American Woodworking Academy began its foundation long before it opened in 1993. Its founder, Christopher J. Fuchs, who is a Master Woodworker, was born in 1958 on a small rural farm West of St. Louis, MO. Chris helped build many tree houses, wood push carts, and wooden creek boats.
Youngest of nine children his Father was a commercial carpenter. Chris' mother stressed upon him a good education. So Chris entered a local community college in an Architectural program in 1977. His drafting gave him an even greater desire to build with wood. With two brothers already carpenters, Chris entered his carpenter apprenticeship in the Carpenters Local 47 of
St. Louis in 1978. He spent 13 years in the trade with the last five years doing fine finish carpenter work for one of the biggest home builders in St Louis.
Chris' love for wood and its beauty lead him to answer an ad for a part time woodworking instructor in 1991. Within six months he quit a well-paying union job to earn $6.50 plus 50/50 commission on classes taught. Most of his family and friends thought he was nuts to make the switch to retail sales. While working sixty hours a week and spending his off days at the shop, Chris knew he had found his calling, no matter what the pay was.
Within two years his pay had skyrocketed and his classes were in huge demand. No one ever knew woodworking would be so popular and a 50/50 commission on classes would cost the company 60 grand a year.
In 1993, his position as an instructor was being terminated because he earned more than the current employer was willing to pay. No matter that he was making them more money than they had ever earned before teaching classes.
Chris’ only choice was to opened his own school. So in August of 1993 he did just that and proudly named
it "AMERICAN WOODWORKING ACADEMY". A name he thought would stand for hard work, pride and the American dream.
The academy grew from 3,300 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft. and finally a new 12,000 sq. ft. in the late 1990’s. The larger building allowed for more classes but also cost a lot more for the woodworking lab facility. By that time the Academy was offering many classes ranging from a single courses to a 22 or 44 week Master Woodworking Program.
In 2012 the academy was moved south 45 miles near where Chris grew up in Fenton, Missouri.
The school was approached to teach adult education for three local community colleges and taught for them nearly 15 years. The school has expanded to work in conjunction with Vocational Rehabilitation, Veterans Education, including company tuition plans that help students afford the Master Woodworking Program.
The academy also has worked with tuition plans from U.A.W. plants, while offering TFC credit for student loans and a wide variety of smaller companies who offer educational benefits. The general public is still or largest student population attending classes.
With numerous articles in the print and media, tool companies have joined in to help provide and develop beta testing on tools with AMERICAN WOODWORKING ACADEMY.
Offering a wide variety of tools with many brand names it has helped students become aware of new products for their shop and their educational uses.
Chris travels the Midwest promoting woodworking education at many woodworking shows and supplies many companies with an educated work force. The academy started offering CNC classes in 2012 which grew from one small machine to a larger one. Then to two even larger units and one that offers laser engraving capabilities. This is one area that students can’t wait to learn and use on their projects.
In 2012 the Academy starting offering a second year program called the Professional Master Woodworking Program.
It was an instant success and now almost every student that signs up for our Master Woodworking Program has the intent to stay for two years and do both programs.
Somehow Chris always finds a way for a student to attend that may have challenges. Be it time, distance or financial, Chris is working hard to help his fellow woodworkers achieve their dreams.
Not resting on the academy’s laurels in 2016 the school started offering a third year program and again students started signing up. Veterans, Vocational rehabilitation students and your average Joe & Jill woodworker just want more of what we offer.
Chris says one day there will be a fourth year available. Good things take time and when that opportunity comes it will be exciting knowing we can offer a 4 year certificate program to our fellow woodworkers. Most likely it will pertain to finishing and CAD actives.
Those interested in joining Chris' team as students, instructors or employers of graduates of the American Woodworking Academy, may write or schedule appointments at the Fenton location.
In 2017 the Academy launched a new web site which was long overdue. In fact, in 1996 the academy was only a hand full of woodworking companies on the web. At that time the giants like Craftsman and Ridged were learning from American Woodworking Academy and how to put up a web site. That all seems so long ago.
Now in 2017, twenty-four years later, the American Woodworking Academy is waiting for you. Start your woodworking dreams here in one of our many classes or in our Master Woodworking Program.
Call and let us help you enroll today!
Also visit us on facebook to see many examples of what students learn in their classes.
1304 West Lark Industrial, Fenton, MO 63026 • (636) 343-3750
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