Take Apart a Hard Drive for Craft Parts

Some of you might have seen my bag here on the Lemon Squeezy Home Purse Week 2012 contest last year. I used hard drive parts for the little button and the metal rings that attach the strap to the bag.

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So today I’m going to show you how to salvage those parts from old hard drives.

First, a few notes.

  • This only works for older IDE hard drives. Newer SSD drives have different parts, not nearly as pretty.
  • You should only take apart a dead drive, obviously, as this is going to kill it. There’s no going back!
  • If you aren’t familiar with computer parts, the screws are usually really cheap, made of soft metal. If you aren’t careful about your driver bit choice you will very likely strip the screw. You must make sure to choose the largest bit that fits in the screw hole! I can’t tell you how many times I have nearly stripped a screw by using the wrong bit. It’s really bad, don’t do it!

What You Need

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  • An old dead IDE hard drive, of any capacity. You can get these from inside old desktop computers or old external drives. If you don’t have one lying around, ask your friendly tech at work, a friendly techy relative, or your local school or library. I guarantee you, someone you know has an old dead hard drive.
  • A precision tool kit. This is my favorite kit, from the company Boxer. I bought it on Amazon for $12. Trust me, I have tried a lot of precision kits. This one’s by far the best in the cheaper price range.
  • Coffee. Because, coffee.

Step 1: Open the external case, if needed

You possibly aren’t scrapping a hard drive in an external enclosure, but if you are, you’ll need to get it out. I’m going to provide some generic instructions, as there are hundreds of different enclosures out there, who knows which one you have.

1. Look around the outside of the case. There have to either be visible screws somewhere, or the case snaps together. Mine has screws. If the case snaps together just break it. We are scrapping it for parts after all. Use a hammer or something. Make sure you wear protective eyewear!

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2. Remove the visible outer screws. Or break the case, if it’s solid plastic with no visible screws and you can’t find a way to open it. If it’s solid metal with no screws or clips visible, you probably have a LaCie Porche drive. Use this tutorial to open it.

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3. Look around the inside of the enclosure for any other screws and remove them. Again, it doesn’t matter if you break something, your single goal is to get the drive out.

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4. Sometimes enclosures will attach to the drive via screws on the bottom or sides.

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5. Once you can see the drive, and it appears to no longer be attached to the enclosure you need to disconnect the cables. There will be two cables attached. One fat ribbon cable, and one multicolored shorter connector. Pull them out. Sometimes the shorter white connector can be a little stiff. A pair of pliers usually does the job.

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Step 2: Open the Hard Drive

From this point forward your hard drive will look pretty similar to mine.

1. Find the driver to open the screws on the flat shiny metal side of the drive. Mine were T-8 screws, yours may differ. A T-8 is the most common. Remove those screws.

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2. This step is SUPER important. Feel around under the large sticker on that metal plate. There will be two round spots that feel a bit different. Use your flathead driver bit to pick up the sticker around those spots. One of them will be a screw. You need to remove that one too.

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3. Pry the metal cover off the drive. Sometimes they used a foam tape to keep them on, so you may need to do a little prying. If it doesn’t seem to come up, go back to step 2, you probably missed a screw under the sticker.

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Your drive should now look like this.

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Set aside or throw away the metal plate. It’s your first usable part! I’ve never found a use but they could be cool wall tiles maybe.

Step 3: Salvage the Inner Drive Parts

1. Remove ALL visible screws. See my screw map below.

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2. Remove the large plastic cover (if it exists) in the lower left corner. Sometimes this can be a smaller plastic piece, but all of them should be easy to remove. Mine wasn’t attached to anything at all.

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3. Pry up the magnetic cover in the top left area. It is an extremely strong magnet. Use leverage!

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4. Remove the small plastic bumper that keeps the arm from moving out of the way.

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Step 4: Salvage the shiny things!

1. Remove the large shiny plates and washers off of the spindle. (Assuming you removed the plate with all the screws in it at step 3.1.) You will need to hold the arm out of the way. My finger is holding it in the photo.

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2. Between each plate and washer there will be a C-shaped piece of metal around the outside edge. Just remove it and toss it, or use it if your name starts with C. 😉

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3. Here’s a washer being salvaged.

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And here are the parts you should have salvaged, ready to make pretty things!

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Here is your remaining sad hard drive shell, ready to be recycled at your local electronics disposal place.

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If you have questions, or if you took apart a hard drive and made something, share in the comments! In the next couple of weeks I’ll share a second tutorial on how to make the bag in the photo.

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