Keyboard Thumbtacks




About: I've worked for Instructables off and on since 2006 building and documenting just about everything I enjoy doing. I am now the Creative Programs founder and manager for Autodesk and just finished building o...

Old hacked up keyboard keys + push pins = awesome keyboard thumb tacks! In just a few minutes I modified some keys from old keyboards, hot glued push pins inside of them, and presto, made some keyboard thumbtacks.

Step 1: Materials

This project only requires a few things:

  • liberated keyboard keys

I got mine from the fine folks who work at the Computer Museum of Austin during Maker Faire Austin this year, but you can take any old keyboard and wedge a screwdriver between the keys and the keyboard to break them off.

  • map style push pins

The heads of thumb tacks are just too large to fit inside the well on the back of the keys. Classy map push pins are the perfect size. I used something like this.

  • Dremel tool, or a pair of pliers, or small hand saw, or an exacto knife
  • drill with drill bit to match the diameter of the head of the push pin. Mine required a 3/16" drill bit.
  • hot glue gun

Step 2: Choose Some Good Keys

Not all good keyboard keys make good keyboard key thumbtacks. Choose ones that have a large enough hole, or "well" on the back of the key to easily accept the head of the push pin.

Check out the picture below to see what I mean.

Step 3: Cut Off Excess Plastic on Key

The keyboard key has too much plastic on it to make a good thumbtack. Using the cutoff wheel on a Dremel tool, or a small hobby saw, or even a good exacto knife, carefully cut off the excess plastic so that whatever was there to mount the key to the keyboard is now flush with the key itself.

Step 4: Drill Out a Hole for the Push Pin

Next, drill out a hole to clean up the cut you just made with the Dremel and clear out a place where you can glue in the head of the push pin. The push pins I got required a 3/16" drill bit.

Be careful not to go all the way through and ruin the key, or drill into your finger.

Step 5: Put Hot Glue in the Hole

Shoot some hot glue into the hole.

Step 6: Insert the Head of the Push Pin

Carefully push the head of the push pin into the little pool of hot glue making sure to submerge it far enough so that it's good and stuck, but not too far so that an insufficient amount of the pin is left sticking out.

Use your pointer finger to hold the tack in place (vertically) as the glue sets.

Step 7: Repeat to Make More

Make as many as you like and then use them on your cork boards instead of regular thumbtacks or push pins. They work they same way, but look cooler!



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49 Discussions


8 years ago on Step 7

 nice revolutionary and techy idea.. i got bunch of broken key and now i got a great innovation for them


8 years ago on Step 2

Warning! From the left in the reject box, #2 is an ALPS switch top and #3 is a Cherry switch top. I don't recognise the other two off the top of my head,

These are extremely valuable and are proving harder and harder to find--and a well worth something on eBay for people trying to built "just the right keyboard".

The four in the lower "OK" boxes are obviously from membrane keyboards--so go for broke.

I mention this here, because in your Part 1 Instructable, it seems you have used Cherry and ALPS tops as well


9 years ago on Introduction

Cool idea.  I have a great boss that just doesn't get the idea of dual monitors.  The second mopnitor he uses as a post-it board.  I'm going to use this, plus I'm planning on gutting a dead LCD and replace the screen with cork board.  I get another working monitor and he keeps his post-it holder and geek-cred is slightly upped.


9 years ago on Introduction

April Fool's idea--- Drill a hole in the TOP of the key. Follow the rest of the instructable but glue the tack to the keyboard and replace the key. When someone hits the key, they stab themselves! Instant Comedy!


9 years ago on Introduction

Veeeerry cool idea. I think I'm going to convert keys into fridge magnets also :)


9 years ago on Step 6

it might be better to not push the pin all the way so that you have more of the sharp pointyness


9 years ago on Step 1

hey i was wondering if you could just glue on the pin without drilling the whole

hehehe i like the magnets idea, the thumbtacks will work great too:P i just got 6 or 7 keyboards from my school, so i have over 700 keys to use *evil laughter*


9 years ago on Step 7

Very cool- I think I will make some for the co-worker gift exchange. Would be a cool gift for a kid, too, using their mane letters.


this is a great Idea! I was wondering what to do with my old dead keyboards, now I Know what to do.


This would be especially cool with old terminal keyboards ... more keys, different words, usually double-shot (letters slower to wear off).


10 years ago on Introduction

I loved this idea and I tried it right away. I made a couple of discoveries, it's hard to cutoff the plastic with the Dremel, so I just used the wire wheel on my grinder (a wire wheel on a Dremel would probably be too weak). The wire wheel chewed off the excess plastic within seconds and I gripped the keys with a pair of pliers to hold them securely (and away from my fingers). The other thing was that it's dangerous to push the push pin into the key with your bare finger (mine had to be jammed in there a little bit). A thimble works great for that!