Rick Shory

Offering a little something you might not otherwise have

socket showing tabs

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Disassemble snap-fit parts

Nowadays, many manufactured objects are “snap-together” or “snap-fit”. This makes for quick assembly, with no fasteners needed, but difficulty if you ever need to take them apart. Here’s a hack that may help.

In this case, I was rewiring a fluorescent light fixture for LEDs. I needed to change the connections in the lampholder sockets from “shunted” to “non-shunted”. In many cases, it’s easier to just replace the entire sockets, but these were non-standard. Rather than trying to hunt down replacements, and wait for the order to arrive, I decided to try removing the shunts by taking the sockets apart. The sockets were snap-together.

socket showing tabs

shunted socket

The details are not so important. In this case there were four tiny tabs that caught in four tiny catches. I could pry one tab loose at a time using a miniature screwdriver. However, for the part to open, I needed to get all four pried at once.

socket, all zip-ties inserted

spacers all in

This was the trick. I used small nylon zip-ties as extra “screwdrivers”. Nylon is stiff, and tough. As I pried each catch open, I would insert the tongue-like tip of a zip-tie to keep it open. When all four were in, the socket came apart with only moderate coercion. After removing the shunt and other existing wring, the socket snapped back together, ready for re-use.

socket open

socket open

This idea may help the next time you need to take apart something snap-fit. I have to admit, I usually break the first one, before I know where the snaps are. In this case, I worked carefully, and was lucky, and didn’t break anything.