Cook`s started over 45 years ago by Kenneth Cook. He began by repairing small blades for cabinet shops, and it wasn`t long until he began servicing sawmills; hammering their head saws and repairing their strobe saws that ran in their gang rigs. During all this Mr. Cook was a full time preacher, husband, and father of three young boys. Over time as the boys began to grow to adulthood they used their sawmill experience to begin manufacturing sawmill equipment.
Now Timothy and Stephen Cook oversee and lead Cooks Saw MFG., LLC. along with their friendly staff, you can count on them to provide excellent service and saw equipment as Mr. Cook once did.
Cook's Saw is Centered Around Your Business...
Being in the service industry all their lives the Cook family knows that service is always the number one thing a good company can provide. We are not perfect but with all the machinery and parts we provide we are sure that you will be pleasantly surprised with our quality and emphasis on service.
We have many customers who have known us through the years. The Lord has blessed us and we are able to serve many more customers who may not know who we are and what our goals are. Some of our customers know us well enough to ask why they don't see our dad in the pictures. We thought that it would be a good thing to “re-introduce” ourselves and give a little history of who we are and how we came to be in the sawmill manufacturing business.
Our story begins over 36 years ago. Our dad, Kenneth Cook, was a preacher at a small country congregation. He had a wife and three growing boys ages 9, 7 and 5 who wanted to eat 3 big meals a day and sometimes in between meals. Being a preacher in the 1960's and early 70's paid more in spiritual benefits than in physical pay. Our dad had been raised knowing how to work and asked the elders of the church if he could start sharpening saws to supplement his income and not burden the church any more.
The elders agreed and so he began. He started by getting a Foley grinder. (Many of you probably have seen their machines or ads to sharpen saws). He mounted it inside an old green VW van and he was in business. He would travel as much as a hundred miles radius to construction sites and cabinet shops and ask if they had any blades that needed sharpening. Pretty soon he was able to make a route where he would pick up blades and bring them home so they could be sharpened and carried back the next week.
We were still young and in school so dad did all the work and ran his route. As we approached the age of 10 years old we each learned how to sharpen circle saws after school and he was able to expand his route. He began going to sawmills and getting carbide strobe saws that went on the gang saws and edgers. He soon hired a man or two and sometimes three to help keep the work done on time. I, being the youngest often got to ride with my dad to all of the sawmills when I was out of school. Some of my best memories are from those trips. Seeing the big equipment and smelling the pine tar and fresh cut hardwoods made the mill life get in my blood.
One day a man brought a 50-inch head saw off of a circle mill and wanted Daddy to hammer it. (Big circle blades have to be flat and have the right amount of tension in them because the rim of the blade stretches when it spins. It is really an art. My dad said he didn't know how to hammer a saw. The man said to give it a try he had to have it and couldn't wait. Dad had read some about hammering so he made a makeshift hammering bench and gave it a try. He was able to get the man going. He began reading and studying how to best hammer a saw and soon he became one of the best hammer men in the country. Through the years all three of us boys worked on saw blades. We worked mainly on circles blades and also on wide band blades often until 9 and 10 o'clock on school nights. Dad always was a hard worker and wouldn't let us quit until the job was done. We often thought that was hard but as we have gotten older we appreciate the fact that he raised us to work hard, be honest and love God.
When we were teenagers Dad bought out an old worn out machine shop. Some of the machinery had to have been in WWII. (They tell me they had huge machine shops on the ships). We began playing with the lathe and on the horizontal mill. We would repair some of our stuff but never really began work for other people for several years. As we boys came to our early twenties and needed to make a full living to support our wives, we began trying to find machine work that we could do for the sawmills that we were already servicing. We began repairing rollers in edgers as well as welding and surfacing down parts. The name of the business changed from Kenneth Cook Saw Service to Cook's Saw and Machine. We hoped that this would help us pick up more work.
Working with old machinery is usually slow and frustrating. Here we learned one of the most valuable lessons in our lives. After looking at our experience and ability and considering what work could be done we decided to buy a new milling machine. This was a very hard and scary thing. The cost was about $5,000. This represented most of the money we had at the time. But it appeared that with work we had lined up we could certainly pay for it and maybe it would speed things up. That was one of the best decisions we have ever made. The new machine sped up processes, made accurate parts, and we could charge more for our services because we had quality in our work. This compares to what we sometimes see when customers consider buying used or cheap portable sawmills. There is a lot more to consider than just cheap. Most often it is better to buy new and eliminate the frustrations that come with having to repair used machinery and having no service after the sale to help you with your problems when they arise.
Through all these years we owned 3 circle mills. One of these we bought as junk and rebuilt it to an automatic carriage and built a turner. We did custom cutting and cut dunnage, as well as slats for chicken layer houses. We were also blessed to be able to do some pulp wooding in our teenage years. There is nothing like good hard work to keep you too tired to get in trouble.
One time, we had to re-wire a Frick carriage for a sawmill and it had to be done over the weekend. Tim and I got there at quitting time on Friday evening and worked on it until we were done. We opened the electrical box and it looked like a bird nest. I didn't think we would ever figure it out. Tim was older and more confident though - plus he has a knack for electrical things. At about midnight that night we made it home but on Monday the mill was running without a hitch. All this experience helped us get other jobs and build our confidence.
In the mid 80's we began hearing about a band sawmill that people were buying to saw lumber. We didn't know much about it at the time and we thought it was just a fad. A sawyer that we knew talked about getting one. We thought that would never work. You can't possibly saw enough lumber on that mill to make a living. In those days they would saw about a thousand foot of lumber a day. We were used to seeing sawmills that sawed 20,000 ft. a day minimum. Well this didn't stop the man. He bought the mill anyway. After a couple of years he was still in business and had actually become a friend. We began to examine why his business worked.
- He worked by himself, which means very little overhead.
- This mill cuts less than 1/8” kerf. Circle mills cut 5/16”. This means less sawdust and more boards.
- He was willing to work hard and enjoyed being self-employed. He got to make his own decisions.
We saw him grow and buy other machinery and make a very good business for himself. Over the years he has bought two Accu-trac portable sawmills and a portable grade lumber resaw from us. He continues to do good business and buys bandsaw blades from us still today.
As we began to see growth in this market we had to apply a principle that I sometimes write about in these articles. That is being ready to change with the markets. Don't let pride and personal opinions keep you from doing what makes sense. Work with the facts, not just on what you think or want.
We began to see the market change toward the thin kerf bandsaw blades. Tim and my dad began to look into getting a band welder since we had been a Simonds dealer for years we could get band stock to weld. We decided to get a welder. Then quickly found that you couldn't just stick a blade in and push the button. There were many considerations including an annealing process to keep the blade from breaking. Tim is especially good at figuring out and solving problems. He went to work to find the best way to weld blades. They began welding blades that held up good in the cut and eliminated weld breakage.
Soon the business grew from 500 to 1,000 to 2,000 - 5,000 and 10,000 blades a month. Our best month ever was over 13,000 bandsaw blades sold in one month. The learning curve was certainly long and hard but we have become the best in band blade welding and Tim became the best-educated thin kerf man around. (Tim is the inventor of the Super Sharp Blade). He stays so busy helping people that we have got to find a way to clone him or he can't do other things that need to be done. We think that making a video or CD and getting him to put his knowledge on it will be an answer. We guarantee that it will be loaded with information that will pay for itself many times over.
With a machine shop and all our experience with portable sawmills and sharpening blades we saw a need for a high quality long lasting sharpener. Tim and my dad began designing and working on the prototype. Soon they were selling sharpeners. They had improved on clamping, indexing, profiling of the tooth and put a separate grinding shaft so there is no side to side movement in the grind rock. It was recognized almost immediately as being superior to anything on the market.
Through the years there have been continual improvements and is the best selling narrow band sharpener in the world. If you have a lightweight machine that gives you problems you need to give our CAT CLAW Sharpener a try. We guarantee it will solve your sharpening problems or your money back.
After being successful at manufacturing sharpeners we decided that we would use all the knowledge that we had been blessed with to build a portable sawmill. Our customers were looking for a sawmill to saw larger logs. We decided to make a 36” cut mill. In the early 90's most mills had only a 30-inch cut. This became my project to get done, with Tim doing most of the design suggestions.
There were many struggles in building the first machine. Dealing with weld draw on the first track was a nightmare. Many night hours were spent getting everything perfected. But persistence paid off. We continued to work on getting faster and better with each machine. We have been the first to widely use several innovations such as debarker/mud saws, board drag backs, Computer Setworks, larger band wheels, larger log turner shafts, and chain among other things.
It is our goal to help the customer make more money. To do that, we continually strive to have the best machine to make you the most money. We listen to you the customer. You are the reason we can stay in business. We have had several requests to build a larger mill and also to run two-inch bands. We often move a little slower on new projects than we want but we are listening and continue to respond to your requests.
Tim and I now manage the business. Both my dad and mom were able to retire several years back. They both live right next to the shop and remain active gardening and raising some animals.
All of us here at Cook's Saw Manufacturing, LLC want you to know that we appreciate your business and desire to deliver quality products to you at reasonable prices. We have many excellent men who work with us and actually do the producing of the machinery. Our office staff is also excellent and enjoys talking with you and taking your orders. We continually strive to be able to provide a great work environment for the employees and pay them well so that we can all enjoy producing these quality machines and the fruits of our labor.
I want to close this letter by saying that we also strive to live by Godly principles. Sometimes hard decisions have to be made and because we are human everyone doesn't always agree with us and sometimes neither do we with them. We believe that by striving to live right we have been able to keep most of the customers that have come to us through the years and certainly our desire to provide good service and keep a quality product line have proven to be excellent business practices. The older we realize that we have much more to learn and are not as in control as we would like to think. We certainly are not independent for this business depends on each one of you and upon God blessing us with whatever ability we may have.
We want to thank you for putting your trust in us and we thank God for truly blessing us with your friendship and business!