen in lots of things from electronics to bicycles.

    I woudl say that some sort of soft covering would be less damaging but aesthetically less pleasing, the way I would go though.
     
  4. RobbieTT macrumors member

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    #4
    A quick whizz with a very fine blue scotchbrite pad on a Dremel is enough to reduce the edge effect, without any adverse impact on aesthetics.
     
  5. meistervu thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #5
    I think I have a Dremel like tool. I will try this. Thanks.
     
  6. meistervu thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #6
    I am skeptical about sweat causing corrosion on aluminum enough to make a difference on my laptop. I am a cyclists, and I have ridden bikes with aluminum handlebars, some are anodized, some not, and parts of it come in constant contact with me when I ride. These surface looked fine. If anything, the part that come in contact with my body looked more polished than the rest. I suspect my skin oil has more effect on it than my sweat. Aluminum will rust and the rust forms a protective layer.

    Regardless, these machines will become obsolete long before aluminum can rust through judging by common sense.

    As for covering, I looked into folio cases but they are either PU leather (why bothering putting the word leather in there), or really expensive leather (which I like) but they all would make it look like I try too hard to protect my laptop, like the way people put plastic covering on their couch. I am going to make myself a form fitting keyboard wrist rest and that would help when I am at my desk.ge

    I tried a piece of vinyl tape on the edge and it helped tremendously, so it doesn't take much. I wish Apple would soften the edge a little to start with. The transition between the cutout in front of the touch pad and the rest of of the front edge is especially sharp - as sharp as the tip of a nail.
     
  7. meistervu thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #7
    Yes, some sort of guidance of how to do it, or a good reason not to do. There is nothing like the first time :D. I have done things like this in the past and after I finished, while I liked the result, I thought to myself that if I could do it again I know how to do it better. In woodworking, often there is more material to remove, so you start removing little at first and check your result before continuing, and you often work the surround area to blend in with the target. This is more like jewelry work.

    The one thing that is on my side is that I have an Apple external keyboard to practice on. As far as I can tell, the material is very similar.

    I need a volunteer in the audience. Any one want to their MBP modded?
     
  8. Idefix macrumors 6502

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    #8
    this whole sharp edge thing has been going on for years, and Apple isn't about to change anything.

    there have been numerous suggestions over the years, the best looking of which was a half-round aluminum bar with sticky tape. Not available anymore, so it seems.

    It would be very interesting if such a product was available in all Apple Stores. How many would they sell, and would that wake Apple up?
     
  9. Al2O3 macrumors newbie

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    #9
    I agree with meistervu 100%. I feel that the MBP factory edge at the front of the machine is unaesthetic and unpleasantly sharp. It's obdurate message is, 'don't touch me, no rest here.' Apple takes great pains to make their products visually appealing, but in this case, IMO, they've ignored the sense of touch. I doubt there's any reason (other than corporate stubbornness) why a small radius couldn't have been machined along this edge, prior to bead-blasting and anodizing.

    I like chamfered edges and wanted a little more comfort when using my MBP, so I carefully rubbed the front edge, the two front corners, and the two sharp points of the central machined face, with some 9 micron (1200 grit) microfinishing film I had. Not much difference, so I continued with 1000 grit Wet-or-Dri paper. Still not quite enough of a change, so used a second-cut flat file to take a little metal off, and then finished the edge with 1000 grit paper. It's still plenty sharp but feels better now, and is actually smoother than the factory edge along the display bezel. The dressed edge shines more brightly than the surrounding metal, but the highlight is a tiny one. Now, instead of tactile dissonance, there's tactile pleasure.
     
  10. duervo macrumors 68000

    duervo

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    #10
    Be mindful of any vibration that can happen using the process that you end up using. If the vibration from the process is bad enough, you risk doing damage to the internal components.

    If that's a concern, then I suggest that you disassemble the system before proceeding, and then reassembling once completed.

    If that is a problem, then I would suggest forgetting about doing it and instead using some form of plastic outer shell instead, asthetistics-be-damned.
     
  11. Rodan52 macrumors regular

    Rodan52

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    #11
    I dont think that you are more likely to experience corrosion problems with a rounded edge any more that you would with the current surface, its not plated or coated after all just as Samuelsan2001 says.
    I agree that a power tool might be an issue if it causes too much vibration though. I think you idea is a good one basically, you wont need much "softening" so I would be inclined to use a very fine file then buff with some very fine dampened wet an dry paper on a wooden block. In fact just fine carborundum on a block may do the job by itself.
    Let us know how it goes I may try the same myself.
     
  12. bobcan macrumors 6502a

    bobcan

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    #12
    First of all, 'by definition' the Anodized Aluminum (that Apple has used and been known for on so many of their products) is indeed a Plated and Coated surface _ and I read Samuelsan's post above and do not see that he indicated that it was not so, at all!! Removing, or even deeply scratching this coating, will enable the soft and vulnerable raw metal to be degraded more easily, and will also completely change the look by the removing of the anodizing, and by what the surface will then look like as it ages, perhaps ungracefully so.. as soon as your do any polishing to the corroded areas, the result will be Shiny vs the 'dull' Anodized look, and unless you are REALLY good with your tools (most likely inhuman sort of good) I think you would Franken-mac it in a hurry!! :eek:

    Also to that thought, and more to the original poster, if you at ALL appreciate the 'perfectly contoured round and/or straight edges' that Apple is known for using as well, taking ANY sort of hand tools to the case and attempting to remove metal will almost certainly end that pleasing profile, even if a minute dimension _ not to mention creating the resultant crapstorm of wee metal bits to possibly integrate into unwelcome spaces of an electronic device _ if you wish to disassemble the bottom case, and take it to a machinist to have the edge 'routed' (to use a proper woodworking term for edge rounding device) then I can see how you might get to your happy place..

    Please keep us apprised of your process, I for one am happy to learn what makes things better/ more usable for people _ and surely can see how some people do NOT like the 'sharp edges' depending upon how they type, but I could not see myself messing with what has always seemed like a good thing to me.. You bought it, and you can do as you please though, and may well find what you need easier than I think possible.. I hope..

    Good Luck, and hope you do find the right solution, for you!! :apple:
     
  13. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #13
    You're idea and you hate the edges Report back on what you did to your MBP with pictures please :)
     
  14. Rodan52 macrumors regular

    Rodan52

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    #14
    The proper term is beveled and I think once you own an Apple device you can do whatever you please to it. The case is made of aluminium, it is anodised to give it its characteristic brushed appearance. It is no more likely to corrode on this edge than anywhere else. Just look at any scratched area. The OP sounds like he knows what he is doing but masking the keyboard to prevent any debris getting in the case is a good idea.
     
  15. lowendlinux Contributor

    lowendlinux

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    #15
    I use 800 grit ti just take the sharpness off on all my wife's MBP's since the Change to unibody. A couple swipes is all you need
     
  16. meistervu thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #16
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I may try wet sanding at 400, 800, 1200 with and paper wrapped around a foam based sanding block to give it some structure. I have a keyboard and an old Mac Pro tower with a lot of edges to practice on. When the time come I will tape around the working edge before doing it.

    I don't think it's necessary as I will take off just a tiny amount, but if needed, I could create a small jig that hold the sanding block at a constant angle to the edge I want to soften. In that case I would clamp a flat edge on top of the keyboard rest to protect and provide a flat surface to slide the jig.

    Thank you everyone for your thoughts. They were all very thoughtful comments and really helped.
     
  17. Al2O3 macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Yes, try 400, 800, 1200. I found that 1200 was too fine for removing material, and 1000 left an adequately smoothed surface after filing. There's 600, too. I don't think a jig for sanding at a constant angle would be helpful because then you'd have two sharp edges above and below the sanded face. Holding the sandpaper on the 8" single-cut file I used, I varied the angle while stroking along the edge in order to round it. Using a finger as sandpaper backing also naturally rounds the edge. The only thing you have to guard against is slipping and abrading the top surface. I didn't remove much metal, but the sharpness along the front edge is no longer irritating to me. And I don't mind the bright highlight of bare aluminum along the doctored edge. The bezel edge when I open the laptop is sharper than I'd like, as are the edges of the various port openings, but I'll leave well enough alone.
     
  18. Max(IT) Suspended

    Max(IT)

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  19. bobcan macrumors 6502a

    bobcan

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    #19
    I agree somewhat with the 'proper term' but was going into woodworking-mode, as he had indicated that he was into that as a hobby so it would make sense, I hoped _ hence my adding 'routed' as such.. Now, that being said, I believe Bevel would be a Flat Angled Edge (as the result of taking a File or Sanding Block to the edge), and a Routed edge would be more likely to be Rounded (or many other shapes, depending upon cutter tool used) and seems that was the intended objective _ and I (being a wood-nerd as well, before metal) have 'routed' aluminum with a good quality carbide bit and proper router with speed control _ Aluminum is a very soft metal, and not hard to work with at all given good quality tools, and more so if not removing much material!!

    Just clamp your widget into an approved holding device and giver a go _ honest _ :)

    And no, it is not a brushed appearance, or not any I have seen in Canada, where I am.. a brushed aluminum finish will have obvious longitudinal lines where a rotary belt has been used to create the look _ if anything it is perhaps blasted with a fine media, and then Anodized, which I am still fairly certain will extend the 'look and life' given normal people using it with sweat and body oils being secreted, and perhaps not being cleaned as well as it should be, or with the proper solutions _ it will NOT fall apart, or function improperly, I am quite sure, but I would be unhappy with the look after time _ methinks _ to each their own, of course..

    Once again, I am hoping to see some result, either way, and I think that doing it without power tools and EXACT replication of an edge across the item would make me quite unhappy with the result.. but, it is NOT mine, and why again I do hope to SEE and HEAR about the job being followed through, perhaps with an educational video or pics, at least.. Every day I learn something is a good day, as my Scottish Grandmother would always say!!
     
  20. Al2O3 macrumors newbie

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    #20
    Aluminum is soft but the Al203 coating that instantly forms is very hard (9 on the Mohs scale). I also have routed aluminum, 6mm plate, with a carbide roundover bit, when making display shelves. I wouldn't go near my rMBP with a machine tool.

    Sorry for the bare files, but here a a couple of photos.

    http://www.panoaura.com/pics/rMBP-edge.jpg

    The above image shows the center area (w/ depth of field and noise issues) after finishing. I didn't notice this when I was knocking the sharpness off the front edge, but the upper edge of the carved out middle section (which I didn't touch) has a small bevel. All I did was to extend this bevel (more or less) along the entire front edge of the laptop body, and around the front corners.

    http://www.panoaura.com/pics/rMBP-corner.jpg

    This shows the right front corner of the body and display panel, for comparison of edge sharpness. You can see the differences between the lines along these edges at the intersection of the vertical and horizontal faces. To reiterate, after filing the lower edge, I used 1000 grit sandpaper and varied the angle of attack to create a somewhat rounded profile. Not ultra-precise work by any means, but the goal of making the edge more comfortable was achieved.
     
  21. inhalexhale1 macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    I remember there being a YouTube video of someone doing just that. It seemed to work out. On my cMBP I also couldn't stand the edge, but it hasn't been an issue on the rMBP for me. Best of luck!

    Edit: Here's the video
     
  22. Idefix macrumors 6502

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    #22
    What's missing from the discussion is follow-up from folks who filed/sanded the edges years ago: what do the MBPs look like years later?

    Are you still satisfied? Is there corrosion or discoloration? Are you secretly wishing you hadn't filed down the edges?
     
  23. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #23
    Agreed, plus photos would be very helpful
     
  24. meistervu thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #24
    Awesome, that is what I am envisioning. It looked pretty good to me. Mind you, at close up it doesn't look perfect, but at normal viewing distance, I am sure it looks great. I bet it feels great too.

    I was in the Apple store to get a sleeve for my MBP, so I tried a InCase hard shell. Having a plastic lip on the MBP does help a bit, but I didn't care for the look. However that was a useful exercise as it told me how little material I need to remove to make a significant difference.
     
  25. maxsix Suspended

    maxsix

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    #25
    Thank YOU!

    Finally someone besides me that's using some common sense and being honest. When these first came out, Apple has quite a few complaints about the edge. To the cult like Apple clan, anyone that says anything that questions what Apple does is to be attacked or at the least put down in the forum. This is a perfect example of a small yet significant issue that could be so easily resolved if Apple did in fact care about the customer experience. I hate the sharp edge, but because I upgrade to a new MBP at every release, I choose to live with it.

    If one is going to attempt to smooth it through any method, my concern would be having it come out as an uneven line or appearance on that edge. Unless something is used to control the exact amount of depth and material removed from end to end, the edge will be uneven. Even the slightest variation may be very noticeable. If that doesn't bother you, then fine. But awareness prior to making a choice is everything.
     

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