Top Router Tips and Tricks from Jimmy DiResta

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

3992 Articles

By Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

3992 Articles

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We’ve done posts about Jimmy Tips before. This is the series that Make: contributor Jimmy DiResta does on his YouTube channel where he shares a near-lifetime (Jimmy’s been at a bandsaw since before he was out of his trapdoor jammies) of shopcraft with his viewers. His latest, the 11th video in the series, is on router tips and it has some real gems in it. It is almost 24 minutes long and packed with great content. Broken out below are just a few of the tips that I liked.

Storing the Second Collet on the Cord

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We all know about storing chuck keys and collet wrenches on cords so that you don’t lose them, but Jimmy also stores his secondary collet on the base of the cord to his routers using a piece of wire…copper wire. Handy and smart, if you have a router that comes with multiple shanks.

Hot Gluing Your Workpiece

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If you’re going to freehand routed letters or designs on a project, hot glue the workpiece right onto your bench. You could clamp it, but by gluing it instead, you have the enter surface of the workpiece free for the router to travel over. When you’re done, it’s easy to whack or pry the piece free from the table.

Pre-Carve to Prevent Chip-Out

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To help prevent the material you’re going to cut from chipping-out (splintering around the edges of the cut), use a hobby knife to pre-cut the outside edges of your route. This will minimize the amount of stress in the material as you route right up to the edge.

Take Small Bites with Small Bits

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Router bits get hot and smaller router bits get hotter. To help prevent overheating, take small bites with your tool and don’t let “the bit get completely trapped by the material” because that binding is when you get burning. It’s very informative to watch Jimmy do his routing, the way he’s always working little micro-motions with the bit. He says that when he plunges the bit into the work, he’s always burrowing around to create space around the bit to minimize binding. If you get burning, you’re doing it wrong.

Easily Spray Paint and Plane Signage

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I love this tip. After routing your letters or designs, to quickly color them, simply spray paint over the letters/design, let the paint dry, and then plane or sand the top surface of your workpiece to reveal perfectly painted inset lettering.

You can see all of the episodes of Jimmy Tips here:

DiResta: Jimmy Tips 1: Hot Glue
DiResta: Jimmy Tips 2: Paint Brushes & Cans
DiResta: Jimmy Tips 3: Sanding & Scraping
DiResta: Jimmy Tips 4: Geometry, Rulers & Patterns
DiResta: Jimmy Tips 5: Band Saw Tips (featuring Spike on the band saw)
DiResta: Jimmy Tips 6: Wall Hanging
DiResta: Jimmy Tips 7: Drill Tips
DiResta: Jimmy Tips 8: Crazy Glue, Epoxies & Bondo
DiResta Jimmy Tips 9: Tape
DiResta Jimmy Tips 10: Table Saw