The main draw for mechanical keyboards is their customizability, both aesthetically and functionally. You can quickly swap out your keycaps and switches to create your ideal experience on hot-swap boards, but how easy is it? Do you need tools to get the job done, or can you do it with your hand or household item? In this article, we will break down the best way to remove these components from your mechanical keyboard in a way that mitigates the potential for catastrophic damage to your switches, keycaps, or board's PCB.
Can You Remove Mechanical Keyboard Keycaps & Switches By Hand?
October 22, 2021
Protect the PCB
The PCB is the brain of your keyboard and can either be exposed or sit below the board's plate. It is vital not to damage this significant component because it can lead to switches not working correctly. Modular boards with hot-swap PCBs are meant to have mechanical switches easily be added and removed with peace of mind, but being reckless can still cause unwanted damage. Attempting to remove a switch improperly can potentially break off the component that allows for hot-swap support, ruining the socket until repaired with a soldering tool.
Best Way to Remove Mechanical Keyboard Switches
Mechanical switches, especially 5-pin versions, are challenging to pull out by hand, and attempting to brute force the operation can damage the switch and the PCB. Additionally, using a thin object like a butter knife, screwdriver, etc., can also lead to catastrophic damage. We highly recommend using a specially designed tool for removing switches from a modular keyboard.
All modular keyboards from Glorious come with a compact switch removal tool for the safe and reliable ejection of mechanical switches. For a more comfortable experience during extended sessions, we recommend our Ergonomic Switch Puller with a more extended grip and solid steel arms.
Dedicated switch pullers are the safest and most reliable way to eject switches from your keyboard.
How to Use a Mechanical Switch Puller
1. Make sure your board has a modular hot-swap PCB.
2. Expose the switch you want to eject by removing its keycap.
3. Line up the "teeth" of the puller on the left and right sides of the switch.
4. Make sure the puller's teeth are resting low on the switch for a secure grip. There should be a small slot for the teeth to grab onto for extra leverage.
5. Squeeze the puller with enough force to grasp the switch, but make sure not to be too forceful as you may crack its upper housing.
6. Pull straight up using gradual force without jerking or yanking the switch from the socket.
Best Way to Remove Keyboard Keycaps
The act of removing keycaps from switches can be a delicate procedure. While it may seem easy to just pull up and out, you will quickly notice how getting underneath the keycap without bending or breaking its stem is somewhat tricky. A vast majority of keycaps are composed of plastic, and plastic is quick to warp and snap when forced. Some online guides recommend using household items to remove keycaps, but the risk is just not worth it.
If you value your keycaps and want to reuse them in the future, you should use a unique keycap remover tool for a safe and reliable ejection. All Glorious modular keyboards come with compact keycap removal tools, but check out our Glorious Ergonomic Keycap Puller if you want a more premium option. Its long handle is incredibly comfortable, and the gold-plated wire is gentle on your favorite keycaps.
Keycap pullers reduce the potential for bothersome keycap scratching and warping.
How to Use a Keyboard Keycap Puller
1. Identify the keycap you want to remove.
2. Take the left wire loop at the end of the keycap puller and slide it underneath the left side of the keycap.
3. Keeping the left wire loop underneath the keycap, maneuver the right wire loop underneath the right-hand side of the cap. The wire should bend slightly.
4. With both loops firmly underneath each side of the keycap, lift the remover straight upwards. Be sure not to twist, jerk, or yank the keycap. You should use gradual pressure.
5. Some removers allow for multiple keycap ejections before being unloaded. Make sure to organize your caps after removal for easier future installation.
While it may be quick and easy to try and brute force the removal of switches and keycaps from your mechanical keyboard, we highly recommend exploring dedicated tools. Keycaps and switches are not always cheap or readily available, so giving them even greater longevity is vital if you ever plan to reuse them down the line. When removing these components, we also want to stress patience. Sometimes, these parts can get stuck due to tight tolerances, so go slowly and methodically to prevent catastrophic damage.