There’s a story about Ichiro Suzuki when he was still playing in Japan. In a game in 1999, he struck out then took out his frustrations on his black Mizuno bat and threw it. He regretted it immediately after and wrote a letter of apology to the bat craftsman.
Such was his regard for the process of making a baseball bat. This is coming from not just any baseball player but a Hall of Fame lock.
Creating a baseball bat for a player like Ichiro must have felt like a blacksmith forging a katana for a famous samurai. It may be just a weekend DIY project for some but it can also establish a deeper connection between the maker and the wielder.
How do you go about crafting a baseball bat at home? Here are the steps.
Preparing the Wood
The first step is picking the type of wood for your bat. Traditionally, baseball bats are made from ash wood which is a lightweight, flexible wood.
Maple and birch are also common choices. Both are heavier than ash making them more suited for power hitters.
Purchase your chosen wood with the following dimensions: 37 inches long and 3 inches by 3 inches thickness. You can also order blanks online that are already rounded out.
Shaping the Bat
You can shape the wood into a bat using two methods. The first one is by using a CNC lathe and the second is by using a traditional wood lathe.
Using a CNC Lathe
The first method is the easiest but it isn’t for your average DIYer. A brand new machine can be quite expensive but you can find used CNC lathes that are cheaper online.
With this computerized lathe, all you have to do is to insert the log into the machine. Then enter the dimensions or pre-programmed bat model into the computer and press start. Wait for two to three minutes then the machine will spit out a raw, unpolished bat.
Making a Baseball Bat With a Wood Lathe
Start by mounting the wood blank on the lathe. Set the speed to 600 rpm and use a roughing gouge to round out the wood into a cylinder with 2.75 inches diameter.
The next step is to mark out the wood every 3 inches of the total length of the bat. Set the lathe to a faster speed (around 800 to 1200 rpm) and use a parting tool and a caliper to make diameter cuts at the markers. Use the following measurements or copy the dimensions of an existing bat using calipers:
barrel: 2.5 inches in diameter, about 8 to 9 inches long
handle: 1-inch diameter, about 12 inches long
knob: 2 inches in diameter
Use a roughing gouge to remove most of the wood between the diameter cuts. Slim down the bat and smooth the surface out using a skew gouge until you achieve the desired bat shape.
While it’s still in the lathe, sand the bat starting with 60 grit sandpaper. Use increasing grits until the bat is as smooth as possible.
Remove it from the lathe then apply two coats of varnish. Apply wax and put your label on your homemade bat. That’s it, you knocked this DIY project out of the park!
With this guide, you’re ready to step up and start making a baseball bat for yourself or as a gift to someone special.
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