How to Make Typewriter Keys

Written by lissabeth ross
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How to Make Typewriter Keys
You can give even a modern keyboard an old fashioned look by creating your own typewriter-style keys. (typewriter image by zelenyj from

Even the most roughly treated vintage typewriters will likely have a decent set of typewriter keys. When the keys are in bad shape, you can usually locate sets of keys for sale at online auction sites. However, you may want to create your own set of typewriter keys to give your typewriter a new look or to turn a traditional computer keyboard into a Steampunk-inspired keyboard.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Brass fasteners
  • White printable labels
  • Polycarbonate sheet
  • Thin cardboard
  • Flathead screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Prepare your keyboard by popping off the typewriter key caps. Depending on your keyboard it may be difficult to remove the caps. You should be able to gently pry off the keyboard caps with a flathead screwdriver.

  2. 2

    Locate some decorative brass fasteners or brads to use in creating your antique-style typewriter keys. You should be able to find these at a craft or scrapbooking supply stores. Find brads with large enough faces to serve as typewriter keys. Look for brads that have some sort of decorative element such as attached gemstones, jewels or coloured accents that are affixed into an open frame. It doesn't matter what the decoration looks like since these will be removed.

  3. 3

    Remove the decorative elements from your fasteners. Use the screwdriver, or if necessary a metal nail file, to bend back the tabs that hold the decorations in place. They should pop right out.

  4. 4

    Use your computer to find a typewriter style font such as "Courier New" and select a font size that will fit nicely on the circular face of the brads. You may need to print a few test pages on plain paper to get the size right before printing them out on labels. Alternately, purchase typewriter-style stickers from a craft supply store.

  5. 5

    Use the gems you removed from the brads to trace circles around the printed letter labels. Trace an equal number of circles on the poycarbonate sheet and the cardboard.

  6. 6

    Stick the white labels onto the cardboard circles. With the polycarbonate circles on top, place the polycarbonate circles and the labelled cardboard circles into each brad and bend the prongs back into place.

  7. 7

    Fold the legs of each brad so that the two legs are touching and are centred beneath the face. Insert those legs into holes in the key bases where the original keyboard caps were attached.

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