Steve Maxwell working on one of his laptop computers. Precision micro screwdrivers are an essential part of this work. (Photo by Robert Maxwell)

Steve Maxwell working on one of his laptop computers. Precision micro screwdrivers are an essential part of this work. (Photo by Robert Maxwell)

Houseworks: Canadian precision screwdriver unlocks electronics for repairs

Do-it-yourself repairs don’t have to be limited to just your home, property and vehicles. Repairs and modifications of electronics are gaining in popularity and it’s something I’ve been doing more and more often over the last five years. Online video tutorials make it possible to learn to do some very intricate work on electronics these days, but only if you can gain access into the cases of the devices needing attention.

And to gain access you need specialized screw drivers of the sort that have been rare in the past, but are now getting better and more available. The new Megapro Precision is a case in point.

The heads of the micro screws that are typically used to hold computers, phones and other fancy stuff together are not only small but many are shaped differently than the regular screws you’re used to seeing.

Don’t even try to repair devices without having the right drivers on hand. Three-lobed and five-lobed are common, for instance, as well as almost 100 total micro screw head designs worldwide. Until now this meant having a big drawer full of micro-drivers (which I have), but things are changing for the better.

The Megapro Precision is a small, high-quality micro-driver that includes 12 double-ended bits in the handle. I’ve written about this brand before because I find their designs excellent and this one is no different.

The Precision uses the same sliding handle cap to store bits as does the larger drivers in the line, with more bits in storage, too.

Pull the top cap back to reveal the bit options. Remove the bit you want, slip it into the driver tip, then snap the cap back closed and get to work. That top cap is mounted on a bearing so it doesn’t spin against the skin of your palm as you use the driver, but rather stays put while you spin the rest of the driver. The handle shape and high friction overwrap make this tool exceptionally comfortable to use.

Until recently I’ve been using several cheap sets of micro drivers because that’s all I could find. And when I say cheap, the problem is always the same ñ driver tips that are made of metal that’s too soft. Besides handle design, the metallurgy of driver tips is the most important feature of any micro driver. You want precise shapes and with metal that’s hard enough to be durable but resilient enough to be tough. In tests I’ve conducted on the Megapro I’ve found the driver tips to be exceptionally durable. They’re strong, they resist rounding over, and they come in a wide variety of shapes.

When you’re working on electronics, organization is even more important than with full size items. If you lose one of those specialized little screws, the hardware store can’t help you. Whenever I open one of my laptops to replace a battery, hard drive or charging port, I start with a completely clean desktop. The key is to have enough room that you can organize the various screws, fasteners and parts in a logical way that corresponds to the way they came off the item and need to go back on later. Before you do anything serious inside the case, take several photos for reference during reassembly.

Another issue is light. You need lots of it to make reliable repairs and part replacement on such small items, and the light needs to be directed where it’s needed. I solve the light problem in two ways. An LED headlamp is an excellent option and just as important as a good precision screwdriver. An illuminated magnifying glass on a support arm is another huge help.

Steve Maxwell is sometimes glad when things break if the repair turns out well in the end. Visit Steve online at BaileyLineRoad.com for information and inspiration for successful hands-on living.