Removing a silica bead from a headphone jack

A coworker of mine came in today with an unfortunate predicament. He had a silica bead lodged in his laptop's headphone jack. A quick few attempts to prod it out with things like a pin and a very small screwdriver resulted in ... pushing the bead even further into the jack.

I figured we could grind the bead out with a drill, but was worried we might damage the electronics in the process.

Time to get creative.

I grabbed a nearby Bic pen, cracked it open, and took out the plastic ink tube inside. I then chopped off the non-inky bit at the end, like so:

I took the smallest drill bit I had available (1/16")...

... and tested to make sure it fit inside the tube. (It did!)

I then adjusted the tube so that only the tip of the drill (about the size of the bead) came out the far end of the tube. This way I could drill out the bead and avoid damaging the side-walls of the jack.

A very careful bit of drilling later (not too much pressure, pull back immediately if you feel something give way) and out came the little pile of silica dust you see on the table there.

Headphone jack was working once again. Success!

Disclaimer: There is a very strong possibility you could damage your device following this type of procedure. Do so at your own risk. I've also seen some great tutorials for getting things out of headphone jacks using a cut off Q-Tip and some glue.