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Woman to Watch: Trading Spaces Carpenter Joanie Sprague

After coming in as America's Next Top Model's season 6 runner-up, Joanie Sprague went from on-set to on-site, pursuing a career in the trades with various appearances on the DIY channel. This year, she appears as a Trading Spaces carpenter on the recently rebooted show. Joanie talked with us about how she began to build, ways to inspire young builders and the top five things in her pockets.

What made you start building and making?

I knew I could figure out how to fix and build things from a young age. My grandpa and Dad nurtured this by having me tag along, teaching me about tools, etc. As I got older, I would hang my own drywall, do tile work, and build small projects. I learned under a few very talented contractors as well that helped me realize I like carpentry the most! 

Joanie Sprague Trading Spaces Carpenter

Joanie on set in her Dovetail Workwear Mavens

What’s the hardest part of being a woman in your field?

People don’t take you seriously and give you the crooked look when you want to charge them a reasonable rate. I don’t think the majority of people understand what custom furniture actually costs. 

How do you encourage other women to build carpentry careers? 

I put tools in their hands! I give tool and building basics classes across the US and I have a couple 18-year olds that I am currently taking under my wing. They are hard workers and really want to learn!

Who’s a role model who helped you in your journey to where you are? 

Jim Brunton and John DeSilvia taught me and encouraged me in my adult years, but my dad was always my main role model. He can build anything. 

If you could give your 20-year-old-self advice, what would it be? 

Drop out of college and get serious about the trades. Hate to say it, but I should have done it. I knew where my skills were but I felt pressure to continue with computers even though it wasn’t a passion. 

What are the top five things you carry in your pockets? 

Box cutter, Chapstick, a pencil, and some loose screws. No pun intended!

What are you doing when you’re not working hard on set? 

Traveling with my husband or working in my yard on my succulents (shown below!)

joanie sprague succulent garden dovetail workwear

Do you have any special projects you've been working on?

I just finished up bench seating and a kitchen table for my neighbor. I used pine and poplar and it looks great! 

I also want to add that I think all little girls and boys should learn to work with tools and do basic tasks at a young age. I want to inspire as many young people as I can to do things themselves. Especially girls. These are valuable skills, and it builds confidence and could encourage a rewarding and important career.

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