You’ve placed your order for a customized B45 bat and are told to expect to receive your bat in two weeks. But have you ever thought about what goes into the process of making your bat?
In the first part of the bat-making process, I spoke about the sorting out of the wood, i.e., the weighing and the classifying of every piece of log received.
Today, I’ll discuss the manual steps necessary to reach the finished product, a B271 33 inches in length and weighing 30 ounces, in this example.
As mentioned in the previous blog, it’s very important to select a log with the appropriate weight to correspond with your bat model, length, and weight. In this case, we will choose a log weighing 93 ounces.
We then have to determine which end of the log will be the handle end, and which one will be the barrel, keeping in mind that the handle end of the log cannot contain any knots, and the grains are straight.
Station 1 is the lathe machine. This computerized machine has ALL the combinations of bat models and sizes (in length) of every bat we’ve previously made. After entering our requested model (B271-33), we press on Start, and the machine goes to work, whittling down the log to the appropriate shape.
The process takes anywhere between two and a half and three minutes, depending on the model. After the machine spits out our B271-33, we use a motorized sanding machine to smooth the wood a bit more, then remove the extra wood not used (remember, every log measures 37 inches in length).
In this case, there are four extra inches not used. We then weigh the raw finished bat. Let’s say that this particular bat weighs 30.3 ounces.
We advance to Station 2, where we will dip the bat in water to recuperate any humidity that the log may have lost in storage. After the wood dries (approximately 20 minutes), we then smooth the bat by using a manual sanding machine. Our goal is to make the bat as smooth as possible to prepare it for the painting process.
We then advance to the painting and engraving area, Station 3. At this station, the bat is dipped into a cylinder containing the client’s requested colours. If the bat is multi-coloured, the barrel end is first dipped and allowed to dry (approximately 3 hours), then the handle end is dipped.
Single coloured bats are dipped once and set to dry. The drying could take between 4 and 5 hours.
After our bat is dry, it is then placed in the engraving machine. We then use a computer program to type the requested engraving, and the engraving is lasered into the bat.
At the fourth and last station, we finish the bat by cleaning up the knob-end of the bat with an electric saw, giving it a smooth finish, and cupping the barrel-end of the bat to remove excess paint, and to adjust the weight of the bat according to our client’s specifications.
We then add a band 18 inches from the knob of the bat, insert the logo behind, then add a bit of paint to the customized engraving to give it a stronger finish. Our bat is then tagged with warranty information, boxed, and sent to its requested destination.
These steps may seem quick to complete, but it is important to note that with the hundreds of bats that are produced each week, the regular production time of a bat takes at least two weeks.
Goefrey Tomlinson is the Retail Operations Manager at B45. He played professionnal baseball for 13 seasons, including 4 seasons in the Kansas City organization. He reached the AAA level in 2000. He has 10+ years of experience as a bat maker.