One woodworking class at his local Woodcraft store was all it took to get Brad Rodriguez hooked on building things. That was nearly 20 years ago. Today, he is a respected content creator, maker and woodworker with a huge online following, recently racing past one million subscribers on his YouTube channel Fix This Build That.
TAKING A HUGE STEP
He had a goal to quit his corporate America job and work for himself by the time he turned 40. He turned in his notice one day before his 40th birthday in 2017 and never looked back. Not only did he want to do something more fulfilling with his life, he also wanted to work with his hands and inspire others to “get out there and build something.”
Though that was a huge step for the Rodriguez clan, Brad said it was the best decision they’ve made for their family. “Being able to have that time with my kids and really be part of their lives, that is one of the most rewarding things about being a content creator and working from home,” Brad said.
Two years ago, Brad’s wife Susan was able to leave her teaching job to join him in the business, helping with a lot of the communication and website work. “We also host a weekly Live show together on our second YouTube channel Fix This Build That Live. We hang out with the audience and talk about upcoming projects, answer questions and just enjoy the community,” he shared.
FIXING AND BUILDING
Buying his first house—built in 1905—gave Brad a crash course in home repair and DIY. “I wasn’t so much making things as I was fixing things, but I still felt a pull to make, to create, to build,” he explained. After he and Susan married in 2005, they bought a “much newer house”—a 1917 fixer upper. “We spent nearly three years replacing cabinets, tiling, wiring, siding, painting, and patching that house into a thing of beauty,” he said.
In 2013, three kids and a job opportunity later, Brad and Susan found themselves back in Nashville where he grew up. The house was newer this time, and his workshop was now in the garage, not in the basement—no longer out of sight, out of mind. Which meant a turning point in his woodworking pursuits.
After a failed first attempt at YouTube, Brad discovered Instagram and felt he had found his people. “It was a really small community, but it was fun to share what I was building and see what other people were building,” he said. But he said he figured out that people wanted to see more. “They wanted more explanation than just a picture or back then an 8-second or 15-second video could give them.”
He started his blog in 2015, and returned to YouTube in 2016 “because YouTube was really starting to pick up, video was a big thing and I wanted to get back engaged and everybody was asking me, ‘when are you going to make YouTube videos?’”
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BUILDING A COMMUNITY
Today, scores of fans and followers on his blog and social media channels have enjoyed Brad’s tutorials on installing recessed lights, building a desk with wireless charging, making a nightstand with a hidden drawer, installing flooring and a whole lot more. His how-to’s range from furniture to home décor, kids’ items, shop projects, outdoors and woodturning.
But the biggest thing he’s built the last five years: an engaged community of woodworkers and DIYers who keep coming back for more.
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Brad hopes to dispel the common misconception that you need a lot of tools to get started in woodworking. “People often think they need a shop full of all the tools they see me and others use. They don’t get that they’re looking at almost 20 years of me collecting tools and building my shop and skills.” His suggested “must haves”: a set of drills, a circular saw and a sander. “Building out your tool set and skill set is a lifelong journey, so don’t expect to be there day one.”
THE BEST REWARDS
To Brad, the freedom of working for himself and actually having his future in his own hands is the best reward. “The harder I work, the more successful I can be, and if I slack off then we’ll feel that in our pockets too. It’s such a direct line of accountability from your actions to your outcomes and I love that.”
What advice would he give his younger self when it comes to woodworking and DIY? “Don’t be afraid to fail. Just start doing it and learn along the way. I waited to do harder projects in the past because of fear of messing something up, but almost anything can be fixed!”
When asked what makes working with your hands so satisfying, Brad replied, “It’s always the finished product for me. When I put a build in its new home, whether that’s in the shop or in my living room, I stand back and just think ‘I built that!’ It never gets old for me to see something I’ve built and know I did it with my own hands vs. buying it off the shelf.”
Brad is quick to encourage his kids to “get out and build something” too. But he realizes that the process needs to be action-packed or they lose interest quickly. “They want to see things going together, not planning, milling or sanding. So if we ever build anything together I will precut most of the parts and just show them a few of the operations, then get into assembly. But as they get older I hope they’ll get more interested in the whole process.”
GETTING SOME PRESS
Brad’s Finishing-Supply Cabinets project featuring adjustable shelves, custom cubbies and add-on door racks was published in the 100th issue (April/May 2021) of Woodcraft Magazine. In his Instagram post sharing the news, he wrote, “I learned woodworking before all these fancy interwebs were around with video content. And woodworking magazines were one of my main sources of education.” He was also featured on the cover of the Spring 2021 Woodcraft Catalog.
He couldn’t be happier with where life has taken him. “It gives me so much fulfillment to know that I can pave my own way, to know that I can do the work, put it in, and then see the benefit on the other side,” he said.
A lot of hard work indeed, along with quality DIY tutorials and Brad’s upbeat personality, have allowed him and his wife Susan to continue growing their online community, have valuable time at home with their three kids and finally achieve that fulfillment he chased before that monumental birthday.
To view these and other projects, and to learn more about Brad, visit woodcraft.com and fixthisbuildthat.com.