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Small description of different tools for maintaining and fixing Macintoshs, Powerbooks, ibooks, etc.

(As usual, I won't be responsible of any troubles you might encounter while following my instructions. You've been warned !)

The following explanations will be in two folds :

  1. What's inside the tools pouch
  2. Miscellaneous advices

Here's what's currently inside my tools pouch (May 2005).


The tools pouch lives inside another pouch with the following items:


These are 6 sections wrenches with an handle. The 5mm one is used to unscrew the modem card from a Ti VGA or to withdraw the motherboard from an ibook palourde. I took them from a Villeman boxed kit, witch seems to have been replaced by this one.


Three often used chemicals. From left to right : fine oil, isopropyl alcohol, and some superglue.


6mm blades for one handle. It makes the whole package lighter. I like that. The only usefull blades for a Mac are the philips 1 and 2.
Sometime, the 0.8 flat sees some uses too. The others are too big.

Sizes are written on the blades.

Now, on the tools pouch :


Here is my most used tool: a 4mm handle with 6 blades and 12 differents heads:

  • 4 torx from 5 to 8 (the torx 8 is used for the ibook palourde and the Titanium)
  • 4 flats from 1.5 to 4, not used for the Macs
  • 4 philips from 000 to 1 (000/00/0/1). Except for the 000, they all find uses on Macs.

At the top: the torx 8, witch is the most used.


A 6 sections wrench of 1.3mm (a.k.a. Allen wrench), used for keyboards. You can also find this kind of wrench without an handle, but they are easier to locate and identify when they have one.


A solder sucker and my gaz powered soldering iron. Usefull only for heavy duty work, away from a power source. Warning: this particular model evacuates hot air from a latteral hole. Keep in mind you'll have to point to away from your work.


A Used toothbrush and a brush, for cleaning duty. The top toothbrush is mainly used because of its pointy end to unlock and unclip misc connectors.


Some misc plastics and rubber with a punch. Very usefull to make Titanium feet!


Mini hammer and matching misc heads. It will help to fix small bumps on Titaniums, Alus and iPod. Now get this: it'll even help you to briefly bring back to life an old hard drive that doesn't kick start anymore. A small kick on the side with the hammer might start it again and let you backup the data in a hurry.


A precision knife with different blades and graphit leads for marking spots. I mainly use it when making ethernet cables and soldering wires.


Some heat shrinking sheaths, in assorted sizes, to protect soldering on cables. Some cotton (the stuff used to clean your ears) to clean lenses, optical drivers, keyboards and others...


A mini-prybar. Its intended use is removing composants before soldering them in a proper way. My use is unclipping connectors, opening iPods, etc.


A mirror (like the one used by dentists, can be found in pharmacies) allows me to see connectors at the back of computers. At first, I used to use it to see SCSI ID's on wallmounted hard drives arrays. Next are some plastic screwdrivers. They allow me to fine tune microscrews, mainly for CRT monitors.


These pliers are very helpfull to retrieve screws or debris from a computer case. Also very good at maintaining things while soldering. I found them in a trade. Their first purpose is medical.


Two cutting pliers (one cuts from the sides, the other from top to bottom). Mainly to cut weldings clean an nice.


The think point of this device neatly replaces trombones to force CD ejecting.


Several probes. They come from a Maxicraft package, but I also got several from my dentist. When she breaks one end of a medical probe, she keep it for me. I use them to push back connectors in their beds, scratch oxidation, etc.


Here is a big screwdriver with small 6mm bits. It is magnetized. Several years ago, I used to work in the printing / photocopying business. This tool has proven its utility during that time. I really appreciate its magnet's strenght, preventing me from losing small items in computers cases. It's quite long and doesn't fit in the pouch. It stand by the pouch side in my backpack. On the other side of the pouch, ones could find 2 soldering irons (15W & 25W).


Some unusual bits for the big screwdriver. It's the third box of bits and is meant to be the last one : the bits are long enough and covers the widest range of «strange» formats I have encountered. For usual formats in long blade, I use the 6mm blades we talked about earlier.

General advices

I had to go through several steps to obtain this assortment of tools.
At first, I always buy cheap tools. Then, if it brokes or doesn't do the job, I replace it with a better quality tool, witch doesn't mean more expensive. I started with this cheap package (5 euros):


Nicely done pouch with a good zipper, color coded screwdrivers (red for flat, yellow for philips, green for torx) and 4 pliers. Unfortunatly, the screwdrivers heads got quickly torn or broken. The small diameters were damaged during the unscrewing process. -> Not enough quality in this product.


So I went for this package (20 euros):
A very complete box with a padded top. Blades : torx 6 to 10, philips 00 and 000, pozidriv 0 and 00, 6 sections 1.5/2/2.5, flat 2/2.5/3/4, spherical 6 sections 1.5/2/2.5 and hollow 6 sections 3.2/4/5/5.5/7. A well put and very complete box with a practical twist: the top can be used to rest the screws.

On the bad sides: short blades, I don't use pozidriv, the spherical 6 sections wrenches are the same sizes as the others and... I happened to open several times the box when it was upside down. I had to crawl on my knees for a few minutes to catch everything back ;-)


I've also received, for my birthday, the same box from Facom. The quality is slightly better. And I can easily identify the top from the bottom on this one ;-)

That kind of boxes is pretty common from several well know brands (Velleman, Selectronic). Thanks to Raphaël Yharrassarry for the following picture.

Variables lenght blades are quite usefull -> that's why I use an handle with several long 4mm blades. I have a second set in my waist pack, inside an aspirin tube -> easy to pack. And if it fall on the ground, I can easily find it back.

The facom set and it's «copy» are usefull when working on a bench or table, with space to spare since it's not a good idea to move things around while out of the box. Wiha, makes some similar packages.

Here, you'll find what is, IMHO, the best bang for the buck. An handle with 6 blades for 8.5 euros. The only missing things are 6 sections wrenches.

I've also searched for a good 6mm bits system. I started with this one:


On the first line, you'll find resistorx (torx that should be hollow in the middle, not always the case as you can see here). The second line is for the hollow six sections bits (A.K.A. Security six sections bits).
Some «I don't know how it's called» on the third line. On the last line, you'll find Tri-Wing and some Torq-set. Don't be afraid, they are not yet used on our Macs.
This set has been replaced by another one, witch costs 3 times the price. It has better quality and longer blades.

-> After theses advices on how to buy, let's see how to use. It is very important to use the right tool for the right job. I had the «opportunity» to handle some six sections screws that had been unscrewed with torx -> it was a complete mess :-(!


Here is a good sample: at the bottom, a good and clean torx print. At the top, the same screw after an encounter with a six sections wrench.


Two nice torx print from a Titanium hinge.


An hexagonal print (6 sections) from a ibook screw.


Another one, still from an ibook. Sometime, it's difficult to see clearly. You might need several tools, like a mirror or a digital camera with a good macro (nikon coolpix are quite good at this job).

-> the adequate screwdriver fits perfectly in the print, down to the bottom of it.

If it doesn't fit perfectly, you might slaughter the print and be in troubles. Try another tool.

While assembling back the computer, you might realize that you should have drawn a small picture to help you to put back the screws at the right place. It's also a good idea to group together the screws that goes in the same place. It's even better to stick the screws on the drawing you've made, so they don't move ! Take pictures with you digital camera, it's invaluable sometime.

On my belt, there's always my Leatherman Supertool200. In my waist pack, a Leatherman wave (I bought it second hand recently).

Why having both ?
First, I like tools and that should be enough :-). Then, 2 wrenches come very handy: on to hold the nut, the other to turn the screw. Etc.


I use mainly the wrenches, but theses tools have good blades too. Two cutting blades, a saw, a file, 3 flat screwdrivers etc.

I also carry in my pouch some items that help me to see more accuratly what I'm doing.


A Linen Tester is handy for checking weldings, electronic circuits. What so neat about this tool: there is a clearance space below the magnifier. t allows to work without hitting the supporting area you are working on (exemple 1, exemple 2). Unfortunatly, it is quite cumbersome and not sturdy enough to be always in the pack. It lives in a drawer. In my waist pack lives it's little brother:


A folding «Linen Tester». Folded and unfolded on this picture, thanks to Photoshop. You can clearly see that It'll be harder to work with because of the foot area.


Also in my waist pack, this head lamp (2 white L.E.D.). Light and good runtime.


The «famous» spectacles in their box. There's room for other glasses for more magnyfiyng. More informations can be found HERE, en english.

Olivier was surprised not to see my jointed cast iron stand, with built in magnifier. It has been replaced by this:


Way more lightweight and its teeth don't damage objects. Of course, I carry several in my backpack.


I also carry zip ties.To carry them like me, pay attention to the introduction side.


I also carry in my packpack a box full of weldings, screws, something to clean my soldering iron, RJ-45 connectors, some jumpers for hard drives and nylon screws.

Some people were surprised not to see an antistatic wand. I don't use one. I have short air (Remember, I worhship my stepbrother who happens to have short hair too.) I don't wear silk (even if I look gay) and I touch heating sink before any manipulation. But that kind of wand can be usefull.

Frédéric Verges made me notice that I forgot to talk about my lastest addition and the hero of my last article:


A very nice painter knife. I don't always carry it in my backpack.

This mini-file stops here for now. It'll get bigger and better with time and improvement. Any question or comment is welcome, just drop me an email.

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