40yrs. and Counting

by Stephen Cook

Stephen Cook

"It was from these “roots” that Tim and I came to know the sawmill business. Learning to work even before our teenage years and having the privilege to travel with our Dad on his “saw routes” to pick up and deliver saws was a great blessing that has turned out to be a huge influence in what we do today."

40 years.  I can’t say that it seems like yesterday, but it has gone by quickly nonetheless. We have come a long way from our very humble beginnings in 1970, and as in the beginning, we are still all about service and quality, and that is how we help you make more money.

The story of Kenneth Cook and Cook’s Saw is a real success story. Our father, Kenneth Cook was a minister at a small country church here in Alabama.  As we three boys began to grow and have more needs (especially in the food dept.) Kenneth needed to make more money to support this growing family. Since he grew up hard and knowing how to work he decided to ask the elders of the church if they would allow him to supplement his income by starting a business and not be more of a burden on the church.  They allowed this and he started a saw repair business like his father had been doing for several years. He named it Kenneth Cook Saw Service. You may even remember seeing his ad in some woodworking type magazines from back then.  It wasn’t long before he was sharpening circle blades for cabinet shops and construction people within a hundred miles of our house.

Soon he began to get calls from circle sawmill owners in our area asking if he could hammer their saws and even weld shoulders that hold the teeth (bits) back on the blade ~ all along there is metal in the logs or sometimes the operator will make a mistake and saw off a “dog” that holds the log on the carriage. Our dad has always been up to a challenge and he decided to give sawmill blade repair a try.

He studied all the material that he could find and asked anyone he thought might know anything about sawmilling and how metal reacts under sawing conditions. I do mean everyone, from old sawmill men to old blacksmiths. There really wasn’t much written (and probably still isn’t) about hammering and welding these blades. There are a couple reasons for this. 1. It would never be a best seller. This information is usually pretty dry, since it is very technical. (We try to do our best to make it appealing as we write about it nowadays) 2. Most of the saw hammers, and saw filers kept this “art” (and it is an art) a secret and tried to make it somewhat mystical. I have always thought that to be interesting.

Kenneth has never been one to quit or give up easily and he prevailed at becoming the best and practically the only reliable hammer man in our parts. With his honesty and hard work ethic his business really began to grow and sawmillers were calling from all over.

I have seen him take a circle saw that had the “eye” (arbor hole) broken out completely and weld it back in, hammer it out, flatten, and tension the blade back properly.  This would save the sawmill owner hundreds and sometimes even more than a thousand dollars.  That was a pile of money in the 70’s.  He would take a saw that had three or four shoulders broken off in a row and cut up another saw and weld them on to the better blade. I’ve seen him do some amazing things with saw blades and they would run for years and often allow the companies to stay in operation because of the money they saved.

It was from these “roots” that Tim and I came to know the sawmill business. Learning to work even before our teenage years and having the privilege to travel with our Dad on his “saw routes” to pick up and deliver saws was a great blessing that has turned out to be a huge influence in what we do today.

Kenneth is now 72 years old and has always been a worker. Even now, though he has been retired for about 10 years, he can still get in his garden and out work most people half his age.

Tim and I came to love sawmills, milling, and wood. You might say it is in our blood.  Couple that with the fact that we both have a desire to work and we both like the feeling of accomplishment from making machines that work well and have great value.  With all these values we had a recipe for success, and not only for us but also for everyone who buys products from us.

As we grew through our teenage years, our father bought an old machine shop; three different small Frick “pecker wood” mills and even some logging equipment.  I remember one day at the age of 14 driving a John Deere skidder all summer. Tim would cut down trees (pine, oak and poplar) and I would drive the log truck.  I would skid the trees up in a pile, and Tim would then load the truck and drive to the pulpwood mill or to our sawmill. Tim was 16 at the time.

We would use our sawmill to custom saw, cut cross ties, grade lumber, dunnage, lumber for building barns, and later even lumber for our Dad’s home as well as my own.  The logging and sawmilling are some of the hardest and hottest work I ever remember doing, but I remember it with fond memories. We were young, strong, and had been given the responsibility to get a job done, and we LOVED it.  We certainly learned a lot from this experience.

As we were about to graduate high school, we began looking for ways to make more money and be able to support a family. We started using the “old” machine shop our father had bought to service the special needs of sawmills. We changed our business name to Cook Saw and Machine and began doing some machine work.  We repaired rollers for gang rigs, rewired automatic carriages and even started machine manufacturing by building a sealift nailing machine for one of our customers.

All our years of hard work and experience were coming together and the natural progression of things was to become streamlined by making a product that would be used by many people. Naturally, that would be in the sawmill industry.  At that time there was an industry that was fairly young but growing fast. That was the thin kerf sawmill industry that we now service. We had sharpened many thousands of circle saws through the years and done a good bit of work on four inch and wider band saws. So in the early 90’s we started doing work in the thin kerf sawmill industry.  We started off by welding and selling blades. Soon we began building sharpeners for these blades.  From the start our sharpener gained wide acceptance because it was the heaviest in the industry with larger grinding motors and a superior design to anything out there.   We did the same with a setter and we learned the ins and outs of manufacturing.

A couple of years later we began manufacturing portable bandsaw mills. We were able to draw on all of our years of logging, sawmilling, welding, blade repair, and machining to come up with bigger, faster, and an overall better design in many areas of the industry.  Early on we improved on the standard log clamping as well as introducing the concept of larger band wheels.  We were the first to produce the board drag back and the mudsaw/debarker on a portable sawmill, both of which revolutionized the thin kerf industry at the time.  Later we introduced band wheels with matched bushings and ground together as one unit on the shaft for smooth running with no vibrations. We were very early in computerized set works and other computerization of the sawmills.  All of these things gained us a strong reputation in the industry.

Since then we have added resaws, edgers, dual setters, and four additional sized sawmills and a variety of options to meet what you may need.  We have also been instrumental in coming up with innovations to the band saw blades as well. The patent pending Cook’s Super Sharp™ is just one of the latest inventions. If you haven’t tried these blades you don’t know what you are missing. If you have and didn’t see the benefit that we guarantee, give us a call. There is a reason and we can most likely help you understand some things that will help you saw more lumber and make more money.

Cook’s Saw has continued to grow, and even today we have plans to keep growing and providing new innovative products at fair prices so that you can make more money.  We are proud of this.  Our parents taught us to be honest, hard working, and to help everyone that we are able to help.  We believe that these are basic Christian principles and know that they are the real reason that we have been so successful.  We really do ‘want to help you make more money’ and we are excited when customers call back and let us know that products they purchased from us are helping them make their lives and the lives of their family better and more meaningful.

We also have become very good at listening to you and your needs and that has been key to making so many successful innovations. We will make as many changes for you as possible to help you with your individual needs.  As always we have stuck to our roots and want to help you solve your problems which will help you make more money. We have several new innovations that will be coming out in 2010. Keep your eyes and ears open and as soon as we have them available we will release these new and innovative products.

We are excited about 2010 and believe that as long as we continue down the path that has been successful for you and us in the past we will keep growing and being successful.  Of course as I have already mentioned we don’t just sit on our past successes but are continually looking and listening for ways to improve and come up with more machinery and parts and to provide you better service. THANK YOU for your business and we wish everyone a very prosperous 2010.  We will do our best to help you in any way we can.

To your success,

Co-Owner Cooks Saw.com
Leaders in Bandsaw Technology!