YouTuber Adrian Black was repairing a dilapidated AT motherboard with battery damage and mentioned how tedious it is to remove motherboard plastic standoffs with needle nose pliers and other tools. I have an unconventional but cheap and effective motherboard plastic standoff removal tool. I’ve been using it since the early ’90s.
Make a motherboard plastic standoff removal tool
To make your own motherboard plastic standoff removal tool, you need a Bic ballpoint pen. Yes, in this case the brand matters. For whatever reason they use a two-piece design for the part that holds the ink. Pull out the part that writes, while leaving the second piece that indicates what color the pen is in the tube. You will find the resulting opening is the perfect size to push down onto a motherboard standoff. Depending on the design of the standoff, it will either push the standoff all the way through, or at least hold the standoff in a position that makes it easy to pull from the other side with your other hand.
I picked up this trick sometime in the early ’90s. I don’t remember if it’s something I discovered myself accidentally, or if it’s something that someone told me. But if you ever find the seemingly useless remains of a Bic pen in a toolbox with other parts useful for fixing computers, this would be why. Someone was using it to remove motherboard standoffs.
A Bic pen isn’t the weirdest tool I’ve ever used to fix computers. Sometimes it takes a bit of creativity to fix these old machines.
A short length of plastic or metal tube with an inner diameter of 3/16 of an inch or about 4.5mm would also work. But a Bic pen is probably cheaper and easier to find. And it’s definitely more MacGyver.