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No chapter on disassembly and reassembly is complete without mentioning tools. Tools can be divided into two categories: (1) those you should not leave the office without and (2) those that are nice to have in the office, at home, or in the car.

Many technicians do not go on a repair call with a full tool case. Ninety-five percent of all repairs are completed with the following basic tools:

  • Small and medium flat-tipped screwdrivers
  • #0, #1, and #2 Phillips screwdrivers
  • 1/4- and 3/16-inch hex nut drivers
  • Small diagonal cutters
  • Needlenose pliers

Screwdrivers take care of most disassemblies and reassemblies. Sometimes manufacturers place tie wraps on new parts, new cables, or the cables inside the computer case. The diagonal cutters are great for removing the tie wraps without cutting cables or damaging parts. Needlenose pliers are good for straightening bent pins on cables or connectors, and doing a million other things. Small tweaker screwdrivers and needlenose pliers are indispensable.

Many technicians start with a basic $15 microcomputer repair kit and build from there. A bargain table 6-in-1 or 4-in-1 combination screwdriver that has two sizes of flat-tipped and two sizes of Phillips screwdrivers is a common tool among new technicians. A specialized Swiss army knife with screwdrivers is the favorite of some technicians. Other technicians prefer to carry an all-in-one tool in a pouch that connects to their belt.

Alternatives to the magnetic screwdriver include a screw pick-up tool and common sense. A screw pick-up tool is used in hard-to-reach places and sometimes under the motherboard. If a screw rolls under the motherboard and cannot be reached, tilt the computer so that the screw rolls out. Sometimes the case must be tilted in different directions until the screw becomes dislodged.

There are tools that no one thinks of as tools but that should be taken on a service call every time. They include a pen or pencil with which to take notes and fill out the repair slip and a bootable disc containing the technician’s favorite repair utilities. Usually a technician has several bootable discs for different operating systems and utilities. Often a flashlight comes in handy because some rooms and offices are dimly lit. Finally, do not forget to bring a smile and a sense of humor.

Tools that are nice to have but not used daily include the following:

  • Multimeter
  • Screw pick-up tool
  • Screwdriver extension tool
  • Soldering iron, solder, and flux
  • Screw-starter tool
  • Medium-size diagonal cutters
  • Metric nut drivers
  • Cable-making tools
  • Cable tester
  • Loopback plug
  • Punch down tool
  • Toner probe
  • Wire stripper
  • Crimper
  • AC circuit tester
  • Right-angled, flat-tipped, and Phillips screwdrivers
  • Hemostats
  • Pliers
  • Optical laser cleaning kit
  • Nonstatic vacuum or toner vacuum
  • Disposable gloves
  • Small plastic scribe
  • T8, 10, 15, 20, and 25 Torx (star) screwdriver

You could get some nice muscle tone from carrying all these nice-to-have but normally unnecessary tools. When starting out in computer repair, get the basics. As your career path and skill level grow, so will your tool kit. Getting to a job site and not having the right tool can be a real hassle. However, because there are no standards or limitations on what manufacturers can use in their product lines, it is impossible to always have the right tool on hand. However, always remember that no tool kit is complete without an antistatic wrist strap.

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