Calling it micro-surgery is a bit of a stretch. The key thing with taking apart a laptop is PATIENCE. If something doesn't come apart right away go back and make sure you've removed all the screws or find out if there's another component holding the one you're trying to remove in place. If you can't figure it out, RTFM (read the freakin manual). As far as cleanliness, we're not talking hospital or clean-room. Your kitchen table is perfectly fine. That's where I have to do most of my work.
However, I'll tell you one tidbit of information that specifically pertains to the Inspiron 17" laptops. You will have to flex the motherboard quite a bit to get it in and out of the bottom shell. The Audio jacks on the right hand side, and the ports that are on the back side all push through the openings in the shell. so the Motherboard is kinda wedged in there. Just be patient with it and you'll get it worked in and out.
I can remember how stuff goes back together with minimal effort just by taking it apart. However, not everyone is me. If you feel the need to, write down the order in which you removed components. This will help you know which component needs to be installed first, you can also write down how many screws it took to remove that part.