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I've recently had some trouble removing a 1x4 hinge tile from the middle of a plate:

Hinge Tile 1x4 on a Plate

Even when they are on the edge of the plate there isn't a lot of areas you can use to gain the traction to remove the hinge plate. Unlike the modern jumper plates these don't appear to have been "upgraded" with a groove.

I want to avoid breaking the fingers, especially on some older elements that I own.

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I don't think it will ever be upgraded to "with groove" since LEGO doesn't use that type of hinge any longer. –  Joubarc Feb 29 '12 at 20:06
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Often in these cases, I have been able to flex the plate the piece is on a little. This allows you to get a fingernail or small tool under the lip of the thing in the middle of the larger plate. If you don't flex too much, you won't do any permanent damage to it.

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You can flex the plate quite a bit before you do any permanent damage. I do this quite often when a piece is being stubborn. –  Robert C. Barth Feb 28 '12 at 19:06
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In most cases it's best to to pry a brick by it's length (the bricks longest side). The base of the hinge brick can be removed with a crowbar. The crowbar brick is fairly new and exists only in a few sets but I consider it to be the most versatile.

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There are many other minifig utensils that can be helpful in removing different types of bricks:

  • Screwdriver: + Small, with a flat edge
  • Pickaxe: + Works well in tight spaces, - Pick head is too thick for most bricks
  • Axe: + Can also be used in tight spaces, - Poor leverage
  • Oar: + Long with a flat side, +/- Flexible
  • Shovel: + Handy for removing Plate, Round 1 x 1, - Not much use for other bricks

Any minifig utensil or non-LEGO tool made of plastic would be better then using a knife or a screwdriver made out of metal which cuts into LEGO like hard butter.

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Curious, that list of sets is very wrong - the crowbar also appears in pretty much every LEGO Game set that comes with a die as it's the best way to remove the 2x2 tiles from the faces. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Feb 28 '12 at 17:40
    
@Zhaph-BenDuguid: It's listed under Gear as it's a board game. –  Ambo100 Feb 28 '12 at 18:41
    
Still seems to confuse things unnecessarily ;) –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Feb 28 '12 at 20:12
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I have used the nail cleaner tip on my Leatherman pocket tool in similar situations.

Update: Like Grandpappy says, you may have to flex the larger plate ever so slightly to get started. Once you've created a tiny opening, you can get a tool in there to pry the pieces apart.

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