accidental engineering

repair a broken macbook hinge in 7 easy steps

did your friend somehow manage to shatter your macbook screen from the outside by smashing the apple logo with the pointy bit of a Vive controller? did you cheap out and buy a Chinese knockoff replacement screen? is the hinge of said lcd panel now loose and wobbly? usually, when something breaks, I would just buy a new one, without even trying to fix it. but as I am a reasonably unsuccessful software developer, and can not afford a new laptop right now, today's Tuesday Tipday will help you solve this issue in seven easy steps!

note! all steps should be performed with the laptop powered on (think of it like brain surgery). more on this later.

  1. use flush cutters to trim away hinge cover and get a better look at what is going on.
laptop hinge with flush cutters, before and after
  1. notice that retaining screw has completely stripped its threads. drill out hole for new, larger m3 machine screw.
laptop hinge with flush cutters, before and after
definitely see no issues here
  1. screw m3 machine screw into enlarged hole. panic when screen switches off.
screwdriver and blank laptop screen
  1. luckily we caught that early (brain surgery)! remove screw and find that pan head was crushing very, very, tiny, delicate power and data wires.
crushed power and data wires
  1. use non-conductive screwdriver to carefully move the wires out of the way.
non-conductive screwdriver
literally the first time I have used this thing
  1. re-insert screw into hole and tighten. the hinge is still wobbly because the hole was too big. did I mention this was a through hole? poke the machine screw all the way through the through hole and fasten with a lock nut.
lock nut on shell of laptop
there is something wrong with your laptop
  1. re-open laptop, find that the screen is off again. start panicking in earnest—I have a lot of actual work to do today. frantically mush the wire around until it randomly starts working again, cover in so much hot glue that the problem fades from view, and, with any luck, memory.
a big blob of hot glue

hooray! \o/ it is fixed. I venture that the hinge may be even MORE securely attached than it was before? I wonder if this can still be accepted as a trade in.


I don't know why this always happens to me, but here is my "custom" :raised_eyebrow: space-gray laptop from 2005. I think the screw is a rather more elegant solution that what appears to be electrical tape, don't you?

really damaged laptop
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