The DIY pro inspiring the next generation of woodworkers
Aug 05, 2022 – minute read
Aug 05, 2022 – minute read
In January 2013, Texas native April Wilkerson had a new home and a limited budget to furnish it. At a crossroads with her career, she was unsure what she wanted to do with her life. “I was just sort of going through the motions,” April says, “always thinking, where’s my path? What is it that I should be doing?'” On a whim, she decided to give woodworking a try. Over the next few months, she taught herself the basics through trial and error and started making her own DIY furniture.
April had never used a power tool before, or even taken shop class. But by the time she finished her first project, she had more than a new table — she’d found her calling. As she picked up new skills, she started posting her own woodworking tutorials on YouTube. At the time, there weren’t a lot of other tutorials available online, and April wanted to help other people discover the joy of woodworking. Within a few months, she had become the first well-known female woodworker on the platform.
Today, April’s easy-to-follow, step-by-step tutorials have earned her more than 1.4 million subscribers, allowing her to become a full-time YouTube creator. She has since hired nine employees to help her run her various businesses, which include an online store where she sells woodworking plans and simple projects such as mallets, egg holders and Christmas decorations.
In 2020, April bought a shop called The Wood Shed, which she turned into a commercial venue. Today, she uses the site to manufacture woodworking templates and furniture along with selling wood, tools, and her own products.
April’s manager Gary Wentz says that YouTube “absolutely” paved the way for the brick-and-mortar store. “There’s no way it could have happened without [YouTube],” he says. He notes that April’s YouTube channel is the economic backbone of her business, accounting for a significant amount of her revenue through AdSense, sponsorships and woodworking plan sales. “It’s the foundation on which she has built the rest of her business,” says Gary.
In addition to her YouTube channel, April also teaches her local community through a woodworking organization in Austin. “Hearing from other people, ‘I’m going to go pick up some tools’ or ‘You make this look fun’ — that’s what it’s all about,” she says.
As her brand grew, so did her platform. In 2020, “a network reached out after seeing my YouTube channel,’” says April. In February 2021, she co-hosted the History Channel’s show Assembly Required with Home Improvement stars Tim Allen and Richard Karn — a dream come true for April.
If I can do this, anybody can. And I’m not talking about just making and building. I’m talking about changing your life: finding something that makes you happy and leaning into that” April Wilkerson
But what makes her happiest is encouraging the younger generation to pick up tools. As one of the few women in the woodworking industry, April has been an inspiration for girls who want to try their hand at woodworking after watching her videos. But she’s quick to note that it's not just girls she hopes to inspire. A young boy once got in touch after he was initially surprised to see a "girl" doing woodworking. Now he's one of April’s biggest fans.
“If I can do this, anybody can,” insists April. “And I’m not talking about just making and building. I’m talking about changing your life: finding something that makes you happy and leaning into that.”
And of all the things April has built, her community is one she’s most proud of.