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How Not to DIY replace a cracked kind;e fire screen
(and yes, I know I’m not supposed to throw electronics in the trash.)

I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a DIY kind of person. I like the challenge, I like not wasting, I like the ingenuity, I like the frugality. Sometimes my DIY projects are total wins. Sometimes they are total fails.

Today’s post is an example how NOT to DIY.

Late Summer 2015.
My daughter drops our Kindle; the screen shatters. Grr. Kids. Though it looks awful, I put packing tape over the screen to protect fingers from getting cut and we keep using it as-is.

I look around for Kindle repair cost. I discover it’s cheaper just to buy a new one at $70.

packingtapepatchjobBut I don’t want to buy a new one. I want to save money and be hip and sustainable and save the environment and be all cool and DIY the repair myself. I figure I already change my own printer toner, cut my own hair, and Ikea hack my own standing desk, so hey – I can handle this too.

I go on eBay to find a replacement screen. My Kindle Fire was a 7″, and I find a 7″ screen that even comes with the necessary tools. $18. Easy Peasy. I order it.

The new screen comes, but I’m busy (you know, life) and don’t do anything with it.

imsoDIYIt’s over a month later and I (finally) get all set up to complete my DIY challenge. I pull out the broken Kindle, the new screen, the tools, my camera (so I can document my awesome “I’m-so-DIY-I-fix-my-own-Kindle” prowess on this blog of course) and pull up the instructions online.

But. I have a problem.

The replacement screen and my Kindle screen don’t seem to be the same size. Close. But no cigar. I look up my purchase. I look up my Kindle. They are both 7″ Kindle Fires, but totally different generations.

Oh yeah. I probably should’ve verified that detail before purchase, huh?

HalloweenGarageSaleLemonadeI look up return info, but I’m over 30 days out and a return is no bueno. So I’m $18 down the drain. Yay.

I know I should post the screen on eBay and try to get a few bucks out of it still. But I’m lazy, or busy, or distracted, and for whatever reason, I don’t. We have a garage sale on Halloween and I throw the box with the screen into the sale. It doesn’t sell. It gets gathered into the “donate” pile and I forget all about it.

I again go on eBay and this time find the RIGHT replacement screen. For sure. This is is. It’s $20 and doesn’t come with the tools, but that’s ok since I already have them from the first screen. I hate paying more money but I still figure that $18 +$20 < $70 for a new Kindle. Plus, whenever I finally finish, I’ll additionally gain the reward of being so cool for repairing my own stuff, right? It’ll be worth it, right? I order it.

thosetoolsThe new screen comes. It sits for weeks, both in the box and on my to do list. It’s now early-mid December and I finally find a good day, a good motivation, and a sort of good nap time to sit down and attack this GRAND DIY REPAIR thing.

I pull up internet tutorials on dismantling your Kindle, I pull out the broken Kindle, the newest replacement screen, I pull out the repair tools, er, I can’t find the tools. Because, oh yeah, that’s right, the tools that were in the box I put into the garage sale that got donated away.

Grr. I am not rocking this DIY challenge.

macDIYerBut whatever, right? I’m like MacDIYer and I don’t need no stinkin “proper” tools! I’ll make my own tools from household items! So I search around and the best I find is a do-it-yourself mani/pedi set and some tiny phillips screwdrivers. I figure it’ll do.

I sit back down to work and attempt to pry the back of the case off. It’s not happening. I figure the front of the Kindle is already in shatters so maybe I can just pick off all the glass shards and go in from the front to pop the back off.

tryingtobreakin1I use the nail file and dig into the broken glass, but apparently there’s some sort of strong, flexible adhesive tape under the glass (probably to keep it from shattering into a million dangerous pieces when dropped). It’s tough, but I manage to get a few glass shards out.

toddlertotherightBut then I suddenly remember that, oh yeah, directly to my right is a refusing-to-nap, yet adorable, toddler who is trying to grab at everything on my desk and that maybe picking glass shards from an electronic device right next to him is not such a great idea.

Geez. Kids. Always in the way.

So I go back to trying to pry the back of the thing off. I pull out a mini flat head screwdriver and just when I’m pretty certain I’m about to break the whole thing, I manage to wedge it into the crack. Enough wiggling and force and I slowly, eventually, pry the back of the case from the front.
pryopenFinally success!! Well, not that it counts for much because…

notquiteright_verI look at my dismantled Kindle and the dismantled Kindle in my online instructions, and once again – I totally mixed up the correct model of my Kindle. I do a couple searches, and finally land on what I think is correct. ifixit.com’s Kindle Fire HD 2013 Teardown.

wrongscrewdriversBy this time though, both my kids are awake and running around the house and there’s toys thrown everywhere and someone’s whining about something and everyone is “sooo hungry” and have to go to the bathroom or have their diaper changed, or sigh…motherhood.

But this is *my* DIY time and I’m *going* to do this, and kids or no kids I will *not* be stopped!

Ok, so I’ve got the back of the Kindle off now. And I think that all I need to do is remove the screws and the hardware and then I’ll get to the glass screen. But these screws. What are they? Not phillips. I pull out my allen key set. Even the tiniest size I have doesn’t fit, because um…wait…let me look closer. What are those things? Like a star-shaped socket or something?

thetools3Oh yeah. Those tools I threw out. Maybe I did need them after all.

Seriously, could I fail at this DIY thing any worse? (spoiler: yes.)

The Proper Tools.

So apparently I’m stuck and I need a special T5 Torx screwdriver tool that I don’t have. Blah. I find a 16-piece set by Kasai on Amazon for $7. Do I reeeaally want to put more money into this thing? $18 + $20 + $7 *is* still < $70, but not by all that much anymore.

Sigh. I’m pot-committed now. I have to keep going. I order the proper tools.

thirdtimecharmThanks to Amazon Prime, the tools arrive 2 days later and I once again drag the whole Kindle repair thing back out, minus the mani/pedi “tools”. Ugh. This will be my last go at this. We’re leaving in 5 days for a cross-country Christmas vacation and if the Kindle isn’t fixed for then, it never will be.

itworksThe new Torx screwdriver works beautifully, oh and look, they are magnetic at the ends so the tiny screws aren’t lost as easily! Cool!

I get the motherboard unattached and lift it up and…there’s another layer of white board or something. More tiny screws, and….FINALLY!!! The underside of the broken glass screen!! I’m going to do it this time! Victory and a (working) repaired Kindle will be mine!!

Except that I can’t pop the broken glass screen out of the frame. I try prying it off with a little tool I got in the kit, but that only succeeds in breaking through the glass – not popping the glass screen out, like I needed.

(I take a break here because my son wakes up from his nap with one of the most unpleasant-smelling diapers ever and I must deal with it, and deodorize the house, first.)

I go back to my Kindle mess while my toddler runs around or watches Blue’s Clues or something, and I try to decide if it’s even worth it to go on anymore. I am this.close to throwing in the towel.

But seriously, There’s got to be something. Some way to get this glass off still. I get an Xacto blade out and try prying again from the front. Whoa there was a lot of grime and dirt along the crack. I managed to get a couple teeny tiny pieces of glass shards out.

And then I managed to no longer care.

I was done. Just done. All the hope was gone and I freely admitted my failure: I am *NOT* DIY Champion. I came, I tried, I threw my money away

(Well, and I’d bought a brand new Kindle Fire for only $35 on their Thanksgiving Day sale, delivered straight to my house, for free, via Amazon Now….. soooo…… I didn’t feel too bad trashing my old Kindle after all… )


p.s. I only JUST NOW, 1/6/16, long after my old Kindle is long gone, notice this little blurb on the ifixit post:
kindlefixI do a quick little search and guess what I could have used in place of a heat gun? A hair dryer. Yep, I could have totally fixed the broken Kindle still. Hope was not yet gone after all. But I gave up. Boo on me.

I’ll guess I’ll have to remember that next time I decide to replace the broken glass on my Kindle or any other device (and there will be a next time…someday). Someday, someday, I shall overcome this failure…with the use of more thorough research, proper tools…and apparently a hair dryer.

Don’t be like me. This is NOT how to DIY.


19 Comments on How Not to DIY: Replacing a Broken Kindle Fire Screen

  1. Sadly, I do not have a Kindle Fire. However I just wanted to let you know that reading this was a sort of déjà vu … except my nemesis was the J-loop pipe under my drain. Thank you for making me feel better – these things do happen.

  2. I have to commend you for your DIY efforts!! I have to admit though, I was getting dizzy just reading everything you went through for this Kindle!! The kids are cute & yeah, what the little boy said almost makes him sound guilty :)

  3. That’s the EXACT screen I need to replace my broken screen (cracked when I threw it in my purse, duh!) Any chance you still have it?

  4. My Kindle 7 HD goes from displaying the kindle logo perfectly then to what I’d describe as colored moving snow on an old CRT TV screen. What could possibly be wrong?

  5. I always google if its worth to fix it or buy a new one unless you are a fixer upper which we are not. So my son dropped his Kindle passing by the bathroom and his Kindle crack on the right side of the screen. It does work but the side where is cracked is not. (duh), so I chat with Amazon and because his warranty has expired they can’t do nothing and the guy told me listen ma’m , is better if you buy a new Kindle and because you are a Prime Member we give you a discount. Well it sure is, the new Kindle is about 50 less than the one I want to fix that will cost me $158.00. so not every thing is worth repairing. *sigh*

  6. Wow, you and I could be disfunctional diy soul sisters! Try and try as I might to be the “I can totally fix that” kind of gal, everything becomes waaaaaaay more complicated than I imagined no matter how easy the utube video makes it look. I’m a little late reading your post but alas I landed on your site with the great delemma of “to repair or not to repair” a broken kindle screen. And after reading and reliving your fixing saga, it is safe to say that I would not even benefit from the Tip: use heat gun or a blow dryer, because I would still suffer in some other similar way and have to pitch mine in the trash with the feeling of utter failure and disappointment for not knowing better to waste my valuable time and money. Because I’m already tasked with utterly too many daily duties, not enough time to feel I accomplish anything most days and then there’s always Mommy guilt as the whip cream & cherry on top. Thank you for saving me the heartache AND headache. God bless your good intentions and efforts. I truly loved your humor in it all. :))

  7. You rock sister! I too was considering whether a broken screen is worth the effort to repair it. The part at the end about the hair dryer sealed it for me. I can do this. Thanks for the ride.

  8. Good read. I experienced similar except…. I kept going. I finally completed the glass replacement. It looked beautiful. I turned the Kindle on. Great picture. Then I tried to use it. Touch screen doesn’t work. I’m not sure where the problem is. I’ll go back to it later. Thanks for giving me courage. So far I have about $20 invested.

  9. Thanks for sharing. I like to DIY too and have fails. I dropped my kindle today. No kids to blame. I appreciate your idea to put packaging tape on it so I don’t cut myself. I’m not sure I want to bother to fix the screen. I had a kindle e-reader that had a bad screen that I replaced years ago but that shaved years off my life. Maybe I would do better just to wait for sale too.

  10. this was actually a good read through for picking up tips. Probably even better than a guide on how to do it properly. It tells you what you needed to know plus it goes much deeper because it lists the common issues you’re going to get. Just the talk about the screwdrivers is going to save me loads of hassle because i now know precisely what i need as well as what i dont.

  11. I just spent about an hour and a half of my life replacing a screen on my kids shattered Kindle fire. I bought the “right” replacement version according to the description online. I watched videos and found out that a hair dryer was required. I almost gave up several times but FINALLY I got it together, all parts reattached and hooked up and the thing put back together. Looked good. *Phew! Then I tried to power it on and I got a black screen. So hmm….. But the sound works? So I take the back off again and make sure everything is connected right and finally I get something on the screen. Unfortunately it is just rainbow light and absolutely nothing else. DIY fail? Or… Amazon sending me the wrong screen fail? Not sure what to do from this point because it was so frustrating, I will probably never do that again.

    • Hey congrats on getting as far you did which was farther than I! But I’m so sorry it’s not working. Grr. Yeah, I don’t have any advice at this point anymore unfortunately. Maybe this is jut one of those things t give up and let the professionals attempt? As much as I hate to say that though. :( I’m sorry it didn’t work for you either. :(

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