Squamish native Ryan Cook entered the world of carving as an outsider in 2011, but four short years later, he’s quickly become an established name in the industry.
He walked onto the set of the OLN show Sawdogs not knowing much about chainsaw carving and walked away from the experience with a love of the art.
Cook is making his return to television with the new show Carver Kings on HGTV, but he’s no longer the newbie.
He has earned the respect of his fellow carvers and is eager to show the world the progress he’s made since diving head first into chainsaw work.
“When Sawdogs came out I was an actor-turned-carver,” he said. “With this show I can really be myself and I love what I do – I’ve never called it a day of work yet.”
Cook has been busy since Sawdogs was cancelled. He turned pro in the summer of 2013 and competed in carving events around the world. He’s also launched his own business Saw Valley, based out of Britannia Beach, where he creates custom carvings for customers.
He said Carver Kings is a spin-off of the HGTV series Timber Kings and features carving creations designed for the homes created on Timber Kings.
Cook is one of nine featured carvers on the show and said it was a blast filming the show for four months in Williams Lake.
“The premise to the show is really cool, and we basically get to be ourselves,” he said. “The show has so much reality to it and it’s just like actual work. We’re making real carvings for real homes of real clients of the Timber Kings.”
Cook said it was an honour to work with carving legends like Pete Ryan, Paul Frenette and Mark Colp.
“I really got to look into the mind of a master carver like Pete when I worked with him,” he said. “It was awesome and I also got the chance to teach some of the younger guys how to carve.”
The 14-episode season sees the team tasked with a creation every week.
Cook said a variety of pieces were carved from functional pieces to animals and even a memorial.
“The memorial was a really powerful piece, and it really meant something to the family,” he said. “We did a lot of different carvings but they all ended up pretty amazing.”
He said he never would have been able to become a carver without the support of Squamish.
“The town and Loggers Sports helped me out so much when I started,” he said, noting carving at Squamish Days Loggers Sports was one of his first gigs. “It’s been such a fantastic journey that I hope continues for the next 40 years. It’s funny, if you had told me five years ago I would be a pro chainsaw carver, I would have asked you what a chainsaw carver even is.”
Cook hopes to make his website (www.sawvalley.com) a hub for all carvers in the future and has a busy spring and summer travelling the world competing and doing live carving demonstrations.
“Acting is a fun gig for me but in reality I’ll be carving until I can’t hold a chainsaw anymore,” he said. “I love what I do.”
Carver Kings debuts on April 5 on HGTV.