Really Simple Way to Keep Track of Bolts/screws While Taking Apart Various Devices.





Introduction: Really Simple Way to Keep Track of Bolts/screws While Taking Apart Various Devices.

About: Technology enthusiast, self taught programmer. Follow me on Twitter:

Taking apart a laptop or any other electronic device (with a variety of different size/length bolts that hold it together) can be made much easier if you follow these easy steps.

This method is for both - speedier re-assembly and increased accuracy of your work.

This method DOES NOT require any special tools.

Here's what you will need (in addition to your screwdriver):

- at least one sheet ofA4 paper

- pencil/pen or marker

- sticky tape (preferably clear magic tape)


- cutting blade or scissors

- differently colored pen/marker to make the bolt holes stand out better.

Step 1: Create a Copy of the Device's Bolt/screw Holes on a Piece of Paper

Use the piece of paper and pen to draw:

- an outline,

- major features and

- most importantly the bolt holes of the device you are taking apart.

If you are taking part a device with bolts on more than one side - you may want to use a separate page for each side.

Alternatively - if you cannot or do not want to draw - you can take a picture using your mobile phone and print that out with lower contrast in order to conserve your ink/toner - if your device is of a dark color.

Step 2: Mark the Bolt Holes on Paper.

This step is optional - you can use a different colored pen, locate and mark each and every bolt hole on the piece of paper.

See the attached example image.

Step 3: Place Bolts/screws in Their Locations on Paper.

Undo each bolt from the device and place it on it's corresponding location on the piece of paper.

Use numbers to keep track of the order of bolts.

Step 4: Tape Down Each Bolt/screw.

Use a sticky tape (I recommend clear magic tape) to fix each bolt to the piece of paper - so that you don't lose it when the sheet is accidentally bumped.

See attached example diagram.

When you decide to put the device back together - use a cutting blade to release each bolt from underneath each strip of sticky tape.

Step 5: Finish

This is it - very few simple steps to make the entire experience a lot less painful.
I hope this is as useful for you as much as it was for me!

Your constructive feedback would be appreciated!

Have fun!

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    30 Discussions

    Sometimes I take a movie of taking something apart.

    And sometimes I drop a screw on the floor and it just vanishes.

    1 reply

    Hahahaha... The dropped screws usually land in least visible/accessible spots.

    I used to use a similar method to this back when I still did automotive repair, except I used small cardboard boxes with holes punched into them for the hardware or pushrods when I did head gaskets so I wouldn't get them mixed up putting it back together.

    Apple sauce cups. Ya know the ones you put in your kids lunch. I have a stack of about 20 in my shop. Usefull for all kinds of things. Small parts, mixing epoxy, a bit of touch up paint. Cheap so you can toss them after messy jobs.

    1 reply

    Yeah, Sure. I've got an acer :D There always 2-3 screws that are left out somehow... Only when I screw up. (always)

    1 reply


    For small devices that is great
    and very effective. Used it the other day. . . . but 'our' last project took two women (Rebecca and I) determined to
    fix the Maytag Neptune Dryer-steam cabinet combo because two men said it
    would never work again. Drive belt is abt 5' long. Cant be put in from the back side. Drum and everything is pulled from front and put back in precise order and, I swear hundreds of small parts as well as big.

    Two boxes of Snack Zip lock bags, big package
    of small zip ties and 6 weeks later (had to wait twice for shipped parts), mess with parts every where in laundry room, screw/bolts/nuts/funny looking fasteners along with instructions of anything we thought very complicated attached to the parts and numbered tied to each part in order of removal. With new belt in hand and roller assembly in hand we put it back together in 4 hours. Those who laughed at us got the Hee-Ha back big time. When we finished we had only replaced one stripped screw that was that way when we took it out and we had zero (0) left over. Plugged her in and she's been working for a year. That Neptune Cabinet though, knowing what I know now, I would never have wasted my money on to buy from Maytag in the first place. Determination & willingness to put up with the jeering and mess and going to laundromat, they don't laugh anymore!


    6 months ago

    I use 3x5 or 4x6 note cards, or sheets of heavy paper, and push the screws through the paper. Have used this method for the last 50 years.

    Great idea! Give me the idea of using blue tack to hold the screw, in a notebook, so it doesn't take up a lot of space.

    It is what I have done before, by simply printing an enlarged photo of my phone and then sticking the screws as you suggest. But now I discovered that is better to download and print the screw chart you can find on web for your device, much more readable and accurate and with foldable margins to form a paper tray!

    Here is a good example for an old Iphone:, but you can find other charts for a lot of devices.

    Novel idea and simply elegant in its ease of operation! Thanks for a very handy tip.

    I use a paper size sheet of magnetic material which is 1.5mm (0.06 inch) thick. It's labeled as 60 mil on Amazon. It works well for metal screws, especially a smartphone or other device with very small screws. You can write on it and cut it to the size of the device if it's smaller than the sheet. It's clean too, no residue and no tape. There are also magnetic sheets labels as Project Mats which are magnetic and have a grid pattern on them.

    The downside of this is that the screws may become slighly magnetic. Which is great for sticking to the screwdriver, not so much if it affects the device.


    6 months ago

    I have used the foam trays from the butcher/meat dept. Writing on the tray key info ie item/SN, front/back, top/bottom, left/right and place the screw into the foam as I take them off. I have also taken a HBF mag tray with the bowl flatten under the foam tray.

    I like it. What I do is to photo the object then print the photo. Thanks for posting.

    What a good idea, well done. It's very similar to the old car mechanics/engineers trick of keeping push rods in the correct order when taking an engine apart. Though in that case decent cardboard is used. I have thought of using small containers in the past (and have done so with empty vitamin pots) but that does not help when it comes to actually knowing where each different length of screw/bolt goes. This way each different fastener is keyed to the correct position. Thank you and happy new year to you and our fellow instructable fellows.

    I find blu-tac works better than sticky tape and has the advantage that if you use only half the sheet, you can fold it over onto itself to keep the screws very safe if you're not able to complete the reassembly immediately. Any odd bits of blu-tac stuck to the screw thread are easily removed by dabbing the screw on a lump of blu-tac - it likes sticking to itself more than it does to screws.

    If you're following one of the iFixit step by step guides, a good scheme is to stick the screws to lumps of blu-tac and then write the step number against each.

    In the case of very small screws such as used in an iPhone a better option is to use a set of pill boxes as is often used by the elderly and those with chronic conditions. You can get a set of 7 in a tray, each with 4 compartments labelled Morning, Afternoon, Evening, Bedtime for the 7 days of the week. Keep a note of which compartment contains the screws from which step, e.g. "Wed Bed: Step 12". Fully disassembling an iPhone I think I got up to about Thursday Afternoon with all the screws!

    If you don't have any pill boxes, then egg boxes are a good alternative for up to a dozen different sets of screws. You can number the compartments with a felt tip pen or write a step number in each.

    i use a similar method I use a a piece of double sided cardboard like the packaging of a tv or new fridge cut it to a size that is suitable then draw what you are pulling apart Poke the screws into the cardboard in the spots the come out of on your drawing and use sticky tape for any nuts this method is a lot less fiddley.

    That takes all the fun out of reassembling it...

    I have taken my laptop to pieces (totally) and reassembled twice, each time I had 1 screw left over...

    1 reply