Yes after building and repairing computers for such a long time this must be frustrating.
Using an external HDD enclosure may be the best way forward for retrieving your data, have you used Recuva beforehttp://www.snapfiles...tarecovery.HTML
Run hard drive diagnostics: http://www.tacktech....ay.cfm?ttid=287
Make sure, you select tool, which is appropriate for the brand of your hard drive.
Depending on the program, it'll create bootable floppy, or bootable CD.
If downloaded file is of .iso type, use ImgBurn: http://www.imgburn.com/
to burn .iso file to a CD (select "Write image file to disc" option), and make the CD bootable.
NOTE. If your hard drive is made by Toshiba, unfortunately, you're out of luck, because Toshiba doesn't provide any diagnostic tool.
Thanks to Broni
for the instructions
Sorry if you have already done any of the above.