Keycap pullers are essential tools for keyboard enthusiasts and users who want to customize their mechanical keyboards. Many keyboards and keycap sets come with a plastic keycap puller, which often falls short in terms of durability and effectiveness. A do-it-yourself (DIY) wire keycap puller made from paper clips and a twist tie provides a better alternative. This guide will take you through the steps to create your own DIY keycap puller, along with tips on using it and exploring other alternatives for keycap removal.
Materials and Tools
Required Materials and Tools
To craft your own DIY wire keycap puller, gather the following materials:
2 x Paper Clips (size #1)
1 x Twist Tie (plastic preferred)
1 x Needle Nose Pliers
1 x Ruler
Avoid Jumbo Paper Clips and Plastic Keycap Pullers
Using jumbo paper clips for your DIY project is not advisable, as their wire may be thicker than size #1 paper clips, requiring more force to fit between keyspaces. Additionally, plastic keycap pullers are not ideal because they may take longer to use and risk damaging keys, switches, or the printed circuit board (PCB) underneath if not used correctly.
Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your DIY Wire Keycap Puller
1. Straightening the Paper Clips
Begin by straightening the size #1 paper clips using your fingers or the needle nose pliers. Try to make them as straight as possible to facilitate the bending process in the next step.
2. Bending the Arms to the Correct Length
Using the ruler, measure 1.5 inches (~3.8 cm) from one end of the straightened paper clip. Then, use the needle nose pliers to bend the paper clip at the 1.5-inch mark to create an arm. Repeat this process for the second paper clip.
3. Securing the Twist Tie as a Retainer and Handle for Pulling
Take the twist tie and wrap it around the unbent ends of both paper clips, securing them together. The twist tie will serve as a retainer, keeping the paper clips in place, and a handle to provide a comfortable grip when pulling keycaps.
4. Final Adjustments and Quality Check
Once the twist tie is securely fastened, use the needle nose pliers to make any final adjustments to the bent arms, ensuring they are parallel and at the correct length. Check the overall structure for stability and strength, making any necessary tweaks before using your DIY keycap puller.
How to Use Your DIY Wire Keycap Puller
1. Placement of the Wire Puller Around the Keycap
To use your DIY wire keycap puller, lower it around the sides of the keycap you want to remove, ensuring the bent arms of the paper clips are positioned beneath the keycap.
2. Twisting or Turning for a Secure Grip
Once the keycap puller is in place, twist or turn it slightly so that each arm is securely positioned under an opposing corner of the keycap.
3. Gently Pulling the Keycap Off the Keyboard
With the keycap puller in the correct position, gently pull straight up to remove the keycap from the keyboard. Becareful not to apply excessive force, as this could damage the keycap, switch, or the PCB underneath.
4. Tips for Avoiding Damage to Keys, Switches, or the PCB
To minimize the risk of damage while using your DIY keycap puller, follow these tips:
Ensure the arms of the keycap puller are securely positioned beneath the keycap before attempting to remove it.
Avoid using too much force when pulling the keycap, as this could cause damage to the keycap, switch, or PCB.
Remove the keycaps in a straight upward motion without tilting or twisting the keycap puller during removal.
Alternative Keycap Removers
If you’re unable to create a DIY wire keycap puller or prefer alternative methods, consider the following options for keycap removal:
- Guitar strings
- Steel wire
- Armature wire
- Pipe cleaners
To use these materials effectively, secure them with glue or epoxy to a suitable handle, such as a wooden dowel or hollow tubing. This will provide better grip and control during the keycap removal process.
A DIY wire keycap puller made from paper clips and a twist tie offers a cost-effective and efficient alternative to the plastic keycap pullers often included with keyboards and keycap sets. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can create your own keycap puller and use it to safely remove and replace keycaps on your mechanical keyboard.
If you’re looking to further customize your keyboard, learn more about choosing keycaps and making your own keycaps. While a DIY keycap puller can be a great solution for occasional keycap changes, it’s recommended to invest in a proper wire puller if you plan on changing keycaps regularly. This will ensure a more consistent and reliable keycap removal experience and minimize the risk of damage to your keyboard.