The Bat Making Process
Cricket bat willow (salix alba, var. cærulea) is a cultivated timber which predominantly grows in large plantations in wetland areas throughout England mainly in the South East. The trees are mature between the age of 12-15 years and at this stage have a circumference of over 4ft. The bulk of the Woodstock willow comes from willow specialists but each cleft is still selected by lead bat maker, John Newsome, individually. The cleft has already been split from the round using a wooden wedge , rough sawn and the ends waxed to stop splitting. The process of seasoning in the open air takes place to reduce moisture content and this takes between nine months and a year. When ready to be turned into bats the ends are cut and they pass through a five cutter milling machine to give the cleft a uniform shape.
STEP 1 Fitting the handle
Each bat handle is spliced and fitted using a flexible wood glue making sure it is set slightly forward to ensure the perfect line of the bow. The handle is then gently tapped into place and left to dry in an upright position.
STEP 2 Shaping the blade
Our bats are shaped firstly using a traditional draw knife then various wooden block planes and spoke shaves to ensure the shape is pleasing to the bat maker, thus ensuring the perfect weight, balance and pick up in every bat we produce.
STEP 3 Shaping the shoulders and handle
The shoulders are shaped and blended firstly with the skilful use of a draw knife and then finished with a traditional rounded spoke shave. Each handle is then painstakingly shaped with a rasp to ensure the shape fits perfectly in the hands of the batsman.
STEP 4 Sanding
Once the bat has been shaped and blended the sanding process begins. This is a time consuming process that uses several grades of paper working to a fine finish. Finally brush sanders are used to give a beautiful smooth finish.
STEP 5 Binding
Our bats are bound on the lathe using a four ply cotton yard. Glue is spread on the handle prior to the binding in order to ensure that the binding is held in place for the life of the bat handle. The handle is then left to dry for a few hours.
STEP 6 Polishing
Using a loose leaf polishing mop on the outboard side of the binding lathe we polish each bat meticulously to give a rich satin finish that is the envy of other bat makers. Toe guards are then fitted unless specified otherwise.
STEP 7 Labelling, Gripping & Knocking-in
The Woodstock bat is then ready for labelling, gripping and knocking in. Every bat also receives a final check-over to ensure that it has been finished to a high standard and that there are no previously unspotted imperfections.
STEP 8 Let's play cricket!
The bat is finished and ready to grace cricket grounds around the world!