I have a few loose screws. Wait… Let me rephrase that. I have a few screws on the loose. That is, they’ve gone missing. There, that’s better (though to be honest, either way is accurate). The reason? I took apart a laptop without keeping better track of all the screws and other tiny parts I removed. If you ever have it in mind to take apart a laptop or any other piece of electronic equipment, make sure you have the right tools on hand. One thing I’ve learned from hard experience is that if you don’t have the right tools for a job, you’re going to end up paying for it. You’re likely to find yourself frustrated at some point or even completely unable to complete the task at hand. Losing parts while tearing down a computer is one way that can happen. I’ve spent — no, let’s just admit it, wasted — far too many hours of my life misplacing screws while disassembling computers. But I’ve discovered there’s a better way of doing things. There are tools that are made to keep your screws from running wild. Magnetic mats are one such tool.
Use Magnetic Mats to Keep Track of Screws and Other Parts
I’ve disassembled my share of electronics. I began the habit at a very young age, probably when I realized that the batteries in my handheld games weren’t going to change themselves. So I have some experience with this type of activity. That said, having experience does not mean that I’ve been doing it right. I recently discovered a tool I wish I’d known about years ago, the iFixit Pro Magnetic Project Mat. When you take apart a laptop or another piece of electronic equipment, you find yourself removing a lot of tiny screws and other important parts. Parts you really don’t want to misplace. This magnetic board helps you keep some of those parts from rolling off your worktable and into the black hole of your working area. By using it, you’re less likely to find yourself on your knees, combing your carpet with a fine-toothed brush and a flashlight.
In addition to keeping your screws in one place, this board is made to be written on. That way you know precisely where each screw came from. I consider myself to have a fairly good memory, and on occasion I’ve committed to memory the location of each part as I removed it during a disassembling project. Big mistake. Memorization may work with small projects, but taking apart a finely-constructed laptop such as a MacBook Pro calls for a better way to keep track of all those tiny screws. Magnetic mats that can be written on make it easier to keep track of where each screw goes. And the iFixit one is not simply a magnetized dry erase board; you can’t easily smear the board by the brush of a wayward arm. The Lumocolor Correctable pen that comes with it is meant to keep what you’ve written intact. The only way to erase the board is to use the included eraser or a dry cloth.
Magnetic Mats Are Available for Specific Devices
iFixit is not the only manufacturer of screw mats, of course. One aptly-named brand is ScrewMat. ScrewMat makes a variety of magnetic mats tailored for specific devices. Need to replace the dying battery in an iPhone 4S? ScrewMat’s illustrated magnetic mat may be just the tool for the job. Wore out your Galaxy Note II’s display? ScrewMat has the organizer for the job. Another company, CyberDoc LLC, specializes in magnetic mats and other types of repair organizers for Apple products.
If you decide to take apart computers and other electronics, make sure you come to the project prepared. Nobody wants to find himself frustrated due to missing parts. Make sure to take the time to acquire and use the proper tools for the job.
Let me know if you have some other ideas for how to take apart stuff without ending up having a few screws loose!