There are many things to love about Jimmy DiResta videos, from his letting the work and his hands do all of the talking in most of his vids, to the virtuosity of his making and the creativity of his GoPro camera work, to the puppet hands he created for Spike, his shop cat, so that he can be film making things. As you watch his videos, you find yourself also keeping an eye peeled for the many shop tips, hacks, and workarounds that he’s so famous for. This is a guy from a family of makers who starting working a band saw when he was a little kid, so he’s picked up a few tricks along the way.
I thought it would be fun to go through some DiResta videos and pick out tips that might benefit other Make: readers. I was instantly struck, going through the first video (his recent Photo Frame project), just how many tips there are.
Below are 11 tips from several recent videos. I actually found so many, I’ll run a Part 2 of this piece next week.
45-degree Stop Block
In the photo frames video, Jimmy needs to quickly make a bunch of 45-degree cuts for his frame pieces. He creates a 45-degree stop block on his radial arm saw so that he can easily cut both sides of the frame pieces at 45-degrees, at the correct lengths.
Using Rubber Bands as Clamps
In the photo frame video, Jimmy uses rubber bands to hold the frames together while gluing, to a rousing “Why didn’t I ever think of that!?” in the YouTube comments.
Using Lengths of Wire to Hold Pictures in Frames
Here’s a handy way to hold the picture and backing pieces into a picture frame. Cut lengths of wire slightly wider than the frame and bend them for a tension fit.
Jimmy finishes his photo frame build by torching and blackening the wood for an old-timey, distressed look. A perfect finish to accompany the tintype photos in the frames. In the comments to this video, a reader offers some useful tips on how to properly frame pictures:
Picture-framer tip for DIYers: You should either wet-mount the photo completely with a spray adhesive to a sturdy backer board (like acid-free foam core), or hang the photos from their top edge with only a couple of small pieces of cloth tape, or “hinges” as they are called. Taping photos or artwork on more than one edge will result in buckling as the paper cannot expand and contract with changes in humidity at equal rates.
Using a Pencil Push-stick
Anyone who’s spend much time at a band saw or other shop saw likely knows about the tiny push-stick in your pocket, a pencil with a rubber eraser. Perfect for safely pushing through tiny work pieces.
Measuring with Your Fingers
In starting his recent Alabaster Candle Holder project, Jimmy uses his hand-measuring from the edge trick. If you keep your hand rigid and your pencil firmly in place, you can mark a near-perfect straight (or here, circular) line from the edge of a work piece, in this case, a cylinder of alabaster.
Using Screws to Suspend an Object for Casting
In the Axe Mold Making video, Jimmy wants to make a reference cast of one of his axe projects. He manages to pull a mold of the entire axe by suspended it from screws sunk in from the sides of the mold box.
Cutting a Zig-Zag in a Mold for Better Registration
Anyone who’s done any mold-making likely knows this trick (spotted in the Axe Mold Making video). To make sure that your mold knits together well for pouring a cast, you cut into the mold in a zig-zag pattern, creating something like a zipper.
Glues for Temporary Work Bonds
Jimmy does a lot of gluing, using everything from hot glue to CA to 2-part epoxy, to temporarily hold pieces together while working on them. Remember that many glues can be easily de-bonded or cut away when no longer need. In the Alabaster Candle Holder video, Jimmy uses 2-part epoxy to glue a cylinder of wood onto the alabaster stock so that he can chuck it into the spindle of his lathe. After he’s turned the piece, he simply band saws off the wood. He uses epoxy to get the strongest possible bond for safely turning the piece.
In his Hinges video, he CA glues a stop block onto his band saw table for cutting the metal tube stock that will become his hinge barrels.
Using Spray Paint to Mark Cut Lines
For the Band Saw Stand video, Jimmy marks the diagonal cuts he wants for the caster frames using a template and white spray paint. While you’re watching this video, check out the ingenious lock mechanism he creates for the cart, and the fact that it only sports three feet, making it optimized for dealing with uneven floors.
The Handiness of Shop Weights
Watch a bunch of DiResta videos and you’ll see how often he uses heavy chunks of metal as weights for holding things down in the shop, for gluing, welding, nailing, etc. [Image from the
If you have some tips and tricks that you’ve learned from DiResta videos, please post them in the comments. Would love to hear about what our readers learn from these videos.