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#033: DIY Girl Power: How to confidently dive into DIY + Power Tool Basics with Joanie Sprague

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In this episode, Cara sits down with Joanie Sprague to talk all about diving into DIY with confidence and some tips for getting started with power tools. Joanie also dishes some behind the scenes info from her time as a carpenter on Trading Spaces. 

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chat with joanie // #OBSESSED — what I'm loving // WAIT, WHAT?! — stuff we just have to talk about // Pin this episode // Episode Transcript // Leave a Comment

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#OBSESSED

what i'm loving this week

One of my favorite power tools: Ryobi 6.5" circular saw

This saw is so multipurpose, but I'm reccomending it specifically as a go-between for the miter saw and table saw.

You can use this saw paired with some insulation foam and a Kreg Rip Cut Saw guide to rip plywood and make cuts you would otherwise need a table saw for. If you're not ready to make the jump and invest in a table saw, then this setup can help you diversify your skills and tackle more projects without one.

WAIT, WHAT?!

stuff we just need to talk about

A woman invented one of the first circular saws

Tabitha Babbit invented one of the first circular saws in order to create a saw that could cut continuously. She created a tin disk with teeth and rigged it to spin with a push from her spinning wheel petal.

I love this story because I think it says a lot about women in a traditionally male-dominated space like construction + woodworking. Tabitha used something from a stereotypical women's role — a spinning wheel — and used it to help transform a male-dominated industry.

For me, that's a great reminder that we aren't just here to be part of the boys club vibe that is woodworking or DIY, but we're here to help rethink it, transform it, and change the game.

let's talk about it!

What do you think!?

Leave a comment below or use #MakeSpacePodcast to share your response on social media (@makespacepod)

CHATTING WITH...

Joanie Sprague is a carpenter and educator living in Southern California. You might recognizer her from ANTM and Trading Spaces. She now teaches a ladies woodworking class and travels the country, teaching others helpful DIY tricks.

get in touch

Instagram: @joaniesprague //  HOST: thelittlebitpodcast.com

 

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EP 33 TRANSCRIPT

Cara Newhart (00:14):
You're listening to the MakeSpace podcast, episode number 33

INTRO (00:39):
Welcome to make space a home design show made to inspire you to create spaces you truly feel at home in Cara Newhart. Sits down with amazingly brilliant guests for conversations that dive deeper than pin worthy rooms to tease out the essentials of creating spaces that feed your soul and inspire your creativity from home design strategies to decor, advice to interior design, tips and tricks. These conversations help you dream up a beautifully lived in home. Cara is the designer and chief creative enthusiasts behind Never Skip Brunch. Her work has been featured in print publications like people style watch and Denver style magazine as an influencer. Cara has collaborated with brands like Amazon,H and M, Twitter and Thrillist. Here's your host, Cara Newhart.

Cara Newhart (01:36):
Hello again. I'm very excited to bring you this episode because I think it's full of encouragement and it will help pump you up to feel empowered to tackle some projects. So maybe you're diving into DIY with some of this new found at home time. I know creativity has been a staple for me through all of this and provided some much needed distraction. Um, I've always used making a sort of an escape projects on my passion, but I'm finding myself making things just for fun. Um, as an outlet more and more, especially with all this stay home time. So let's dive into this episode. Let's get you encouraged, pumped up to create and maybe a little bit distracted.

#OBSESSED (02:28):
Hashtag obsessed.

Cara Newhart (02:35):
So for what I'm obsessed with this week, I wanted to tell you about one of my favorite power tools. One of the questions I get all the time is like what tools do I need when I'm first starting out? And I always recommend like a drill, a sander and then a miter saw cause a miter saw is really, really safe to use, really easy to learn how to use. But then once you kind of get more advanced or once you need to start like ripping down plywood or making bigger cuts and you don't quite want to make the jump to a table saw, which can be really intimidating, really dangerous if you're not using it right. A good middle ground is to use a circular saw or a Skilsaw and then you can cut plywood by putting it on top of a piece of insulation foam and then cutting it with a circular saw to keep it straight.

Cara Newhart (03:22):
There's also jigs, like Craig makes a jig that attaches, you attach your saw to it and it helps you make like a perfectly straight cut. But with or without that circular saws are really awesome and a really good intermediate tool. So I would just wanted to talk about my favorite one. So I recently bought Ryobi cordless circular saw. It's six and a half inches and it's battery powered. So that's really nice cause you don't have to worry about being mindful of where the court is. And then obviously it just gives you a lot more flexibility. And if you have a backup battery, you don't really have to worry about power, like not having enough power. But I really, really liked this one cause it's a little more compact than some of the larger saws. It still can rotate and do like 45 degree angles, which is really nice.

Cara Newhart (04:07):
But I feel like it's a really good tool to learn to use because of its size. It's not something really heavy. You need a ton of arm strength to use. So I totally, totally recommend snagging this one. Plus it's not that expensive. It's only $69 for just the tool. So if you've already started building like a Ryobi set with batteries and all of that, you can just snag the tool, add it to your collection and it's really diverse. So you can use it for plywood, ripping that down on foam or you could use it for other things here and there, like cutting a two by four, cutting other boards straight. So I absolutely recommend this. It's a really good for both intro, beginner, DII wires and more intermediate. So in this episode we get into a lot of power tools talking about saws. So I just wanted to start off by giving you like a practical tip for when you could buy. If you're really wanting to dive in, you can order online for home Depot, have it shipped to your door. So if you are staying at home and practicing social distancing, maybe you could snag yourself a new little toy and tackle some projects around the house.

WAIT, WHAT?! (05:19):
wait, what

Cara Newhart (05:24):
my, wait, what for this week is that a woman invented one of the first ever circular saws. So that's a fun fact to have in your back pocket if you're ever underestimated as a girl for using power tools or DIY [inaudible]. But at the time is around 1810 and there was a lot of inventing happening. And so a lot of these inventions happened kind of simultaneously in different parts of the world where people invented really similar things, but like totally independently of each other, which is really so in America. More specifically in Massachusetts, a woman named Tabitha Babbitt is credited for having invented a circular saw entirely of her own volition around 1810 she basically got the idea while watching two guys struggling with a pit saw and at the time those saws could only cut like in one direction. So it made ripping logs terribly, terribly tedious and annoying.

Cara Newhart (06:22):
So they'd waste basically half their energy moving the sob back and forth, only cutting on one stroke. So it was super inefficient. So she basically noticed this and she was determined to make a song that would waste less time, be way more efficient. So she created this notched disc and rigged it to spin with a pedal push of her spinning wheel. How inventive is this? And so basically with this invention would can be cut with a fraction of the time and effort it took to use these pizzas. So I just thought that was super interesting and I think it's funny how like she used something that was like classically stereotypically a woman's role like spinning wheels and applied that to a different field of like manual labor where men were doing most of the work and then something amazing came out of it. So I think it's just a cool reminder when we're talking about like girl power and empowerment within DIY and being in a space that has been male dominated that like not only do we like have a place in the industry as women, but it's also like we're coming into this to change the game.

Cara Newhart (07:27):
My goal in empowering women to DIY isn't that like we are just doing it the same and like fitting ourselves into an existing place, but that we're like reinventing and doing it on our own terms. And for me that means like I want to look cute while I'm working on stuff I don't want to wear like gross men's work clothing. Like I want to do it but do it cute. So you can find me like doing woodworking with my magnetic eyelashes on. And a full face of makeup cause that's just like who I am and that's part of what empowers me and I don't feel like those two things are contradictory. So just a word of encouragement here that like do things on your own terms, change the game and if there's parts of like the DIY making woodworking space that make you feel like uncomfortable, you don't have to try to like squeeze yourself in and make it fit, you can just do it differently. So I talk about this with Joanie and one of her tips is like order online if you're going to stores makes you uncomfortable and you feel out of place and you feel I'm underestimated than just buy this stuff online instead. So anyway, being home and having all this time to reflect, I thought that fun fact was a good life lesson for us as girls in this space.

Cara Newhart (08:43):
Okay. So let's dive into this interview with my friend Joanie. She's an amazingly talented carpenter and DIY wire. And we sit down to talk about all things girl power, all things making in DIY as well as getting some behind the scenes insight into a couple really super cool shows she's been on such as America's next top model and treating spaces. She's one of the carpenters on the reboot and it's kind of the coolest being able to sit down and talk to her about the show and kind of what goes on behind the scenes. So you guys are going to absolutely love this interview. So let's jump in.

Joanie Sprague (09:24):
This is really exciting.

Cara Newhart (09:27):
So excited. Okay. So we just have to start out by talking about your story because you've had what I feel like some might consider an unexpected path into DIY and making. Um, but let's first dive into like where woodworking and making first started for you. Was it your childhood or later on?

Joanie Sprague (09:47):
Okay. So definitely when I was a kid, I was more of the tomboy, like play outside, build things like I'm from Pennsylvania so that like we live in the woods and we're just like building forts and building things out of like scraps. So I was always really into the outdoors and being handy and being like dirty all the time. I was never scared of that. So I think with that it kind of gave me this comfortability in my adult life to kind of go back to those roots and you know, in revisit that. So yeah. Um, my dad was very handy guy where he still is, but um, and so it was my grandpa and my mom and, and so I was always around very handy people. That was a big help too. Yeah. Yeah.

Cara Newhart (10:32):
I think that's so interesting cause I just, I'm hearing like a lot of parallels to my story where like I was really connected to it and trailed hood and then sort of took a break. Like career wise, I went into like oil and gas corporate and kind of didn't see it. Um, I think you did a similar thing, but you were on had a whole different career and on a really popular show called America's next top model. so was like DIY and making something that stayed with you, like through this phase of your life or was it something you like pressed pause while you did modeling?

Joanie Sprague (11:04):
It actually did stay with me, um, in a very small way. But so when I was in college, I started my own personal organizing business and I um, would, I mean it started out kind of like as like a clean out the closet takes up the Goodwill for people and then from there it was like, Oh, you've got like so many holes in the drywall, I'll just patch them or you can hang a shelf for me. Yeah, sure. I can figure that out. Or I want to put stuff in the attic, but there's no floor down there. I'm like, what? Do you have any plywood laying around? Like we put plywood down. So just kind of collectively became like figure it out, you know, more and more and more. And when I lived in a bunch of different apartments around the country and around the world, they were always, there was always something broken and I fix it. And what was the person that was fixing things or patching things or you know, whatever Jerry rigging, some sort of, you know, thing to make the faucet work or whatever it may be. Um, and it just kind of stuck with me. I just was always doing something. And then when I had the opportunity to really jump in and go full time into Intuit, I just took every opportunity and just learn, learn, learn, learn, learn as much as I could.

Cara Newhart (12:18):
Yeah, I love that so much. I feel like one of the funny things about DIY and like where I'm at personally in my journey is if someone told me I'd be here like even a few years ago, I would never believe them. Like even two years ago I was a fashion blogger, as funny as that is now. And I was terrified to use a saw, like literally would not use a saw alone. So is that like, have you had a similar experience in that? Like you never really saw yourself doing this?

Joanie Sprague (12:47):
I didn't realize I would embrace it the way I have. I feel like I'm doing it and it was going to be like this thing, but I didn't realize I would become like a full on contractor. Like I didn't know I would be like, you know how it's changed my whole being. I am just such a, I think that way. I, I um, and people now realize and they, it took a long time actually for people to realize that I actually knew what I was doing, which kind of was, uh, you know, I understand. You know, I was a model for like 10 years and all of a sudden I'm doing construction. It's like I get after you, you know, kind of prove yourself a little bit to people. Then people start hiring you for things and now it's just completely changed everything about who I am.

Joanie Sprague (13:35):
I, I revolve my, when I purchase clothing now I revolve it around it. Could I wear this while I work? You know, I asked for cool tools for Christmas time instead of I love it so much and I just, I also feel like it's made me a stronger person. It's made me my math skills stronger, which was never a high point for me. It was always poor at math. Um, it just, yeah, so many things. It's just changed my whole outlook. I also feel positive now. Like, Hey, I can purchase something a little less than desirable cause I know I can make it better. You know what I mean?

Cara Newhart (14:12):
Nice. Yeah. Yeah. It's like a hobby and a job and like, yeah, a learning journey all wrapped up in one. So that's what makes it addicting. And so it's never really that exhausted. So obviously like being a woman in a male dominated field is like a whole other level of stuff. And I feel like the whole like maker DIY industry isn't necessarily a full on boys' club because like DUI wires, it's kind of growing. But then when you get into like contractor trades, people like that, I feel like still is super male dominated. Like I grew up, my dad was a contractor and was like half the time. Well, context, I was like installing electrical plugs for him. It was my high school job, like, well, all my friends are like working retail, having fun discount. So I grew up like being the only girl on a job, like at all. And that was like just how it was. Do you feel like, I don't know, like you're underestimated like as a woman or what are some of the like things that have been challenges in terms of, I mean, yeah, you definitely are always underestimated. I mean,

Joanie Sprague (15:22):
first there's the strength factor. Am I strong enough to do this? She's strong enough to carry that from a to B, like this guy, like, and again, actually I think we can't just be like, Oh, I gotta be like, all right, what can I do? And then I, and I, I personally believe I need to work at being physically stronger so I can keep up because it's, it's important. Um, but the only other thing that I think guys have kind of done with me is just given me the easy jobs on purpose. Like, Oh, can you go pee running for paint? I'm like, well, I can also put the crown molding up in the bedroom. Yeah. If no one else is doing that, I'm a finish carpenter. Do like it just, there's always that one thing you get, you get that frustration, you get that like, Oh, like give me a chance, like let me do it.

Joanie Sprague (16:21):
Or you see somebody doing something wrong and you're like, you can't jump in because then their ego is will be damaged by you telling them you're doing something wrong or you can get the mansplain thing happened and you're like, I know, I know. I definitely, you want to be kind and you want to be, I know, still polite girl and say thank you so much for telling me that. That's great. Thanks for the tip or whatever. And it's just like, there's this constant, you know, how do I act right now? Do I say, do I snap and say, yeah, totally what I'm doing? I don't know. It's really weird, but I'm in a male dominated setting. I feel like if you work with people that you know, if you start out working with people that you know, whether it be uncle or cousin or someone from your community or whatever, you work with them. I feel like if you start with that then that's a safer place to go. I wouldn't like just jump straight into like a completely foreign like construction site. I feel like that would be like really

Cara Newhart (17:21):
exactly. For sure. For sure. So I feel like maybe for the everyday woman who's diving into like DIY or home design, learning how to use power tools for the first time, going to like a hardware store or home improvement store, we does feel like male dominated sometimes. And it's easy to feel like people don't take you seriously. Um, do you have any advice for how to navigate?

Joanie Sprague (17:44):
Yes. Well, you can always shop online so you can go to home depot.com and like if it's, say for example, if like if there's resources for you from maybe someone like yourself or me and they can, you know, the, they can say, you know what? I know that Kara and Joanie have said that they really like the Stonewall brushless impact driver. That's what I'm going to get. I'm just going to go off the record a good recommendation from someone that I trust and just buy it online. There's no reason to go in, cause you know what's going to happen. You're going to get Jim who's only been working there for six months, he doesn't know where everything is. He's going to make you more frustrated than you already are. Or you're going to get some other person who's just like, well you shouldn't get that when you should get this one and it's just gonna mess up your whole thing. Oh yeah. I mean exactly. I think there's tons of resources and you can purchase without really having to go in and why, why not just make it easy,

Cara Newhart (18:36):
make it easy. That's so true. My favorite is like the people that don't work there that want to help you. Like sometimes it is just like a chivalrous, retired man that literally wants to help, but sometimes it's someone who's clearly like a, she doesn't know it.

Joanie Sprague (18:51):
She needed her help. She needs my assistance. I will send it to them. I've had a, I had a plumber one time, I was looking for just something like a new outdoor spicket thing on the for my house and I was like, I don't know which one to get. And I was like, well I really, I have to, I can do this one by myself. This one is sweated on and I don't have a torch and I don't know how to do it. And I'm like talking, I'm talking in this guy's like, well, you definitely want that one in this guy behind me goes, no, no, no. She was the one that was the guy behind me, prison. It didn't work there. Actually knew what he was talking about and I was grateful for that. So yeah, I mean if someone's going to help him jump in and help, that's awesome. You know why not? Yeah,

Cara Newhart (19:35):
that's true. It does. It does just depend on motive. Cause there is like I've bonded with so many like regular people that are just there helping. And then there's the guy who like I'm loading like trim boards into my truck and he's like, can I help you lift your wood? And I'm like, no thanks. I got it. And he's like, you can't lift that like eight.

Joanie Sprague (19:51):
Yeah I know. I know. I have a big track and I always roll my card out there and I start loading them. You need help. I said super woman, super woman. Like no, it's just literally

Cara Newhart (20:07):
like five, eight before. I'm good. I'm so good. Yeah. Which is hilarious cause I'm like very like independent. Like I'm a do it myself. You're not going to tell me I can't. And then I have like my friend Jesse who you know as well as like let him do it. Like he was dumb enough to offer it. Like he can do the work so I don't have to sweat. And I'm like, that's a good approach. So one of the biggest questions I get from women, and I'm sure you get this too, is like how do you get started using power tools? Like, so what would you recommend? Maybe the everyday girl who like knows she can dive in and learn but doesn't really know.

Joanie Sprague (20:44):
Uh, Oh gosh, this is such, I get this all the time because a lot of women, we already, someone around us has these tools already, whether it be um, exactly like your dad or your grandpa or your husband or whoever your neighbor, um, someone's got these tools. I think ask them to show you, you know, ask somebody that you know, that you know, works on these things. Even if they only bring them out once in a while and you just want to tinker on it. Like just say, Hey, can you show me how to use a chop saw? Like I just, I really want to see it. Or obviously YouTube degree resource with the bloats important thing about getting started is getting your hands on the tools. And that's the hardest part is coming in contact with those tools and getting introduced to them safely.

Joanie Sprague (21:31):
So if you see a class at like a woodworking shop, like go take it, spend, spend the money, invest in yourself and go take the class. I offer a a woman's power tool and woodworking class here in Heineken beach and it has been such a big hit and I would love more women out there if you're handy to offer the same thing in your area because the women that are coming in and just, they're so excited now they're going to go out and buy tools because they're, you know, familiar with using them and it's just, yeah, I think you gotta like we gotta step up a little bit more and like really help people learn and give them a chance to, you know, use them. But also just ask your, ask your painful, ask whoever you like, your neighbor or whatever. I think it's, it doesn't take very long to learn.

Cara Newhart (22:21):
Right. And that's such a good way to bridge the gap, which should be obvious, but I feel it feel like a lot of people are coming at this like, okay I need to get the tools and then I'm going to watch YouTube. But like how do I actually hands on, like some things don't translate. You know like you really do need someone to show you

Joanie Sprague (22:37):
literally, I mean you can watch someone use a chop cell but there's you gotta they don't always show the whole thing like where's this board gonna where's this long board going? Is it just gonna wobble over here? What do I put underneath it? Or

Cara Newhart (22:49):
do you like push something up against the fence and hold it down? Like you know how fast, so you definitely have to, yeah I think just do like one afternoon just like Kansas. Yeah. I love that so much. I love that you do classes cause I've done like a couple of workshops as well. We like built a planter at a local plant shop and like watching women. At the beginning I had this like Brad nailer and I took the battery out and I like pushed it against my hand and everyone left gasp, like, Oh my gosh, like they're just terrified of the tool. And then at the end, like watching this girl, like her very first ever time using it just pulls the trigger and it goes in and her face was just like, Oh my gosh. She's like, I can't do it. That was not scary at all. And like that aha moment is like so nice. You just kind of say you could watch him do it a couple times and then you're like, you're good, you got it. Keep hands. Just don't blow it on your foot. You're so empowered. And they're like, yeah. And then they start building stuff and then they start moving more quickly and then when they're done they finished it like, Oh, I did this, I did this. Like I did that. Yeah. It's literally amazing. I love that so much.

Cara Newhart (24:07):
This episode is sponsored by make space premium. Yes. We finally have premium content available only to subscribers or you can get exclusives like bonus episodes with me, extended episodes with guests and access to members only, guides, eBooks and checklists to help you implement tips from some of the episodes. There are currently three membership levels. Number one is guests chats where you can listen into exclusive extended mini episodes with guests where they answer extra questions and share tips, not included in the free episode. The second way is bonus episodes with me where you can tune into exclusive bonus episodes as I sit down one-on-one behind the mic to share advice, tips and insights for creating a home you're legitimately in love with. And finally you can get it all with the pink couch party membership tier where you get access to extended guest episodes, bonus episodes with me, access to all the members only guides, eBooks, checklists, and more plus a private community where we can chat, swap tips and team up to give each other encouragement and accountability.

Cara Newhart (25:23):
And you'll also get access to the insider calendar which tells you any upcoming make space event as well as all of the places you can find me, whether I'm speaking at conferences, attending different events so we can meet up and hang out. If you want to become a supporter and get access to this premium content, um, membership levels range from three to seven bucks a month. It's a great way to support the show because as much as I love bringing you all this free advice and amazing guests all the time, some of my bigger goals for the show, like doing in-person events and adding video, we'll take a little bit more support from you guys to make that happen. So I'm excited to offer this premium content for you, super fans out there so we can make more cool stuff happen to gather. If you want to sign up, just hop over to make space, podcast.com/premium where you can choose your membership level and then get started browsing through the premium content. Do you have any other tips for like getting into DIY? Like anything you wish you would have known as you were kind of starting out in your journey or in retrospect? I think it's important

Joanie Sprague (26:44):
to know maybe like the top, the top, maybe like 15 things to have in your tool bag and like kind of like a starter kit. Like everybody needs to have a correct starter kit with the stuff you're going to use the most. And you got to think about like in real, real life terms, like, okay, what would I potentially need if a were to happen in my house or I'm wanting to do B or whatever it may be. You've got to have a good starter kit and I can rattle off a couple of you guys if you'd like to. Things that I recommend. Yeah, absolutely. And what I always tell people in my presentations, I say, first of all, I toolbag just by like a little rinky dink one, you know, Husky, a little bag doesn't matter. It doesn't matter, but get yourself like a good, uh, you know, like a pencil as um, screwdrivers said, you know, uh, a level, a small little level, a little things like that, a little 13 ounce hammer.

Joanie Sprague (27:37):
I'd also recommend a 20 ounce hammer. So getting two different hammers that do two different totally things because if you were to go outside with a 13 on Samara and have to pull something out like a big nail out of the deck, it's not going to do the same thing. So the important to have to also, it's important that you invest in a drill impact driver set both of those because the impact driver is great for women because it's lightweight and it has all the force and, and it puts all the force into the tip of the, of the bit. You don't need to use two hands necessarily with it. Um, and that's great because we don't have a ton of upper body strength usually is women. And I think that that's, it's great in case like if there was something up above your head, like a shelf or a cabinet, you need to get to.

Joanie Sprague (28:20):
If you're gonna use a drill, you have to use two hands since we've been in, they can be quite dangerous and you'll spin your spin around. You can really hurt your wrist or your elbow. But the set is great because you do want something to drill holes, something a little, something a little more easy to finesse and then you want something with the power behind it. So those are both two really good tools and you can get them really cheap. Ryobi sells a great set, you know, for like under maybe under 150, I think. And then it goes up from there. But yeah, those are really good. And then, um, a putty knife, a razor blade, like a box cutter, just like little things like that because you, your role blue painter's tape, I always say keep it in your tool bag cause you're always gonna run into something.

Joanie Sprague (29:06):
You buy something, it comes in that thick plastic and you don't know how to open it. Keep that box cutter on you. I literally wear my box cutter in my pocket all day long. It's amazing. It's amazing. I mean when Amazon packages calm, I'm just like, yeah, I mean those are like probably the top like 10 things. Um, and then maybe a pair of safety glasses and um, in a mask, you know, in case you need to start doing something, but also to a great place to start out is with refinishing something. Even if you went to the salvation army, just bought like a little dresser that's like 20, 20 bucks or something you just want to play around but you know, get a little random orbital sander, some sand paper, some paint, some brushes and just kind of play cause kind of playing around with it, you know, and just practice because starting with something simple like that, um, I think would be, you know, you know, inspiring cause once you're done with that you're like, Oh that was cool, I'm gonna try something else now. You know?

Cara Newhart (30:05):
Yeah. You get that. Like gratification for sure. Refinishing was totally my gateway. Like that's, I very first started, like we bought a house, I was still fashion blogging and I was like, I need a dresser. And I like bought one from Goodwill and refinished it like learned what stripper was and like got the paint off, bought a little sander like my first ever tool besides a drill. Cause I used that growing up with my dad and then like yeah that's like how you get started is like taking apart or refinishing something somebody else made and then you come see how it works. You can use the tools. Yeah that was a really good tip for sure. So you were kind of on another cool show that I feel like we have to talk about. So this story is funny because I like watched this show and I was like that girl looks cool. Like she doesn't look like the usual female woodworker I run into like I think we'd be friends and then I met you in real life and it didn't click, which it should have. And I didn't even get to fan girl you so like a little rock there. But let's talk about your time on trading spaces. So you are one of the carpenters. What was that experience like?

Joanie Sprague (31:16):
Great. So I don't know how, how I got so lucky. I just really don't. I, I just was so blessed and so happy to be able to do that. I watched that show when I was in high school. Like I was like every week I was like redecorating my own spaces, watching it every second. I just can't even believe it when they said, you know, we're gonna, we're going to bring you on and you're going to be the second female carpenter we've ever used. And you know, Ty and Carter are passing the torches down to you and Brett, I feel like I am not worthy a, I felt like, I felt like I was being knighted like Val down and like they'd put this camera over my shoulders and like, I didn't mean it. It was the most surreal feeling. But then after, you know, all that kind of cleared and we started shooting, I'm telling you what girl, this was the craziest show.

Joanie Sprague (32:15):
It was insane. I mean, how quickly it goes. It's absolutely not any, and it's for real. Like we as carpenter, we can't even start until that first day. Like we haven't done a row, we have a day where like you go in and the designers kind of like, you know, we kind of measure things and look at things and kind of prepare and the camera guy will put up lights in certain spots to get ready to shoot the next day. But there's no, I might meet with the designer the night before or via text and they'll send me like a picture like well I'm going to have you build a banquette and maybe I'm a coffee table or whatever it may be, a headboard, dah, dah, dah, dah. I need a B and C done. That's going to be your projects and you just think in your head, okay, I'm just gonna to what I'm doing.

Joanie Sprague (33:02):
And then they want, it's like they'll come over and say, Hey Joni, so this is what I want to do. And then you're like, okay, you write down and you write down on a piece of paper what you mean. You hand it to this production assistant kid. He drives over to Lowe's, he buys the wood and then comes back. So you are also on camera for um, taking everything out of the room. Yeah. You're on the hook for like hanging the lights, doing the electrical stuff in the room too. You don't really paint. That's kind of more the designers thing but everything else you're in there. And I've worked till 1112 at night all by myself. There was like Mike left the house everybody had left and I'm like still seeing it's crazy. And I mean sometimes we are there till 12 one two in the morning waiting for the reveals to happen and stuff.

Joanie Sprague (33:55):
That's a lot of work but it's fun to be with those people. They're good. Yeah. I will say Frank though, he is like the biggest Teddy bear. He's, he's got the best stories. I love him. So, so much ease of joy to work with. I think Vern is probably one of the most well known designers still to this day. He was like so talented. He's out of Atlanta. Yeah, I think burn cheats. Okay. We're only allowed to spend $2,000 and Varun has his own like fabric line and its own wall and you can't just bring that in like it was bringing, Oh, that's too funny. It's so funny. But Paige Davis is a joy. She's a ball of energy. Always nice. Never like no bad days with her. Oh yeah. So everybody's great. I've, I mean I just love it. They're so cool. And Brent tutor by the way ladies, I believe he is.

Joanie Sprague (34:50):
Woo woo. Putting that out there. Nothing else. Yeah. Oh I love this. So like when you're not doing like the show your everyday, like what does that look like? You are like an actual contractor. What kind of like projects are you taking on clothes and stuff like that? Yeah, well three months out of the year sometimes for, I do a home and garden show tour. I'm across the country, so I'll go and I'll speak at home and garden shows, um, about this exact same thing we're talking about and talk about DIY tips. I try to, I try to bring it down to where everybody can do something. So, oops. Of my crowd is 60 plus. They're like, you know, the older crowd. But I try to make things really accessible for those folks because, um, one of the big things right now is we're, we're seeing in the construction world is like aging in place, we call it.

Joanie Sprague (35:48):
So it's like you're, you're going to turn your home into a home that you can stay at when you start to need a wheelchair, when you start to need more accessible things in the bathroom and things like that. So we try to, I try to say, you know what, you can do this, this is what you need. And I'll pass tools literally physically around the audience, feel the difference. Why would you need that? See how cool that is? There's dah, dah, dah, and I'll show you, you can do your clocking. You can do it like this. You can do it like that. You know, I try to, you know, make things really easy for people to, um, to do. And, but as far as that goes, the agent and placing as far as a builder has been a huge, huge, um, huge thing for us.

Joanie Sprague (36:29):
Because people are staying home or they're moving further, like families are having their mom and dad move in and they need to make things accessible for them. So that's been a big one. Um, for, for, for regular builds, I still do a lot of custom closets. Um, built in closet. I'm doing a garage overhaul right now. I'll be hanging cabinets in there. I feel so excited for that. You can go on Instagram. Right. Cause I do a ton of like, uh, just random little things like furniture stuff. I have a CNC machine now and that's been keeping me kind of busy, fun. Um, but yeah, just odds and ends and things like that. I actually, um, here in California it's, it's not important for me to have a crew and do that whole thing cause I'm not able to be 100% in that world. Like my, my job and stuff.

Joanie Sprague (37:19):
So, um, I don't have a crew, but if I do need anything, I do have a couple people I can reach out to about like a painter and a really great drywall guy and stuff like that. But, um, yeah, it's mostly just, you know, those kinds of things. My friends always end up using me for really weird, crazy stuff. Like this week I have to build a like a dog bed. Just little things, just little things here and there. That's so funny. Oh, one more thing I wanted to ask, like saw basics. So when it comes to SaaS, like what one is a good one to buy first, are there any like general safety tips that you just need to know? Um, let's dive into this. So I think the, the, the, the miter saw is the number one Saul to purchase. Never start on a table saw unless you've got someone holding your hand and watching them teaching you for weeks, if not months on how to use it correctly.

Joanie Sprague (38:19):
Cause there's so many ways you can really, really hurt yourself on tables off. So just let up one, go to the side for awhile and go ahead and focus on the miter saw. Because most projects you can do with a miter saw and it will be, you know, doable. You can do angle because you can do, um, you know, just regular cross cuts on whatever kind of boards you're going to make. You can make like a planter you can make. What else can we, I mean I, in my classes we do like shelves, planters, um, uh, corn hole. You know, all that can be done on with just Microsoft. You don't need anything else. And with the MITRE, what's really important is, um, you know, there's, there's guidelines on the, the fence where you put your material down. It'll say like, don't put your hand past this point.

Joanie Sprague (39:08):
That's a really good rule of thumb. I always say too, if you're, if you're a little freaked out, you can put your thumb under your material, you can kind of wrap your thumb around and push it underneath. You don't have to put it out like flat. You can put it underneath and kind of hold your material that way for a little bit scared. Also too, if you're doing a project, um, I would say once you start making cuts, if anything smaller than eight inches, like don't do it. Just don't get that close to the blade unless you have a lot of material to hold onto. Over here on the other side I should say, uh, wherever you're holding onto and then all you're cutting is that six inches. Don't ever take a piece under eight inches and try to make a cut on it. Just not a good idea.

Joanie Sprague (39:48):
Cause I've had people that don't know the strength and the speed of blade it will, it'll kick it right pieces and stuff. Yeah, like pulling it like also too, it's really important. There's several different ways to learn how to make a cut. And when you're starting out a lot of like my, a lot of my students, I'll have them, you know, you'll, you'll start out, you start the blade, you always start to split the blade full speed when it's up. Never storm, never started down. I'm on the material, it'll kick, but then start up full speed and go slowly down. Like, like maybe one, two, three like slow like that. No go ass on it. That's really scary. But when you're done, let go of the power and let the blade come to a full stop and it might take a long time, those first several cuts that you're making, but that's just so you can like see how fast is this all blades going.

Joanie Sprague (40:41):
See how it's, you know, see how it moves and don't move. Don't move anything. Because if you are, if you lift back up and you've moved that material at all that you've been holding on to, you know, you could kick it, you could ruin your car, it could chip off the blade and stuff like that. So just let the blade come to a complete stop wall down. And then as you get better and you get more comfortable with making cuts and you're moving quickly, quickly, then you'll figure out how to bring the blade back up after, you know, the, it's still, it's still moving and stuff like that. Exactly. That's such a key tip because it is like, yeah, if you're scared to use the tool, you need to be going slow and BD like making sure you're doing the right perfect technique at first because like being scared, I feel like is how you get hurt if you just jump in.

Joanie Sprague (41:27):
Absolutely. Because if you're scared, you're like not going to hold onto it tightly. You know. Are you going to let go real quick? If you could hear a loud noise. Exactly. Thank you so much for sitting down with me today. This was seriously amazing. I feel like we touched on so many different topics that are full of like encouragement and humor and we hit all of it. Really. We really did. I'm glad you brought me on. It's been fun to talk about all the things cause I don't, I don't get a chance to talk about all these fun little stories and this was really great. Thank you. Yeah. Um, and also where can everyone find you online? Cause they need to go follow along. I for sure. Really, I just stay on Instagram. Um, I, I don't really do anything else. I mean, I might be on, I might just like share on Facebook from time to time, but my Instagram is at Joni Sprague, S P R a, G, U E. and you can just find me on there. And also I'm friends with Kara. So if you follow her you can find me through that too. Usually comment on all hers. Yep. And along have a really cool podcast. I do have a podcast, it's called the little bit and it's everywhere you find your podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, iTunes, go Google all these places. Um, it's called the little bit podcast and it's about everything except politics.

Joanie Sprague (42:49):
Yeah. Love that. And it's really good. I can tell you from experience, it's nice and short too, which is just, I guess that's why it's a little bit, huh. Skin, a little bit of stuff. Good for the short. If you just want to listen to maybe like 20 minutes about like the bully breeds of dogs or you know, sex and relationships or you know, uh, growing garden, like edible gardens. And I mean everything you could possibly think of. I've got topics on everything. Um, and some top model stuff too. If you still wanna that's the best.

Joanie Sprague (43:26):
So hop over there, subscribe. If you want more and follow her on Instagram, it's very, very entertaining. You made a new game the other day that have you officially named that, by the way? I have to ask. I think we're going to call it slot hockey because there's a teeny little hole that the pucks have to go through and I'm like, perfect. Perfect. Yeah, follow me, Bergen. I always have tried to have adventures and just be silly and real and just come over and have fun with me. Oh, fun. Thanks Kara. This is so cool. Yeah. Thank you again.

OUTRO (44:05):
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NEVER SKIP BRUNCH by Cara Newhart

I'm Cara, the designer & Chief Creative Enthusiast behind Never Skip Brunch. I'm a color & prints obsessed DIY queen who's here to help you create a beautifully lived-in life through home design advice and chic DIY tutorials

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