Custom sawyer depends on a Cook’s AC-3662 hydraulic sawmill for uniform results.
ROCHESTER, New Hampshire — The lumber division at World Designs Network runs lean. “I’m a three-man operation – me, myself and I,” explained Kenneth Jackson, owner of the company, as he laughed at the notion of having employees.
To keep pace with demand for his products, which include boards for barns, pallet stock, counter tops and more, Kenneth wanted a sawmill that would work as hard as he does. “I’m 78 years old right now, so if I want to go and work, I want to turn [the machine] on and have it work,” he explained.
For Kenneth, it’s axiomatic. “If you’re going to buy a piece of equipment, it’s best to have the best [machine] you can,” he said. His choice was an Accu-Trac-3662 hydraulic sawmill from Cook’s Saw Mfg., LLC in Newton, AL.
The Cook’s Saw AC-3662 began service at World Designs Network (WDN) in February 2009. Kenneth had more than 4,000 hours on it when we talked with him in early May. He often runs the mill seven days a week, eight hours a day.
Kenneth launched his lumber enterprise in 1997. It took him 12 years to arrive at the Cook’s Saw as the best match for his operation, but he had long depended on a Cook’s sharpener and a Cook’s setter to complement the equipment he had used for sawing. After a fire destroyed the portable sawmill he had been using, Kenneth decided to take a new direction.
“Knowing how good the [Cook’s] setter and sharpener are,” said Kenneth, got him thinking about a Cook’s sawmill. Cook’s Saw track record of great service factored in his decision. “Their service is just super,” he said.
After much research, Kenneth concluded that Cook’s Saw had the machine he wanted, a portable sawmill that was “more industrial” and “heavy duty.” Moreover, the diesel-engine option on the AC-3662 made it particularly attractive. Some years earlier, Kenneth had moved from gas fuel to diesel because of the high cost of gas.
The Cook’s Saw AC-3662 is powered by a 62 horsepower Perkins turbo-diesel engine. Kenneth chose the Perkins turbo diesel because he wanted maximum power. (The mill can also be fitted with electric, gas or standard diesel engines.)
“I put a lot of saw logs through there,” said Kenneth of the Cook’s Saw hydraulic mill. “I cut pine and hemlock in softwood –and then I cut a lot of hardwood. I go through one log-truck load of wood every ten days. I buy from loggers. I buy pallet grade logs.”
In some instances, Kenneth will mill a particular tree, chosen while it was still standing. In all cases, he has great respect for the raw material and endeavors to extract the most from it.
“I enjoy putting a log on the sawmill — and saying, ‘How can I get the maximum use out of the log?’” said Kenneth. “Trees take years to grow — and I don’t want to waste any of it.”
Technically, Kenneth retired in 1997, the year he began sawing. He continued to use the name of the architectural design firm that he had been operating. In fact, today, he sometimes combines his expertise in design with sawing.
“I just designed a barn, 34 by 60 [feet] – hay above, sheep below,” said Kenneth. “I do not charge for the design if I cut all the wood.”
The variety of products at WDN continues to expand. WDN sells pallet stock to Index Packaging and it has begun making countertops for Starbucks. It also makes decking boards for trailers in need of refurbishing.
Kenneth expects to begin making pellets from sawdust soon; he already has a pellet-making machine. Currently, he gives the pine sawdust away for animal bedding and sells slabs of pine and hardwood for firewood.
“I try to give service,” said Kenneth. That’s the one constant, as well as the single imperative. It’s gratifying, said Kenneth, to look at sawn boards and see the uniformity achieved with the Cook’s Saw AC-3662.
“I just sawed some two-inch by 20-inch by 40-inch timbers for a railroad company,” said Kenneth. “I take the 12 boards and stack them – four wide – on a pallet.” At that juncture, he explained, it’s easy to see how accurate every cut is with the Cook’s Saw AC-3662. “When I set it to come out for two inches, [it does]. It’s perfect.”
A big assist in uniform cuts is the stability of the AC-3662, which is a four-post headed mill. The four-post head dampens vibration. With no worries over shimmy, the sawyer can depend on a straight and smooth cut from the blade.
Nothing about the performance of the Cook’s Saw AC-3662 is beyond what Kenneth expected, but it’s nice to have expectations met. “Service is what companies need,” he said. “Cook’s Saw is one of the best I’ve ever worked with in terms of service. Another is Perkins…if I buy any other equipment, I’d put Perkins diesel in it. The service has been great and the engine is super.”
Knowledge of machinery and engineering is part of Kenneth’s being. He served with the U.S. Army during the Korean War and was trained as a radar operator. He worked for an electronics company and then became the owner of a foundry. Following on that, he started WDN, designing modular homes and some commercial buildings, such as a donut shop for a mini mall.
At one point, Kenneth did not know he was building a greenhouse, but he was. He built a 30-ft. by 96-ft. long heated building for his sawmill equipment, constructed to double as a place for drying wood. The idea was to share the building with his wife, Joan.
Eventually, Joan took over the entire building for her company 4J’s Earthworks, which combines plants and pottery. Kenneth then built a Quonset hut for his mill equipment.
In addition to the Cook’s Saw AC-3662 hydraulic sawmill, Kenneth relies on an 836 Bobcat for moving logs and a radio, remote-controlled 330 Bobcat. The 330 Bobcat “gives me a second ‘person,’” he explained.
Kenneth also owns a 24-inch Timberking planer/moulder/sander that he retrofitted to function as an edger. Eight years ago, he purchased a Logosol Big Mill primarily for producing quarter-sawn oak from exceptionally big logs. He made aluminum tracks for the Logosol, adapting it to cut very large logs with a 60-inch bar saw.
World Designs Network is located in Rochester, N.H., which is home to 30,000 people. Rochester is part of Stafford County in the southeastern part of the Granite State.
A native of Florida – where his grandfather homesteaded in the 1920s, Kenneth settled in New Hampshire as an adult. He explained that part of his military service included two years in Newfoundland, so he had acclimated to the colder clime.
With the Cook’s Saw AC-3662 sawmill in use virtually every day and steadfast in its reliability, Kenneth is able to focus on new opportunities for products. Index Packaging, for example, is diversifying, making countertops with a live (bark) edge; and Kenneth is working with them. He has already made countertops for Starbucks.
“I make a lot of countertops,” said Kenneth. “I make mantles – I cut one from hand-picked pine, 16 feet long. I make tabletops – some square edge, some live edge.”
The Cook’s Saw sawmill is very well suited to the long pieces. Kenneth puts logs as long as 21 feet on the mill. When he spoke with us, he had just put a 9,000-lb., 14-ft. log on the mill. The mill handles logs weighing as much as five tons.
The AC-3662 is fully portable. Kenneth purchased his after touring the Cook’s Saw facility in Alabama. A friend traveled with him and they hitched the mill to his friend’s pickup and towed it back to New Hampshire.
Designed to load, turn, square, clamp and saw whole logs into lumber, the AC-3662 offers the sawyer versatility in products and in operation. The products WDN makes – from blocks for pallets to mantles – illustrates the flex built into the Cook’s Saw mill. Couple that flex with the ability of one person to run the mill, as Kenneth does, and the potential of the mill is easy to envision.
Besides such standard features on the AC-3662 as a board drag back system and easy change magnetic scales, Cook’s Saw offers its big portable mill with many options. The options include computer setworks, a hydraulic debarker and a log transfer deck.
Ask Kenneth for the nugget description of World Designs Network and a wry sense of humor emerges. “I kind of joke and say I make sawdust and cut a few boards in between,” he said.
Of course, it’s just the opposite with Kenneth tapping the capabilities of the Cook’s Saw AC-3662 to make a wide range of products with a minimum of wood waste. Cook’s Saw Mfg. gets high marks from Kenneth. “All the people there [are] very good and very knowledgeable,” he said.
In his free time, Kenneth enjoys activities with his family – wife, adult children and grandchildren.