Try a search for [instrument removal] and you'll get a lot of ideas as well as pictures to boot!
Here's another link for when I removed my instrument cluster:
Dash board light out
It is actaully quite easy and there are several different methods of accomplishing your task. I too don't like the "tool method" because of the potential to break/scratch the cluster.
300SD ('81), 190E ('89), 420SEL ('86?), Jaguar XJ6 VDP ('96), E320 ('95), Jaguar XJ6 ('97), E320 [S210] 4matic wagon ('98), Nissan Maxima SE ('02), DeVille ('93), BMW 325 ('03), LS430 Ultra ('01), Avalon Limited ('05), S430 ('06), MINI Cooper ('05), Toyota Camry ('07), Hyundai Azera Limited ('07), E350 ('06), LS430 ('05)
Nissan Versa ('08), S430 ('03)