The Compartment Box Trick
Have you ever taken something apart and then put it back together and had parts left over? Me too. Sometimes it’s something I know isn’t needed, but it’s still better to get everything back in the right place. A few years ago I discovered a little trick that helps me do that.
What I do is I start with an empty plastic compartment box (see Figure 1), and as I take the thing apart I put the various screws and small parts into successive compartments. When I’m done with disassembly I have a complete set of parts, organized in the order they came out of the thing (see Figure 2). And then when it’s time to re-assemble the thing, I can just go backwards through the compartments and I have everything that I need in the order that I need it, and I don’t forget anything.
You don’t have to have a special plastic box for this, because an egg carton works just as well. (That’s what I started with, but I got the plastic compartment boxes when they were on sale at the store.) However, one great advantage of the compartment box is that you can close it when you are done, or when you have to take a break from the work, and you are in less danger of losing everything all over the place if someone bumps into it or bumps into the bench.
Just don’t let anybody fill up the box with parts. You need to have an EMPTY plastic compartment box available when you start taking the thing apart. Think of it as another one of the tools you’ll use to fix whatever it is you are fixing, rather than as storage.