Originally Posted by nffritos
I would add to the other comments that it is VERY easy to do serious damage to the revolver by shearing off the locator pins or bending the center pins. An amateurish solution is to use empty cartridges in the charge holes when loosening or tightening the parts. The real solution is to get the special tool from Brownells which makes extractor and center pin removal an easy job. Remember - with guns, it is all about having the correct tool for the job.
Though there are tools to do this job, they do nothing different than using empty casings. In fact the S&W factory repair guide shows empty casings as a option. The thumb piece clamp is the only really useful tool needed but not totally necessary. But you are right, do it wrong and you'll be one unhappy person.