How to take apart plastic items that are "snapped" together rather than screwed?
December 30, 2007 10:16 PM   Subscribe

How to take apart plastic items that are "snapped" together rather than screwed?

Like for instance, I have this iPod charger/fm tuner thingy, I want to take it apart so I can drill a hole for a headphone jack.

Normally I'd just use a screwdriver and force it apart, but is there a cleaner way of doing this? I'm talking about things like cell phones, any electronic accessory or something, where you have two halves connected.

posted by 0217174 to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sorry forgot to add this: If someone can answer this I won't need to drill the hole..
I have this thing here belkin tunebase, I like it for the flexible steel neck and it just looks cool! But sound quality from the FM transmitter ain't great, so I use a cassette adapter instead. But when I dock it in the tunebase, it blocks the headphone jack. Then I found out there's a line-out on the tunebase, so I plugged the cassette jack in there, but sound is all distorted. Apparently, the line-out on this thing keeps the iPod volume set at maximum.

But if I plug the cassette directly in the iPod, I can control the volume and set it back down.

So does anyone know a way to have the line-out not use a maximum volume setting on the iPod???

posted by 0217174 at 10:25 PM on December 30, 2007

The clean way is to stick a thin piece of something in the crack, angle it down so it's almost parallel to the surface, and fish around until you find the hidden tab that is holding it closed. Then, somehow manage to bend that tab just enough that it disengages the other half, without being able to see it. This fails most of the time at a very basic level, since your probe ends up acting like a lever and pries the two pieces too far apart and breaks off the tab. Although at least it'll be open. Superglue is your friend at this point.

OTOH, there's a fairly good chance they just glued or epoxied it together in the first place, in which case you're doomed and the "clean" way is to saw them apart.
posted by smackfu at 10:55 PM on December 30, 2007

For a cleaner way than a screwdriver, I try to use something softer than the plastic of the case (and fingernails sometimes work :), if possible also flexing the entire case at the same time to help pop the clasps, thus less force (and potential for trauma) needs to be concentrated at the site.

Alternatively, make a better tool for the job. Eg, something metal like a screwdriver, but the head is thinner, flatter, wider, and with, say, a 70 degree bend just before the tip, thus allowing better declasping with less damage to the plastic. The tool is probably better if it's "custom designed" for the case you're trying to open, but since its manufacture is probably just a variation on the "bent bit of metal" theme, it might as well be made specifically for the case at hand :)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:06 AM on December 31, 2007

I use these nail cleaning sticks.
They are cheap and can be adapted to the work at hand.
Some use a plectrum for guitars, I haven't tried it myself, though.
It is also possible to buy a specialized tool for the job, but shipping to Europe seems prohibitive.
posted by Thug at 6:17 AM on December 31, 2007

you may get some benefit from gently heating the unit; this will often soften the plastic a bit. Don't go as far as a flame, but exposure to 70 degrees C may soften the plastic enough to make it easier to work- or at least cause uneven expansion, which will help loosen it mechanically.

Another approach might be to take a couple of resistors and use them to drop the voltage from the line out to something your preamp can handle.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:02 AM on December 31, 2007

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