5 Wicked Mechanical Keyboard Mods {A DIY Guide}

If you’ve grown tired of your old mechanical keyboard, why not make a few DIY modifications?

Not only will you save money by not buying a new one, but you’ll also add a touch of personal flair. If you are not sure where to start, we’ve got everything you need to know right here.

Mechanical keyboard mods are a fun, easy, and creative way to breathe new life back into your old keyboard. You can start making modifications by:

  • Switching out keycaps
  • Changing the switches
  • Modify old stabilizers
  • Customizing your USB cable
  • Quietening the keyboard clicking

Some modifications are a little more involved than others so only attempt what you feel comfortable with however these are relatively easy changes you can make in a single day.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a brand-new keyboard ready to show off to your friends.

Photo by Paul Esch-Laurent on Unsplash

Switch out the keycaps

Although they are not that functionally important, keycaps likely top the list for why you want a new keyboard.

After all, they’re what you see and touch anytime you sit down to type.

If your current keycaps don’t inspire you with joy, it’s time to say goodbye to those standard-issue keycaps and change them out for something new.

Changing out keycaps is pretty straightforward. You’ll only need a couple of things:

  • A new set of keycaps – You can find a wide variety of keycaps in multiple colors and designs online. Keep an eye out for the terms PBT and ABS. PBT keycaps are typically higher quality but are more expensive than ABS keycaps. Buy according to your budget.
  • A keycap puller – Pulling off old keycaps by hand can damage the switches and stabilizers beneath them. Using a keycap puller is the best way to safely remove old keycaps. These tools are cheap and easy to use so don’t risk damaging your mechanical keyboard by going at it by hand.

If you want your keyboard to look extra flashy, you can even find metallic or illuminated keycaps.

Begin switching them out one at a time by pulling off old keycaps using your keycap puller. Push the puller over an individual key into it clips into place, then gently tug upwards until it comes off. Next, press a new key into place.

Change the mechanical keyboard switches

If you own a mechanical keyboard, the odds are that you love the sound and feeling of pressing down on the keys as you type.

That sensory experience is thanks almost entirely to your keyboard’s switches. If you want to upgrade that experience, change out your switches before putting on new keycaps.

If you are unfamiliar with keyboard switches, you should know that they come in three different varieties:

  • Linear switches – Linear switches are ideal for typists who dislike hearing or feeling the keys beneath their fingers. They produce a smooth and silent movement that allows the typist to create consistent strokes no matter how much they type.
  • Clicky switches – These are the exact opposite of linear switches. Clicky switches produce a small bump and a loud click for every keystroke you make. If you enjoy the ASMR sensory experience of typing on a mechanical keyboard, these are the switches for you.
  • Tactile switches – Tactile switches are a happy medium. They make a small tactile bump as you type but their sound is much quieter. These switches are good for typists who enjoy feeling their keyboards but don’t want to listen to the clatter of keys all day long.
Image by poco_bw on Canva

Switching out your keyboard’s switches can boost its lifespan.

Most keyboards come standard with cheap switches that wear out within a couple of years.

However, not all keyboards are made to have their switches swapped out. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean you can’t modify them.

Hot-swappable keyboards are designed to have their switches removed and replaced without any additional work. If your keyboard is hot-swappable, you can quickly modify it in as little as half an hour. If not, you’ll have to use a soldering tool to fuse new switches into place.

If you’re not prepared to solder new switches into your keyboard, you can always make your pre-existing switches better by adding a little bit of lubrication.

A spritz of lubrication will make them work more smoothly and reduce resistance when you press them down.

Note!! Do not lubricate clicky switches. Lubrication will destroy their iconic sound and feel.

Alternatively, if your switches feel too loose or wobbly, you can install some switch film to secure them into place.

Cheaper keyboards are often made with imbalanced tolerances so the switches do not always fit into place as their supposed to. If your keyboard is not hot-swappable, you will have to remove the old switches and solder in new ones.

Modify your old stabilizers

If switching out switches (no pun intended) sounds daunting, making changes to your old stabilizers might sound like a nightmare.

It’s pretty simple, though. Even if your keyboard is brand new, making a few modifications to the stabilizers can greatly improve how your keyboard sounds and feels.

The good news about this modification is that we won’t be replacing anything. You only need three things to make the alterations:

  • Some plastic bandages
  • Lubricant
  • Scissors

Once you have these three materials, simply cut the sticky ends off of a few bandages and glue them down to the circuit board. You want to place them around the areas where stabilizers land as you press a key. The bandages will absorb some of the impact and create a pleasing thump anytime you type.

After applying the bandage, then add a bit of lubrication to help your keyboard’s stabilizers move more smoothly.

If any of the stabilizers have become unclipped, reattach their extra bottom section to give them added stability.

Customize your USB cable

This modification will not affect much about your keyboard other than its aesthetically.

That being said, it is an easy modification that can quickly bring your keyboard back to life. If your keyboard has a detachable USB-C or USB-A power cable, you can simply change it out for something more exciting.

You can find a whole host of different colored USB cables online or you can have one made for you. Depending on your style, you can even find coiled cables that look like hair scrunchies. These types of cables are generally pricier but they may start to unravel over time.

If your keyboard does not have a USB-C or USB-A power cable, you will not be able to replace the chord so easily. Replacing a cable on a standard keyboard requires some electrical know-how and we do not recommend trying it if you do not have the experience.

Make your mechanical keyboard quieter

Not everyone loves the loud clicking sound mechanical keyboards make. This is especially true if you work in an office where everyone uses one. Regardless of why you want to silence your keyboard, you will be happy to learn that it is a pretty simple modification. You can do so with these three methods:

  • Buy a desk mat – When we said it was easy to silence your keyboard, this is what we meant. Most office desks have an empty space beneath the keyboard for you to put your legs. Unfortunately, though, this hollow space creates excess vibrations that amplify your every keystroke. By simply placing your keyboard on a desk mat, you can reduce the amount of vibration that reverberates through your desk
  • Install some O-rings – Before you reinstall new keycaps, consider adding an o-ring to each key. Even if your keyboard is not hot-swappable, you can simply slide an o-ring under the keycap to absorb some of the noise. O-rings are cheap and you can buy them in bulk, so if the constant clicking of keyboards is driving you batty, you can silence the din in no time.
  • Put some foam inside – This modification might be overkill but you want a truly silent keyboard, dampening foam is the answer. Using a Philips screwdriver, simply undo your keyboard’s case and slide in some foam around the bottom of your circuit board. Be warned, though, this could be a lot more difficult than it sounds, depending on your keyboard model. Some will require you to take out switches.

No matter if you want a quick fix or a permanent solution, you can make your keyboard as silent as possible! If you do decide to take apart your keyboard, always be sure to unplug it beforehand.

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