Become a man of letters by cutting letters out!

What do you do when the keys on your keyboard wear out? I have been using a Logitech model EX-110 wireless keyboard for two and a half years, and I have gradually worn off the letters on the more frequently used keys, to wit, the letters A, S, D, H, L, and C. (The carrots are also worn off the period and comma keys, but that's not a crisis.) As the keyboard is black and the letters are white, it is very disconcerting to see so many blank, black spaces when I glance down, and because I'm a self-taught typist who looks occasionally at the keyboard to find my place, the missing letters have caused me to get lost, and type gobbledygook too many times. (I don't like typing the word "clash" only to see "v;sdj.")

So last night I thought I would buy a new set of keys. As there is nothing otherwise wrong with this keyboard, and a new one is fairly expensive, buying a set of keys seemed to be a more logical thing than buying a new keyboard. But while that might be logical, there is no such logic at Logitech. Googling the subject, I soon learned an unfortunate truth:

Logitech does not sell any spare keys as replacement parts.
So I emailed Logitech about the problem, and alas! I was told that my "product" is "defective" but that it might be under warranty:
At this point I believe it is safe to consider your product as being defective. The product should not behave as the way that you have described.

In regards to this issue, I would like to know when you purchased the product and please fill in the warranty form below:

* All details requested in this email are meant to use to verify your product warranty status. Therefore, your replacement will only be honored if the product is still covered under the warranty period.

I don't know what the warranty period is, but I have long since lost any relevant receipts. I emailed back asking whether I could buy a new set of keys, but I don't expect to get them, nor do I like wasting time.

Researching the matter further, I learned that there are keyboard stickers available for sale, most of which are for people needing extra foreign language characters, but some are just plain old keys. The thing is, I would have to pay to have them shipped and then wait impatiently for the mail, when all I want to do is be able to write in a more or less coherent manner without going crazier than I usually do. As I see it, there are enough things to be annoyed about without having the added annoyance of not knowing what is emanating from your clueless fingers.

Suddenly, a thought flashed through my increasingly slow mind. Why not try making my own keyboard stickers? As the letters are white, I thought that maybe I could just make them out of paper and stick them on with scotch tape. I started by printing out the letters, using the Arial font and outlined capital letters in 20 point size. I started with the "S" and it was harder than I thought to make the tiny curve cuts with scissors, but finally I had a tiny paper "S." Using a piece of scotch tape to pick it up, I think cut out the small square around it and stuck it on. It didn't look or stick quite as well as I thought it should, and I worried that it wouldn't last long the way my fingers will be pounding on it. Then it occurred to me that cellophane packing tape is more durable and substantial than scotch tape, so I found a roll of that and went back to my letter cutting. Damn if it wasn't a huge pain in the ass. Ever try cutting the hole out of a 3/8 inch D? As to the tiny triangle that's within the upper portion of the A, fuhgettaboutit! The keyboard is black, right? And it's my keyboard, right? So I cheated on the A, and colored in the damnably tiny triangle. The L was the easiest, followed by the H, and the curves in the C were very frustrating, although by then I was starting to get better at it. I would not want to cut out tiny letters for a living, though. That seems like something you'd only expect oppressed children in the third world to have to do. Hell, it might be a nice arts and crafts project for children in the affluent, decadent West! I am sure that cutting out tiny paper letters builds character!

Anyway, here's the "final" result.


Not perfect, but I can live with it. As to how long they'll last, who knows? No doubt the S will go first because of the scotch tape.

I think I can confidently predict that they'll last into next year.

MORE: And they will have to last.

I just got a reply from Logitech's Technical Support confirming what I suspected:

Thank you for your reply.

Unfortunately, we do not have replacement keys for any type of keyboard.

I apologize for the inconvenience but without the receipt, we cannot proceed with the warranty replacement.

Should you have further inquiries, please do not hesitate to email us back.

Thank you for choosing Logitech. Have a great day!

I am having a great day. Thanks to my custom hand-lettered keyboard!

posted by Eric on 12.21.09 at 01:03 PM


My wife's Mac laptop has a similar problem but her keys are white. Nearly half her keys are all white with no letters or symbols on them. I thought to use a black Sharpie to "fix" the problem but that wore off toot-sweet, as they say. It doesn't bother her as she can touch type with the best, but I'm a hunt-and-peck kinda guy and every time she asks me to look at something on her machine it drives me up the wall. (Let us not even mention what she does with her desktop!)

joated   ·  December 21, 2009 1:20 PM

You could try doing the same thing I did, only color the letters black after cutting them out.

Eric Scheie   ·  December 21, 2009 1:31 PM

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.

Repeat until problem solved.

OregonGuy   ·  December 21, 2009 2:11 PM


And I'm suprised that the E key was not also worn, since it is supposedly the letter most often used in the English laguage.

Robert   ·  December 21, 2009 2:36 PM

Why not just get some paint, and paint letters on?

You might try seeing if you can find a used Logitech keyboard of any type from about the same era.

There's an excellent chance it'll have the same type of keycap, and if the previous user wasn't a heavy user (and most people aren't, for a home computer), theirs won't be as worn.

A few quick pops and she's good as almost new!

Sigivald   ·  December 21, 2009 3:37 PM

My letter "N" is the most worn. with the "S" only slightly affected.

Also - many different keyboards use the same molded keys. Pop a key and see if you can find a match.

My keyboard is a four year old Gateway.

M. Simon   ·  December 21, 2009 5:55 PM

Wearing out the "H" key is just plain weird.

(I believe I own not a single computer keyboard with a fully intact "A" key.)

Rhodium Heart   ·  December 21, 2009 6:07 PM

The locations of the keys don't change that often--take a picture of one that isn't worn out and tape to to a flat surface nearby.

And Logitech might surprise you. I wrote to Pentel about a favorite pencil whose clips I keep losing and mentioned that my wife was getting a little testy about me buying new pencils to get the clips off of them.

My request was that they sell me a few spare clips. They sent me a small bag with a half dozen or more spare clips, and a box of leads--at no charge to me.

Several years ago I wrote to them about a replacement for the nose-cone that I had lost. (Danged washing machine unscrewed it then ate it.)

They sent me a replacement--wrong color because I had not said what color mine is.

Larry Sheldon   ·  December 21, 2009 6:57 PM

Heh. I've considered getting an all black Das Keyboard Ultimate more than once.

And then setting the keyboard to Dvorak.

Phelps   ·  December 22, 2009 12:32 PM

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