Baseball bats may appear to be straightforward pieces of metal or wood, but creating one requires talent, knowledge, and a very strong eye for detail.
The game of baseball is thought to have originated from the English game of rounders in the middle of the eighteenth century. In addition to that, it was played for the first time in Surrey, a leafy county in England, in 1749, with Frederick, Prince of Wales participating for one of the teams. Although it was widespread in the USA by the 1830s, there was no bat standard.
Back then, athletes would carve their bats. Others would have a thick end and a long handle, while others would resemble rounders bats with short handles or cricket bats. How do you construct a wooden baseball bat when the multimillionaire players of today don't have to do it yourself and they were considerably heavier than modern bats?
The creation of a wooden baseball bat can be a laborious procedure, but it would be negligent of us to leave out the most crucial step, which begins long before we do. You need the proper piece of wood to make the best possible bat. So, stick around to learn how is a wooden baseball bat made.
Baseball bats are traditionally made from ash trees from upstate New York and Pennsylvania. Ash is prized for its durability, adaptability, and lightness. The best trees are those that develop in close-knit groups because this protects them from the wind and forces them to grow straight up into the sun. To reach the optimum trunk diameter of 14 to 16 inches, an ash tree must grow for 40 to 50 years (36-41 cm). 60 bats on average are produced by each tree.
A forester marks a tree with spray paint once it has grown to the right height and width. The tree is subsequently hacked down using a chainsaw by a log cutter. The woodland is left without the top branches. The tree trunks are put onto a truck and driven to the mill after being sawed into lengths of 10 to 16 feet (3-5 meters).
The logs are examined for knots and crooked grains at the mill. Baseball bats are only made from around half of the forest-cut material. The graded logs are rolled into a hydraulic wedge, which splits them into splits that are 40 inches (101 cm) long.
To ensure that a hitting tool has the weight and density required to sustain 1,000 at-bats, as well as the strength and hardness. It should provide the players that little more "pop" that sends those balls on their way, the drying process is very crucial. After being dried, they are separated by weight, apparent flaws, and grain straightness (the straighter, the better), and graded as necessary. They are then delivered to the factories.
The wood skids are individually unloaded, weighed, checked for grain straightness, and then stored in our wood library after arrival. Their library is divided into sections by species and weight. Then, it is organized and stored in a manner that maximizes quality control from the time it enters our possession until it leaves for the customers.
Their thorough library is also the secret to preventing any errors, misunderstandings, or wastage of time. Every model has a different weight distribution, so the manufacturers need to be sure they're using the ideal billet for the job if they want the finished product to be the proper weight.
Each split is loaded onto an automatic lathe by a mill worker, which smooths the wood's edges as it rotates. The so-called "billets" are once more examined for grain straightness. The billets are bundled into six-sided stacks using straps. To prevent the wood from fraying or rotting, workers spray preventive preservatives on the ends. The bundled billets are then transported by truck to the bat manufacturer's lumberyard.
The billet is placed into a CNC lathe, which uses razor-sharp mechanical accuracy to trim the billet to the precise dimensions of the specified model. But once it's out, it's obvious that something is still off—or, in this case, "on"—because the manufacturers left knobs sticking out of each end of the baseball bats so that the machinery could securely hold them in place.
However, much of the shaping is completed before being checked for weight, defects, and grain straightness (such as knots, chatter marks, etc). Any problems that could even theoretically lead to a lower-quality baseball bat are noted as "blems," put away, and restarted again with a new billet if they are found. However, once we have a baseball bat that is thought to be of good enough quality, it is dispatched to the sanding station.
The billets that are sent to the lumberyard are referred to as "green" wood because sap and gum are still present in them. By air-drying the sap and gum out of the wood, a procedure known as "seasoning" can strengthen it. The billets are only stacked in the yard for a time frame ranging from six months to two years to acquire the required seasoning.
You can start to see the caliber of the wooden baseball bats at the sanding station. Each bat goes through a minimum of six rounds of intense sanding to make sure it emerges as sleek and comfortable as possible.
The bat is "boned" after the sixth cycle to compact the grains and provide it more "pop" and durability. Then, it goes through one more round of sanding, known as the "polish sand," to produce a good gloss.
The ends are cut off and the finished product is practically visible at the cutting area. The sole remaining uncertainty is whether the given bat will ever reach a "finished" state. It has been visually inspected multiple times up to this point, and if any problems have emerged, we are aware of them. However, just because we've labeled them as "blems" doesn't imply we're going to discard them or use them as firewood.
Each bat created is recorded by the baseball player who originally placed the order; this information is kept on file by the bat maker. An order from a player or team would read, "Six Johnny Bench models, Ten Hank Aarons, Four Mickey Mantles."
The factory employees who produce the finished good are referred to as bat turners. They are highly accomplished craftspeople who have received specialized instruction for the challenging work.
The bat-turner chooses a billet from the storage container that matches the requested weight and length when an order is placed. On a lathe, the billet is mounted. A rack is set up over and behind the lathe with the model bat on it.
While slowly rotating the billet on the lathe, the bat turner sands and shapes it into an identical reproduction of the model. The bat turner weighs the billet constantly until it is ideal, measuring it with calipers every 1-2 inches (2.5–4.5 cm).
The company's logo and the player's signature which is linked with the model are both imprinted on the bat. One-quarter of a turn away from the sweet spot is where the trademark is located.
The "finishing" stage is the following step for those baseball bats that make the quality cut. The bat is labeled, sometimes cupped to make it less end-heavy, and then sent to the finished room, depending on the customer's requirements. The bat is stained in the finished room using the choices provided when the buyer originally placed the bat in their basket. Understandably, there are more than 1000 different color choices for wooden baseball bats when the handle, barrel, and logo/text colors are included.
Several clear coats are applied to the bat once the stain has dried, helping to lock in the color along with binding the grains for increased hardness and durability. After the bat has fully dried, it is branded, and laser etched with the customer's bespoke inscription if they have desired it (in which case additional stain and spray are applied), and then it is shipped up to delivery.
Through repeated impact testing, the structural integrity of the wooden baseball bats is kept track of. Baseballs are shot at certain locations on the bat by compressed air cannons in some plants.
Accelerometers measure the velocity while high-speed cameras capture the collision. Robotic arms in other plants use oversized golf tees to launch balls. The frequency of bending and the trajectory of the balls off the bat are two things that inspectors track.
One of those enduring items of sporting equipment is the wooden baseball bat. Each wood bat is made using a combination of traditional and modern techniques, making them a wonderful illustration of nostalgia and innovation.
Although composite and aluminum bats are popular among amateur and collegiate baseball players, if they make it to the top leagues they must use all-wood baseball bats. Major League Baseball is unlikely to ever let bats other than wood be made. The adoption of aluminum or composite materials would significantly change the record books in a sport with a rich history.
Hope we covered all you need to know about how a wooden baseball bat is made. Click on the link below to learn about how a baseball is made.
In this post, we'll take a look at exactly How is a Wooden Baseball Bat Made? and where you can get your hands on them today!
We'll take a look at some of the hottest BBCOR bats on the market from the following bat makers:
Chris Sloan is a former baseball league commissioner and travel baseball coach who has made significant contributions to the sport. In 2018, he founded selectbaseballteams.com, a website that helps parents find youth and travel baseball teams in their local areas. Since its launch, the website has experienced impressive growth, offering a wealth of resources including teams, news, tournaments, and organizations. Chris's unwavering passion for baseball and his innovative approach to connecting parents with quality baseball programs have earned him a respected reputation in the baseball community, solidifying his legacy as a leading figure in the world of youth and travel baseball.
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