You may have heard of iFixit, the company that tears down electronic devices and creates detailed repair guides and upgrade manuals. But did you know that they also sell tools and accessories useful for such projects? Here we’ll be taking a close look at their new magnetic project mat.
iFixit deals with a lot of small screws and fasteners when tearing down devices and creating their repair guides. You know, the tiny kind that love to roll around right off of the table. iFixit claims that their new magnetic project mats will help DIYers keep much better track of screws during repairs.
The best tools and accessories are often designed by people and companies who would personally use them. But is the magnetic project mat as useful as iFixit claims? We spent some time reviewing the mat to find out.
On the front you have a simple but clearly marked grid of 20 squares. One option is to number the square locations and document where each screw and fastener came from on a pad of paper. Or, write directly on the whiteboard-like mat with a dry erase marker.
iFixit includes a Staedtler correctable Lumocolor pen with each mat, but you can also use your own fine-tip water-soluble dry erase markers.
See, erasable! The marker’s built-in eraser is good for minor erasures and corrections, but you’ll want to pull out a damp rag or large eraser to clean the mat between projects.
The mat is designed for the small precision hardware iFixit’s readers and customers usually work with, so forget about using it for machine screws. Even so, the magnetic strength was substantial enough to immobilize small #2 machine screws, washers, and nuts.
We still found the mat useful for projects that involved machine screws. The dry erase surface made sorting and labeling a piece of cake even if the magnetic strength was insufficient to hold onto the weightier hardware.
The magnetic mat is perfectly balanced and well suited for keeping small fasteners organized and exactly where you want them. It won’t magnetize them either – at least in our experience – and we had no difficulty lifting them up from the magnetic surface.
So what if you’re working with small fasteners too large for the magnetic surface to keep still but small enough where there’s a good chance of losing them? The Pro mat has a foam backing with cut-outs perfectly sized for such hardware.
In testing we used both sides of the mat almost equally as much. The dry erase magnetic surface came in handy when working with small SSD mounting screws, a laptop hard drive upgrade, and we even tore down an old cellphone to see if we could fix the speaker. The reverse foam side of the mat came in handy during disassembly of a desktop PC and when assembling a robot chassis with small M4 screws.
The standard version consists of just the magnetic dry erase surface, and the pro version has a compartmentalized foam backing as shown. Both versions come with a Staedtler’s dry erase pen.
iFixit’s magnetic project mat is a handy and well-made accessory. Is it an essential accessory? Not really, but it is exceptionally useful. The project mat is one of those things that will make your projects easier to manage, especially if you’re prone to losing or mixing up small hardware.
In the past we’ve used masking tape to label and secure small fasteners to our workbench. Other times we used small cups and pill boxes. The iFixit magnetic project mat is not the end-all solution to organizing small fasteners, but it can be an integral part of the process.
We’re quite happy with the mat’s design and quality. Grid lines are crisp and the foam compartments are perfectly edged. We definitely recommend this project mat to anyone who opens up electronic devices or works with small fasteners. DIYers who work with larger fasteners will also benefit from it.
The mat is 8″ x 10″ in size, and it’s made in the USA. Standard version is priced at $12.95 and the pro version, which has the foam backing as featuring in this review, is $19.95.
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Thank you to iFixit for providing the review sample unconditionally. Review samples are typically given away, donated, or retained for benchmark and comparison purposes.