1F BOX Cookie-cutter passion creates business

By Heather J. Carlson

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

CANNON FALLS — For Al Moorhouse, it all started with a challenge.

His wife, Joyce, was helping organize a meeting of the Cookie Cutters Collectors Club in Red Wing and wanted a cookie cutter modeled after the iconic red wing symbol. With three weeks to go before the big meeting, she could not find anyone who could make the wing cutters. So she turned to Al and, as he recalls, said, "OK smart guy. You said you can make cutters. Here’s your chance."

Turns out he could do it — making three dozen red wing cookie cutters in time for the meeting.


Fifteen years later, Al is still making cookie cutters. Every year, the Cannon Falls man makes 15,000 cookie cutters from tin plate in his at-home workshop. Each cookie cutter is made by hand. While there are plenty of traditional shapes — snowflakes, gingerbread men and Christmas trees — there are plenty of unusual designs. A quick glance at a wall in the Moorhouses’ home reveals the variety, with shapes including a Portuguese water dog, off-shore oil rig and Paul Bunyan, to name a few.

Just finding this tinsmith’s workshop can be a challenge. It sits in the middle of cornfields off a dirt road west of Cannon Falls. A faded sign with a gingerbread man gives the location away; the sign reads "Home to 30,000 cookie cutters." That needs to be changed now. The Moorhouses estimate they own at least 35,000 cookie cutters.

The fascination with cookie cutters started with Joyce. She said she always enjoyed collecting cookie cutters.

"I think I had 400 cookie cutters before I realized I was a collector," she said.

Al had worked as a truck driver, but after he slipped and hurt his knees, the doctor told him his trucking days were over. In many ways, the cookie cutter business has been a perfect fit for him. Often, he gets calls from customers needing a one-of-a-kind design. It becomes a challenge for him to make that vision a reality.

"It’s doing a favor for somebody. I like to help," he said.

Customers send him pictures, and Moorhouse draws a sketch. He then creates a wooden model with thick nails that he wraps the tin plate around. For thicker cookie cutters, he sometimes relies on machines to shape the metal.

So what are some of the strangest designs his has done? Just this week, the 77-year-old created a cookie cutter in the shape of a port-a-potty with arms and legs. He has done plenty of other shapes, such as guinea pigs, alpacas and even the seven continents.


The owner of ASM Cutters & Things said most of his business is wholesale, to companies and gift stores across the country. That means he also has to make cookie cutters that cater to regions far from Minnesota — like Texas. The cost for a specially designed, standard-sized cookie cutter is $15; large cutters cost more.

In the beginning, Joyce said, she thought it would be a great hobby for her husband. The business has mushroomed, and she now pitches in, handling the book work and orders.

The interest in cookie cutters does not seem to be dampening for this couple.

"There are just so many different cutters," she said. "It’s simply endless."

Contact ASM

To learn more about ASM Cutters & Things, e-mail Al and Joyce Moorhouse at

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