We sell what we consider an almost perfect tool for holding little screws and metal parts during a repair: the Magnetic Project Mat, complete with erasable pen to label each little square of items.
It is “almost” perfect because we cannot go back in time and remind you to order it before you’re 10 steps into a repair and realize that you need somewhere to put the 0.8mm screws, separate from the 1.1mm screws. And it’s important to use the right screws, especially on devices like an iPhone, where going too deep can cause phone-bricking long screw damage.
Lacking the optimal mat, fixers get creative. Here are some of our favorite ways we’ve seen folks keep their stuff together.
We started thinking about this when Mark Turetsky tweeted his solution for all the screws removed in a MacBook Pro battery replacement: cupcake liners.
Zoom or squint to see the labels he’s put inside each. As a reply points out, this is only possible if you don’t have cats, young kids, or stiff breezes in your house, but it’s effective and cheap (and recycle-friendly, if you use plain paper).
If you lack for baking gear, you’ve got plenty of common household options. Just ask people who left comments on our repair guides.:
- Many votes for sticky notes, whether using the sticky strip to hold the screws, or used in concert with clear tape.
- Ice cube trays, which make sense.
- Double-sided tape/adhesive, laid out on a strip of cardboard, putting the screws head-side-down into the sticky stuff, in order of the guide steps.
- Using colored markers to color each screw to match the step/bracket it came from. This might make not having an organized system a bit more manageable.
Ziploc quart baggies with the slide zip. (yes, I wash and reuse them several times over so as to not make as much waste) And how do I store the baggies? In a cookie jar!— Lauren Dragan (@LaurenDragan) September 29, 2020
If at all possible I put the screw back into the component it came out of once I remove it. When that’s not possible I put them in the shape of what I took them out of with each aligning with it’s corresponding hole…then I usually bump them and they end up on the floor.— TronicsFix (@TronicsFix) September 29, 2020
Index card system at work. Source: Instagram user fixervincent pic.twitter.com/sTvdQUpYoE— Fixers Collective (@fixersbk) September 29, 2020
At community repair events bits and bobs from electrical appliances pulled apart are carefully placed in little plastic holders made from the bottoms of 2 litre milk containers. At home screws are scattered all over the allocated work area. pic.twitter.com/PLy7Et6SrY— Mend It Australia is Karen and Danny Ellis (@MendItAussie) September 29, 2020
I have one of these stuck to the side of the fridge that I use when I remember it's there. https://t.co/VRMOUb9KYJ— John Miller (@theediguy) September 28, 2020
Everything goes in here in the garage, organized by type and size. Then when I need them in the house I just bring the tiny box in. It's small, and nothing gets lost https://t.co/zIxTJWNh2j— Amanda Adams (@aladams39) September 29, 2020
Again, we must point out that, especially if you’re already ordering parts and tools from iFixit, that a Magnetic Project Mat is actually made for this job. Alternately, if you have a Pro Tech Toolkit, there’s a magnetic pad underneath the case with the driver and bits that can be used to hold your screws in place.
What did we miss? How do you keep the screws and little bits organized during your own fixes, big and small? Let us know in the comments. We always have time to spread the word about unexpected organizers.