Keyboard, Opinion

Custom Keyboard Buyer’s Guide – Accessories You Need

So you’ve got a custom keyboard already – what’s next? Well, a whole lot more! Depending on how far down the rabbit hole you’d be willing to go, you will need more tools and accessories to help you further improve your keyboard and (effectively) your typing experience as well.

Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are the accessories that I have personally bought throughout my time in this hobby. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

Deskmat

This is the easiest way to “upgrade” your typing experience. As I’ve written in my article dedicated to deskmats, a deskmat offers a range of benefits. It protects your keyboard, it will improve the sound profile of your keyboard – though this is situational – and you won’t even need a mousepad anymore.

Screwdriver Set

An essential tool for anyone that plans to assemble their own custom mechanical keyboard. The screw bits you need will depend on the keyboard that you’ll be building, so it’s best to get a screwdriver set with a wide range of different bits for the best compatibility.

Better yet, get a screwdriver set with a magnetic tip. Trust me, it will make your building experience much, much more pleasant when you don’t have to fumble with a bunch of tiny screws.

Keycap Puller – A Proper One

There are two prevalent types of keycap puller in the market: a much smaller, plastic one, and a wire keycap puller. Avoid the former at all costs: not only is it difficult to use, it’s easy to scratch your keycaps with that “tool” too.

The best one is definitely a wire keycap puller. The wire makes it a lot easier to get a good grip on a keycap, and you can pull multiple keycaps at one go as well.

High-Quality Switch Puller

One of the advantages of a custom keyboard is the ability to swap switches whenever you feel like it – especially with a hotswap PCB – but in order to do that, you need a switch puller.

Now, this is one tool you do not want to cheap out on. I purchased a dirt cheap switch puller before, and as a result, I ruined a fair bit of switches because of how soft the tips are. This makes it difficult to get a good grip on the switches.

Switch pullers that I can personally recommend is this one from Rama Works. It has served me very, very well, and if you’re not a fan of the yellow colourway, you can get the white one instead from iLumkb. If you want something a bit fancier, Wuque Studio’s titanium switch puller should be good too.

Metal Switch Opener

Those who want to go the extra step of lubing their switches for an even better typing experience – which I highly recommend – will need a switch opener. Preferably a metal one, such as this one from Keys.

A plastic, 3D printed switch opener will work fine, but it won’t be able to open up switches quite as easily. When you need to lube in excess of 60 switches for a compact keyboard, you’d want to be able to open them up without much fuss.

Lube and Brush

Of course, you need a lube and brush to start lubing the switches. Any brush would do, though I do recommend going with a finer tip for better control of how much lube to apply.

As for what lube to get, you can’t go wrong with Krytox 205g0. It can be used to lube switches, stabiliser housings, as well as stabiliser wires too. It’s almost an all-purpose lube, really.

How about a lube station? Well, while it would be useful to have the different parts of the switches laid out in a neat manner, it’s not something I would consider to be a necessity. I’ve lubed hundreds of switches without one.

Stem Holder

What I do consider to be a necessity is a stem holder. Basically, it can hold on to the stem of a switch to make the lubing process much easier. It’s entirely possible to lube a switch stem without this stem holder, but it can be tricky to get a good grip on the tiny stem during the lube process.

As I’ve mentioned earlier in this article, this is not an exhaustive list. There are a couple of other accessories that you can get to improve your typing experience, such as a wristrest or a custom cable. The latter doesn’t really “improve” your keyboard in a meaningful way, but it does look…well, nice.