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Whether you yourself are a fixer or a Restart Party organiser and host, this page gives you a list of the tools and consumables that you will find most useful.


Fixers generally bring their own tools to a Restart Party, but whatever you bring there will always be times when you don't have the precise item you need. Conversely, there will be things you always take but never need - until the day you leave them out of your tool box! Often, you can borrow what you need from another fixer or from the host's tool chest - but don't forget to return it!

If you're a fixer, you will almost certainly already have a few screwdrivers and other tools, depending on your skills and knowledge. This page will help you supplement your toolbox with those extra items you are most likely to need - a few of which you might not even have known existed.

As a Restart Party host or organiser, it's worth building up a library of tools, especially some of the slightly more unusual ones, as well as consumables, which fixers may not carry. They will also be useful to lend to a budding fixer who turns up without any tools of his or her own.

In the sections below we review the tools, test equipment, software, spares and consumables you are likely to find most useful.

Many items are equally useful for a fixer's or a host's tool set, but where more appropriate to one or the other, this is indicated by the ticks in the last two columns of the tables below. A parenthesised tick indicates something less essential but well worth adding to your collection in time. No tick means you could normally expect this item to be provided by the host or by fixers themselves, but it may still be worth getting your own unless your toolbox is already bursting or too heavy to carry.

The lists are very roughly in decreasing order of usefulness though with related items together. If you are starting out to create a toolbox from scratch or to supplement a basic one, start at the top of each section and work downwards through ticked items until the money runs out. However, just what you should choose may depend on your skills or those of your fixers, and one or two of the cheaper items may be worth getting (some only costing a few pounds) even if they might not be the most useful.


Some tools are sharp or have pointy ends which can cause injury if misused. Others may get hot and cause burns. Some cleaning agents and adhesives may cause skin irritation or give off unhealthy fumes. Make sure you understand how to use them, and always follow safety instructions.


The list of tools is endless but these are the things you are most likely to need.

Item Fixer? Host?

One of the first things you'll need is something to put all your tools in, preferably with several compartments so you can quickly find what you want, or spot something that's missing when you collect up your tools at the end of a session. If you're traveling to an event on foot or by public transport, a comfortable backpack will make it much easier to carry.

Screwdriver set

Several sizes of flat, Phillips and Posidrive screwdrivers, or a set containing a handle and a range of interchangeable 1/4" hex bits.

Pliers, wire cutters, wire strippers, craft knife, small adjustable spanner

An assortment of general tools is almost essential.

Security screwdriver bits

An appliance will often contain screws with less common screw heads (e.g. Torx) or security heads of various types. A set of 1/4" hex bits to fit a universal handle is very useful.

Extra long screwdriver bits

Some deeply recessed screws can be hard to reach. A few long screwdrivers or a set of extra long screwdriver bits are needed for these. Sets of 75 or 150mm 1/4" bits are available and worth having.

Precision screwdriver set

Essential for working on smartphones, tablets etc. It should contain a variety of flat, cross-head and Torx bits. For Apple products you will need a pentalobe bit, and if the set contains a SIM tray opening tool you will very likely find that useful.

Case opening tools

An opening tool for plastic cases such as this from iFixit makes life so much easier. The plastic ones as supplied with smartphone repair or battery replacement kits are much inferior for most purposes but are still useful for holding a crack open while you continue to work around the case, and for lifting off snap-on ribbon connectors.


A good quality pair of tweezers or a set of tweezers is very useful.

Smartphone opening tools

These include the plastic opening tools mentioned above but also a sucker for lifting a screen.

Nylon Phone Battery Removal Pry Tool

This is useful for easing out a glued-in smartphone or tablet battery. In the form of a card rather than a tool with a sharp end, this minimises the risk of puncturing or otherwise damaging the battery.

Pill boxes

A set of pill organiser boxes as often used by the elderly are an essential means of temporarily storing screws during disassembly, especially for more complicated items such as laptops, smartphones and cameras.

Soldering iron, iron stand, solder

If you can solder you will probably already have these. If you can't, this is probably the most useful new skill you can acquire!

Solder sucker, desoldering wick, flux pen

These make solder rework much easier, and the flux pen will make life easier if you are faced with a situation where the solder refuses to flow.

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Magnifying glass

Most people lose the ability to focus really close up as they age, and if that's you, then a magnifying glass becomes essential. It's worth learning to use a jeweller's eye loupe as this leaves both hands free, or you can get clip-on magnifying lenses for your existing spectacles, if you wear them. See Magnifiers and Inspection Aids for more details.

Small torch

A good light from a torch helps visibility, however good your eyesight, and is especially useful for illuminating dark corners. A head torch leaves both hands free.

Circlip pliers

Removing or reinstalling circlips is not something we need to do very often. It can be done very much more easily with the proper tool, though with difficulty, using other tools.

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Hot melt glue gun

You'll sometimes find this useful as a quick and easy way to hold things together when no great strength is required.

Hot air heat gun

This is essential for opening some smartphones and tablets and nearly essential for shrinking heat-shrink sleeving (see Consumables) but unless you find yourself specialising in those then you might find it a bit bulky to take on the off-chance of needing it.

Notebook and pencil

This is useful for your own notes, such as part numbers to look up, or recording which screws come from where, or for scribbling diagrams to explain a principle to a device owner. If it has tear-out pages you can use it to give a device owner a note of sources of spare parts.

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Item Fixer? Host?
Multiway extension leads

You will need to have enough to supply power to each fixing table.

PAT Tester

A high priority item for hosts. It must be simple to operate. A number of groups use the First Stop Safety BattPAT. For informal use it should be calibrated every 2 years.


About the most useful item after your screwdrivers. A simple one is perfectly good, and for the host, probably better than an auto-ranging one which might confuse fixers unfamiliar with it. An audible continuity test function is well worth having.

First aid kit

Cuts and scratches are common in any kind of DIY so it's wise to have some sticking plasters and a few other basic items available. More serious injuries are extremely rare.

Anti-static wrist strap

In conditions of low humidity or where a floor covering is creating static it's highly recommended to wear an anti-static wrist strap when opening sensitive electronic equipment such as computers, tablets and smartphones.

Laptop or tablet

You will need this for researching disassembly and fixing guides, and sources for spare parts. Fixers may rely on their own smartphones. If your venue doesn't provide free WiFi but enjoys good 3G or 4G coverage you may wish to provide a mobile WiFi hotspot.

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USB charger

Often useful if the one presented may be faulty.

Multiway spider connector

To go with the USB charger, this will have standard USB, mini-USB, micro-USB, Apple Lightning, USB-C and Apple 30 pin connectors on its several legs (or a good selection of those).

1/4" male to 3.5mm female headphone jack adapter

Very useful for those occasions when you have a HiFi you want to test which only has a 1/4" headphone jack.


A cheap pair with a 3.5mm jack is useful for testing audio equipment as well as smartphones and tablets. Quite often someone present will have a pair.

USB-SATA adapter

If you remove a hard disk from a laptop this enables you to connect it to a second laptop for testing, data extraction or cloning.

Component tester

A simple device costing only aroud £10 from Far Eastern sellers will quickly identify bad electrolytic capacitors, blown transistors and many other types of component.

USB Analyser

Another cheap device which will show you the output voltage of a USB charger and the current being drawn by a device on charge.



The huge variety of items that come in make it completely impracticable to carry spares, but nevertheless, there are just a few common items worth having available.

Item Fixer? Host?
3.5mm stereo jack plugs

One of the commonest spares needed, for repairing headphones.


A selection of mains plug fuses (5A and 13A) will come in handy, plus a few 20mm fuses rated at 1A.

Spare mains plug

May be needed for replacing a damaged one.

Electrolytic capacitors

These are one of the commonest parts to fail and it would be hard to be prepared for every eventuality, but a few values between 470µF and 4700µf and rated at 35V or more and 105°C or more would make a good start.

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Rectifier diodes

These are contained in most mains-driven electronic devices and failures are not uncommon. Often there is a group of four type 1N4007 on the mains input and failures are not uncommon. They are very cheap and it's worth holding a stock. Type 1N5819 is common on the low voltage side of a power supply and just a few of these might be also worth keeping in stock.

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Thermal fuses

The small wire-ended cylindrical thermal fuses as often found in electric kettles and room heaters etc. are quite often needed. The snag is that they come in a range of temperature ratings and a few current ratings, and it can be hard to determine the ratings of the one you need to replace. If you or someone in your fixing group understands them it will be worth having a selection of spares. You will also need crimp connectors and a crimping tool to fit them.

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In many cases it's more appropriate for the host to provide consumables than for fixers to carry them.

Item Fixer? Host?
Wide sticky tape

For sticking trailing mains leads to the floor so as to avert a trip hazard.

PVC tape

For light duty only. DO NOT use this for insulating mains.

Paper towels

For general cleaning.


Comes in 5g sachets, this mouldable material cures like silicone rubber. Useful for reinforcing cracked or frayed headphone cables and a host of other applications.

Two-part epoxy resin glue

The rapid setting variety is excellent for a variety of mechanical fixes.


Very strong so long as the mating surfaces fit together closely and have sufficient mating area.

Heat-shrink sleeving

Useful for insulating wire joins etc. A range of sizes is useful to have. You will need a hot air heat gun to shrink it, though it is possible to use the heat from a soldering iron, taking care not to let it touch the sleeving.

Isopropyl alcohol, cotton wool buds, old toothbrush

General cleaning, e.g. electrical contacts including corroded battery terminals, circuit boards, and removing excess flux.

Air duster

Useful for blowing dust out of tight corners. The cans are not very environmentally friendly so instead you might consider a squeezy rubber puffer as used for dusting camera lenses.

Light machine oil

General lubrication.

Silicone grease

Useful for lubricating nylon gears and sliding components.


Useful for freeing seized parts, but note, this is not a lubricant, and for rotating parts you will have to clean it off and add lubricating oil.

Heat sink cleaner and heat sink paste

There are different qualities at different price points, and in the case of a powerful computer it's important to use the very best and to apply it in the prescribed manner, perhaps not what you would want to carry 'just in case'. It may nevertheless be worth carrying some of the mid-price variety mainly for heat sinks in audio amplifiers and power supplies.

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When dealing with a slow laptop, a few software items are worth having. For the Windows utilities you can put them all on a memory stick as install files, though in a few cases they just come as an executable file.

Item Fixer? Host?
Windows Tools:

One of the best utilities for cleaning up a slow laptop. Especially useful is the ability (under "Tools") to show and selectively disable all the programs that are started automatically on boot.

SysInternals Process Explorer

This is an alternative to the Windows Task Manager which gives more details on running processes. Useful for seeing what is hogging the processor or some other resource.


This utility from is useful for displaying CPU and hard disk temperatures. The S.M.A.R.T. tab also gives you the health of the hard disk and the ability to compare it with a crowd-sourced database of similar hard disks.


This utility from is useful for displaying battery statistics such as charge state and wear level.

Magical Jellybean Keyfinder

This prosaically named utility from is worth running before a full reinstall. It will report licence keys of Microsoft and some other products, which you might need later. A paid version reports licence keys of a wide range of applications.

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This utility from Major Geeks saves all the device drivers from a Windows system in a form you can save offline. This may be very useful on a full system reinstall if you find not all the manufacturer-specific drivers are still available from the manufacturer's website.

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Bootable Tools:
Bootable antivirus

Kaspersky Rescue Disk is one of the easiest to use. Burn it to a memory stick and boot it up the night before a Restart party in order to download the latest signatures.

Live Linux boot memory stick

Useful for demonstrating how much faster a laptop would run under Linux or for checking whether a problem is Windows or a hardware fault. You will need a 32-bit version with an undemanding desktop manager such as MATE for older computers, and a 64-bit version for more modern ones. Many people favour Linux Mint.


This is the standard open-source utility for cloning or copying hard disks. It runs under a Linux system booted off a memory stick or CD.

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External links

(This list is biased towards UK readers but some of the suppliers listed operate internationally.)

  • iFixit has a wide range of excellent repair-related tools and spare parts. Select your local national store.
  • RS stocks practically everything you could possibly think of.
  • Replace Base is another good source of tools and spare parts for smartphones and tablets.


  • GM Electronic Large store in Prague with a wide range of electronic goodies and other stuff.