Julia was born and brought up in Ireland. She is a working professional carpenter and joiner, and a TV presenter for TV in the UK and Ireland. Julia was one of the on screen presenting experts on Ch4’s Tool Club in which she gave people the tools and confidence to tackle DIY challenges for themselves. More recently she was on-screen trades person on Virgin Media’s Salvage Squad in Ireland. She has also filmed practical advice for The Guardian Newspaper on ‘how to drill holes in tiles’, ‘how to make a bench’ and ‘how to use a saw’. In the past, she has appeared as a regular DIY expert on ITV’s Renovation Street alongside Linda Robson and Craig Phillips and Dream Holiday Homes with Carole Smillie.
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When Julia was younger, she spent time in the Middle East as an expat travelling with her family, but in 1994 she settled in London. She qualified as a bench joiner and as a scaffolder and entered the most fabulous learning curve of the London building sites – a beautiful woman in a very male dominated environment! When she needed a break from the London scene she took her tools to Europe where she was fortunately able to speak French and some Spanish and work abroad as a carpenter and joiner. There, she continued to hone her skills.
In 2000, she used all her new skills and knowledge to set up her own business making furniture and handmade kitchens in addition to re-fitting her own home in order to sell on for profit. She was in big demand from her neighbours who trusted her skills for practical DIY jobs locally and recycling beautiful old furniture. She never stopped working, even throughout her pregnancies, and has a particularly vivid memory of fitting an attic floor with morning sickness!
In 2011 she and her husband sold their refurbished home that they had worked on, plus Julia’s carpentry business, in order to travel around the world with their young children on the adventure of a lifetime. She picked up yet more new practical skills and interesting tools from her time in Japan, and the family eventually chose to settle and make their home in Hong Kong. She learned how to craft leather and speak pidgin Mandarin, and she picked up her tools again to make furniture out of everything she could find, from pallets to wine boxes. She also upcycled anything that arrived washed up on the beach. Her skills had an incredible reaction from the locals. She enjoyed wandering the tool markets where they fixed and hacked power tools on the side of the road – but the bendy bamboo scaffolding she would rather forget!
She has worked as a research and development manager in a bra manufacturer whilst in Hong Kong gaining knowledge about fibre, fabric and the building and structure of the product.
After leaving Hong Kong in 2019 she returned to France to live there. She decided to requalify as a joiner and has recently finished another house conversion where she was able to fulfil every carpenter’s dream to fit a solid oak chevron parquet floor in their own home.
She is currently working on setting up her own workshop at home and is looking for funding to give work experience to women and older people. The workshop will also offer teenage training facilities to help young people gain skills in practical carpentry.