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Keycap Compatibility and Purchase Guide - How to Find Keycaps That Fit Your Keyboard

Keycap Compatibility and Purchase Guide - How to Find Keycaps That Fit Your Keyboard

Keycaps are available in a bewildering array of colors and shapes. It’s easy to get lost in keyboard community projects due to complex product pages and nonstandard layouts. We’re here to help — it’s time for keycap fundamentals.

You’ll be a confident shopper after some light DIY research, help from the mechanical keyboard community, and this guide. So... What keycaps fit my keyboard?

Find keycaps that fit and join a group buy with these steps:

  1. Identify your keyboard layout and any nonstandard keycap sizes
  2. Inspect your switches and their stem / mount compatibility
  3. Ensure kit coverage and keycap shape (row profile) across each row of keys
  4. Check site FAQs, product information, and group buy / pre-order timelines
  5. Select kits and complete checkout
  6. Follow along with updates + tracking; inspect products when they arrive
  7. Learn expert tips on keycap cleaning, troubleshooting, and usage

Identify Your Keyboard Layout and Nonstandard Key Sizes, If Any

Google your keyboard model + layout (ex. Kira mechanical keyboard layout) or model + nonstandard keys. Prioritize results from the keyboard manufacturer, Reddit, Geekhack, Keebtalk, and Deskthority. At least one of those sources should list nonstandard key sizes and general coverage advice. We’ll provide specifics, but wanted to offer a simple solution before making you learn a bunch.

If you’re not ready for a deep dive, it’s OK. Community projects have separate pages for announcements, questions, and feedback. You can visit those group buy pages (via links on Kono product pages under Details heading or directly) to ask about coverage for your keyboard. You might even see a reply from the set designer!

That said, you should know how keycaps are measured. Manufacturers and designers use “units” to determine keycap size. 1u is typically the horizontal width of an alpha key, like H or Up. Standard spacebars are 6.25u or 6.25 H keys lined up in a row.

General layout knowledge is important too. There are two major regional quirks and three broad layout categories. The USA uses ANSI layouts, which have a horizontal enter key and a longer left shift. Europe primarily uses ISO layouts. Other standards exist throughout Asia.

credit: brilliantwiki2 wikipedia

Keyboard form factors such as Standard, TKL (TenKeyLess), and sub-TKL aren’t tied to a region. The classifications refer to size and included keys, whereas ANSI and ISO layouts only affect the central alpha keys. Standard keyboards follow a pattern laid out by IBM; they include a numeric keypad and use the same 1.25u size for bottom row modifier keys like Ctrl / Alt / Win.

credit: rumudiez wikipedia

Tenkeyless keyboards delete the Standard numpad to save space. TKLs (like the IBM SSK) popularized small keyboards among enthusiasts, which drove sizes down even more. Sub-TKL layouts are typically described as a key-percentage versus standard layouts, which have 104-108 keys. 60% keyboard layouts tend to have between 60 and 65 keys, for example.

Switches and Stem / Mount Compatibility

Nearly all modern keycap sets are designed for Cherry MX-style switch stems; it’s an industry standard used by tons of manufacturers (like Kailh and Gateron). Adapters for nonstandard stems, like Alps, are intermittently available via the community. Low profile switches like Kailh Choc will not accept standard MX-stem keycaps.

You can remove a keycap to check for their characteristic + shape. If you’re unsure, you can send a switch stem picture to support@kono.store. Our team will give a yea or nay on MX compatibility.

Keycap Coverage and Rows

Once you know your layout and compatibility, start shopping! Navigate to a keycap product page and reference its labeled kit pictures. Most of them will be computer generated images. This is standard for keycap group buys because the caps still need to be manufactured.

Most base kits will cover a standard keyboard, but some keysets require one TKL kit plus a numeric keypad kit for that purpose. Standard keyboards rarely face coverage difficulties. Sub-TKL keyboards are a different story.

Now that you’ve accounted for keycap coverage, you’ll need to make sure that each row of keys has the same angle / shape. If you’re purchasing a uniform profile (DSA, SA R3, XDA) — in which all keys have the same height and angle — this might be a non-issue. Sculpted profiles like SA and Cherry put a slight tilt on each horizontal row of keys to increase comfort, so you can’t mix around key locations as freely. Renders will show this as R1, R2, etc.

Once you’ve compared keycap sets and confirmed kit fitment, it’s time for due diligence.

Check Site FAQs and Product Timelines

Kono primarily offers group buys and pre-orders for custom products. Payment is up front because we use group buy proceeds for production. Purchasing directly from the manufacturer involves some waiting — keycaps take at least 3 months to complete and some may take a bit longer.

Please take a look at the FAQ: https://kono.store/pages/faq

Each group buy product will show an estimated production schedule, typically at the top of its product page. When a group buy closes, our weekly progress update page enters the picture. It’s best to check there for current information. Manufacturer updates arrive intermittently, so statuses may be the same for long stretches of time (depending on the company and assembly line progress).

Select Kits and Complete Checkout

Kit names match labeled images on each product page. Selecting an image doesn’t automatically select the kit you want. Instead, make sure that your desired kit is selected near the join group buy / pre-order / add to cart button. Once that’s done, click the blue button to add your item.

Occasionally, we see supporters purchase several kits from the same group buy in different orders. This can ramp up shipping costs quickly. You can avoid that by making sure all desired kits are in your cart — then refreshing the cart page once to confirm — before completing checkout. Your order will not ship until all of its line items are in stock at our US warehouse. We don’t recommend mixing keycap group buy orders with one another or in-stock items; delivery for an in-stock item could be delayed for months.

Track and Inspect Your Product

Please check your spam and promotional email folders, as some Kono messages may be sorted to those locations. Tracking awareness is critical for supporters outside the USA; customs fees and taxes may be due upon arrival. You should also track international USPS parcels in your national postal system (same tracking code), as national systems rarely sync.

Supporters within the USA should keep an eye on tracking updates. This reduces package theft, helps with mail claims, and (if you purchase shipping insurance) enables timely Route cases. Please read your credit card agreement — most providers offer online order protection, including package theft / loss insurance.

Finally, inspect each item upon arrival. Most keycap manufacturers complete quality control and keycap packing / sorting (into plastic trays) by hand. That means even the most expensive keycap sets can have duplicates or misprints — much like other bespoke products.

Please contact support@kono.store for assistance (it might take some time for us to reply). If we don’t have your keycap on hand as a spare, it will take 2-5 weeks for us to dispatch a replacement. We try to make bulk replacement part requests from manufacturers — single-item shipments tend to annoy our contacts.

Keycap Pro Tips

  1. Don’t leave ABS plastic keycaps in direct sunlight — they might yellow over time. PBT plastic keycaps are more resistant to wear and yellowing.
  2. Wash and sterilize your keycaps using denture tablets. Make sure to rinse and dry your keycaps after they soak, otherwise they’ll look chalky. Water tends to hide in the + shaped mount — tap it out if necessary.
  3. Reduce keyboard noise by greasing your stabilizers. Complicated greasing methods are common in the community, but they offer diminishing returns. Search for a method that matches your skill level.
  4. Is a key loose? Add tiny slivers of tape or plastic wrap between your stabilizer / switch stems and keycaps. The additional pressure should keep troublesome keys in place.
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