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What Is a Spudger?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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A spudger is a tool technicians can use as a handheld manipulating probe when working with delicate electrical systems. In addition to being useful for handling fragile or sensitive components, it may have a flat side the operator can use to gently pry apart fittings like the edge of a cell phone case. The device is designed to limit damage to components and is generally easy to use. Spudgers are usually available from electronics retailers and companies that specialize in repair tools and replacement parts.

Spudgers typically have a broad end and a pointed end. The broad end is useful for activities like scraping contacts and removing grease without leaving a mark. The spudger can also be used to delicately pry outer casings off without scratching, nicking, or marking the material. The pointed end can be used to pull apart and separate wires. Many also have a small pick, useful for picking up and pulling wires.

This device is antistatic and non-conductive. It should not damage components, as long as it is handled carefully; the plastic or wood used to make the spudger will flex before it scratches. It also doesn't mark or smear, which may be important for visible repairs where people do not want to leave obvious markings behind, as when a technician needs to pry apart a tablet computer to access the circuitry. Other types of tools may cause marks, creating gouges that are very difficult to remove.

Picking tools like a spudger can be very useful in a small space where it would be difficult to work by hand. The tool is also handy for delicate tasks where a person working manually could potentially make a mistake, like bumping into a fragile component that might be damaged by grease on the fingers and hands. The antistatic feature is also important, as some electrical systems are very sensitive to static and must be handled with care to avoid damage.

It is sometimes possible to purchase a small kit with an assortment of electronics tools, including a spudger. The kit's packaging should list the contents and provide information about the tools and materials inside to help the buyer decide if it is a good deal. Package buys can sometimes be less expensive, but it is important to check for quality, as sometimes companies package tools of lesser quality in this way, leaving the high quality components as standalone items that must be purchased separately.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a About Mechanics researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By cardsfan27 — On Apr 06, 2012

I had never heard of a spudger until I watched a video of someone showing how to fix part of a laptop. They definitely sound like something that would be useful to have around the house.

I have done a couple of projects where I needed something thing to pry open electronic cases. I have usually just tried a bunch of different things until something worked. I have found that guitar picks work well in a lot of instances. You can use thin picks to get under the case and then put picks of increasing thickness in as you go. The other good thing about picks is that they won't scratch metal, and it's not a big loss if you break one.

I might buy a spudger or two, though, just to have. Where can you get them? Do they sell them at places like Wal-Mart, or do you have to buy them from special places online? How much does a good spudger usually cost?

By Emilski — On Apr 06, 2012

@TreeMan - I have a couple of plastic spudgers, but I am not as big a fan of them as I am the metal ones. They have their pros and cons, though.

My favorite thing about them is that they are usually make with a bit of a curve on them that makes them very good at prying up pieces. The battery in my iPod died a couple of years ago, and I decided to replace it on my own, since it was out of warranty. I had trouble getting the metal spudgers to open the case, because they kept wanting to bend, but the plastic one worked great.

The main downside to plastic spudgers I have found is that they aren't good for repeated use. You can use them for 3 or 4 projects, but the tip is so fine that after a while the plastic gets distorted, and the spudger can't fit into the same tight spots as well.

By TreeMan — On Apr 05, 2012

@kentuckycat - You're right - spudgers come in handy for a lot of different things. They don't always have to be used for electronics like computers and phones, though. I have a metal spudger set that I bought to help me change the batteries in my watch. I don't really like having to take it somewhere and paying to get the battery replaced, so I bought the set to do it myself. There is a little bit of upfront cost, of course, but after a couple battery changes, they pay for themselves.

I am not really very good at fixing my own electronics, but like you mentioned, I'm sure they could be useful for a lot of different projects. Any time I have ever seen them at the store, though, they have just had the metal ones. The article mentions plastic being available. Has anyone ever used a plastic spudger? Do they work as well as the metal ones? I'm guessing they would probably be cheaper.

By kentuckycat — On Apr 04, 2012

I think anyone who ever does any type of repairs to their laptop or electronics should definitely invest in a set of spudgers.

I am usually pretty good about taking care of my things, but there have been quite a few times where a spudger has come in handy for me. The first time I had to buy one was when I dropped my cell phone and cracked the screen on it. I found a replacement screen online, and since my phone didn't have insurance, it was a lot cheaper to fix it myself than send it off.

The problem I was having what that I couldn't grip the parts to take them off correctly since I only had tweezers. I saw a video where someone was replacing a phone screen, and that person was using a metal spudger, so I went out and bought a couple inexpensive ones. They worked great, and I got my phone fixed.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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