Best Way to Pull Off Keycaps Without a Puller?

The Arche Duck

21 Nov 2019, 21:58

Hey, I recently got a good deal on a Focus FK-2001 with white Alps for 75 dollars off of eBay recently, it's in great condition and has no yellowing. The only issue is that the keyboard is decently dirty, and I think that is effecting the key-feel, as some of the larger keys bind (not due to stabs, the stabs seem fine) and the switches feel slightly clunky and not as tactile as I've hoped. I'd pull the keycaps and clean the switches but I don't have any keycap pullers at the moment, so I was wondering if there is a way I could do so without one? This is my first ever mech, so for all I know these could be normal for these switches, but from what I've heard it's not and alps seem to have an issue with dirt.

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21 Nov 2019, 22:11

First of all, for ALPS keycaps you have to be extra careful.

Here is a guide with images.

I know, the guide shows a wire puller being used, but, if you can find some stiff and thin enough electrical wire (that you can fit between the keycaps), you can create a loop and then spin it to look like and 8, or something like this, with 2 loops at the ends which you can use as a puller.
Last edited by derzemel on 22 Nov 2019, 07:41, edited 1 time in total.

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21 Nov 2019, 22:26

I've had luck with a butter knife in the past, too. But he's right about Alps: they can be unforgiving. There are worse (space invaders and buckling spring each have their right ways and wrong ways) but there are better too (MX and Topre best of all, without even the need to think about stabs).


21 Nov 2019, 22:50

I second Muirium on this. The butter knife trick is probably the best way to do it.


21 Nov 2019, 23:12

I used to use mechanical pencils until I got a puller with my pingmaster. They worked ok when I had to find something at my desk.

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21 Nov 2019, 23:27

Bended paper clips.

The Arche Duck

22 Nov 2019, 01:51

Thank you all, hopefully I can get a puller soon so I don't have to worry about breaking my keycaps.

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[ XMIT ]

22 Nov 2019, 04:09

Paperclips, screwdrivers, maybe PCI port hole covers from an old PC chassis. The idea is to apply even, upward force on opposite sides of the key.

I've removed thousands of Alps keys and still have rotten luck every now and then. Today I was working on a ~20 year old SMK Black Alps board and ripped out five (!) switches. Fortunately I have some spare Matias switches on hand, but still.

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22 Nov 2019, 04:47

I've opened tons of keyboards for cleaning, and I've used a plastic spudger tool every time, except when I had to remove the beamspring keys and had to use 2 pieces of that metal wire thing for cable management so that it pulls up

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Elder Messenger

22 Nov 2019, 13:41

Spending 5 minutes to make something is worth it.

Old Alps can be touchy, pull straight up and be careful. ... #msg880111

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22 Nov 2019, 19:17

ppCircle wrote:
21 Nov 2019, 23:27
Bended paper clips.
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You can also make a nice puller out of a mini whisk — bend two loops to shape and remove the rest.

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Elder Messenger

23 Nov 2019, 03:45

The copper one is my favorite. I bent it out of the inner wire of a TV cable and the grip is hot glue.
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key-puller2.jpg (14.42 KiB) Viewed 777 times
keycaphowto.jpg (1.76 MiB) Viewed 777 times


23 Nov 2019, 15:45

fohat wrote:
23 Nov 2019, 03:45
The copper one is my favorite. I bent it out of the inner wire of a TV cable and the grip is hot glue.
:D So I'm not the only one that used cheap copper wires.
Useful for removing big ass enter keys.

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