BUILD YOUR OWN DVORAK KEYBOARD

Introduction | Build Your Own | Dvorak International Driver

In this document i will demonstrate you with some photo material and a few comments how i do the keyswapping, converting a €10,00 qwerty keyboard to Dvorak layout.

Materials you need:
* A qwerty keyboard, US-style, with equally shaped keys. This means that most ergonomic designed keyboards will not do. However, typically the cheap keyboards will but beware most laptops do not allow swapping the keys, you will damage four notebook so don't try. Use stickers and/or a permanent marker for your notebook or ergonomic-designed keyboard.
* A flat screwdriver, a sharp knife and maybe some soft paper to protect your keyboard from scratches
* An example of a Dvorak layout.

The entire swap will take you about 10-60 minutes. Don't haste yourself, once you removed a few you will notice it is an easy job. Replacing is relative easy, just click them in while making sure the silicon rubber spring underneath is nicely in place.
The most difficult part will be your lifting technique, to remove the keys easily. For any keyboard i've encountered, keys will pop off very gently as long as you do it correct. Don't use excessive force, as soon as you need force you risk damaging the key or keyboard. The weight of the screwdriver itself, directing the force with your finger, should almost be sufficient to lift the key.

Photographs

This is my example, and how the end result should look like

The unmodified keyboard.


The two together


Tools needed:


Lifting technique:
By twisting the screwdriver i try to put te force to the center of the key as much as possible. To do so, i help with my finger by pressing on the corner of the key. The result of pressing and lifting will be that the force is directed to the center of the key, it should easily unclick. As soon as the key itself is tilted, you will be unable to lift it gently, or even damage it (breaking the little plastic nozzles that keep the key in place). You should lift the key straight up.
You will discover the first key is the hardest. Once you gained some more room, the following keys will far more easy lift off.


Here i you see me pressing the corner with my finger, while tilting with the screwdriver. It is a bit hard to make the photograph since i have only two hands ;)


Look what i found here! Now i know why this keyboard was so cheap!


Another demontstration of the lifting technique.


And yet another demonstartion of the lifting... Maybe the most clear photo.


Here are the two special keys, the J and the F. They contain little markers to aid blind typers. I just remove them. You can consider using some nail polish to create new markers (on the H and U key) if you really like them, but i skipped that. This is where you need the sharp knife.
Notice that some keyboard vendors also have extra guides on the bottom of the keys to avoid them falling in the wrong place (Guess those keyboards will be printed later). If so, you will notice because the J or F key don't fit in another place, just remove those guides with the knife as well in such case. Take care of your fingers.


If you're handy it is easy to do a nice job, don't force it to cut it of entirely at the first cut, you can repeat it, cutting a slice each time.


Here the stripped keys. You may decide to polish them, or even burn it with a lighter. But don't worry, if you start using the keyboard they will become invisible within few weeks due to your fingers polishing them.





The keyboard, all keys stripped that need to be replaced (and including the 'A' and the 'M' but this is just to have better access to the other keys).


2 minutes later:


5 minutes later:


Here another keyboard i've done, cutting the marker afterwards



And the finished result, the process is identical.



Happy typing!