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Maker Interview: Brad Rodriguez of Fix This Build That

House One host Jenn Largesse interviews Brad Rodriguez of Fix This Build That in this installment of House One Maker Interview Series.

Jenn: Hey guys, I’m Jenn from House One and today I’m here with Brad from Fix This Build That. Brad, thank you for being here.

Brad: Absolutely, awesome to be here

Jenn: I thought we could start with you telling everybody a little bit about Fix This Build That and how you got started.

Brad: Yeah, absolutely. So Fix This Build That is a website where I do woodworking and DIY projects and plans—Anything from Instagram, to social media, blog to YouTube. I’ve been growing the platform, and I just do a lot of projects to help beginners to intermediate woodworkers build something awesome.

Jenn: This guy is a legend on Instagram. You have some very popular themes on Instagram: one is your Slaburday, but tell us about some others.

Brad: Slaburday. [laughter] Yes. I’ve had fun on Instagram. I’ve been on there since the end of 2013. That’s when I started doing Instagram and that went to the blog. But I enjoy doing kind of whimsical stuff, and it’s hard because you want to continue to put content out there, and a lot of people only want to put like beauty shots out there. And when I tried that it’s like, “Oh, I only post one time a week then.” So one of the other things I like to do is a lot of like behind the scenes. And now, I’m on a podcast. We started this whole hashtag #mfpbehindthescenes.

Jenn: And MFP stands for?

Brad: Made for Profit. It’s a podcast about helping makers monetize their business, and it’s been a great way to kind of integrate the side that people don’t see that they say, “How did you that? How did you start Fix This Build That? And how do I actually make money doing this ’cause I think it’s really cool.”

How did you get started?

Brad: I have an engineering background. I always like to tinker with stuff and I was doing design—auto cad design—things like that in school. I bought a house in Cincinnati. I bought an old fixer-upper. It was 1905 house, and so it needed some love. I started doing the typical DIY stuff. And as I was doing that I started watching Ask This Old House, New Yankee Workshop. I was just enthralled by those. And that’s how I learned from watching those guys, seeing Tom Silva doing carpentry and stuff. And I was like, “yeah, I could do that. I can do some plumbing. Rich just did that—we can change out the water heater. Let’s do this.” And I started doing a Comm-university class and I just learned. I’ve made some things. I made my very first project that, legit after that, was a craftsman coffee table out of white oak, with all these mortise tenon and joints.

Jenn: Really? [laughter]

Brad: So, yeah. It wasn’t pocket all pocket-hole jigs. It was like straight in, and so after that I was like–

Jenn: In a deep end.

Brad: Yeah, I went full deep end, and then I kind of pulled back. But yeah, that’s how I kind of got into it. I was like, “Oh, yeah. This is like really cool. I really enjoy this.” And then the social media and everything sprung out much later on.

What are you best known for?

Brad: The one that kind of, launched the brand for me, honestly, and probably the one I’m most known for, especially on Instagram, is my flip top tool cart. I did a tool cart that rotates, and it was a design that I saw from a woodworking magazine. I had actually built one before and then I thought, “Well, you know, it will be better if it had this and that. And it was a little wobbly, so what if I did this and changed out some mechanisms.” So I kind of made it my own, and made it get all the things that I didn’t like about the original one. And I posted it, and I had some tools on there—I had a planner on top and sander on the bottom. I posted that and people were like, “Oh my gosh.” As I put that out there, there was this huge reaction. Those have probably have been the backbone of my content, the shop projects and flip top have probably been the biggest one for me that started everything rolling.

What is your best advice for new DIY’ers?

Brad: One—the biggest one—is just to get started. Because so many people are just scared, they don’t know what to do and so they hesitate and they wait, and they wait. But I just say jump in, get started, try something with a low failure point, right? So, you know, go get $40 worth of wood, a cheap drill, and just see what you can do. So just get started. On the other side too, I think a lot of people, especially as you’re getting started, you might get that kind of four-piece cordless set—you’ve got a drill, you probably might have a circular saw or something like that. And they want that next tool, they want to get a miter saw, or they want to get a table saw, they’re trying to go to that next level, and the price tags on that stuff can be pretty high. And so, one of another piece of my advice that I always give people is look at the used market. Maybe you don’t want to spend $600 on a table saw, and you don’t know if this is really going to be for me, and so you can get one used and it lowers the price. And then the other side of that is, you can then use that to build things to sell and help fund it.

What video styles or makers inspire you?

Brad: Yeah. Ben Uyeda from Homemade Modern, he’s awesome. I just love his mindset and how he makes everything. He just cuts it all down into its simplest form, but he’s got amazing design. That’s where he sets himself apart.

Jenn: He doesn’t sacrifice the design aspect.

Brad: Yeah, and he takes it in a different way. And the way he uses 2×4’s, and plywood, to do things that you just wouldn’t think of, and it looks extremely high-end. So Ben, from the design perspective. The other would be Marc Spagnuolo, the Wood Whisperer. He has been around for a long time. He kind of pioneered the online video content with The Wood Whisperer, and he’s been around forever. Just seeing how he’s grown his business and how he has attacked woodworking, and just his sharing. I mean, that’s what got a lot of us into it is watching his videos.

Jenn: Well, you’re inspiring to us, and we appreciate you being here. And if you guys want to check out more from Brad you can check out Fix This Build That and we’ll put the link here, and also his podcast Made for Profit. Thanks for being here.

Brad: Absolutely. Thanks for having me, Jenn.